Arsenal dropped two vital points losing further ground in their hopeful title bid as Middlesbrough held them to a draw. Adebayor (17) put the Gunners in the lead with a free header however former Arsenal man Aliadiere (29) got the equaliser.
Middlesbrough started the first ten minutes the better and went close to scoring, albeit from an Arsenal player. A corner from Digard was flashed in at the near post and Adebayor headed just over. The resulting corner kick was similarly close as Adam Johnson lashed over, Almunia’s positioning circumspect for both.
Arsenal took the game up a notch and started passing the ball better, getting support by breaking forward in numbers. First a brilliant passing move where all players involved took no more than two touches. Diaby, Adebayor, Fabregas were predominantly involved and when the ball was played to Van Persie his shot was dragged just wide. Diaby then had two chances, one blasted over when he should have passed and another straight at Turnbull.
However it wasn’t to matter as the resulting corner kick saw Middlesbrough’s zonal marking fail them and Adebayor (17) headed in unmarked.
Diaby had another chance but Boro got back into the game with a goal out of nothing. Clichy trying to clear the ball pass two reds shirts and the ball fell to Tuncay who played a fantastic ball to Aliadiere (29) to nod home with a good header between two defenders.
The team in red then monopolised possession for the next ten minutes and could have got a penalty as Johnson fell from Clichy’s challenge though replays showed minimal if any contact. The wide men seemed to fall over as he was losing the ball.
Middlesbrough were particularly getting joy from wide areas as the Arsenal wide men tucked in giving space for full backs to roam the channels. The Gunners uncharacteristically not being able to hold possession as effectively and one that is synonymous with previous Wenger. The twenty minute period in the middle of the first half showed glimpses of that potential and brought the goal but were unable to sustain it. Fabregas especially in imperious form while Adebayor caused problems all day.
Boro started the half as they ended it though couldn’t get a clear chance. In the other end Adebayor played a ball across goal from which Van Persie couldn’t position himself to direct it while a long ball to Downing brought a good save from Almunia from the England man’s shot. The reds looking to break with pace at this point in the game.
Arsenal bossed possession for the remainder of the match but couldn’t find a clear path through. The lack of variety and pace meant it was easier for Boro to defend with the passes being made in front of them. Van Persie had another good chance as he scuffed wide and the Gunner’s were looking like they were running out of ideas, Wenger making his first substitution in the 82nd minute.
With youngsters like Vela, Wilshere and Ramsey on the bench and also Eboue more could have been made to make up for the lack of width and danger from wide. Sub Bendtner had two good chances; one straight at Turnbull though disappointingly no one was available across goal while the other headed over for the last chance of the game.
More dropped points for Arsenal against a spirited Middlesbrough side and the best one can ask is to learn and improve from the game.