Maybe it’s time for Plan B
Match Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Arsenal – Premier League – 17.04.2017
In most seasons a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace would be greeted with furious uproar but this season it was barely acknowledged with a raised eyebrow. I said last week that Arsenal’s 2017 form had been of the relegation candidate variety prior to the win over West Ham and draw with Manchester City. Our most recent drubbing puts us back into that category.
Since the end of January Arsenal have only picked up 7 points from a possible 24 and I struggle to remember a time when we’ve looked so dejected. Even the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford had some positives to take but I cannot think of any from the Crystal Palace defeat.
Perhaps I am being too harsh as Martinez had some bright spots and was left woefully exposed but I fear for Arsenal’s immediate future. I’ve been clinging to a faint hope that we will somehow finish in the top four but the Premier League betting with 8 games remaining does not look favourable for the Gunners.
Last week I advocated for the continuation of our mobile front three and keeping Giroud on the bench for his super-sub skills. It has long been felt amongst the fan base that Giroud is very much a Plan B player. Clearly Plan A is not working for us right now so I think we need to shake things up.
Perhaps what we need is a bit of ugly football to grind out the remaining 24 points available to us. I’d opt for Giroud and Welbeck up top together tonight and focus on physically disrupting the Middlesbrough defence.
Even for a labouring Arsenal team this should be a straightforward victory however the Teesiders battled Arsenal to a goalless draw in October so I’m not expecting an easy ride tonight. Like most Arsenal fans I just want this season over already.
Arsenal (from): Cech, Martinez, Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Alexis, Welbeck, Giroud.
“The best way to make your fans happy is to turn up with a performance and have full commitment on the pitch. Fans always understand that you cannot guarantee winning every single game, but they want full commitment and rightly so” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 0-0 Middlesbrough (22.10.2016)
- Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough (15.02.2015)
- Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough (26.04.2009)
Middlesbrough are down in the mud without a win since February, a 3-2 victory over Oxford in the FA Cup, and a league win since before New Year. George Friend and Gaston Ramirez are back in contention but Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers is ineligible to play.
Boro will cause few problems in attack but they do have the players to frustrate the heck out of Arsenal’s attack
- Middlesbrough are unbeaten in four Premier League home games against Arsenal (W2, D2).
- Arsenal have scored in their last 13 Premier League fixtures away to Middlesbrough.
- Middlesbrough haven’t won a Premier League game in 2017 – a run of 14 games (D6, L8).
- Boro have the worst attack in the Premier League, scoring just 22 goals in 31 games.
- However, they have conceded just 37 goals, the fewest of any Premier League team in the bottom half and two fewer than Arsenal.
- Steve Agnew takes on Arsene Wenger in his fifth Premier League game as a head coach. This is Wenger’s 783rd Premier League match in charge.
- Arsenal have won just two of their last eight Premier League games, losing five of them.
- The Gunners could lose five consecutive top-flight away games for the first time since December 1984.
- Olivier Giroud is the only member of the Arsenal squad to score against Middlesbrough, with two FA Cup goals in February 2015.
The optimist in me is going for a 1-0 win for Arsenal.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Don’t forget to tune into the funniest Arsenal podcast around “Goonersphere Podcast“
Advertise your business here! Click here for details .