Arsenal failed to break through a resilient Middlesbrough defence and move to top of the league in a frustrating 0-0 draw at Emirates Stadium. They did, however, have Petr Cech to thank for some fantastic saves that kept the tie level.
The Gunners lined up with four changes from the team that beat Ludogorets in midweek, David Ospina making way for Petr Cech while Nacho Monreal, Alex Iwobi and surprise inclusion Mohamed Elneny all starting with Santi Cazorla missing out through injury.
Arsenal dominated possession as expected, but were lucky when Cechs double save kept out Traore and had the upright to thank after Ramirez’s free-kick smashed the post. Middlesbrough had the better of the chances heading into the break.
The second half looked a little more promising with Alexis seemed the likely source of a goal. But Arsenal struggled to find a way though the dense Boro backline and even had a few worrying moments at the back with Traore particularly impressive.
Like against Burnley, the Gunners attacked and attacked. But this time they failed to find the finishing touch.
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GK) Petr Cech – 8 (MotM)
Called into action in the first half and responded with a fantastic double save. He then had the post to be thankful for moments later. Pulled off a huge save at the back post from Ramirez’s point blank header. A faultless performance.
RB) Hector Bellerin – 6
Gave away a dangerous free-kick when he should have stood up, luckily Ramirez’ fantastic strike bounced off the woodwork. Bellerin struggled with Boro’s pace and trickery, but grew into the game more in the second half.
CB) Laurent Koscielny – 7
A heart-in-mouth moment when the Gunners captain lost possession. Had a difficult afternoon but did what was required with some crucial tackles and interceptions. Incredible sliding challenge to prevent Negredo in the closing stages of the match to earn him an extra 0.5.
CB) Shkodran Mustafi – 6.5
Oddly was seen playing some very nice, deep through-balls early on that triggered several positive attacks. But the ease that Middlesbrough carved Arsenal’s defence in half was a worry at times. Horrible pass to Bellerin and cynically fouls Ramirez to earn a pointless yellow card. Not his finest performance but we’ll take the clean sheet.
LB) Nacho Monreal – 6
The Spaniard had little to do in the first half with most of the attacks coming down the right flank. Should’ve been more aware of Ramirez with his chance at the back post. Looked threatening down the left at times but had no real impact on the match.
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