Not sure to make of the game to be honest after that. While the display was below par and nowhere near the Arsenal of last month we did managed to nick a point with a sublime finish from Thierry Henry.
Are Arsenal a one month wonder?
January was fantastic with wins against Charlton Athletic, Liverpool (twice), Spurs, Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers.
But today Arsenal were disappointing, with Fabregas and Henry the main culprits.
And it was particularly disappointing because before the game Arsenal were 5 points behind Liverpool (who drew in the Merseyside Derby earlier in the day) with 2 games in hand. But Arsenal failed to capitalise on Liverpool dropping two points.
Too many Arsenal players were on the periphery of the match and a well-organised Middlesbrough side found it quite easy to cope with Arsenal’s attacks which lacked any killer instinct in the final third and with the final ball in particular.
It was disappointing to see Boro’s young second keeper Bradley Jones hardly have a save to make in the entire 90 minutes.
Arsenal badly missed Hleb and Arsene opted to play Flamini wide on the right when Aliadiere would have probably been a better offensive option. To many moves broke down and as hard as Flamini tried he’s just not able to play on the right side of midfield.
The only player that looked like making something happen was Tomas Rosicky, would tried to take control of the situation and made some decent passes and actually tried to shoot and test the keeper.
But far too many players had off days.
For me Arsenal’s best player was Gael Clichy and that tells you something about the overall team’s performance.
Fabregas was woeful, and looked second best to Boateng in midfield and therefore couldn’t impose himself on the game. Thierry Henry (the goal aside) was no better, trying fancy flicks and strolling around the pitch when the game needed an injection of urgency – it’s days like today Arsenal need to step up their play but it didn’t happen until Middlesbrough opened the scoring after 65 minutes!
For an hour Arsenal were predestrian and it was just like the game against Sheffield United. Arsenal seemingly turned up thinking that just being there would win them the match and I could see Boro scoring from a mile away.
With Arsenal strolling they got hit by the sucker punch on the break and conceded the opening goal (sound familiar?). Yakubu was played through and Senderos was judged to have pulled down the striker and Mike Riley awarded a penalty. Replays showed that Senderos had his arm on Yakubu but the Middlesbrough forward fell very easily. There was contact but you would have to say it was pretty minimal, and for some reason Senderos was sent off. I can guarantee that any other referee would have booked him, and I felt like Lehmann when Phil was sent off!
Anyway, Boro scored and finally Arsenal kicked into gear, spurred on by going a man and a goal down. Lehmann made a brilliant save from Mark Viduka and he was the man who started the Arsenal move for the equaliser. Lehmann threw the ball out and a long ball found Adebayor who headed the ball on to Henry, who controlled the ball brilliantly with his right foot and scored with his left in the bottom corner.
A great goal to level the scores!
It was a great response from conceding the first goal, but should we have even been in that situation in the first place? Anyway, after Henry’s goal the game petered out after that with both sides seemingly content with a point each.
After the game Henry and Viduka were laughing and smiling, swapping shirts and hugging. Am I the only one that was pissed off with that given that we only got a point from a game we could win if our performance was even half decent?
But maybe we’re a team that should be happy with a point?