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Middlesbrough 2, Arsenal 1

The 4-4-2 with Eduardo and Adebayor just didn’t work. Many felt that paired up with Adebayor might’ve been the best thing for the Arsenal attack but we were all wrong. Eduardo was anonymous in an Arsenal reverse that sees them hang on to a single point lead at the top of the table – still something I suppose. We’ve been hit hard by injuries with van Perise, Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb and have been struggling our last few games in the Premiership and Champions League, this is not a coincidence. We played really bad today and spent most of our possession trying to pass the ball between our back four and midfield which is struggling without the vision and creativity of Fabregas.

Just like Wigan, Boro played extremely well and pressured us from the beginning and got full support from both their fans in the stands. Kolo Toure made a play that was an anomaly for him and ended up bringing down Aliadiere after Almunia came out to defend for no reason. There was no way Aliadiere could’ve scored (he just doesn’t know how) as he was moving away from the net but Almunia made it difficult for Toure to maintain his pressure and forced a bad tackle out of him. The penalty probably should’ve been saved, see video below.

We were a little better after Walcott, Denilson and Bendtner came on but even then never looked like scoring a goal. There was more hoping for a Boro mistake than an Arsenal moment. Fabregas is the linchpin that holds Arsenal together and transitions the game from Kolo to Adebayor and without him there just isn’t a way to build a proper attack. Missing a playmaker like Hleb hurts in these games where we’re being pressured in midfield and seem to do nothing about it. No matter how much Sagna tries to go forward and for all the creativity of Rosicky, it’s befitting of them to try to create for the strikers on a regular basis.

Adebayor’s finishing has always been questionable and RVP can do much better, but that’s not why I miss RVP the most – it’s the freekicks, we are just dreadful on set plays and often just smash it right into the wall. The crossing from Eboue, Sagna and Rosicky was also poor today so Ade never really got any chances to score or waste. He probably should’ve done better in the first half on a semi-free header but managed to smash it wide.

Arsenal lose. Let’s get our players back and pour it on from there. Here’s the match report. More later…

Penalty Decision + Downing Goal (Goes under Almunia, WTF?) ‘4: Download

[vimeo 424289]

Tuncay ’72 Download

[vimeo 424349]

Rosicky ’90 Download

[vimeo 424376]