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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Middlesbrough vs. Arsenal

Riverside Stadium



On Sky

'Boro V Arsenal Preview

Arsenal can expect another tough game when they make their second trop to the north of the country inside five days on Sunday.

Arsenal may have lost a game in Europe to end the club record of 28 games unbeaten, but it's still 22 games unbeaten in the league for Arsenal. A feat that normally would attract some attention, but considering a certain team went 49 games unbeaten, this run doesn't yet deserve any comparison.

Vital Quotes:

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate
thinks his side have an oppertunity to spring a suprise this weekend: 'You have to start off by being difficult to beat and we've been that to a degree.

'We have to now take that on a stage, we've got to try and win matches.

'It's a huge test this weekend and one that no one expects us to get much from, so there is an opportunity for us to get something unexpected.'

Arsene Wenger says that it is not just his team that are going to have a tough few months, but that every team has to fight for every point from now till March: 'We go into a period now from the end of November to March where everybody fights for something.

'During this period the points are especially hard to get because there is always something at stake.

'At the end of March it becomes easier to take points, but during these four months you can make a difference.'

Middlesbrough Team News:

Julio Arca (knee) and Robert Huth (ankle) are both back for Gareth Southgate's team after both suffering from long-term injuries.

Mark Schwarzer could return to action after suffering from a broken thumb.

Former Spurs' striker Mido is still out with a groin injury.

Player to watch: Stewart Downing

Local boys seem to be doing a job on Arsenal this season. Jesus Navas in Sevilla, Steven Taylor in Newcastle and Steven Gerrard in Liverpool.

His deliveries from set pieces and crosses will keep Toure and Gallas busy.

Arsenal Team News:

Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), Mathieu Flamini (thigh), Alexander Hleb (Achilles), Abou Diaby (back) and Robin van Persie (knee) for Sunday's trip to Middlesbrough.

Gilberto will be hoping to make another start in midfield alongside either Diarra or Denilson. Although there is a slight chance that his sloppy passing against Newcastle will cost him his place in the team.

Player to watch: Manu Adebayor

Adebayor has found a bit of form again after scoring in 3 of Arsenal's last 4 Premiership games.

If he plays well then there's a good chance Arsenal will walk away with the spoils.

Match Prediction:

I'm going to opt for a draw. Arsenal may be in form at the moment, but 'Boro are always tough to play against. 2-2

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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday December 8 2007

