Arsenal v Middlesborough review – Classy Giroud!

Arsene Wenger made a surprising amount of changes to his Arsenal team for the visit of Middlesborough in the FA cup today. We are used to the manager making changes for the cup competitions but seven still seemed a lot, especially with the Championship side being in great form and having knocked Man City out in the previous round.

But Wenger also knew that Boro’s success was based on a strong defence and so he went for a very creative and attacking line-up, with Alexis Sanchez included despite the fitness concern and with both Ozil and Cazorla in midfield. We started well and hardly gave the away team a kick in the first 25 minutes as we zipped the ball around and created some good openings.

If Giroud had his shooting boots polished or if he had played Welbeck in a couple of times instead of going for goal, the Gunners would have grabbed the early lead our dominance deserved. We were not quite completing our attacks with enough cutting edge though, until a beautiful spot and pass from Cazorla found Gibbs on the left. Giroud made no mistake as he finished the left back’s cross and Arsenal were ahead.

Two minutes later it was two for the Gunners and Giroud. The Frenchman’s volley from an Alexis corner was out of this world. It also meant that the visitors had no choice but to try and be a bit more adventurous. They almost got through on Szczesny straight away but our defenders were having none of that and snuffed out the danger – and we nearly got a third goal with a quick counter but Alexis’ fearsome pace and drive were not quite enough.

The only thing wrong at the break was that we had not scored more goals. But we came out for the second half looking determined to put that right as we continued to press Boro back and cut them open. 19 minutes in, soon after Ozil had a powerful shot saved, a slack cross-filed ball led to a Boro break and Gabriel had to take a booking to stop it, and that was the only real danger Arsenal had faced.

With half an hour left Gibbs was unlucky not to get a goal as a reward to cap his excellent game, but his fierce shot was palmed away. Their keeper then made an amazing save to deny Alexis as well and just keep the game alive. The Chilean had just been denied again when he and Welbeck were replaced by Walcott and Rosicky with 20 minutes to go.

Walcott nearly set Giroud up for his hat-trick goal before he was replaced by young Akpom. More chances came and went and we should have scored more but Boro also hit the post in stoppage time. It was a dominant Arsenal show and we are now in the quarter-finals with Wembley another step closer.

Tags Alexis Gibbs Giroud


  1. Great win, excellent from everyone all around. Just the boost we needed going into harder matches. Giroud’s finishing skills have improved so much since he’s first arrived at the club. And Ozil/Cazorla dominated the whole game.

    1. I shall not disagree, but every cup is a gamble, either you win, or you dont. It’s not about consistency – which is what i’ve been looking for. When we’re consistent enough to win the PL, I’ll settle. 4th place is still 4th place, the FA cup would be nothing more than a band-aid on the wound. A sweet band aid, that is 🙂

  2. Grade A display. Sublime counterattacking football without any end product because of their Goalkeeper. Nice too see Giroud score that volley. I have so many complaints but let’s keep that for another day.

    Alexis Sanchez, woof.

    1. Alexis had a good game. And even when he’s not at his best, teams still have to be wary of him on the wings, which gives people like Ozil/Santi/Rosicky more space to roam in the middle.

    1. LVG will explode if that happens. He will refuse to speak English, bring out charts and claim the ghost of Sam Allardyce moved the ball.

  3. Good win, thought we were pretty solid throughout. 2 particular points to note from me.

    1. As usual, Cazorla’s footwork and close control was a thing of beauty. I love watching him dribble the ball.

    2. As the game went on, we saw more of a budding chemistry between Ozil & Sanchez. This might be the biggest takeaway from the game, as if these 2 start to develop this link-up chemistry that we saw in the later stages, that’ll be awesome for us going forward.

    1. Well spotted. I saw that too. I guess WC players are on the same wavelength thats why the chemistry is developing

    1. that Sanchez header he saved… top class. I was already half way out my seat once I saw Cazorla’s ball in.

