Middlesbrough Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Here is a stat to show our slide in the most alarming of ways.

The corresponding fixture between the two sides was a 0-0 draw – and that result took Arsenal to the top of the League in October. 

Fast forward five or so months of mediocre performances and we are left with a season that hangs on via its fingertips, vainly attempting to avoid falling into the category of the worst season in Arsene Wenger’s tenure in terms of finishing spots.

The last result was perhaps the worst in recent memory, and the 3-0 humping we received at the hands of Crystal Palace needs to be immediately rectified. The only way this can happen is to get back to winning, and quickly.

Most would  perceive this game to be a gimme for Arsenal. Middlesbrough are the lowest scorers in the Professional English League, and with Caretaker Boss Steve Agnew overseeing things, the Teesiders may be in a state of flux. 

So who is betting Arsenal will win? There cannot be many confident raised hands.

Either way, the Gunners should have the personnel to at least get back on track. Our away record of late is quite distressing, and we are on the verge of losing five away games on the spin if Boro do take the three points – and that would be our worst away run since 1984. 

We also should be wary as we have not beaten the home side at the Riverside in the last four games, so this game is far from a banked win for Arsenal.

There are reasons for a small amount of optimism though. Laurent Koscielny and Petr Cech could come back into the side after missing the last couple, and these two are a large part of the spine of the side. 

A conundrum comes in  midfield for the away team though. Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey all featured at some stage against Palace and did not cover themselves in glory, so will changes be made? One who is sure to be in with a shout is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has performed in the centre admirably when included. 

Attack is another area where changes could be made. Alexis and Olivier Giroud will be prime candidates to play up top, especially as Danny Welbeck has started the last three games. Giroud is also the only Arsenal player to have scored against Boro, with two in an FA Cup tie in 2015. 

Calum Chambers will miss out for Boro as he is ineligible to face us, so their defence will be shuffled. This is a good thing too, as their defensive record this season is better than ours! At this point in time, we will take any advantage given to us!

A player to watch out for will be Adama Traore. The mazy winger is topping the dribbling charts in the Premiership this season, and he could cause our defence all sorts of problems if not shackled correctly. With Gaston Ramirez back and ready to feed Traore with ammunition, this match could be tighter than expected. 

This season has eroded the feeling I used to get when a match was closing in – and that was excitement. A steady rise up the table would be nice, but I’d be content with seeing the players in our squad playing to their potential – if they do that then the results will sort themselves out.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Theo, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – I say we grab a much needed 2-0 win. #UTA

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