Time: 1:13PM

Your Comments

0-2 adebayor brace
Yet again simmo, you really need to stop this reverse psychology stuff. You cannot truly believe that this will be a 2:2? We may draw but there is no chance they will score two.
This is a game that we should win but we will suffer the same lack of midfield creativity that experienced against Newcastle. It isn't that Gilbertos passing is sloppy. His passing success rate in the week was the best of all our midfielders. He made as many passes as Diarra but fewer (51%) forward/attacking passes (Diarra 72%). The problem is that Gilberto doesn't bring the tempo to the game that Flamini and also Diarra brings. When we are under pressure the game seems to pass him by to some extent. 'Boro have the highest yellow card count in the PL. Though this doesn't neccessarily mark them out as a dirty team they will get stuck in. But a poor scoring and defensive record with only one win at home we should be able to beat them though maybe the extra youthful creativity that Denilson offers might be needed in place of Gilberto for us to create the chances we need.
Boro are a sterile team up front, and leak a lot of goals. They have their 3rd string gk playing, and we should have enough ammo to keep him busy and have them focus on defending the whole 90 mins.
I think we will 3 -1. I hope Wenger plays more attacking than the Newcastle team. Personally, I would like to see. Almunia, Gallas Toure, Clichy, Sagna, Diarra , Rosicky, Eboue, Walcott, Nic and Ade up front. I doubt that will happen though. I feel if we take it to them within the first 20 minutes with a lot of pace, we will beat them comfortably. We cant play with like we did against Sam's mob, we need to more aggresive and attcaking. If Rosicky takes the place of Cesc in the middle with Diarra covering, then Theo should be given the license to run at them and with Eboues crossing with the 2 tall men, bang, all over by half time.
Please lose.
nothing less than three points.. doesnt matter if its a scrappy win or a total destruction of boro.. its still only 3 points at the end of the day.. need to make the most of l'fool's slip up.. play the two tall man up front and score 3 by half time n rest adebayor, rosicky n clichy after 45 min
should be 3-0 to arsenal
I think it might be 2-1 to us, lets hope we can just win this one because man utd and chelsea are right behind us now.
1-0 or 2-1 at most, I just want to see Dudu and Bendtner up front as the attacking pair, but given Ade's unexpected performances he should start. Anyway we've remained unbeaten whenever Ade's scored for us. Dudu was doing quite nicely against Newcastle as a striker until Wenger put him on the flanks, let's hope he doesn't do that again.
kev, we'll lose if your team lose and also Man Utd. Liverpool lose without even asking. Yay! Were the only team unbeaten in the EPL. Hope we stay that way.
not a good start !!!
sh**.... as long as we're only one nil down at half time (which we should be... or less) we'll have a storming second half i reckon.. we just need to slow down and think a bit for a while.... although this isnt really arsenal style...
WHAT DA ***** R WE DOING !!!
u wouldve thought we were boro.... this is where we could to with hleb.
Thus is not looking good at the moment....this formation is just not working.
we need some some creativity in the middle of da park..! !!! denilson!
denilson and.... maybe Theo... ive hardly seen eduardo this whole match
adey has so far been dreadful !!!
I cant believe we are being outplayed by borough :(
at least adebayor has been involved. his performance has been pretty bad.. but eduardo hasnt had a performance at all.
denilson and bendtner/walcott for second half
Definitely Rob we needed Walcott and Denilson to replace eduardo and gilberto immediately.
I think it's Diarra and Adebayor we need to replace. Gilberto has done more in midfield than Diarra and at least Eduardo shows some ocassional class. Denilson and Bendtner on.
your having a go at anderson, but you should be ashamed of eboue. disgusting player!!
I cannot believe what i am seeing this is just disgraceful.
Oh mooner.
i have not seen such an aweful performance by an arsenal side in a long, long time. The machine just wasn't working. It lacked its cogs of creativity in Hleb, Fabregas, and Van Persie. Any one of those three in the team today and we would have had a completely different math. or if we had another left winger and pushed Rosicky into the centre. This is why we have people asking for wingers.
stop moaning
well... having lost is pretty bad too to be honest
it is not the fact that we lost which is worth moaning about.. we are still top... but we were so lifeless today
Lifeless is an understatement.
I can finally understand you guys' frustrations about Ade now... His first touches are awful. All the great balls to him go wasted. ARGHHH
It pains me to put up my hand and admit we're outplayed... by Boro.
