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    Middlesbrough 1 - 2 Arsenal


    Arsenal kept their top four hopes alive thanks to a masterclass from Alexis Sanchez at Middlesbrough, who were left deeper in relegation trouble.

    The first half was a dull affair, with neither side managing a shot on target for the first 40 minutes, although Marten De Roon did have a goal rightly disallowed for offside. The first moment of quality came in the 42nd minute from the lively Alexis Sanchez, who spectacularly curled home a free kick to give the visitors the advantage.

    After the break Boro improved drastically, and equalised five minutes after the break as Stewart Downing's excellent run and cross was latched onto and prodded in by Alvaro Negredo. Their equaliser seemed to spur them on, and the hosts almost took the lead after a messy set piece was pounced on by Daniel Ayala, but his close range shot was well saved by the returning Petr Cech. 

    Middlesbrough sub George Friend also had a good chance as he ran into the Arsenal penalty area from left back but his shot was blocked. Arsenal also had chances, but struggled to break through until the 71st minute. Sanchez was at the heart of their attack again, playing in a lovely lobbed ball to Aaron Ramsey who chested down for Mesut Ozil to smash past Brad Guzan and finish off a beautiful move.

    Boro rarely threatened to equalise a second time, and it was the visitors who looked like they would add to their two goals as Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade Chamberlian both went close late on.

    Although Arsenal easily held on for a crucial win which leaves seven points adrift of fourth with two games in hand, whilst Middlesbrough are six points from safety with only a single game in hand.

    Arsene Wenger would have been concerned with his team's reliability on Alexis Sanchez, as they looked flat when he didn't have the ball, although Alex Oxlade Chamberlian did look lively on the wing and threatened the hosts on a few occasions. The win ended a run of four straight away defeats, whilst Middlesbrough are without a league win since the 17th December but showed promising signs in their fight for survival, but will still have to improve if they are to beat the drop.

    MAN OF THE MATCH - Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)











    No contest really, Sanchez was once again the key to most of Arsenal's attacks, scoring a stunning free kick and playing a major part in Mesut Ozil's winning goal. If he leaves in the summer, Arsenal will struggle to replace him.

    MIDDLESBROUGH: Guzan, Barragan, Ayala, Gibson, Fabio (Friend 17), Clayton, de Roon (Gestede 79), Leadbitter, Downing, Negredo, Ramirez (Traore 68)

    ARSENAL: Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlian, Ramsey, Xhaka, Monreal, Ozil (Bellerin 90), Sanchez (Coquelin 90), Giroud
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    Item Reviewed: Middlesbrough 1 - 2 Arsenal Rating: 5 Reviewed By: rob
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