Arsenal v Middlesbrough match preview and predictions.
For Middlesbrough, who are back into the Premier League after a gap of seven seasons, the going couldn't have been worse. Three straight defeats have pushed them to the 17th spot on the EPL table and a whisker away from relegation status. The two-thirds possession Boro cornered in their game against Watford last week was of little use. Watford emerged as 1-0 victors in the end.
For coach Aitor Karanka, getting goals have been a big problem. Boro's measly tally of 6 goals is the lowest of all teams in the 2016-17 season so far. Going into Saturday's big clash with Arsenal, he will need someone like Alvaro Negredo, to seriously fire. Negredo, who once hammered in as many as 23 goals for Manchester City in the 2013-14 season, looks a pale shadow of his past, getting just one from his seven appearances this year.
Antonio Barragan, Arsenal import Calum Chambers, Ben Gibson and George Friend make up a youthful quartet at the back and surprisingly for a team so lowly placed they have conceded much lesser goals than most teams in the bottom half of the table. But going against one of the most rampaging sides in the Premier League is another matter.
Arsenal have been averaging nearly three goals in the six straight wins they have managed and look set to repeat it against Middlesbrough at the Emirates. Alexis Sanchez, Ozil and Walcott are all in the form of their lives and look unstoppable.The Gunners showed grit when they held on to a 3-2 lead with only 10 men against a determined Swansea attack last week.
Arsenal and Swansea have met only once in the last seven years, that was in a FA Cup clash in 2015 which the Gunners won 2-0.
Arsen Wenger's boys should have no problems in overcoming minions Middlesbrough and probably move to the top of the table.
For the Gunners, midfielder Granit Xhaka will miss the October 22 clash having being sent off on a red card during the Swansea clash.
Wenger may choose to start of with Francis Coquelin or Kieran Gibbs in place of Xhaka. Other than that, there’s no reason why he should bring about changes to a winning XI.