Arsenal were left ruing by an undaunted Boro side earlier today. Although we controlled possession throughout the game but you could tell there was no cohesion in our midfield.
We got an interest piece on the Metro that reveals why Santi Cazorla is indispensable.
“The Gunners had the chance to put pressure on Manchester City before their clash with Southampton tomorrow but squandered their opportunity with a below-par display.
Arsene Wenger was celebrating his 67th birthday but had very little to cheer about during a first half in which the visitors could have been two or three ahead through Gaston Ramirez and Adama Traore.
Arsenal improved after the break and went close through Alexis Sanchez. The Gunners thought they had won it when Mesut Ozil slotted home in injury time but the German was correctly called offside.
Arsenal started with a midfield pairing of Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin but neither passed their audition for a regular starting spot.
Granit Xhaka was missing, serving the first game of his three-match suspension for his red card against Swansea but it was his partner, Santi Cazorla, that the Gunners missed the most against Boro.
The Spaniard was left out completely after sustaining an achilles injury in the side’s 6-0 battering of Ludogorets on Wednesday and the Gunners’ play was slow and lacking in imagination without the 31-year-old.
Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez have benefited from Olivier Giroud’s omission so far this season but the Frenchman’s absence is futile when the midfield labour in possession.
Shooting accuracy: 50%
Though the pair are capable on the ball, both Elneny and Coquelin are more defensively-minded and their pairing didn’t make sense against a Middlesbrough side that was always going to try and contain the Gunners.
Both were sitting too deep in the first half and did little to counter Middlesbrough’s enterprising front four. The least expected of the duo is to cut out attacks but the visitors could have been comfortably ahead at the interval.
Arsenal improved as a collective after the break but Ozil and Sanchez were dropping deeper to collect the ball, showing little faith in the service they were provided with.
Credit must be given to Middlesbrough, who defended in numbers and counter-attacked with vigour. Karanka’s side suffocated room in the centre of the park but in truth, Arsenal looked like they lacked the craft to split open the defence.”