  4. Back on form after last 2 games. Dominated Boro’ with skilful attacking football + clean sheet.
    Giroud in great scoring form + Ozil now starting to deliver his true quality in harness with Santi.
    Pleased Alexis played well too, and our new CB had an assured debut.
    Look forward to tomorrow’s draw!!

  5. Great performance.

    Welbeck has to be our worst ever signing and please don’t defend him and say he’s been played out of position or Wenger has forced him to play with his back against the wall.

    Even when played out of position a player should be able to pass the ball properly and control it as well…he kept losing possession .

    United knew why they let him go without a fight, Arsenal were really STUPID to think he’d be great for us.

    Hopefully we can release him in the summer for someone like Dybala or Lacazette.

    1. We just won two minutes ago. Two damned minutes and you are already WEEPING !!

      STOP THE WEEPING ! and complaining and complaining and whining.

    2. You re so wrong my friend. Alexis lost the ball much more than Welbeck. But I can 110 percent telll u and even bet with you if u wish (Justarsenal needs to add a betting option to this blog. Let people put their money where their mouth is) that Welbeck will shine for Arsenal. Welbeck works very hard and always puts 190 percent in helping the team even if he doesnt score. One thing for sure is that hard work always pays off. Alexis was not always a talent u know…..he is WC today because of hardwork and belief. How I’m I not sure u re one of the guys that was slagging Giroud in his first season. Alot of people even had the guts to say he will neva improve because he is older….how do u know…. are u God? If anyone works really hard and believes in their ability, they will succeed. And Welbeck has that type of workrate that i believe it will take him to the top. All he just needs to do is listen to the boss and keep on working hard and definitely shut his ears to fans like u.

      1. Yes defo, different defence. Very strong bench. And still good quality players to come back!! Good news all round.

        If we keep improving the squad – we will definitely win the League and I hope and pray, Champions League!!!

        Just when…..

        Hope Wenger goes out on a high

  6. I wonder when Giroud will get his Arsenal hatrick.

    Good game with good concentration.

    Boro did not just get our game plan. Karanka must have made some awful analyses.

      1. and gave away a needless corner, which was not a big deal but could have possibly been. But solid performance though, reminds me of Kos.

  7. Yeah I’m going to play it cool pretending that the FA Cup is so predictable.

    But deep down I know trophy is ours. This year I think I will go BBQ pre match and then watching Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla run rings around whichever poor defenders are there.

  8. when the substitutions were made theo,tomas for sanchez,welbz my memory took me back to when we had chamack,gervhino….as subs,how times have changed:)great win,great team performance !!!

    1. Money !!!!!! Those were the days when Wenger did not have the dinero to buy the best.
      Giroud, Carzola, Ozil, Sanchez, Chambers, Wellbeck; notice the upturn in quality ?

    1. That was his Brazilian pet hamster Dennis that he smuggled in with him. It translates English to Portuguese for him.

  9. I love Ramsay and Wilshere to bits but I think the starting lineup for the midfield has to be carzola/ozil/coquelin. Time will tell if this is a better combo but one of the advantages I see straight away from watching the game is that The midfield hardly misplaced the ball and also could retain it for longer periods. Carzola and Ozil are world class and to be fair it is difficult to dislodge the ball when they have it in their posession without fouling them. Ramsay does more defensively but he gives the ball away too much and puts us under pressure. I guess if you dont give the ball up too easily, there would not be a need for you to defend too much. That is exactly what Ozil and carzola bring by playing together in midfield then Coquelin can be the Anchor.

    1. TBH I don’t think Ramsey was ready to come back. He was struggling to last 60 mins, and needed more time – maybe a few last 10 minute substitutions would’ve nbeen better.

      1. he wasnt. The first two games he came back he couldnt complete the 90 minutes and just collapsed on the pitch until he was subbed. But he still kept getting starts. Poor managing with Ramsey again. If he needs more than 2 weeks give it to him because we need everyone for the last few months.

