Middlesbrough made the long trip down to North London to take on Arsenal, and were surely happy to go home with a point. The Gunners only made forced changes from the line-up which faced Swansea last weekend, with Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka, out through injury and suspension, being replaced by Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin.
The game started brightly, with both sides looking to push up the pitch and play attacking, but in the opening 25 minutes, the most clear-cut chances were from set pieces. Boro cracked the woodwork from a sublime free kick by Gaston Ramirez, shortly before Alexis Sanchez forced a super save from Victor Valdes from a similar distanced free kick at the other end.
The rest of the half was not as equal however, with the visitors putting us under immense pressure, with Adama Traore utilising his pace and skill to stretch us at the back, and a creative turn gave him the space to whip in a cross, which Ramirez couldn’t put past Cech from close-range.
We had a short spell where we could have nicked a goal before the interval, but we will have to consider ourselves lucky to have made it to the break on level on terms, with Petr Cech certainly being our player of the match thus far.
Front the off in the second-half, we were all over the Northern side, and could easily have scored twice in the opening five minutes.
Alexis Sanchez looked to have gifted Laurent Koscielny a tap-in, only for the ball to escape him, and then the Chilean put a powerful free-kick just past the inside of the post, but the game was now looking much more positive from our point.
Alexis again pushing forward, turns sweetly to create space for a shot, and forces Victor Valdes into action again.
Against the run of play however, Adama Traore sprints down the other end on the counter, and forces Cech once again to keep us level. The Teesiders started to build themselves back into the game after their latest chance, and began to challenge us once again.
There were then few really clear-cut chances going up to the 80th minute, but had all the build up for an exciting end to the match, with many struggling to understand how this game had got to this point without a goal.
We continued to press on in search of that winning goal, and Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka clearly had visions of stealing the points also, as he made a change up front. Their change failed to see them create a chance however, but we looked to have nailed the win in injury time, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
We had our chances to win today’s game, and the likely man of the match award will go to Victor Valdes, although Cech himself played a huge role in today’s result, which could easily have gone down as a loss.
Did we deserve to win today? Did last week’s struggles v Swansea set-up this encounter?