For much of the first half, it seemed as though Arsenal’s tie against relegation fighting Middlesbrough could have been one of those days. A change in system was not enough to break the deadlock and the home side held the Gunners for much of the first period.
As is often the case though, Alexis Sanchez made the breakthrough not long before the break as he lifted a central free-kick from 20 yards over the wall and into the back of then net past a stranded Brad Guzan.
Boro didn’t give up though, and just five minutes into the second half Stewart Downing whipped a magnificent cross into the path of Alvaro Negredo with Arsenal’s back three left as stranded as Guzan had been by Sanchez’s free-kick, with the on loan striker on hand to finish the move with a calm finish past Petr Cech in goal.
Middlesbrough had their chances to take the lead but failed to capitalise and their incompetence in front of goal allowed Mesut Ozil to strike when Olivier Giroud provided him with the perfect opportunity to seal the winner for the visitors in a less than convincing victory.
Here are how how the Arsenal players rated:
Petr Cech – 7
Made a brilliant stop to deny Daniel Ayala at close range and was called into action several times at set pieces when Boro looked to apply the pressure in search of an equaliser. Assured and no sign of the lack of confidence which seemed to be affecting him previously.
Read on over the next few pages to see how his team-mates rated…