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'I don't think': Paul Merson suggests that 25-year-old Arsenal player isn't a great defender
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

'I don't think': Paul Merson suggests that 25-year-old Arsenal player isn't a great defender

New Manchester United signing Antony got his first goal in his first opening 45 minutes yesterday as the Red Devils saw off Arsenal.

United were back to somewhere near their best as they ended the Gunners’ unbeaten run. With the game finely balanced, it was Erik ten Hag who won the tactical battle against Mikel Arteta in the end. Of course, the battle between Antony and Oleksandr Zinchenko was always likely to be a big focus point.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Sadly for Arsenal fans, it seems that Paul Merson’s pre-match prediction came back to haunt them. Speaking on Sky before the game, Merson noted how Zinchenko wouldn’t want to mark Antony. And in the end, it was the space vacated by the Ukrainian that allowed United’s new man to score.

“The thing with Zinchenko is he’ll come and play in little pockets he won’t just play left back. He might have to today against Antony, we’ll have to wait and see. He won’t want to mark Antony, you know. He’s not the greatest defender in the world, he’s brilliant when he’s on the ball. He’ll try and make Antony worry about him,” Merson had said before kick off.

“I don’t think he’s a natural defender. He loves going forward. He’s a proper player, but he’s a modern day full back you know. He’s a better attacking player than a defender. It will be whoever dips first.”

Zinchenko Struggles

Of course, it wasn’t just Merson who voiced concerns over Zinchenko. After the game, Rio Ferdinand had pointed out how Zinchenko was out of position for the goal as well. Certainly, it seems like it’s an area that opposition teams might look to target going forward.

For Arsenal, this will be a worry. Yes, Zinchenko has made a huge difference to proceedings at the club and they are a better side for having him involved.

However, with Merson highlighting it before hand, then Ferdinand calling it out afterwards, there is definitely something there for Mikel Arteta to work on this week. Failure to do so, and we might just see more and more wingers scoring similar goals to Antony as the season ticks along.

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