Thursday, January 27, 2022

Report: Middlesbrough 1-2 Arsenal (inc. goals)

Starting XI: Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Monreal, Alexis, Ozil, Giroud

Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Walcott, Iwobi


Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil sealed Arsenal’s first Premier League away win since mid-January as Arsene Wenger’s men beat Middlesbrough 2-1 at the Riverside.

The Gunners, deploying a 3-5-2 formation, took the lead courtesy of a fine free kick from the Chilean just before the break and although Alvaro Negredo found an equaliser they stole the points thanks to Ozil’s clinical strike on 71 minutes.

First half

Having conceded three goals in our last four away games defensive solidity was obviously on Arsene Wenger’s mind when he shifted to a five-man defence for the first time since the early days of his Highbury reign.

Rob Holding was selected next to Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel and the extra body at the back helped the Gunners, initially at least, swamp Boro’s lone forward Alvaro Negredo. Going forward the conservative selection meant we lacked an extra option in yellow and we looked somewhat ponderous on the ball.

In truth, the first 25 minutes reflected the context of the match as two out of form sides half-heartedly prowled forward without wanting to commit too much.

Arsenal’s best outlet was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who, despite an early booking for a foul on Fabio, enjoyed bombing forward on the right flank. The England international repeatedly got to the by-line to deliver a smorgasbord of crosses but rarely did we look like finishing off his good work.

There were efforts from Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez from corners and Olivier Giroud should have had a penalty after being wrestled to the ground by Daniel Ayala but chances, particularly from free play, were few and far between. The Gunners were therefore very grateful when Adam Clayton cleared out Granit Xhaka three yards outside the Boro box in a dead centre position just five minutes before the break.

Could Alexis Sanchez provide a rare spark of quality? Yes. An emphatic yes. With Brad Guzan covering his left side, the Chilean stepped up and curled the ball over the wall to the American’s right to break the deadlock. (1-0)

Second half

Boro came out with renewed purpose after the break and in the slanting rain took only five minutes to find an equaliser. Stewart Downing raced down the right flank, cut in on his left, chipped a ball over Koscielny for Negredo to clip the ball over Cech on the volley. (1-1)

With a draw no use to either side, the game became very stretched and chances flowed from end-to-end.

Calamitous defending from Gabriel and Monreal afforded Downing a chance to smash home a quick-fire second only for the ex-England winger to flash over. Not long after Cech stopped Daniel Ayala’s header at close range.

At the other end, Giroud had an effort blocked by Clayton and Guzan denied Ozil after the German burst through the defence. The less said about a Gabriel long-range shot the better.

After ramshackle stuff by both sides Arsenal finally put together a move of quality to restore our lead on 70 minutes.

Xhaka found Sanchez out wide on the left and with time on his side he clipped a ball into Ramsey who chested down for Ozil to drive a low shot inside Guzan’s near post. It was the German’s 11th goal of the season. (2-1)

Boro threatened a second equaliser as they launched free-kicks into the Gunners box before Arsene Wenger shut up shop taking off goalscorers Sanchez and Ozil and putting on Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin.

Twice in stoppage time Chamberlain should have added a gloss to the result but on both occasions he fluffed his lines with only Guzan to beat. Giroud then attempted a clever volley that just escaped past the post before Anthony Taylor blew for full time.

The win closes the gap on fourth place to seven points and gives us a confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City. Judging by the way the players celebrated the win this evening you sense this might be an important stepping stone in rebuilding what’s left of our season.

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Very glad to take the points but yet again we were far from convincing. At the moment we look a lot more like a team in the relegation scrap than one fighting for top 4. Still, a win is a step in the right direction.


Bout time we won

Runcorn Gooner

3 points but don’t we make it difficult.If we defend like that at SHL Spuds will murder us.Anyway let’s look forward to a shoot out and win against Citeh first.

Too Drunk To Be Offside

Doesn’t matter. I was thrilled to see the formation. This is what the team had so desperately required. Just try something new, change the system that has rendered the team so utterly useless. Wenger did that today. I posted in the team news article and I reiterate, that when I saw the changed formation I was thrilled. The result almost didn’t matter at that point. Wenger was FINALLY trying something new, and I loved that. This is what the team so desperately was in need of, freshening things up, instead of the ‘lets try the same old sh!t, and hope… Read more »


glad we got three point . but still it just begs the question , why couldnt he tried something like this earlier . anyways , thought holding , ramsey , ox and sanchez had a great game. if we could tighten up the defense this could work well

Too Drunk To Be Offside

He is called Stubborn Wenger for a reason. Never makes a tactical change, till now.

That is why the seasons tend to be Groundhog Day stories. Keeps trying the same thing with the same players again and again and hopes for improvement.

Einstein called it madness.

