Arsenal vs Middlesbrough: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Arsenal are hosting Middlesbrough this weekend and they will be expecting to continue their recent good form. The Gunners started poorly, but they have improved significantly in recent weeks and they could seriously challenge for the title this season. Arsene Wenger will know that his side should be competing at the top of the league and if they are to succeed, they need to win these type of matches.
A victory this weekend could send Arsenal to the top of the league if Manchester City drop points. Over the past few years, the Gunners have struggled to perform for an entire season and their character has been called into question. This is their most talented group of players for a number of years and they won’t have a better chance to win the league. It won’t be easy as there are three or four other sides that can also finish top of the league, but Arsenal’s start suggests that they are going to be serious contenders.
The visitors were seen as the best prepared of the three promoted clubs, but their recent struggles have raised concerns within the support base. They did add some very talented players during the summer, with Alvaro Negredo being the standout signing. Aitor Karanka could find himself under pressure if their run of form continues into the month of November. Although they won’t be expected to get anything from the match against Arsenal, it is important that the team put in a good performance.
After taking just one point from their opening two matches, Arsenal have won their last six Premier League matches. It has been an impressive turnaround and they are now behind Manchester City on goal difference only. Their attack has been excellent over the last five matches, as they have found the back of the net on an incredible 13 occasions.
Middlesbrough have seen the opposite as they have yet to win since the second match of the season. They have taken just one point from their last five matches. They do have the best defence in the bottom six as they have conceded just 11 times this season.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have both been in excellent form in recent weeks. Both are set to start this weekend, which will worry Middlesbrough as their defence is still relatively inexperienced against elite players. Francis Coquelin is expected to come into the starting eleven to replace the suspended Granit Xhaka.
Middlesbrough are likely to remain unchanged for their trip to the Emirates Stadium as there aren’t many options within the squad. Their organisation has been impressive, but they need to provide better service for Alvaro Negredo otherwise they will continue to struggle in front of goal.
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Granit Xhaka will be serving the first of his three match domestic suspension after being sent off against Swansea City. Aaron Ramsey won’t be back from his hamstring injury in time to feature in this match. Chuba Akpom, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck will also be missing this weekend.
The visitors don’t have many injury concerns ahead of their trip to the capital. James Husband is missing with a dislocated shoulder, while captain Grant Leadbitter is yet to feature this season and will be missing once again on Saturday.
It is difficult to go against the form book this weekend as Arsenal have looked formidable in recent matches. I expect the home side to win this match with some comfort and heap the pressure onto Aitor Karanka. Although Arsenal are known for slipping up in matches such as these, Middlesbrough’s woes in front of goal make that unlikely.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Stuart MacFarlane
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