Middlesbrough vs Arsenal – Preview and Starting Eleven

Today we are once again without Hleb, Fabregas, Diaby, Flamini and Van Persie. Any team missing these players is going to have trouble replacing the quality that they bring to the team but our apparent strength in midfield means we have the likes of Gilberto, Denilson and Diarra to cover up. I got our line up prediction against Newcastle correct so let me have another go at it. Wenger said he wants to rotate so this could mean a few things….I have a feeling that if he plays two up front then Walcott might get a run out this afternoon:

Almunia
Sagna
Toure
Gallas
Clichy
Eboue
Gilberto
Denilson
Rosicky
Adebayor
Walcott

However, Walcott could be exchanged for Diarra if we play 5 in midfield. It is hard to predict exactly because Wenger said he will “see who is in the best condition” after so many tough away games. Our next three games out of four are at the Emirates including Chelsea next Sunday.

I want to see Eduardo play up front rather than on the left of a five in midfield. However, without Fabregas or Hleb in the same team I don’t know if it is fair to judge him. Even though so far in recent times he hasn’t shown much to us, he hasn’t really had much creativity behind him. He has scored 5 goals in 9 starts in all competitions…lets just give this guy some “time to settle in properly” – as Wenger puts it. I don’t think Middlesbrough away in December is the best fixture to play him in but if he does then lets see what happens. I personally would like to see Walcott get a chance and perhaps even Bendtner.

Middlesbrough are 18th in the league but it is fair to say their performances have been better than their position shows. If we get down and play then there shouldn’t be much of a problem but without Fabregas or Hleb it is hard to see where a goal will be created from. Rosicky needs to stand up in these sorts of games as the “senior first team player” in midfield. Also I would like to see more from Eboue today if he starts again in midfield. He did provide the cross for Ade to score that goal against Newcastle last week but apart from that he didn’t show much creativity.

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    Teams

    Middlesbrough: Ross Turnbull, Emanuel Pogatetz, David Wheater, Jonathan Woodgate, Luke Young, Gary O’Neil, George Boateng, Stewart Downing, Fabio Rochemback, Jeremie Aliadiere, Tuncay Sanli.

    Substitutes: Jason Steele, Robert Huth, Julio Arca, Adam Johnson, Dong-Gook Lee.

    Arsenal: Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue, William Gallas, Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Gilberto Silva, Lassana Diarra, Tomas Rosicky, Emmanuel Adebayor, Da Silva Eduardo.

    Substitutes: Jens Lehmann, Philippe Senderos, Neves Denilson, Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott.