Holders Hold On: Arsenal 2 – 0 Middlesborough – Report & Player Ratings

 Final Score
Arsenal 2 – 0 Middlesbrough

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Arsenal were playing Middlesbrough at home in the FA Cup. Would anything less than a win do? No. Not at all.

And with that in mind, Arsenal got to work right from the off.

Cazorla and Ozil were absolutely purring in the midfield, and Boro were struggling to contain them. Chances were being created for the likes of Giroud and Welbeck, but they weren’t being taken.

Until Giroud broke the deadlock in the twenty-seventh minute, that is. Gibbs drilled in a good cross, and Olivier was able to direct it goalwards without diminishing the power behind the ball. The goalkeeper couldn’t kep it out.

“Giroud’s mis-kick found Ozil alone at the far post after a good Welbeck run. The Turk then volleyed it past Lloris with precision…”

Less than three minutes later, Giroud popped up once again — but this time it was no easy finish.

Alexis swung in a corner, and Giroud made a run to the front post, elegantly volleying the ball with power. It was a stunning finish, full of technique.

Arsenal’s urgency eased off following the second goal, although not so much that Middlesbrough were able to get back into the game. This status quo carried on well into the second half.

“In the end Arsenal went out with a whimper. No fight, no passion, no points.”

Walcott, Rosicky and eventually Akpom were all brought on to refresh things up top, but Middlesbrough were protecting their goal extremely well by this stage.

Ozil and Walcott had efforts late on, but the goalkeeper was equal to them. In the end, it was a professional and efficient display from the FA Cup holders. (That’s us, by the way!).

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Arsenal Player Ratings

Szczesney: [6.5/10]

Hardly touched the ball, which is a good thing.

Gibbs: [7.5/10]

Defended well, and got forward brilliantly for once. Made intelligent runs and grabbed an assist for Giroud. Gunning for Monreal’s place in the side, for sure.

Gabriel: [7/10] 

A strong debut overall. Made some good tackles and won some good header, but was booked after blocking off a Boro player running through on goal.

Koscielny: [6.5/10]

Was met with little to do, really. An easy game for him.

Chambers: [6.5/10] 

A bit sloppy at times, but grew into the game.

Flamini: [6.5/10]

Played okay, didn’t need to do much defending. Passing was good.

Ozil: [8/10] 

Mesut is in fine form. His touch is awesome, and his passing is almost immaculate. Small flicks and tricks sprinkled across the course of the game today.

Cazorla: [7.5/10] 

Santi’s first half was brilliant, but he played a little deeper in the second period. Still, he was a dangerous man on the ball as per usual these days.

Alexis: [7.5/10] 

Not his best performance — because he needs a bloody rest — but Alexis still worked hard and got into good positions. Had a header very well saved.

Welbeck: [5.5/10] 

Played a very nice back-heel pass to Alexis in the box in the first half. And that’s about it. Struggling to see where Welbeck fits in when everybody is fit and in form.

Giroud: [8.5/10] – MOTM

Had a sloppy start to the game, but his two goals in quick succession were great to watch, especially his second one. The technique was something else.

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Holders Hold On

The performance for the full ninety minutes wasn’t anything spectacular. The second half in particular was quite boring, actually.

However, Arsenal contained Boro, created chances through Ozil and Cazorla, and looked very efficient on the ball. The first half was a treat for all (except the travelling fans).

More importantly though, we are now in the FA Cup Quater Finals. Another step close to another trophy? Let’s hope so.

Somebody get me a stat about teams successfully defending an FA Cup. Stat!

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