Arsenal ended a run of four straight away defeats in the Premier League by winning 2-1 at Middlesbrough on Monday, courtesy of goals from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
Middlesbrough had the first attempt on goal on four minutes, as Grant Leadbitter fired a long-range effort just wide of Petr Cech’s far post. Boro’s Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo was the next one to have a go at goal, firing well wide of Cech’s goal from long-range.
Arsenal’s first real threat on goal arrived on 17 minutes, as Gabriel saw a tame header go wide of goal for a goal-kick from a corner kick. Replays showed that in the same incident Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud was dragged to the floor in the penalty area by Boro defender Daniel Ayala.
Boro saw a goal disallowed on 22 minutes, as Martin De Roon’s header beat Cech, only for the referee’s assistant to flag for offside. A few minutes later Leadbitter hit another long-range effort that went well over Cech’s bar.
Arsenal attempted to take a foothold and Alexis Sanchez saw a volley at the far post easily dealt with by Boro ‘keeper Brad Guzan.
Arsenal took the lead just before half-time. Granit Xhaka won a free-kick on the edge of the Boro area. Sanchez curled the free-kick superbly into the left-hand corner of Guzan’s goal.
Boro equalised five minutes into the second half. Stewart Downing’s superb right-wing cross was prodded home past Cech by Negredo. The home side had a chance to take the lead ten minutes into the second half.
Full-back George Friend produced a fantastic run forward and his cross-shot was miss-hit by Nacho Monreal straight to Downing at the near post, only for the winger to volley over the bar.
On the hour mark Boro came close to taking the lead again. A Downing free-kick was kept alive by Friend, whose header fell for Ayala and the Spaniard saw his headed effort saved superbly by Cech.
At the other end, Guzan came out at the feet of Mesut Ozil after a fantastic through ball from Sanchez had found the German international. With 20 minutes left Arsenal took the lead for the second time in the game.
Sanchez lofted a ball into the box, Aaron Ramsey chested the ball into the path of Ozil who fired home into the bottom corner of the net. Gunners goalkeeper Cech was called into action on 79 minutes, as the keeper got down well to deny to a Negredo effort from just inside the area.
Arsenal went up the other end on 81 minutes as Sanchez found Olivier Giroud who missed the target completely when well-placed. Cech was in action again with just three minutes left on the clock, as he kept out Ben Gibson poked effort towards goal from close-range.
In stoppage-time, Guzan pulled off a good save from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to keep Boro in the game. There was still time for Oxlade-Chamberlain to hit the side-netting on an Arsenal counter-attack. Giroud also scooped an effort just wide of goal.
In the end, it was not a pretty victory for the Gunners, but it was a much-needed win to end their poor away run in the Premier League and keep alive their hopes of a top-four finish this season.
Who was Arsenal’s man of the match against Middlesbrough?