However even now, if he willing to change, then who knows. He is going to sign an extension, its very obvious, and if he is more adaptable more tactically nuanced, then who knows.

a different George

Oh, for chrissake–stop obsessing about formations. Wenger makes many tactical changes, that are apparent if you watch what is happening on the pitch instead of the “formation” graphic. A 4-2-3-1 with Giroud in the middle and Ramsey, Ozil, and Sanchez behind him does not play the same as Sanchez in the middle with Walcott, Ozil, and Iwobi.


Agreed. We never take any risks and changes like this can energize a team. We weren’t perfect tonight but it was a tough pitch and a really physical game. Still we found a way through when we needed it. All of this looked positive and it started with the change of formation as a statement of intent


Shout out to Ox, ran his hole off and gave a top interview at the end. Class.


I do not care about the quality of the win right now. The 3 points is all that matters. Still hoping and praying for a top 4.


still hoping for the annual sp*rs collapse tbh and us catching the 4th spot on the last matchday at their expense. Together with a FA Cup win against them in the final that would be a fantastic end to an very disappointing season.


Ozil and Sanchez, they are the best thing since sliced bread if they score and get rid of them when they don’t. This the quality of Football punters nowadays. Their opinions change like the weather



To be honest I thought Sanchez was pretty bad. The free kick aside, how many passes went wrong? Give him credit for taking the risks that everyone else seems afraid and of, but he gave the ball away in bad positions many times. Ozil was average, took his goal well, but credit to Ramsey for keeping his calm and laying it off to him.

We look half the team we were in October.

Crash Fistfight

I especially liked Alexis’s “calm down, don’t do anything silly” immediately before giving the ball straight to a Middlesbrough player to set up a 3 on 3 counter attack.


When a guy gives a 100 great games you don’t moan when he messes up 3 or 4 times. It’s the occasion that got the best of them. The fear of losing again. It started to feel really to them.
Ozil I give him a bit of slack because he tried to show that he cared even though it’s not his style to sprint and dispose and win back a ball. I think these guys lack a sense of direction, so let see what next weekend brings before I pass a final judgment on their will to fight for Arsenal.


We are here, waiting for your judgement then.


Finally a win away from home. Boy was that a struggle though. You can tell why Middlesbrough are facing relegation with the chances they missed tonight. Very scrappy which is to be expected given the teams form, but difficult to watch at times given the dreadful quality on show. Looks like we’re in for tight next few games until the end of the season. The #RaceFor6th is on!!….


we should develop a style


Loved the reaction from the players at the end.
Also can’t help but feel if Xhaka had made the tackle Leadbitter did, Taylor would have sent him off.


Important win. We are shit at defending

Crash Fistfight

That could’ve been the match report above. Nothing much else to say.


The new formation was interesting but we are still playing pretty shit so its a bit hard to judge


Not too keen to see this three man defence taking on Ageuro, Silva etc on Sunday…


Not sure. I quite liked the 5 at the back when we were being attacked.

no way

it might help the formation to play against a team that pushes men forward. We didn’t have too many chances to counterattack today

Original Paul

That made me chuckle Anonymarse Thanks! 🙂


That was a serious comment!

Original Paul

Well I liked it anyway…take the praise, not enough of it going around lately 🙂


True, very true


Glad we finally got an away win. Defense still sucks, no matter the formation. I forgot which manager said that in the end, it’s the players on the pitch that count the most, not the formation.


– Chamberlain was fantastic, although a little suspect defensively at times
– S/O to Holding, there is definitely something exciting in there.
– We won

– This team has no confidence at all
– Even with 3 CBs we can’t win a header in our own box
– Monreal…

no way

all of them are quite small for center halves


Monreal looked completely switched off on that Downing cross to Negredo. What’s going on with him?


I think nacho had a decent game as he is often double teamed down our left as he hardly ever gets help from Sanchez.


That was painful to watch but at least we got the 3 points. The bit that summed up the game was when Alexis told everyone around him to ‘calm down’ and one second later he gave the ball away and Boro were on the attack!!

Wade wilson

Ox!!!!!!! The game and the sky interview. Wooooh.

Also the ref was kak


We needed the win. We got it.

Thank fuck!


No yellow for Granit – Ozil made a tackle, 4 actually Ramsey wasn´t poor – Gabriel needs valium – Kos playing thorugh pain obviously – Alexis made Flamini gestures and lost the ball – but he´s our best man so all is forgiven – MOTM and a new wingback sensation = The OX

Wright on the money

It’s a win a scrappy one. If we play like this in th FA Cup we will get beat by a decent Man City side.

Nice goal Sanchez but still think you will be going.