Well at least we got one damn prediction was reversed :(
well, bseymour, where is the squad depth that you were crowing on about on vital united? looks like you're not the best ever team after all despite your stupid claims
since that 1st half performance at villa we have not really played well ...not at newcastle n not today !! ...we desperately our midfielders back n every1 especially ade need to buck up ,!! we got loads of big games coming up n we cant play like the way we just did !
i thought injuries werent an excuse?
Well, I can understand that the squad would be jaded after their travels. But never evn got attacking. Middlesborough were brilliant.
Well this is bound to happen at some point... We without 3 key midfielders and arguably our best striker at least scored a goal albeit at the late, late stage. How we miss RvP, Cesc and Hleb! Not that Flamini's not good, but he could be reasonably replaced by Diarra. Nobody's adequate replacements for RvP, Cesc and Hleb. That tells you something about the depth of our squad. ManU without Ronaldo lost to Bolton. People keep saying imagine them without him, Giggs, Rooney and Scholes. But the thing is they never get injured AT THE SAME TIME while our midfielders are. (Don't want to start talking about the ref's role in their run versus ours.) The whole point of fighting for a good start like we did is to prepare for bad times like these where we're bound to drop points. Well, we're still top of the table.
The result is no worse than ManU losing to Bolton or Liverpool to Reading. 'boro didn't outplay us. We did that all by ourselves. Diarra was a disaster and things improved once Denilson replaced him. My feeling before the game was that Gilberto would be the weaker midfielder but he had a half decent game compared to Diarra. I said before that Ade plays like two men. Sadly one of them is absolutely rubbish. You now see why Toure wasn't made captain. A lot of heart but not so much intelligence. Someone tell him not every bloody ball has to travel 60 yards. Eboue was a disgrace today. He didn't deserve to stay on the pitch and if thats the way he deals with the frustration I would be happy for him never to play for us again.
well the bucharest game has more meaning to it now... we dont want to get a bad result in that game before the chavs
louisa, that's all good but we lost at bolton without ronaldo, vidic, rooney and scholes. that's four key players yet we could have won had we taken our chances whereas you were played off the park by boro.
will ne of our injured 4some return 4 the game against the chavs...?
The Buchreast game has come at the worst possible time. We'll be playing 5 games in 2 weeks which silly. our squad are seriously going to be tested. Oh and Eboue is no worse than Ronaldo. Absolute disgrace.
Fair enough you vidicinho, I obviously didn't watch that game. So yeah, like I say, every team without their best guys would suffer. What I'm gutted about is not the injuries that forced Arsene to make changes, that's what the whole depth is all about. What I'm upset about is the performance. End of.
fair enough, louisa. but some of your fellow fans here claimed we are fifth-placed material without ronaldo and rooney... which is stupid, to say the least.
I only started watching after 20' can you guys tell me what 'disgraceful' thing Eboue did? (Argh, not again!)
raised hands in the face of Pogatetz
Well to be honest, ManU without Rooney, Ronaldo, Scholes and Vidic would on paper look inferior to full teams of Liverpool or Arsenal or Chelsea, right? If Arsenal goes an entire season without (God forbid!!) Cesc, RvP, Hleb and Flamini, we might look like a 4th or 5th place team against full teams of the other 3 of the "Big 4." No offence to you or anyone. But that's just the truth - that's the very reason why these good players are the first names on the first teams of their clubs. Don't take it personally. That's a hypothetical and a bit pointless statement - unless taken out of context.
It was a lot more than just raising his hands. Eboue slapped Pogatetz in the face. He then raked his studs down someone thigh in the 2nd half. If either incident had happened to one of our players we would have been rightly furious.
Sigh... Eboue's such a gifted kid and he doesn't need all that ***** to beat people or to win games. Hope Arsene has a word with him.
But in the grand scheme of things, I'd still prefer a good start and inevitably dropping points along the way, than an ok start trying to play catchup the entire season. Before this season started, even optimists like me couldn't have predicted a better start than this. I was just hoping for us to keep going without Thierry and to improve on the past 2 seasons, i.e. 3rd place or above, and to gain our momentum back to challenge for the title maybe next year when our kids are older, stronger and wiser. This has been way beyond our expectations and now we're absolutely gutted with a draw or a loss, away from home. That's how far we've come, to look at things on the positive side. It looks like Arsene'll continue to send young players out to gain some CL experience on Wed. Fingers, toes and everything crossed Flamini, Cesc and Hleb (in order of likelihood) can be back for the Chelsea game.
