Match report : FA cup Arsenal – Middlesbrough. Onwards we march!

By Walter Broeckx

The starting line for the match against Middlesbrough who surprised City in the round before was Szczesny, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Özil, Alexis, Giroud and Welbeck.  On the bench we had Akpom, Coquelin, Rosicky, Walcott, Martinez, Mertesacker, Monreal.

So Gabriel with his debut in the first team for Arsenal.  Gabriel playing in the Mertesacker position. Alexis being fit enough to start. And the expected changes at the full back positions. Santi Cazorla was the captain for this match.

After a foul on Giroud a good free kick from Cazorla but an equally good save from Mejias the Middlesbrough keeper. Özil with some nice turns and passes from the start.  Arsenal starting the match very determinate not to let Middlesbrough getting in to the match. Good pressing on the players from Middlesbrough high up the pitch and looking for an opening early on. A low cross from Gibbs was intercepted by the keeper and a minute later Gibbs came one yard too late and the keeper was first on the ball.

Koscielny being very strong after some 10 minutes to hold off Kike and to sniff out any possible danger. Welbeck then with a good back heel to Alexis but a good block on the ball stopping him. A shot from Giroud was then pushed away and Alexis could only hit the outside of the net from a difficult angle. A next chance went begging when Giroud over hit his pass to Welbeck. Giroud with a shot from distance when a pass on Welbeck might have been a better option.

Meanwhile Cazorla playing deeper than Özil so far this match.  Gabriel doing his job without any hesitance or stage fright. After 26 minutes a great combination over lots of players starting with Gibbs ended up with a great pass from Cazorla to Gibbs and his low cross was turned over the line by Giroud.  1-0 to the Arsenal after 27 minutes.

A minute later a corner to Arsenal which could have been a foul on Alexis. Alexis with the corner and Giroud with a great volley at the first post. Wonderful goal. 2-0 to the Arsenal after 29 minutes.

Arsenal all over Middlesbrough again now. Even Özil battling himself through 2 Middlesbrough players. A shot from Cazorla ends up the back of Giroud and in the arms of the keeper. A great counter from Alexis who got an amazing ball back from Özil and the ball was going goal bound but a defender could save before the line. It could and should have been more than 2-0 by now.

After 38 minutes the first shot from Middlesbrough on goal but Szczesny with a comfortable save.  Özil with some amazing touches and passes at times and his work rate was great to see. Picking up the ball deep, running forward with it, but alas sometimes his team mates not on the same wavelength. Some Middlesbrough players getting a bit frustrated it seems.  Welbeck then with a chance but his shot was well wide but there might have been a pull when he wanted to pull the trigger.  Arsenal completely in control in this first half and the only negative thing was that they could and should have been more than 2-0 up by now.

In the second half Welbeck needing a bit too much time and then a shot from Alexis flew over.  Flamini then with a shot but well wide. But Arsenal continuing the same intensity as in the first half. Chambers with a strong run but his cross was cut out just before Welbeck was on the end of it.  Gibbs also giving a strong performance on left flank. Chambers then with a great ball to Welbeck but he hesitated between a shot and a cross and it came to nothing.

Another fine combination between Alexis and Özil with a great shot but the keeper could stop his effort. Middlesbrough then showed that they knew that Arsenal was too strong and they took off Tomlin who performed so good at City.  Gabriel then doing what he should do and blocking a Middlesbrough attack at the cost of a yellow card.  Flamini being another brick in the wall from the resulting free kick.

Just after the hour mark two big chances for Arsenal. Gibbs with a one-two with Giroud but a good stop from the keeper prevented  a third Arsenal goal. And a bit later another amazing save when Alexis headed a free kick towards goal. That was a real amazing stop.

Arsenal then made two changes. Alexis and Welbeck then came off and Walcott and Rosicky came on. A great counter after a Middlesbrough counter but the shot from Cazorla flew over.  Walcott with a left footed shot but a defender could turn the ball away. And match winner Giroud was replaced with Chuby Akpom with 8 minutes to go.

Arsenal controlled the match, slowed the tempo down when they wanted, speeded it up when they wanted.  Middlesbrough player Vossen getting a bit frustrated and bringing Cazorla down and earning himself a yellow card.  Some signs of frustration and not just by him.  Özil with a low shot on the footballing part of things.

Rosicky with  a great ball to Walcott but Mejias with another great stop saving for a corner.  And just with one minute to go a shot from Adomah from  Middlesbrough going well wide.  And in the last minute of extra time a good cross and a header against the post from Middlesbrough.  But Middlesbrough didn’t get a consolation goal.

Arsenal completely dominated the match from start to finish and didn’t give Middlesbrough much hope during the 90 minutes. Gabriel did well for his first match. Özil was majestic and made Arsenal tick. The only regret is that we should have won by a larger margin. Good work ethics from the whole team. And that was needed after they showed what they did at the Etihad a few weeks ago.

