Sanchez, Ozil Revive Arsenal's Champions League Hopes

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal must win every one of their remaining Premier League matches if they are to stand any chance of finishing in the top four.

Arsenal boosted their slim chances of qualification for the Champions League with a much-needed victory over Middlesbrough on Monday evening.

'Mathematically it is still possible, even if it is hard, but we will give it a go'.

Wenger fielded a three-man central defence for the first time in 20 years as manager, and while the new formation was not wholly convincing, Arsenal secured their first Premier League away win since January 14.

"Sometimes when your team lacks confidence, just to have something new to believe helps them to focus".

"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".

'But there was (still) a nervousness there, because when you don't win the confidence goes quickly and comes back slowly'.

'We had to go back to the basics and it didn't matter how we won.

But Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who played well in a right wing-back position, said the most important thing was to show the right mentality after last week's disheartening defeat at Palace.

However, it worked a treat for the Gunners as they came out through their rough patch with a vital win in their 3-4-2-1 formation. "We need to take responsibility for that", he said.

While unable to match Arsenal in quality, Boro managed to turn up the intensity in the second half and the hard work paid off in the 50th minute with an equaliser from Alvaro Negredo. "We had to start by getting the three points". Sanchez and Ozil were the bright sparks in a game that saw Arsenal struggle to find rhythm and were constantly threatened at the back by Middlesbrough's direct game.

Performances have improved since Steve Agnew replaced Aitor Karanka on a caretaker basis last month and this display was perhaps their best so far under the Englishman. That is what we needed and that's what we wanted.

For lengthy periods of this encounter, Ozil was a passenger, spending more time running away from the ball than looking for it, but he at least came up with the goods when it mattered.

  • Julie Sanders