It was 7 wins in a row for us as we brushed aside Ludogorets Razgrad 6-0 in the champions league on Wednesday. It was as emphatic as it comes, the team is playing with superb confidence and we will return to Premier League action tomorrow against Middlesbrough.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in eight Premier League home games against Middlesbrough (W6, D2).
- Boro’s only victory at Arsenal in their last 31 top-flight matches at Arsenal came in April 2001 when own goals by Edu and Sylvinho put them on course for a 3-0 win.
- The most recent meeting between the sides came in the 2014-15 FA Cup when Olivier Giroud scored twice to send Arsenal into the quarter-finals.
- This game is on the same day as Arsene Wenger’s 67th birthday. He has won his two previous Premier League games on his birthday, 1-0 v Man City in 2005 and 4-0 v Reading in 2006.
- The Gunners have scored 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 goals in Premier League matches against Middlesbrough – one of four clubs to do so against another in Premier League history (also Chelsea vs Sunderland, Everton vs Sunderland and Man City vs Norwich).
- Mesut Özil has been directly involved in 51 goals in 90 league games for Arsenal (18 goals, 33 assists), the same total he had after 90 La Liga games for Real Madrid (14 goals, 37 assists).
- Middlesbrough’s only Premier League win this season has come against bottom club Sunderland (D3 L4).
- Boro have kept just one clean sheet in their last 19 away Premier League fixtures, away at West Brom.
- Five of Middlesbrough’s seven Premier League goals have come in the first half this season (71%), a league-high proportion.
(Courtesy: BBC Football and Stats Zone)
Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey returned to training earlier in the week but this game could be too soon for them, Granit Xhaka begins the first of his 3 game suspension after the red card against Swansea last saturday. Santi Cazorla had an ankle knock in the Champions League on Wednesday and faces a late fitness test. Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck remain long term absentees.
For Boro, other than the imminent return of skipper Grant Leadbitter, there are no fresh injury concerns for coach Aito Karanka.
I don’t expect Arsenal to make many changes. Petr Cech should take his place inbetween the sticks ( I have not been convinced by him lately), Nacho Monreal and Alex Iwobi should reclaim their starting shirts over Kieran Gibbs and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. If Santi Cazorla is not passed fit to start, he will be replaced by Mohamed Elneny.
Boro will miss Arsenal Loanee Calum Chambers so, Daniel Ayala should play at centre back. Coach Karanka could make many changes to arrest the steep slump in form of the team from Riverside.
Arsenal is the most inform team in all 4 divisions of English football, winning their last 7 games. We have scored 16goals in the last 6 straight league wins keeping 5 clean sheets in the process. There is an usual solidity in the teams’ overall shape, conceding few and scoring lots of goals. Once again, I expect Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott to be tormentors in chief. Mesut Ozil scored his first career hat trick on wednesday and has become a potent goal threat this season. The increased mobility upfront led by inform Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott seems to have brought out the best in our attacking play.
In contrast, Boro have won only once this season against bottom side Sunderland and have drawn 3 and lost 4 of their last 7 games. There is no pace in the team and one would think that Aitor Karanka having signed over 10 players in the summer should be doing better.
I dont see Boro getting any sniff in this game.
I predict a 3-0 win for Arsenal