Arsenal march on to the quarter finals.


40 Replies to “Match report : FA cup Arsenal – Middlesbrough. Onwards we march!”

  1. I followed two commentaries during the game, and read another afterwards. There was hardly any mention of Ozil. And yet, news articles mentioned what a contribution Ozil had made. Oh, Ozil now has created more goal scoring chances in the FA Cup than anyone else.

    Olivier Giroud has now scored seven goals and assisted four more in his 11 FA Cup appearances.

    Gabriel didn’t get mentioned much. I had read about his strong challenge in commentary, later on seen a picture. That forward was not going to get past him. Seen another picture where Gabriel had been knocked over by the Middlesbrough keeper. I hadn’t any idea that he ahd gotten upfield that far from the commentaries. Wenger said Gabriel played with the handbrake on a bit offensively. Sure, not comfortable with the language, I can see a reason to stick to defenseive duties. 🙂 I looked at a report from ESPN Brazil (Oh, ESPN is the worldwide leader in being ESPN), translated by Google to English. Nothing remarkable to copy here, but over all they thought he had a good game.

    The BBC talks about an image, must need javascript to see it:
    > This lovely little graphic from Opta shows that all 11 of the Arsenal team were involved in Olivier Giroud’s opening goal.

    Another quote from the BBC
    > 18:17 Arsene Wenger smiles when he is told that only one man has won six FA Cup trophies as a manager. Wenger currently has five…

    I gather it was 39 minutes in, when Boro had their first shot on net.

    Nice game Gunners!

  2. I thought Ozil was superb today too, hardly put a foot wrong and could’ve had two or three assists had his teammates been more sharper. Overall this was a very good performance against a good team who pushed Liverpool to the limit at Anfield before dumping City out at their own patch. Well done Arsenal.

  3. Far more comfortable than I had expected. Dean at his most Benign but our players were excellent and gave him almost nothing to work with. COYG Wembley here we come!

  4. The other BBC commentary page had the graphic, and it is still there.

    Forgot another quote from BBC:
    > 18:22 Embarrassing stuff. A report’s phone goes off in Arsene Wenger’s news conference, right under Wenger’s nose, and the ringtone is a shocker.

    > Unlike Roy Keane or Sean Dyche, Wenger just laughs it off.

  5. Thanks for the write up Walter. Pretty much sums it up.

    What I took from the game:

    -The Cazola/Ozil axis looks like it could develop into something really special.

    Although to be entirely convinced of it’s potential I would still like to see them impose themselves like this against real top class opposition, but there’s no doubting that when they click they look very very impressive together.

    -How anyone can doubt Girouds quality I’ll never know.

    -Alexis is still a beast playing on one leg.

    -Gibbs had his best game for many a day. Amazing what competition can do.

    Overall a very ‘professional’ performance sprinkled with moments of sublime beauty.


  6. All out players where awesome today, but I want to concentrate on Ozil, as he has been basged by everyonr whenevrr he touches a ball bad. What an awesome player when he plays freely (mind wise, i believe the pressure usually get into his mind). Today he was determined to play good, and so he did with brilliant touches and dribbles in the beginning of the firsy half, and then showing why he was the best No.10 in thr world (and he will be back) with his passes.

    And to Gord, that first goal was touched by all our players, including Gaby, who with a loose ball, and a player running at him (any othet defender would have cleared), he waited with patience and touched it brfore the Middlesbrough player reached it, thus the ball reached one of ours and moved up until the goal. He has good passes and touches.he did his job today, with that yellow.

    Giroud was not at his best mentally though (still he scored one goal, and then scored a f***ing awesome goal), but his celebration, how he left the field, how he shaked hands with Wenger. Dont know hope everything is ok with him. Still with all that he never stopped running, now that is professional.

    Ok enough if me talking, sorry for the lomg post here.

  7. @Yassin

    Giroud was recently named the most handsome in the EPL, or something like that. I wonder if his wife might not be displeased with that.

  8. Very difficult to avoid OTT praise at Arsenal’s performance throughout. Poor
    Middlesboro parked the bus (or maybe were forced to do so) and only tried to attack after they became 2 goals down.
    I feel that promotion is more important to them rather than the FA Cup.
    Dean wasn’t bad, in my book.

  9. @Gord,

    Haha maybe, she shouldn’t be, but that is the cost she has to pay for marrting an Arsenal striker. I think she is pretty too, and he wont look into others, would he 😉

  10. An excellent team performance and a well deserved win, with some scintillating football. Middlesboro were well outplayed and not really let into the match – despite some good efforts on their part.

    Not sure about dancing Dean, he seemed to start giving some strange decisions in the second half, but even he could not change the game this time.

    Well done the team!

