EPL 2016/17: Middlesbrough 1-2 Arsenal, 5 Talking Points

There was a period after Alvaro Negredo scored an equaliser when Middlesbrough, who have won only four league games this season, looked capable of going on to claim their fifth scalp.

Consequently, Mesut Ozil secured the much-needed three points for Arsenal with a first-time strike the the 71th minute.

"I think we were focused and committed and you could see that we did not play with full confidence during some moments in the game", Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

Given Boro had failed to score in six out of their last eight games, Arsenal should have had few worries, but the hosts were level four minutes into the second half.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed 90 minutes for Arsenal in the win against Middlesbrough - and the club's supporters were full of praise on Twitter about his performance.

Now in sixth place, the Gunners trail fourth-place Manchester City by seven points, but the London club have a game in hand.

Sanchez seemed to have re-found his trademark enthusiasm, celebrating with the fans at the final whistle as if energised by the thought of next weekend's rather different challenge, a FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley.

When Arsenal are up against it, though, as they were for periods of this game, Ozil is a luxury that Arsene Wenger's team simply can not afford to accommodate.

Olivier Giroud was recalled, playing in front of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez - Danny Welbeck missed out with a toe injury.

"I felt that it added a bit more stability on the long balls".

Arsenal, whose last away win came at Swansea on January 14, moved into sixth place.

"It (the top four) is mathematically still alive", Wenger told Sky Sports. "It was only right we could get them three points and I would like to thank them".

"The opponent had a bit more of the ball than we are used to [but] we lost two games, against Crystal Palace and West Brom, where we had 70 per cent possession and today we had a bit less".

Then, after weathering the storm, Arsenal expanded their own attacking efforts and scored the victor through Ozil.

"Of course", Wenger said when asked if Sanchez and Ozil proved their worth to the team, as quoted on Arsenal's official site.

Wenger has not strayed from a traditional back four for over 20 years but made the surprise tactical adjustment for last night's trip to Middlesbrough.

  • Julie Sanders