I think we just have to put it down as one of those days. Injuries, loss of form, conditions etc. As ever, it's how we bounce back. We're still top and have everything to play for. Of course, it was hugely disappointing that we didn't have anything going forward. There was just no link up play between midfield and attack, no glue, and Boro just took a leaf out of Newcastle's book. Don't think any team could cope with losing nearly all of their first choice attacking players. Could United cope without Ronaldo, Rooney and Scholes all at the same time? Just pure bad luck that Hleb, Cesc and van Persie are out at the same time.
One of those days, no it's not your just crap, simple as that!!!
will it ever happen
Thank you.
Louisa I don't think you could blame Adebayor today. He was as poor as the rest of the squad. Clichy had possibly the worst game of the season so far. But I just don't hope we lose our way now. We've done so well.
Borough played their hearts out today. David Pleat said that Arsenal are playing as though it's their god given right to play football. We never showed who's boss today. We gave the ball far too often and we looked tired. Another mid-week game. We can't even change the squad much as most of them are injured. My word this squad will be dead by the time the chavski game arrives. Any news on who's coming back for that game? I heard RvP and Diaby might return for that one.
BMF, you posted on every thread we have over at the Chelsea Forums, it was something about "starting to Crumble", it looks as if you were right, now we´re down to 3 pts difference, since Boro showed the rest what utter crap you lot are.
Blue is the colour
guys stay calm a defeat was inevitable....neway they fabregas worst case scenario was ten days and the hleb injury was not that bad. so bothof them shud be back fro the game with the chavs..i hav to say the better team won today....i dont think we can complain abt nethin...atleast rosicky scored again...good finish...we desperately need diaby and rvp for the bucharest game...adewas absolute crap i tot nic deserves a words abt eboue, it was quite disgraceful, only gallas gave a decent performance ......guys im sure its jus a one dunt worry ne news on the injuries???
the one good thing we can take from today is that no matter who plays in the team next sunday, they will be up for it and will go all out to gain all points against the lotto chavas, and beat them we will..
I never dirty my feet on here usually but your idiot PUREGOLD has been making such a **** of himself on our site recently, I couldn't resist. Defoe and Tuncay have just made my weekend. Enjoy your Monday morning, goon losers. "SOCCER!"
luckys_10, I thought that'd happen today but it didn't. The guys didn't even seem galvanised by the bad draw at Newcastle. I honestly wouldn't be so disappointed if we did put up a fight and then lost, even to Boro. But some of the guys didn't seem to care enough. Or was that the fatigue we're talking about? I don't know. I'd be proud if they at least give it a better try and have a go at Chelsea next weekend, not entirely regardless of the result, but at least you have to fight. I wouldn't mind if they do a Villa again, the "brilliance + resilience" game of 2 halves which got you a result you know.
lol @ out behind us the might whites are coming!
Poor performance today, apart from Almunia, I dont think anyone can say they had a decent game. Boro deserved all 3 pts. What concerned me was that we didnt keep the ball in mid field, the Gilberto - Diarra combination was poor. A dip in performance was bound to happen - lets hope this is the worst performance of the season and things get better from here.
Ok, we were poor, but take faith we were without Cesc and Hleb. I think Wenger got the selection wrong. Theo and Nic should have started. We need to focus before next Sunday
Ok lets keep calm remember we are TOP of the league. If coming into grand slam sunday we were told we would be top of the pile we would have taken that yes? Dont lets wet ourselves like the silly little blue bitc(h). Champions react to setbacks in a certain way so we will no more next week having lost this game than we would have had we won, a sense of perspective is required not overboard criticism.
Gutted. We need depth in the squad. Its an eye opener, and wenger should spent during the window. Man U wont slip thats the problem.
Yeah allen49, congratulations for climbing from 16th to 13th in the league, 2 points above the relegation zone, 15 points off the top 4 target you guys set out for. Defoe and Tuncay certainly made your day, so did our below-par performance. We'll be 22-25 points ahead of you when we meet. Can't wait.
