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Preview: Boro v Arsenal, duo fit, Ox to start + prediction
Arsenal desperately need to collect all three points when we take on Middlesbrough at the Riverside this evening.
It’s been a nightmare couple of months for Arsenal and our campaign sunk to a new low with a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace last Monday.
Sadly all the teams around us keep winning so we’re now sitting seventh in the table and ten points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with two games in hand.
Therefore, only a win tonight will keep alive our fading hopes of playing Champions League football next season but it’s going to take a minor miracle for us to finish in the top four based on the way we’ve been playing recently.
We can’t expect an easy ride this evening as Middlesbrough come in to the match sitting 19th in the division so they are going to be fighting for every point right now.
Koscielny is set to return after recovering from an Achilles injury that’s sidelined him for the last two games. Gabriel has done OK filling-in at the back but it will be a big boost to have Kos available.
Cech is also expected to be declared fit after missing the last three games with a calf strain but Lucas Perez and Santi Cazorla remain on the sidelines.
As for Boro, they have Gaston Ramirez back in the squad but Fabio Da Silva and George Friend remain out. Chambers is injured but he wouldn’t have been able to play partner club Arsenal anyway.
It will be interesting to see whether Wenger makes plenty of changes following our horror show at Palace but I’d like to see Gibbs given a chance at left-back as Monreal’s form has been poor for months.
I’d also go with Oxlade-Chamberlain alongside Xhaka as I just don’t think Elneny brings enough to the team to justify playing ahead of the Ox or indeed Ramsey.
This would be my line-up:
If we play like we did last week then we are in for another away defeat as it was a gutless display at Selhurst Park. The team looks lost right now but we need the boys to stand up and be counted.
Boro are a very defensive side and they don’t concede many but they also don’t score too much either so I’m expecting a tight game. If we can cut out the silly mistakes at the back, hopefully we have enough quality to sneak a goal or two. I’m going for a tight 1-0 win. Middlesbrough 0-1 Arsenal