Bloody Hair Ljungberg

This is Arsenal. Now let’s go on a winning streak and finish above fucking spuds #coyg


Extremely happy with us trying new stuff (taking into consideration how conservative Wenger is, such change is huge). We tried – we won. Still far from convincing, but I’ll take those 3 points. Oxlade-Chamberlain crucial in the first half, you could see in the second that they made sure they cut him off from the rest of the team and try to play through the left instead – and „surprisingly,” it worked. Not good enough from our left side defensively. Monreal exposed again, brought nothing going forward also. In this formation, this is Gibbs’ spot for sure. Ozil worked hard,… Read more »


Lets keep the formation but put Bellerin as right wing back, Ox on the left , bench Monreal and Gabriel (if Mustafi recovers).

John Doe

Decent game but I’m still firmly in the Wenger Out camp. Too little to late.

Somaali Abdi

Wenger masterclass. best coach in the league hands down. If you can’t beat em. I dont think we will finish top four this year but maybe we can win the league next year. Maybe Wenger maybe not but I will be a gooner. Come on ladies and gents get behind the team.

Josh K

Good enough!

bob davis

Far from convincing and we should really be destroying teams like Middlesbrough. It doesn’t change anything. Not looking forward to playing Man City, Sp-rs and Manure.


No team has destroyed Middlesbrough this season!


Great bit of play in the first half from Holding when he was given a hospital pass but played his way out of trouble brilliantly to release Nacho. Got a bit of the John Stones about him ….. and yes that is a good thing


I thought Holding was really solid, very tidy and fairly calm throughout. Worth a shot in a back 4 with Kos if we revert to type. I do wonder if Wenger will finally find a formula that works before the end of the season. Time of course is running out but I think the pragmatist has come out of the wood work with this 3-4-3. Just like Arteta and Ramsey in the middle a few seasons ago and Santi and the coq. A couple more games with this formation and we may claw back some respectability this season? Will be… Read more »


Like Stones, but good at defending?


…and not overpriced.

Original Paul

Sanchez makes the difference and I love him for that, but if he could reduce his giving the ball away stuff by only 30% we could win the Premiership next year. 50% reduction and the ECL is ours! COYG! 🙂


Wow Paul, now that was original.

Original Paul

Do I have to change my name back to “Paul” to stop this madness?

Early Mournings with Arsenal

I know it’s hardly Original Paul but renaming yourself ‘The Paul’ might stop the madness, or how about ‘The Paul formerly known as Paul’ or ‘Paul Almighty’ or ‘Paul the One and Only Paul’ or just ‘The One’ or perhaps you find my suggestions are just ‘A Pauling’?

Godfrey Twatsloch

Das Paul?

Original Paul

Are you taking the piss yen? Just asking…

Unoriginal Paul

Just leave my name alone.

Godfrey Twatsloch

Best Arsenal player – Oxlade-Chamberlain.


Anthony Taylor was a disgrace once again, he really does hate the Arsenal

Original Paul

I thought the team showed that they do care tonight. COYG.


I thought Chamberlain was toast after some small trip he made on a Boro player close to our box in the second half… It cried out for a cheap second yellow.


Always happy to see us pick up 3 points. Sign Alexis and Ozil. Move on from Wenger. Tired of this perennial race to finish 4th.

Lula da Gilberto

I am happy with the result but this was one turgid affair. It looked like it the Boro manager had urged his players to press us in the second half we’d have lost possession and possibly the game. Fleeting moments of quality from Ozil and Sanchez who otherwise gave the ball away in the wrong places too many times and looked capricious and, in Sanchez’s case, one footed. It great to see a new formation and it might explain why we had a couple of hairy moments in the game but ultimately I think that is it was not a… Read more »


^^Speaking of a novel. . ..

Lula da Gilberto

400 words? There is an adult section in every library too.


On the bright side at least Walcott was benched


It takes some balls to start Rob Holding in a match like this.


I don’t know. I’m less convinced by Gabriel.


I think Mustafi should replace Gabriel in the same formation in big matches.


Shaky still and clearly a bit of nerves a bit of the fact we are adjusting to a new system. We have to be way better next against City for the cup. Felt we would have been better served with Monreal tucked in and Ox on the left. But I think Wenger was giving Bellerin a bit of recovery time hence Gabriel (who did OK) on right side to protect when Ox ventures up field. Central midfield balance still an issue. Ramsey did OK and they benefited from the system as expected but neither Granit nor Ramsey are terribly good… Read more »


The other thing that really gets on my nerves is we can’t seem to keep ball for five minutes and see the game out.


Giroud did good today too.

Far more effective than Welbeck.

He gets himself involved, had an audacious attempt in the end trying to lob the keeper first time and should have frankly had two penalties, this game and the last.

We need players with this sort of experience and gumption now.


Everybody seem “thrilled” with this win against an awful team, just like the win against West Ham. Beating unconvincingly these teams makes us forget how bad we’ve been when it counts, with the only exception of the win v chelsea. I can’t see Wenger giving us more than what we’ve got for the past +10 seasons, three at the back or not…


yes. finally. 3-5-2.

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