Criticism of this performance is justified, coz it was poor. Even without the 4 missing players, we should have done a whole lot better. So, that is no excuse. But there is no doubting the overall quality of the squad. We are still in a good position, and things can get better from here. I would really like to see how we react against Chelsea.
Beware, this is a rant and only a rant! F***ing s*** performance!! Gilberto, get on the next plane available and p*** of out of here. The rest of you can give the travelling fans your wages this week as all you deserve is a kick up the arse. I really hope that Arsene batters them all after that piece of s*** performance! Fu**! Aarrggggggghhhhhhhh........................................So anyway, how's tricks guys? Nah seriously, we may have given ourselves a real Premiership headache after the last two performances.
LOUISA: Who cares? The weekend belongs to us. Shove it!
Ooops, forgot to mention! If Eboue isn't going to play football then why doesn't he smash himself in his own face. At least then he might injure himself enough that we could sub him. If Eboue is in the mood he's the dogs, if he's not then he neds to be thrown to them and believe me, I've got his name on he back of my shirt and I really like the guy.....but as a footballer, not a c***!
Well done Allen, I beleive every pre-season belongs to you too, lol!
Yes Allen, enjoy it while you can. :) I can imagine it's a rarity that a week passes without envying our success but taking pleasure from yours. I'm not being sarcastic, just honest.
Sevilla, Aston Villa, Newcastle, now Boro, put in match-of-the-season performance and got some results from us. Like Arsene recently said, this part of the season is when teams all play out of their skins since there's always something at stake. What I'm curious about is whether the media's done us this "favour" again by singing praises and making teams put in extra effort. Fantastic football yes, winning yes, but saying things like "new invicibles" isn't doing us any good. Again, I guess it just shows how far we've come from a doomed-to-get-thrown-out-of-top-4-without-Thierry situation to where we are now. The cliche is that the guys need to show they can bounce back with a real test of character against Chelsea.
No Dig but I know wenger has an appointment with Specsavers lol.. But the petulant repeat offender Eboue is a disgrace and an embarrassment why the heck is he being supported.
I have to say this game was Wengers bad, although Almunia basicallty forcing Toure into giving a penalty in the first 5 minutes didnt help - he either needed to be off his line a whole lot quicker or not move at all. The decision to continue with Gilberto and Diarra after that sorry display at St James Park is the main reason we couldn't salvage anything from this game and that has to go down as Arsene's mistake, the second I saw the team sheet I knew we were in for a long afternoon. I shudder to think what will happen to us if we don't have at least 2 of Cesc, Hleb and Flamini back against Chelsea.
Ozi Gooner
Louisa, you talk a lot of sense! Though as much as I want to cast away the last two results, it's so gutting not to have demoralized the opposition by taking advantage of their slip ups. We are Arsenal though, and we never, ever do things the easy way. Hopefully we can enjoy the midweek game before re-igniting he engines on the weekend. Saying that, sod re-igniting the engine, let's pack it with 100 tonnes of TNT and throw a petrol bomb at it. It's time to blow Fulham minor out of the water!
Cock, Tottenham are a disgrace and an embarrassent so why are they being supported? No dig!
And from reading Wengers post game comments it sounds like at best against the Chavs we will have Flamini back in the 11 and RVP and Diaby on the bench.
Ozi Gooner
cockeril, I don't support Eboue, in fact I had enough of him. Once Hleb is back (and stay fit), he's be a bench-warmer at most. Frankly, I want Wenger to find a new RM when Hleb is injured. Anyway, I can't believe how smug the manure fans are because they beat the "all-mighty" Derby at home especially when they have Ronaldo and Rooney back. You manures wish every team is like Derby.
i agree that the team sheet was wrong,denilson should be the natural replacement for cesc,with diarra or gilberto doing the covering,the other problem is that eduardo is not in tune with adebayor,so really adebayor should be replaced with bendtner,but ade wont be dropped even though he isnt playing very well at the moment,but we got undone by a dodgy pen,and a deflected shot,we will turn it round on sunday,a home game at last....
fran merida
BITC(H), who started going around other forums telling teams they are going to crumble? I don't 100% mean it, what I do there at chelski vital is a retaliation for you crap. You want to start a war with me, you inbred, little turd?
LOUISA: Absolutely right, sweetheart. And believe me, I AM enjoying it. United for the title. Sleep tight.
