Date: 16th April 2017 at 2:29pm

Petr Cech and Laurent Koscielny could return to the Arsenal side for the first time in nearly a month.

The pair are preparing for late fitness tests ahead of Monday’s trip to Middlesborough. Cech has struggled with a calf problem since the Gunners 3-1 defeat to West Brom, whilst captain Koscielny has missed the last two games with an achilles injury.

David Ospina and Lucas Perez have failed to recover from their respective injuries.

As for the hosts, attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez could return to the side after overcoming an ankle problem. Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers is injured, though the defender would be ineligible to play against his parent club.

The Gunners lost more ground on their rivals this weekend and have been displaced to 7th in the table following Everton’s victory 3-1 over Burnley on Saturday.

Despite having games in hand, a top four spot is becoming more improbable by the week.

FORM GUIDE

It appeared Arsene Wenger’s side had recovered from the recent slump with victory over West Ham a fortnight ago. Yet after being humbled by Crystal Palace on Monday, the prominent lack of confidence remains.

Arsenal have now lost five of their last eight in all competitions and are looking to avoid a fifth straight Premier League away defeat.

Ominously, the 3-0 hammering of Palace means the Gunners have conceded three gobals in each of their last four away games.

As for Boro, the Teesside club appear destined for a swift return to the Championship. They sit 19th in the table, six points from safety.

Britain Football Soccer - Crystal Palace v Arsenal - Premier League - Selhurst Park - 10/4/17 Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey look dejected Reuters / Stefan Wermuth Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Arsenal players look dejected after Palace loss.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The sides drew 0-0 at The Emirates in October – it was a game where Arsenal created plenty, but simply couldn’t find the net.

However the Gunners did dispatch Boro 2-0 in the FA Cup 5th round in February 2015 thanks to a first half brace from Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman who’s started just seven times in the league this campaign could be recalled to the starting line-up.

Middlesbrough have conceded more goals against Arsenal than against any other opponent in the Premier League (62 in 29 games).

PREDICTED ARSENAL XL

With Cech likely to be fit, Emi Martinez could drop to the bench.

Arsene Wenger desperately needs his captain Koscielny back at the heart of the defence – Confidence in Gabriel and Mustafi are low after both were pitifully bullied by Benteke last Monday.
Performances are overdue from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Meanwhile Giroud could start ahead of Welbeck who has failed to impress in recent weeks.

Arsenal XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Coquelin; Ozil, Alexis, Walcott; Giroud

MATCH PREDICTION

Unfortunately Arsenal’s lack of confidence and lack of leadership in recent weeks has reflected in Arsenal’s fans lack of belief in the team.

Most of us are now fearing another humiliation on the horizon rather than the usual confidence of dispatching a team on the brink of relegation.

Both teams absolutely have to win to stay in touch with their rivals, yet the wretched form for both sides suggests neither will.

Prediction: 1-1

 

One response to “MATCH PREVIEW: Middlesborough vs Arsenal”

  1. Javier says:

    Mediocrity will continue to be the norm with Wenger in charge

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