    2. What makes you so sure we’d struggle?
      Oscar/Cesc/Matic — Mesut/Santi/Coquelin

      Iniesta/Xavi/Busquets — mesut/Santi/Coq

      James/Modric/Kroos — Mesut/Santi/Coq

      Seems to work out just fine for Chelsea, Barca and Real. 3 teams that are considered to arguably be favorites for the UCL and best in the world.

      You know what kills us on the counter, Ramsey/Wilshire needlessly giving the ball away once we’ve committed numbers forward.

    3. I understand ur point but let me be the first to say i’m a big ramsay fan. I always said if a system had not broken then no need to change. But to be honest the system broke at tottenham….why?? Not because we did not defend well but we invited too much pressure on ourselves because we kept on losing the ball wen we recieved it in midfield. So logically if the less our midfield has the ball, the less we re likely to score. So it extremely important to make the most of the little posession we have wen there is so much pressure. Personally i will prefer ozil n carzola to handle the ball in such situations. If we have welbeck n sanchez on the wings as well, that gives the team the balance we need defensively bc they work hard and have the pace to break as well wen either carzola or ozil are on the ball. Ramsay will definitelty get better cause of competition. He just needs to try n learn to keep the ball better n not try too hard.

  10. Classy Giroud indeed! Am happy for the team on a well deserved victory *szczezny clean sheet *Gabriel Great debut *gibbs assist *ozil worldclass *sanchez assist *Giroud A brace *cazorla brilliant

  11. Needed to feel the confidents from playing the ball around again, confidents of having options all willing to come in and want to make things happen (Welbeck, Gibbs..)

    With the control, Gabriel was able to have a pleasant time on the pitch with his colleagues.

    Other than the win, needed the performance to feel good again. Palace will be tuff on the weekend but I feel better about the shape of things to come…

    1. yeah, it was good to see that Cazorla on the pitch again. We really missed him our last two previous matches. What changed?

  12. I think Giroud has always been a decent finisher, but the service to him has got better, allowing him to showcase his talent.

    Without decent service not many players will score many, aside from the rocket shots from just outside the box etc.

    The whole team is better balanced and playing well together, the culmination of some years work by Le Prof. I’m a critic of him in certain aspects, but no-one can deny he produces beautiful football when the team is gelling nicely..

    Because the team is playing better and more confidently (mostly) players like Giroud WILL benefit, because he will be able to get into the positions that suit and the team feel more able to supply him with decent ball.

    The finishing touch is his graceful touch, that today was exemplified by that second goal. Brilliant stuff from a player that has come in for a lot of criticism by some, and probably still will, as they seek the world class name that we apparently need……not.

  13. I feel Sanchez fever has rubbed off on Ozil so much so his performance have been amazing since coming from injury…He wanna let Sanchez know he’s the boss of the team still and that’s good to see…iron sharpens iron they say

    1. Sanchez has rubbed off on everyone; especially the OX.
      Notice that Ramsey has picked up the Santi spin also.

  14. It was great watching the team play 90 minutes with a full compliment of players unlike our regular 10 v 11 situation #gabrielformertesacker

    Happy Gunner

  15. It’s not about who we draw. It’s about what arsenal turns up on the day! On a good day we can beat anyone! But on a day we turn up with no passion or team spirit, We can look average.

    Today we were on top form!

  16. i think we played fabulously, however when playing the big teams i would rather not play ozil and use the two DM behind Cazorla with sanchez and welbeck the wide players and giroud the point man.
    yeah many are going to say i would be crazy to leave out Ozil, who, yes have improved, but i will say this his defensive side of his game is still lacking, even if he is one of the best passers in the world, we cannot allow that to be his only criteria for playing.

  17. very happy about this game. Arsenal did exactly what they were supposed to do against an in form team but also in a lower league. they were dominant, ruthless and classy. And the mental was strong today, very positive.

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