Frustration for The Gunners as more points go astray, and so does fourth place in The Premiership. Former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere was on hand to head home an equaliser for Boro, and Arsenal’s miserable form continues.
Arsenal, considering the injury list, started with quite a strong line-up. Almunia in goal, a back four of Clichy, Gallas, Djourou and Sagna, midfield quartet of Denilson, Fabregas, Song and Diaby with Van Persie and Adebayor up front. For the first twenty or so minutes Arsenal were in control, crisp neat passing, pacy breaks, plus a goal. When it arrived, it was simple yet effective. Cesc swung over a corner, and an unmarked Adebayor was free to nod home from six yards. At this point, one would expect Arsenal to push on and win by a country mile. However, this was not to be the case. A deflected clearance, a powerful cross and the head of Aliadiere saw Boro draw level, and with it a huge boost of confidence.
As always, Arsenal created numerous chances, Van Persie guilty of missing three of those, one where he steered the ball just wide, another where he couldn’t quite make contact with a cross from Adebayor, and a third where he rather scuffed the ball in a good scoring position.
There are some games where Lady Luck simply doesn’t turn up, this was not one of those games. Boro could have been awarded a penalty, and with it a red card for Gael Clichy. Inexplicably referee Walton failed to see the trip, and Arsenal got away with it. Almunia had to be at his best in the second half when Middlesbrough broke and the ball fell to Downing. But a strong arm kept the ball out.
On chances created, Arsenal really should have wrapped things up, but the usual combination of wasting chances and a fear of shooting from distance put paid to the three points.
It’s going to take a real surge in the second half of the season to see The Gunners up there and challenging, but with the return from injury of Theo Walcott and Eduardo, who knows what lies in store.