Yesterday’s predicted line-up including the bench was spot-on. It was exactly what I thought Arsene would do, but maybe it’s obvious considering who was available and the fact we were at home.
With both Man U and Chelsea winning earlier in the day, we had slipped to second in the league with all 3 teams having played 29 games.
Match Report: Full time, Arsenal 1 – 1 Middlesborough
The game started at pace with both team trying make an early impression.
A free flowing move between Ade, VP and Hleb saw George Boetang send the ball to Ade who snuck it under the advancing goalkeeper. 1-0 to Arsenal? Ruled offside by a linesman who really should check the rule book, if the ball comes off an opposing player, the offside rule doesn’t reply – remember England v France, Gerrard and Henry?
Anyway, the game continued and we were obviously in a good mood, with everyone working hard. Good work from the team, saw Eboue get the ball out on the right. His play was so bad that his cross actually swung along the byline and hit the bar. A long ball from Cesc saw Van Persie swipe at thin air, something a 100% fit VP would have volleyed home.
More good work from the team saw Schwarzer save well from a fierce Eboue shot from about 7 yards who made some space for himself (yes Eboue hit the target!). Not the time or place to talk about this, but I’d really like to see someone else come in for Eboue as he really doesn’t seem like he understands how important these games are. Having said, that, around the 20 min mark, good work from him and Ade teed up Cesc for a shot, although the pass was a little short, Cescy still managed to get the ball on target.
Cesc is something special and an 60 yard straight ball down the middle saw Ade have an attempt on goal. We started to dominate the game and Ade was tussling, fighting for everything. However, on the 24th minute he was wrongly awarded a freekick against him – and from that free kick a long ball down to Tuncay a cross on the ground saw Aliaidiere find the back of the net.
To the shock of the Emirates, Arsenal 0 – 1 Middlesborough.
By the way, it was offside, Aliaidiere was about 2 yards ahead of play, but then is there any worth moaning?
A few minutes of nothing-ness followed until the 28th minute when Flamini & Fabregas set up VP on the edge of the box, who elected to shoot rather than pass and it went out for a throw in.
It had been raining before the game and a lot of players had been falling over, but Eboue’s run in the box was clearly a drag down and in the 32nd minute, surely a penalty to Arsenal. Not given. Arsenal 72% posession, Middlesborough 28%.
It was intiscing. From the 35th minute it was an onslaught, the play was awesome, we had shots from Ade, Eboue and Cesc. But for goodness sake, Mark Halsey, do you know what the hell a foul is? VP had been hacked down twice 15 yards nothing given.
Half time, one nil down.
The second half started well with a good amount of pressure, a stike wide from VP and a header over from Gallas. Hleb wasn’t in the game that much and Arsene had obviously told him to get into the game. For the first 10 mins everything went through him. But then strangely enough, nothing really happened for a while. Kolo heading wide from a corner.
There was a lack of urgency, the crowd were frustated. Walcott and Bendtner were warming up and surely the game needed this… on the 60th minute VP for Bendtner, Walcott for Sagna (instead of Eboue) which was a little strange…
Both made an immediate impact and both Theo mazing runs and Bendtner different approach saw crosses and an attempt on goal by Bendtner from an Eboue cross… But time was running out, 65th minute passes still one nil down.
An awesome ball from Hleb saw Fabregas through one on one with the keeper but Schwarzer saved well. The replays showed it was a golden opportunity and Cescy knew it.
The next chance didn’t come until the 73rd minute when a looping ball from Toure on the right saw Cescy’s header hit the post and go wide… 15 minutes to go? Would we salvage a draw? Or would we lose our 2nd league game of the season to the same opponents.
Well 10 mins passed and nothing happened, so it’s now the 85th minute and hold on….
A corner from Fabregas, Toure’s header it’s a goal, Arsenal 1 – 1 Middlesborough!
5 minutes to find a winner. It’s amazing how many times we’ve scored in the last 15 minutes of games?
Things got a bit crazy, Mido’s Karate kick moments later saw Mido sent off, Clichy stretchered off and Senderos come on for the last 5 minutes. 3-4-3 the formation. 4 minutes of stoppage time, quite an end to the game. We must have had about 10 chances, great play, an amazing last 5 minutes.
Why on earth couldn’t we play like this for the 90 minutes?
The title is looking more distant, but we’re still in the race.