  11. Nicky

    From pre-game reading, it looked like Biddlesbrough wanted to score on the counterattack. And then the game lineups were announced and Arsenal has 3 strikers and 2 attacking forwards to start. You counterattack, and leave yourself open with that much firepower out there. Partly supposition on my part, partly on the part of the storytellers who should be journalists.

    I think Sunderland decided before the game started, they want to fight for their EPL spot.


    They were married before coming to Arsenal. But there was the one hotel room incident.

    We’ve seen the goal table, showing that it is only Alexis that is scoring (not!). Well, here is something else which I hope is up to date. Assists in the EPL, and total goals. Not the entire team, just the players on the assist table.

    Alexis Sanchez . . 7 .18
    Santi Cazorla . . .6 . 7
    Mesut Ozil . . . . 3 . 4
    Olivier Giroud . . 2 .10
    Aaron Ramsey . . . 2 . 6
    Kieran Gibbs . . . 2 . 1
    Danny Welbeck . . .2 . 7
    Oxlade-Chamberlain 1 . 2
    Jack Wilshere . . .1 . 1

    For how much time he has missed, Ozil is pretty high, and could get much higher.

  12. 85 years ago to the very day Arsenal beat Middlesbrough at Highbury 2-0 in the fifth round of the cup. We went on to win the Cup for the very first time.

    Same date in the year, same score 85 years later – quite a coincidence.

    A great day to be at the Emirates. And being there I can add that Ozil was the master. He is trapped in a corner when there is no space, no where to go, and suddenly with half a turn there is… space. How can he do it? Clearly the man is not of this earth.

  13. I’ll repeat a post here as it is important.

    Offtopic: Can someone watching the game with Steve Mcmanaman commentating confirm this? I read it on the Arsenal mania forum.

    Steve Macmanaman is an effing idiot saying someone needs to kick Carzola. What kind of people get picked as pundits?

  14. Arvind

    Yes Steve Mcmanaman did indeed advocate kicking Santi.
    He said if I recall correctly ‘Someone needs to get closer to him and give him a few kicks’ when asked how do you stop him.
    I think he was probably joking, but still no excuse and not very professional. The others all chuckled, including Wright.

  15. Brilliant performance by the whole team.

    For anyone in doubt about the value of zonal marking at set plays then look carefully how Giroud and Ozil completely and easily destroyed M/bro’s attempt atman to mn for the second Arsenal goal.

    Both systems have their flaws, but do not be too dismissive on either.

  16. mick/Arvind

    It’s a shame because I think McManamans attitude towards Arsenal, and Arsene in particular, has improved enormously since the Summer.

    This being mainly due to an impromptu meeting at the World Cup I believe, at which they got along famously.

    So I was a bit surprised to hear him say what he did, but this kind attitude, of not only openly admitting to kicking Arsenal off the park (Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, all within the last 3 Months) but to openly encouraging the behaviour to continue (Phil Neville, Steve McManaman) has to stop, surely.

    (sorry to c and p from the other thread but seems more relevant here)

  17. The International Business Times had this quote:

    > Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka claims Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger showed respect to his side by naming his best starting line-up in the Gunners victory on Sunday.

    No disrepect to those who didn’t make the starting X1, but I think Chambers and Gabriel should take that as a huge compliment.

    Podolski played all 90 minutes for Inter over Atalanta. Congratulations Poldi!

  18. Gord

    It’s getting really difficult to see the join between 1st and 2nd choice in almost every possession.

    I put forward a suggestion on here a few weeks ago that this was the best SQUAD (22 players, not just 1st 11) that we’d EVER had at Arsenal, and although I didn’t get much support I still stand by that.

  19. Really good performance today by the whole team – Ozil, Cazorla and Giroud the stand outs. The passing was crisp and with purpose. Its was really great to see after the last two games. Hopefully we can take that play into the next run of league games… we have unable games leading up to the big clash with Liverpool.

  20. @Jambug,

    I didnt see that old post, but I second you, yes this js the best 22 squad. If the Refs bias and injuries stops, then I think we are unstoppable.

  21. Jambug, I think you put up that suggestion before we got Gabriel.

    Counting bodies at, there are 30. Counting bodies at BBC, there are 38.

  22. More dumb press, The Daily Star:

    > New signing Gabriel Paletta …

    What he was called was Paulista In any event, the Daily Star can’t even spell that correctly. But Paulista isn’t his surname, he comes from Sao Paulo, and residents from the state of Sao Paulo

    > while paulistas designates anyone from the state

    (quoting from Wikipedia).

    His surname(s) isn’t remotely like Paul.

  23. Giroud is a handsome bloke but he is also French, and in France the national sport after culinary arts is cheating on your spouse (with her consent of course). A French friend once told me that aside from fast cars, expensive clothes and the best restaurants, a successful Frenchman usually has a mistress in order to show that he is ultra-virile!
    Tony can confirm this but in England apparently a successful man has a Football club at any level, a wife to whom he swears eternal fealty, a girlfriend to whom he swears that he is not married,a pub that serves bad food but decent beer/ale, and is a graduate of an old boys school network, half of whom are alcoholics and the other half reprobates.

