- Sanchez’s free kick put Arsenal ahead in 42′
- Negredo answered back 5 minutes into 2nd half
- Ozil’s winner in 71′ keeps top-four dreams alive
Arsenal’s quest for a top-four finish has improved ever so slightly from where it stood two hours ago, though the Gunners’ performance in a 2-1 victory away to 19th-place Middlesbrough did very little to inspire confidence and relieve the pressure on Arsene Wenger.
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After an opening 40 minutes which saw very little in terms of scoring chances for either side, Alexis Sanchez broke the scoreless deadlock with a stunning free kick from 23 yards out (WATCH HERE). Brad Guzan, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 2 (in PL play), couldn’t move as the Chilean’s dead-ball strike cleared the wall and dipped under the crossbar.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Boro pulled level through Alvaro Negredo in the 50th minute. Stewart Downing hit the perfect cross to the top of the six-yard box, Laurent Koscielny whiffed on his clearance attempt, and Negredo beat Petr Cech to make it 1-1 (WATCH HERE).
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Following Negredo’s equalizer, any semblance of discipline and game plan from either side went out the window. The pace of the game went through the roof as Arsenal chased three points in their bid to catch fourth-place Manchester City (who are now seven points ahead, having played one more game than Arsenal), as Boro sought the same in hopes of fighting off relegation.
Much like his manager, Mesut Ozil’s future remains very uncertain two months before the summer transfer carousel begins spinning once again. Monday offered Ozil a brief reprieve and the chance to play the role of hero (above video). Sanchez played a lofted ball into the box, which Aaron Ramsey chested down into the path of an unmarked Ozil, and the 28-year-old German international slammed his first-time effort past Guzan.
The victory sees Arsenal move past Everton (on goals scored) for sixth in the league table, while Boro remain six points off the pace of Hull City, who currently occupy 17th.