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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Freddie Keighley

Oleksandr Zinchenko's reaction to Arsenal goal says everything about role in title bid

Oleksandr Zinchenko had no desire to celebrate his stunning equaliser for Arsenal - and instead made a beeline for the halfway line so play could restart promptly.

The Ukrainian, 26, scored his first Premier League goal as the Gunners took on Aston Villa in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off. It proved to be a vital one as his brilliant, rifled effort from just outside the area drew the visitors level for the second time at Villa Park.

Ollie Watkins gave the hosts an early lead before Bukayo Saka thumped home a leveller with just over quarter of an hour played, but Philippe Coutinho was on hand to restore Villa's advantage in the first half. This left Arsenal facing the prospect of a third league defeat in four games, but Zinchenko hauled them back on level terms on 61 minutes with his powerful effort following a corner.

While his fellow Gunners flocked to him to celebrate his first goal in their colours, Zinchenko simply ran back to his own half and urged his teammates to follow suit. With just under half an hour left to play in the Midlands, the former Manchester City man - who moved to Emirates Stadium in a £30million transfer last summer - clearly felt it was important to get back underway as soon as possible in search of a winner.

Arsenal travelled to Villa after losing to City and Everton either side of a draw with Brentford - results which were hugely damaging to their title bid. Wednesday's 3-1 defeat at home by Pep Guardiola's defending champions led to the Gunners being dislodged at the top of the table.

Zinchenko is one of the key leaders in Mikel Arteta's squad and he recognised the importance of pushing as hard as possible for a winner against Villa to regain momentum in the title race. The Gunners went on to clinch all three points in stunning fashion in added time after Jorginho's shot from range cannoned off the bar and into the net off the head of Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Oleksandr Zinchenko sprinted back to his own half after drawing Arsenal level at Aston Villa (Twitter/btsportfootball)

Who will win the Premier League title this season? Have your say in the comments!

There is still over a third of the season to play and Arteta knows Zinchenko's level head and winning mentality will be crucial during the run-in. The former Shakhtar Donetsk academy prospect won four Premier League titles, the FA Cup and four EFL Cups during his six years on City's books.

During that time, he worked closely with Arteta, who served as Guardiola's assistant manager at the Etihad Stadium. The Arsenal manager knows all about Zinchenko's quality and leadership and was compelled to bring him to north London last summer in what has proved to be an inspired piece of transfer business.

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