Aito Karanka’s Middlesbrough team came to the Emirates on a brilliant run of form and with complete confidence that they could compete with Arsenal on equal terms, but straight from the kick-off the Gunners gave them a masterclass in passing and possession and poor Boro were brought down to earth with a bump.
Arsene Wenger made SEVEN changes to the team that faced Leicester last week, but the replacements were fresh and hungry to assert their readiness for a starting spot for the rest of the season. Wenger was understandably smug after the impressive showing from his players.
He said after the game: “We controlled the game from the first to the last minute. They had one chance at the end from a header, but overall I’m pleased with the way we attacked, the way we defended and with the way we played together with a good focus for 90 minutes. That’s basically it.
“The first goal is what we try to do in our game and our build-up. The second goal shows that the game belongs to the players as well because it’s a consequence of two players who respond quickly to a situation, analyse it quickly and do what they want to do well. That’s basically what it was. It’s a consequence of intelligence and technique.”
After going in at half-time 2-0 up Arsenal were slightly more generous after the break, but remained in control completely. Wojciech Szczesny was hardly tested while only the impressive Boro keeper Osorio stopped Arsenal from increasing their lead. Wenger was happy to praise our opponents for their persistence in trying to get back into the game.
“They are a good side,” Wenger added. “Well organised, and if they had come back to 2-1 I think we would have struggled a little bit. They played good football with a good fluency in their game. We managed not to give them any chance today but overall you feel it is a good team.”
Middlesbrough are looking to be on course to return to the Premier League next year, but they have been given a reminder that they will not find it quite as easy at the higher level, but, to be fair, they will rarely play another team in such brilliant form as Arsenal were yesterday….