Daily Archives: May 12, 2023
The Curtain Closes on Saliba and Zinchenko’s Season
With the first set of European club football semifinals out of the way, English teams like Manchester City and West Ham will have to return to the business of the Premier League this weekend, before locking horns with their opponents a second time in midweek. Arsenal had an opportunity to go far in the Europa League but were halted in the Round of 16 when 120 minutes of football couldn’t settle the contest against Sporting CP. Penalty shootouts ensued and the Gunners crashed out when Gabriel Martinelli missed the critical kick.
As if losing to Sporting CP wasn’t bad enough, Arsenal also suffered major setbacks with William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu got struck with injuries that kept them out of the side. Tomiyasu required surgery straight away to mitigate the knee injury and was scheduled to be out for months. Saliba, on the other hand, was monitored for his back injury, and while he stayed on the sidelines, while the likes of Rob Holding, and more recently, Jakub Kiwior, took his place in the side, playing alongside Gabriel in the heart of the Arsenal defense.
After several weeks of hoping for Saliba to make his comeback at some point in the campaign, all hopes have been dashed as it has been confirmed that the French defender will be out for the rest of the season. One can only hope that Saliba will recover in time to feature in pre-season for the 2023/24 campaign, but it has been one hell of a year for the center back in his first full season as an Arsenal player. When he was signed as an 18-year-old with the usual ‘huge potential’ tag on his shoulders, we had to wait for three full seasons as he refined himself in the French Ligue Un, featuring for AS Saint Etienne, OGC Nice and Olympique Marseille, before Mikel Arteta felt that it was time for him to make the setup, and he wasted no time in shunting his 50 million quid man, Ben White, to the right back spot to accommodate Saliba.
Saliba’s performances earned him a place in the Premier League Team of the Season, despite the fact that he played only 27 games. Arsenal currently has Rob Holding, Jakub Kiwior and the returning Auston Trusty in the side, but it’s believed that the Gunners might still go into the transfer window to sign a center back, with names like Marc Guehi of Crystal Palace mentioned. It’s sad to lose Saliba for the remainder of the campaign, but we have to soldier on without him, as the Gunners continue to push Manchester City to the limit in the title chase.
In more unfortunate injury-related news, it has been reported that Oleksandr Zinchenko has suffered a recurrence of his calf strain that will rule him out for the remaining games of the season. Since his arrival in the team this season, Zinchenko has revolutionized our attacking play with his style of play, doubling up as a left back and a central midfielder, enhancing the way the team approaches the attacking play. Zinchenko, like Saliba, earned a place in the Premier League Team of the Season, and it was rightly deserved. His performances also kept an established player like Kieran Tierney out of the team.
Tierney will clearly be the beneficiary of Zinchenko’s unfortunate absence in the side, but it will be interesting to see if Tierney would take the ‘Zinchenko’ role, or just strut his stuff as a traditional left back, bombing that flank while supporting Gabriel Martinelli or Leandro Trossard.
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