Buidling Dreams Together


Analysis of Arsenal’s fullback options after Timber’s ACL Injury

Arsenal fan’s worst fears were confirmed yesterday as the club released a medical update confirming that Jurrien Timber had “sustained an injury to his interior cruciate ligament in his right knee”. ACL damage can cause some of the most lengthy and arduous rehabilitation periods for any athlete. Timber will now undergo surgery in the coming days for the damage picked up on his debut against Nottingham Forest.

Arsenal’s Jurrien Timber took to Instagram after his ACL injury was confirmed

Timber fit into the squad seamlessly and started both the Community Shield and opening day Premier league game at left back. Mikel Arteta described the injury as a “huge blow” and that “Jurrien has been very good, he’s a special character”. With an outstanding option on each side of the pitch now missing, which options are available to Arteta that can fulfil his desire for full backs to contribute to the Arsenal midfield?

Oleksandr Zinchenko

The most obvious, and Arteta’s favoured option at left back last season is Zinchenko. His ability to play inside alongside Thomas Partey in a pivot whilst Arsenal are on the ball creates an overload that suffocates less technically gifted teams. As one of the most talented ball players in the squad, Zinchenko is a tempo controller.

When being pressed he can keep his cool and find a teammate with ease, this is critical for his side in the biggest of games. Zinchenko used this skillset most influentially against Tottenham away last January when he helped Arsenal keep the ball and take a first half two goal lead. Zinchenko, alongside Gabriel Jesus, would also be deemed responsible for taking Arsenal from outsiders for a Champions League spot to genuine title challengers.

Ben White

Ben White is Arsenal’s ever-reliable man as the right sided full back. Timber was brought in to provide competition on that side, whilst also relieving any pressure injuries or suspension may weigh on this Arsenal team. At the end of last season both Tomiyasu and William Saliba were ruled out with season ending injuries. Yet, this year with the addition of Timber, if this same scenario occurred then White would be able to fill in at centre half and Timber at right back, or vice-versa. The plethora of options that Arteta had at his disposal has now faded, but White is still someone who can be trusted to perform week in, week out, for the Gunners.

Takehiro Tomiyasu

As mentioned above, Tomiyasu’s season was cut short last year due to injury and it left Arsenal short of defensive depth. His injury record is concerning, seemingly not hitting the outstanding level he enjoyed in his first season at the club. Yet, Tomiyasu is still Arteta’s go to man on either side at full back, with his ball playing ability being his standout quality, which allows him to invert. He may not be as adept at playing on the left as Zinchenko or Timber, but he has definitely positioned him as Arteta’s second choice on the left-hand side despite being right footed.

Kieran Tierney

From one of the first names on the team sheet to being left out of the squad altogether, Kieran Tierney’s future is looking increasingly uncertain by the week. As traditional, high flying full backs go, Tierney is exactly that. In the era of centre halves being deployed as conservative ball playing full backs, the demand for a ‘get to the by-line and swing it in for the big man’ type is now out of fashion. With Timber’s injury Tierney may find himself in a stronger position but with Zinchenko, Tomiyasu and maybe even Kiwior ahead of him, he may need to look elsewhere for first team football this season.

Alternative Full Back Options

Thomas Partey has found himself deployed at right back recently, inverting to provide greater numbers in midfield. Nevertheless, this may just be an occurrence in home matches against sides sitting in a low block, but it is an option if one of the centre halves are unable to play and White is shifted across the defence.

Jakub Kiwior was brought in last January as a left sided centre half with his ability on the ball being a highlighted attribute. Towards the end of the season Kiwior was deployed as a conservative left back focused on ball playing and staying deep to allow the right sided full back to push forward. With Timber now out, Kiwior as an option on the left may be seen more frequently.

To keep up with the latest Arsenal and sports news – follow DubSportss on X and Instagram and Huzaifah Khan on X @Huzaifah1010