Arsenal will come with huge doses of confidence when they host Middlesbrough on Saturday at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners put in 6 goals against Bulgarian side Ludogorets in their midweek Champions League match with Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all putting their names in the scoresheet.
However, though an easy win it seems in the weekend, Arsenal’s recent record against Boro have not been one to be very optimistic about. They have won only 1 of their six last Premier league fixtures against them. 4 of them have have in fact resulted in a draw.
One interesting fact is, Arsenal will play Middlesbrough on their manager, Arsene Wenger’s birthday. The last two times, Arsenal played on his birthday, they won 1-0 and 4-0 against Manchester City and Reading. Hence, Arsenal looks to continue that tradition this season.
With Per Mertesacker ruled out for a long duration quite early in the season, Arsenal has pretty well adapted to their current center half duo of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi. They also have the likes of Gabriel Paulista and Rob Holding on the bench, who have shown matured performances earlier in the season.
On the wings, Arsene Wenger is expected to stick to Nacho Monreal on the left and Hector Bellerin on the right. Despite an encouraging performance by Kieran Gibbs at the left flank down in the mid-week, Wenger is unlikely to select him over Monreal, who has been really brilliant this season. As far as Hector Bellerin is concerned, Wenger won’t consider resting him as he has been developing really well in that position providing support for both defense and attack.
Arsene has more than plenty of options in the middle at the moment and for a change this season, they are mostly fit to play. Wenger has mostly used Santi Cazorla paired with Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka. Now, with Xhaka out for 3 games, courtesy his horrendous tackle in the last game, Elneny might get a chance although Coquelin remains the first choice.
Up front, there will be the irreplaceable Mesut Ozil, who has simply exhibited everything the fans had been expecting for years now from the former Real Madrid man. He will be flanked by Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. Now, the Ox has put a mesmerizing performance in the Champions League, he will give Wenger a hard choice on whom to pick on the left flank. Theo Walcott has been the man of the moment scoring in almost all games he has played this season.
After much experimenting and putting him down up and on the sides and doing that few more times, Alexis Sanchez has finally found what he is exactly wanted to do. He falls back, he chips world class goals, he provides inch perfect passes for half-volleys and his stamina is unparalleled. Although Olivier Giroud has come to training, Wenger will stick to the Chilean, without a doubt.