GUNPOWDER REVIEW: AT LAST!GUNNERS SHOW THEY ARE NOT YET CADAVER WITH WIN OVER MIDDLESBOROUGH
Well its about freaking time we stopped the rot and secured 3 points. It seemed like ages we last won a game of football. Actually it was only just the 5th of April we beat Westham convincingly at the Emirates but the last 2weeks plus have been pure agony for us Arsenal fans. We endured the shit show at Crystal palace, where if i say we were humiliated it would be the biggest understatement ever. You know things have gotten horribly bad when rival fans dont even bother to banter you any more..because the rivalry has given way to pity. such was our state as a club. it just beggars belief how things got this bad. The Middlesborough game had assumed a must win toga and it was simple as win or kiss top 4 bye bye whether mathematically, psychologically or otherwise. Wenger and his motley crew just had to look for the zeal to win from somewhere deep inside and re-produce it on the pitch something they had spectacularly failed to do at Crystal Palace.
Middlesbrough: (4-3-2-1): Guzan 6.5; Barragan 7, Gibson 7, Ayala 6.5, Fabio 6 (Friend 17, 7); Clayton 6.5, De Roon 6.5 (Gestede 79), Leadbitter 7; Ramirez 6.5 (Traore 68, 6), Downing 7; Negredo 7
Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Bernardo, Bamford, Forshaw
Goal: Negredo 50
Booked: Leadbitter, Gestede
Arsenal: (3-4-2-1): Cech 7; Gabriel 6.5, Koscielny 6.5, Holding 6.5; Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Xhaka 6, Ramsey 6, Monreal 6; Sanchez 7.5 (Coquelin 90), Ozil 7 (Bellerin 90); Giroud 6
Subs not used: Gibbs, Walcott, Iwobi, Martinez, Elneny
Goals: Sanchez 42, Ozil 71
Booked: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gabriel
Referee: Anthony Taylor 6.5
Man of the Match: Sanchez
The line up suggested the manager had succumbed to the cries of Fans and other stake holders to switch the system and try any thing else. For the first time i can remember, i saw an Arsenal team play with three defenders at the back. The system was probably needed after Big Sam Allardyce of all people in a most embarrassing way told the world how easy it is to beat Arsenal with the Previous back 4 set up of 2 fullbacks. At the Post Crystal palace press conference, he pointedly said (and i quote) “the fullbacks Bellerin and Monreal like to Bomb forward and when they do they leave their Centre-halves exposed. If you try to take advantage of that you could hurt them” You know you are in trouble if Big Sam has your antidote in his pocket. That defeat at Palace caused the change and despite the fact we haven’t played this formation before in recent time,it would have to be the one to deliver 3 points tonight.
The game began as you’d expect with two teams Low on confidence. The passage of play was slow and flat. Neither was ready to commit too early knowing a loss would be a damaging blow to their fortunes at both ends of the table. A couple of half chances here and there , half-hearted forays yeilded nothing & gave a slight hint both teams may settle for a draw. Giroud was the arrow head in attack and with Ox looking Dangerous on the wings floating crosses at will it didn’t seem a bad set up.
As the first half petered to an end, Arsenal earned a freekick at the edge of the box 20-25 yards out from goal. The men behind the ball were Ozil, Xhaka and Sanchez. The wall was lined up by the Middlesborough keeper but ultimately they might as well not have bothered as the chilean had bent in an exquisite effort above the wall and inside the Middlesborough net for 1-0 Arsenal. The home side won a quick freekick of their own after the restart of the game but the execution was poor. So 1-0 to us and the relief on all Gooners worldwide must have been palpable. At last something to Cheer.
The 2nd Half saw the home side begin the half slightly sharper than us, The duo of Downing and Negredo looking to combine at every chance. The new formation was every step of the way affecting our fluidity as the number of wayward passes and disjointed play was clear to see. The back three of Kos, Holding and Gabriel had done well to cope with the forays but in all honesty crosses flung into our box were causing cold fear to coarse through my body. We were not dealing with them well at all and it was unsurprising the orders from the home dugout was to keep flinging the crosses in to cause mayhem in Arsenal’s box. A few chances ought to have ended in the back of our net but Cech made some great saves to deny them. But in the 70th minute an Arsenal attack broke down Stewart downing raced into our half under the watch of Monreal but the spaniard instead of getting tight on Downing to prevent the cross allowed him to pick out Negredo who made no mistake to level scores. 1-1
Suddenly everything went flat again. The panic setting in allover again as Middlesborough brought on the tricky Traore who boasts impressive speed to heap more problems for Monreal. But he thankfully he coped with some help from Holding who was impressive on the night. Arsenal kept their own attacks going and heading into the closing stages Ramsey and Ozil combined to put us ahead. 2-1. You could see what it meant for the lads as they celebrated. The hosts conjured 3 very clear chances from crosses to level the scores but the fluffed every single one. There were no further goals and 2-1 it ended meaning Arsene Wenger can enjoy a bit of reprieve from the pressure on his head.
Next game is Manchester City at Wembley in the FA CUP and that one won’t be easy. But there will be plenty of time to analyse that but today we can enjoy the taste of three vital points given to us by Middlesbrough. Here’s hoping the max points will help re-build lost confidence and get us back to our best.