Men's Team

Champions in Focus: Oleksandr Zinchenko

Oleksandr Zinchenko is the latest member of the City squad to have the spotlight shone on them.

Our Champions in Focus series takes a look at each of Pep Guardiola’s men and their unique contribution to a memorable 2021/22 campaign, in which City claimed another Premier League title.

Zinchenko played an integral role in the dramatic victory over Aston Villa that ensured we became champions for a fourth time in five seasons, and today it’s his contribution across 2021/22 which will be analysed...

Season stats

Appearances (all competitions): 28

Goals: 0

Assists: 5

Premier League appearances: 15

Cumulative minutes: 1,843

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Season highlight

Zinchenko’s standout display came on the final day of the Premier League season as City got the win we needed against Aston Villa to retain the title.

The Ukrainian was introduced from the bench at half-time alongside Ilkay Gundogan with Pep Guardiola’s men trailing by a single goal.

Gundogan would go on to grab a brace in a memorable comeback victory over the Villans, but Zinchenko put in an equally influential display down the left flank.

The 25-year-old almost made an instant impact when he jinked his way into the box before cutting back into the path of Riyad Mahrez, who was denied the equaliser by a last-ditch challenge.

And even when the visitors doubled their advantage through Philippe Coutinho, the Ukrainian’s energy and creativity from out wide continued to offer hope of an unlikely comeback.

He completed more successful passes (46) in his 45 minutes of action than any Villa player across the full match, while he also looked to cut inside and apply pressure to the opposing box in eight of his 13 successful ball carries.

His positive play would even earn him an assist for Rodrigo’s equalising strike in the 78th minute, cutting the ball back to the Spaniard after skipping away from Emiliano Buendia.

City needed a spark to change things against Villa and, in what is one of his finest displays for the Club to date, Zinchenko was the man to provide it.

Overview

Zinchenko is one of City’s finest technicians, but it is his tactical awareness and footballing intelligence which make him such an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s squad.

An attacking midfielder by trade, the Ukrainian has also demonstrated his defensive instincts when asked to fill in at left-back during his time at the Etihad Stadium.

A reliable operator that Guardiola has consistently trusted on the big occasion, Zinchenko featured in eight of our 11 Champions League matches this season as well as each of our last six Premier League games as our title pursuit continued to gather pace.

For a side fighting for silverware on multiple fronts, the demands of a busy fixture schedule can take their toll on a squad.

It's in these moments that players like Zinchenko, always available to step into the breach whenever and wherever required, are worth their weight in gold.

The Ukrainian adapts his game to suit whatever responsibility is thrust upon him, but that ability on the ball and unwavering work ethic – both cornerstones of his footballing repertoire - always shine through.

It is no surprise that, in his standout display of the campaign against Aston Villa, both of those qualities were available in abundance.

What they said

Pep Guardiola hailing Zinchenko's versatility and reliability in April 2022:

"When we brough Oleks for £2million from Ukraine, he was a No.10 – a Phil Foden position, a creative player – but the needs we had… We didn’t have a left-back for many years.

“Fabian Delph adapted incredibly well in that position and Oleks as well. That’s happened because he is well-educated, he knows exactly what it means. He adapted and said: ‘Okay, what does the team need? I’m going to do it.’

“He is a reliable player, honestly. Sometimes when he plays less or didn’t perform like normal, it’s because he’s a human being. What happens in his country, we cannot forget it. I know Oleks – the way he played is not necessary for us to know who he is.

“He is focused, a guy who handles the pressure, otherwise he would not have played the Final of the Champions League (against Chelsea)."

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