  24. Alexis had some problems driving home after the game.

    I guess David Seaman got married recently. The Mirror has an article about his wedding. A bunch of Arsenal people were there. This is the first marriage about reality television dancing (on a floor or on ice with skates) that I have noticed. I suspect it has happened before, I don’t follow it except that my Mom likes to watch this sort of stuff.

    You’ll have to look up a URL manually, no sense going into moderation when everyone in the UK is sleeping, over a story like this.

  25. WOO HOO , HOO ! Up the Gunners ! Very well played ,the boys ! No complaints , not even the yellow card for Gabriel – it was worth it !

  26. Great game, great effort by everyone. My 2 cents are Santi’s deployment in the middle of midfield role. Not the wing; not behind the strikers; just a touch off the defensive midfield. When in that role, I suspect we have had our best performances of the season. Man City springs to mind; yesterday’s game; and a few others in December and January (albeit if I recall correctly he was changing places with Ramsey).

    The best thing in my opinion is that the team is starting to get gelled together, things are looking again the Arsenal way – the beautiful pass and move. When we play like that we are unstoppable.

  27. A thoroughly satisfying game. The second half was quite controlled but acceptable in the circumstances. The first half was scintillating – great to see Ozil starting to fulfil the potential we* all knew he had. The absolute stand out player from the last two games. It is a delight watching the inter-play between the attacking players. And still several players to come back!

    *Knowledgeable, intelligent supporters – such as found on this site.

  28. Look at the difference when we play fast forward football. Yesterday, when the players received the ball, they were mostly on the half turn looking to go forward and the opposition couldn’t stay with us.

    I believe, when we play like this, even the best teams will get blown away by us.

    Also, does anyone else get goosebumps when the realise we have Ozil and Sanchez playing for us?

  29. Will,

    That’s all true but as in life, sometimes we have to play with less panache and could win ugly or draw/lose the odd game. What the needs at times like that is for the fans to not be bitching as you so love to do but to keep the faith and carry on with steadfast support.

  30. Again with the bitching accusations with no substance.

    All I say is, we are playing too slowly and when we do, we put ourselves under pressure and yet, I get untold (see what I did there) abuse for stating the bleedin obvious.

    Funny how I was saying we were slow and sloppy for qa couple of games AND EVERY PRO IN THE GAME AGREED yet the experts in here who love to throw insults but no debate told me I am not an Arsenal fan

    Maybe if there was less insults and more football debate, this would be a friendlier place. Just a thought.

  31. The Independent has a story mostly about Cazorla, and his captaining the team.

    The transfer window is CLOSED. There are still entirely too many transfer stories (not news articles, stories: fabrications, prose) in the sports media.

    The daily star sampled the twitverse, and did find a bunch of twits commenting on Gabriel. None of them have figured out that his surname is not Paulista (which means a person from the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil). Why do people (probably aaa) have to (figuratively) slap another Arsenal player in order to say something about Gabriel?

    Gord Albertan

    I think everyone at Untold should sign their comments with firstname, person-from-statename for a day or two. Maybe it will diffuse out, and people will quit using Paulista with Gabriel.

    With respect to Gabriel’s tackle, which there are pictures of in the sports media; Gabriel is obviously playing the man. There is no attempt to get to the ball first that I can see from a single static image. The good point, is that how Gabriel is contacting the Middlesbrough player is very unlikely to cause an injury.

    A local paper, Hartlepool Mail (associated with Daily Mail?) has an article attributing the Arsenal win to Middlesbrough making mistakes.

    The article has a single image included in it, from the Press Association. All of the legal verbiage at the bottom of that photo takes a lot away from the image itself. I would find another set of images to draw from, rather that be forced to use what PA has.

    I don’t normally read HITC, their style seems to either produce very good articles or very bad articles. But, they have an article up about Ozil as a supporting player.

    Lots of numbers, for those who like numbers.

    HITC found a couple of numbers about Gabriel, but to me not worth referencing the article to read one sentence.

    > In possession, the former Vitoria youth star demonstrated what he was capably of by producing 79 passes with an overall success rate of 93.7% – bettered only by his centre-back partner Koscielny.

    Apparently Monreal looks like Peter Crouch to some people.

    When I look at Gabriel, I keep seeing Martin Keown. Which sort of explained why Keown stuck up for Gabriel recently in the media.

    Closing. There are a few comments out there, about Giroud wanting to get a first hat trick. I think it will come, and I think Giroud had ample time to produce that third goal. But if given a choice between developing a young player and leaving Giroud out to maybe score a third goal, I am happy to see the young player come on.

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