Zinchenko's thoughts turn closer to home

Oleksandr Zinchenko of Arsenal prepares to take a throw-in during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on November 11, 2023 in London, England. 

No better time for pause and reflection than remembrance weekend and the start of a much-needed international break for Mikel Arteta's Arsenal who topped the table this time last year. 

A deserved return to winning ways leaves his side well-placed, nestled within a victory of overtaking champions Manchester City and a couple of weeks to get up to eight missing players closer to fitness by the time they resume action, at Brentford, on Saturday week.

Burnley too, with injury issues of their own, need a reset after a brutal return to the top flight in which they have conceded 30 goals in their opening 12 matches, while somehow still looking a fluent, well-organised difficult team to breakdown.

For others, such as Arsenal's Ukraine international Oleksandr Zinchenko, these games are incomparable to representing a nation not remembering those who have died in previous wars but counting the dead during this very match. Zinchenko and his fellow countrymen are Germany-bound to face Italy in a EURO 2024 qualifier against Italy next week. Win and they qualify, consigning the reigning European champions to the play-offs.

Zinchenko said: "It’s a massive game. I’m not ready talk about it yet, but for sure it is going to be a game of our lives, especially now, at the toughest time of our independence. To bring some positives news for Ukrainian people is so important.

"I’m definitely going there to fight for the result. It’s so important to play in the Euros and an amazing achievement (what we have done) already. We know that while we are wearing a Ukrainian shirt, especially now, is the proudest moment of our lives.

"Since being a kid you always dream to play for the national team, but, especially now, with the war in our country, we understand completely that every single game, it doesn’t matter which one, even a friendly, when you win the game, it’s another positive for our people."


The 26-year-old addressed the challenge of playing international football in neutral venues and club football while his fellow countrymen are at war.

"You ask me is it hard or not to play football? Let me ask you: 'is it hard for the people which is staying on the front line and giving their lives for our independence and for our freedom? Which way is harder?' So, that’s my answer."

On matters Arsenal, he reflected on a crucial victory following a first defeat of the season away to Newcastle. "I don’t know any team in the world that didn’t lose games, but it’s important to react well, because it gives you confidence back and I think we did well."

He then opened a door to the footballing plight of his former City team-mate Vincent Kompany, struggling to keep Burnley competitive on their return to the top flight.

"He said to me, ‘Zinny you never score a goal since we have known each other and now you score against me! How can you explain it?’ I was trying to escape him at the end because if he touch you, you don’t survive. He’s absolutely a legend and he gave me a lot of good things, which are helping me now and gonna help me in the future as well. He’s definitely one of the best player I ever played with and he’s an amazing coach."

Burnley looked capable of making it three consecutive trips to Arsenal without conceding until they allowed a scrappy goal as Leandro Trossard clattered into a post as he scored just before half-time. A crucial finish but hardly an Arsenal classic compared to some of the previous 999 goals they had scored at this stadium since it opened in 2006.

Trossard said: "I tried to protect myself, but I hit the post with my forearm but it’s ok and the pain has calmed down. It was really important to go into the international break like this."

It was his sixth goal of the season, and seventh in all for the club, and all seven have been assisted by Bukayo Saka.

"I don’t know why but every time B is on the ball, I just know I need to make a movement or come close to him and in this moment I just gambled on him winning the header and he did."

Burnley got a deserved 54th minute equaliser though captain Josh Brownhill, but soon trailed again to a William Saliba header from a corner and Zinchenko's 'Karate Kid' flying volley at another set piece not long after.

A late red card for substitute Fabio Vieira means the Portugal midfielder will be suspended for their Premier League return. Arteta would never say it, but there are players they would have missed more based on current form.

ARSENAL: Raya 6, Tomiyasu 5, Saliba 7, Gabriel 6, Zinchenko 8, Havertz 5 (Vieira 59), Jorginho 7, Rice 6, Saka 7 (Nelson 81), Trossard 8 (Nketiah 81), Martinelli 6 (Kiwior 90). 

Subs not used: Ramsdale, Elneny, Ibrahim, Sagoe Jr, Walters.

BURNLEY: Trafford 8, Vitinho 6 (Odobert 88), O’Shea 6, Beyer 6, Taylor 6, Gudmundsson 7, Berge 6, Brownhill 7 (Obafemi 85), Koleosho 7 (Larsen 80), Rodriguez 6, Amdouni 6 (Ramsey 80). 

Subs not used: Vigouroux, Roberts, Redmon, Cullen, Delcroix.

Referee: Michael Oliver 6.

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