and allen, Tottenham for the coca cola championship. sweet dreams :d..
I doubt tiny tots will make get past Man City in the Carling Cup. Man City are looking for revenge against the spuds for their fluke win. Also, Man City are at home and the spuddies are horrible on the travel this season. So, no trophy yet again for them.
Wenger must have made a mistake (or two) with the team sheet last night. Denilson should really have stepped in for Cesc and not Diarra. Denilson and Bert work just fine. Dudu hasn't had the best couple of games yet Wenger still wants to start him. Walcott should have started and Bendtner also, they've both been impressive whenever they get the chance to shine. The sub of Bendtner for Dudu at half-time shows this. I just hope Wenger will start both young strikers at the next game since both have scored in the UEFA Champs. League.
allen49, yes, I suspect you and some spud fans would be an ass sucker to Manure, since tiny tots are not exactly been top 4 material this season. Now take this as an advice, I mean you can do whatever you want, maybe you (as well as other spud fans) should support your team more often than relying on others to win, maybe, just maybe, your team will win a trophy. The Carling Cup should be the most realistic target.
amazing, spurs win their first game in like decades, we lose our first game of the season and all of a sudden they crawl out and start shouting again.. amazing, personally i wouldn't be shouting over anything right now, 15pts at this time of the season is pretty embarrassing for a team that were telling us they were going to be top 4 this year.
and ALLEN let me point something out, if i wish to say a few wind up words on your sight i see nothing wrong with it, because your lot do exactly the same when something goes wrong with us, the difference is that we get to come to your place far more than you come to ours, but the way your pathetic lot acted over the summer reminds me of children with glasses, they throw the first punch and then when you go to hit back they scream " not the glasses not the glasses ! "
Now that Villa, Newcastle and Boro have played this high pressing game, it's something that's going to be copied by others and we're going to come up against it away from home all the time from now on. We'll need to find a way to manage it. I think Rosicky should have played the Cesc role in centre midfield, it's a role that he knows. Then we could have played Walcott at left mid. Even at the Wigan game at home the Diarra and Denilson combination didn't work great in terms of creativity.
I'm curious, can anyone explain how he gets away with it. I have him in my dream team, but I'm definitely going to row him out in Jan. When you look at what Essien was sent of for, and then Eboue gets away with it. Can't figure it out personally
BMF, bring it on you little muppet.
Blue is the colour
blimey! didnt see that coming! gutted, thought we'd have a crack at takin that unbeaten run and destroying it! DAMN YOU BORO!! and i gotta say eboue should have had 2 straight reds yesterday, extremly lucky to have stayed on th pitch. extremly lucky.
Topspur, the only explanation I can think of is that the ref didnt see the slap to Pogatetz, coz of the angle involved. In which case the FA could and should punish him, based on video evidence. I'm not sure about the studs-raking on Downing though - I thought it was unintentional.
funny how u guys are complaing about injuries when it was people in here told us to stop moaning when 80% of our squad have been injured this season......terry has been out for 2 months, carvalho is out for 2 1/2....fererria out for 3 months, lampard was out for 1 1/2....drogba missed 6 games and will not play again till march, bridge was out for 1 month, cole was out for 1 month, cech is out for overr 2 months....balack hasnt kicked a ball yet.........the list goes on and u guys r crying that cesc and hleb have missed a few games.....GET OVER IT
Dax, a lot of posters here arent complaining about the injuries, just pointing them out. Thats no excuse for a poor performance by the rest of the squad, coz they should have stepped up (which is echoed by a lot of posts here). In fact, even Wenger has refused to blame injury for the loss, while Mourinho contined moaning about his injury problems last season, as if he was the only one having them. Thank you for impressing us with your massive injury list - when you can read and understand the posts here properly, you are welcome to make your contributions. Your present contribution was simply rubbish.
Yay Dax, for you lot it is the same - you'll just end up buying more players in January! Just like the sp*rs
Oh, I'll bring it you little BITC(H). You'll be crying home to your momma wanting to suck on her tits to make you feel better. Cause that's the only woman you'll feel up.

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