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Match Preview: Arsenal vs Middlesbrough

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Arsenal host Middlesbrough this weekend as they look to continue their impressive run of form. The north London club have arguably been one of the best teams in Europe on so far this season and are currently unbeaten in 11 games. While many thought Arsenal would have a typical faltering season after their 4-3 loss to Liverpool on the opening day, Wenger’s men have been superb ever since and now currently sit joint top with Manchester City.

Although Arsenal are on a brilliant run of form, Arsene Wenger has urged his players not to become complacent and warned them of the “jungle” that is the Premier League. Indeed, only a few weeks ago many were already crowning Manchester City as the champions-elect and the team to beat. Fast forward to now and City have now been shown to be vulnerable, while Arsenal have recovered from a slow start. A key factor in Arsenal’s resurgence has been the ability to filed the exact starting XI. Aside from injuries to Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal have suffered no serious setbacks, albeit Wenger has confirmed that Cazorla will

A key factor in Arsenal’s resurgence has been the ability to filed the exact starting XI. Aside from injuries to Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal have suffered no serious setbacks, albeit Wenger has confirmed that Cazorla will miss this weekend’s game with a slight knock. Cazorla has been an ever-present in Wenger’s starting XI but will likely be replaced by Mohamed Elneny, although this has not changed the Arsenal betting odds this weekend. Summer signing Granit Xhaka is still suspended due to his red card last week, thus Francis Coquelin will probably partner Elneny in midifield.

Arsenal FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad - UEFA Champions League

Middlesbrough on the other hand, have not started the season well and have not won since their 2-1 win over Sunderland. Aitor Karanka’s men have struggled to find their feet in the League, especially up front. Premier League returnee, Alvaro Negredo has not replicated the form he showed during his stay at Manchester City and summer signing Viktor Fischer is still bedding into the high-paced nature of the League. At the back, Middlesbrough have been somewhat more impressive. Out of the current bottom five, they have conceded the fewest amount of goals, conceding 11 times. This, in large part, can be put down to the solid partnership of England under-21 teammates, Ben Gibson and Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers. This partnership will be put to the test this Saturday, as the two defenders won’t have faced a front four like Arsenal’s so far this season.

Alexis Sanchez was at first seen as the backup striker for Olivier Giroud, now he is probably Arsenal’s undisputed starter up front. The Chilean international has scored four goals while also bagging three assists and is key to Arsenal’s high press without the ball. On the wings, Alex Iwobi has cemented himself into the starting XI, while Theo Walcott seems to be going through a career rejuvenation and is one of the in-form players in the League currently.

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Although the Teesiders have been relatively poor so far this season, Arsenal will still need to produce a good performance to get the three points. Karanka’s men can take heart from Swansea’s performance last week, a game in which Arsenal had to hang on for the three points. It will be Arsene Wenger’s 67th birthday on Saturday, and he will not want any upsets to spoil the party; Arsenal should be too much for Middlesbrough but who knows in this League.

 

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