Quick and incisive Arsenal put Middlesbrough to the sword

Cesc Fabregas’ double was enough for Arsenal to comfortably defeat Middlesbrough, with the Gunners playing with great intricacy.
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Fabregas-goal

In an increasingly utilitarian game it is good to see an old fashioned winger; someone prepared to come back into the dressing room with chalk on their boots in Theo Walcott. And in an increasingly utilitarian game, Arsenal had 11 playmakers on the pitch, all capable off being able to pass the ball with such assurance.

With Nasri finding it at ease partnering Denilson in central midfield it was clear Wenger wanted to finish the job as clinically as possible. This was technically as good a line-up Arsenal have sent out this season and together amassed 583 attempted passes. Incisive and quick, the Gunners played a game of triangles as typified by the first goal. A counter attack saw Bendtner backheel to Fabregas and he found Arshavin scampering down the left, and the skipper made up the whole length of Middlesbrough’s half to finish fantastically. Bendtner may have skewed Brad Jones vision somewhat as the Dane ran across him as the shot went in but in truth it was unstoppable.

The Gunners added intensity, aggression and urgency to their quick passing and Nasri and Denilson formed a solid base, making up for their lack of size with sound positional play. The formation allowed greater pressuring from the front so as to not let Boro play the ball out and if possible, win the ball back as high as possible. Out wide, Arshavin and Walcott had the dynamism although Middlesbrough’s organisation denied them the space to find someone in the centre. Indeed Bendtner showed some good touches but was not really given much joy in front of goal to test Jones. He flirted between whether to lead the line in a Ibrahimovic or a Totti role, turning out to be more of the latter although if he moves out of his central role it means one of the midfielders must take his position. The cut-back was the stock option but surely a bit more opportunism will get more goals.

Boro on the other hand were industrious without lacking that penetration but showed with more quality, a team could take advantage of Arsenal’s quick attacks. If too many men commit themselves forward and the attack does fail, Arsenal may leave themselves short at the back. It looked early on that Boro could get a few players behind Gibbs and Eboue but the Gunner’s superiority denied enough opportunities to do so. And Cesc Fabregas made it two with another great run, this time picked out by the playmaker Eboue and he rounded the on rushing Jones.

With the sun beaming down at the Emirates it felt all but like a simple stroll in the park. The perfect preparation for the crunch game at Manchester United.

Man of the Match: Samir Nasri– The Frenchman looked assured and was more expansive in his passing than those others who have played in the same role and tracked back superbly, with two in particular on Tuncay being highlights.

Arsenal: Almunia (7), Eboue (8), Toure (7), Silvestre (7) (Djourou 46), Gibbs (7), Walcott (7) (Diaby 68), Denilson (7), Fabregas (8) (Adebayor 68), Nasri (8)*, Arshavin (7), Bendtner (7).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Sagna, Vela, Song Billong.
Goals: Fabregas 26, 67.

Middlesbrough: Jones, McMahon (Digard 73), Wheater, Huth, Taylor, O’Neil, Bates, Sanli, Downing, Aliadiere (Emnes 86), King (Adam Johnson 61).

Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Hoyte, Alves, Grounds.
Att: 60,089

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

Arsenal Team Statistics Middlesbrough
2 Goals 0
1 1st Half Goals 0
7 Shots on Target 3
6 Shots off Target 1
5 Blocked Shots 1
8 Corners 1
8 Fouls 15
1 Offsides 4
0 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
84.7 Passing Success 73.5
18 Tackles 20
88.9 Tackles Success 75
520 Accurate Passes 249
63 Bad Passes 56
64.4 Possession 35.6
51.3 Territorial Advantage 48.7
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4 thoughts on “Quick and incisive Arsenal put Middlesbrough to the sword

  1. Nasri as CM/DM is the latest successful make-shift midfield by Wenger. Who can imagine that before? Nasri as our box to box midfielder is better than Cesc defensively while offering at least the same quality of short and long passes as Cesc’s. Remember when he picked Van Persie at the Liverpool game?
    Yesterday he showed his great awareness in interception and good tackling.

    The Midfield of
    Song
    Nasri Cesc
    Walcott Arshavin

    looks very good on paper and might surpass (finger-crossed) the Cesc-Flamini-Hleb-Rosicky, or even maybe the legendary Viera-Petit-Ljungberg-Pires

    1. Got to admit his early performances for Arsenal warranted a place in the centre as he showed great awareness that others didn’t show.

      Debatable whether he has superseded Denilson and Song positionally. The latter brings more bite but is a player that looks more in front than around. The players will need time to gel, that is clear but the potential is definitely great.

  2. i liked nasri as the box to box against middlesborough. I thought Denilson had a poor first half but improved in the second and have a good account of himself. I’d like to see the combination of Nasri and Song. Song’s pressuring and Nasri’s positional play and quick tackling would make a nice combination. Both have also showed accurate passing of late, with Nasri able to command a long range from the center. Also Song and Nasri have both shown their willingness to create with driving runs through the the center and the inside channels of the pitch. Anyone prefer this to say Denilson/Diaby as the shield?

    1. It looks to me that Nasri have the physical advantage over Denilson. Thus he partnering Song in the midfield is a possibility in the league match. I think Wenger shift Nasri deeper is an experiment due to the integration of Arshavin and the comeback of Cesc and Walcott.
      He might even be tempted to place Nasri and Song in central midfield and Diaby in left wing in this midweek match. With our recent versatility in midfield without even sacrificing the quality of movement and pass, it will be very hard for our opponent to guess our formation, thus the benefit for us.
      Can’t wait to see the tactical battles vs United.

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