There was a sign of relief in the Emirates camp, after the Premier League match between Middlesbrough versus Arsenal ended in a 1-2 victory for the visitors. Both teams desperately needed the three points, as the host battle relegation and the visitors in the hunt for Champions League football next season.
This is perceived well amongst Arsenal faithful; after the previous game left the Gunners in a shambolic state that saw Crystal Palace cruise by Arsenal, in what would seem like a survival battle for Crystal Palace.
In recent times Wenger has ben criticised by fans, ex-players, and pundits about his tactics and discipline in the squad, but the league match against Palace was clear to see that the French manager is behind as football evolves. The fans showed their resentment to players, manager and the Board.
For the first time in 20 years, Arsene Wenger played with three defenders in a 3-4-3 formation. I was loving the change and “oh boy” I liked the starting line-up, seeing Rob Holding start the game gladden me. Rob Holding who won Bolton’s player of the year last season, is a massive talent and can go on to be a world-class defender in the role of Tony Adams if he works on his leadership skill as he’s already got the right ingredients to make a good centre-back.
With the 3-4-3 system, Wenger had to work his flanks which were Nacho Monreal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – with the latter being one of the best players on the pitch, putting in a quality display in what would seem like a team performance as the final whistle was blown.
Sanchez opened the score sheet with a sublime free-kick that left goalkeeper Brad Guzan rooted, as the ball rattled the net just before half-time. The host would draw level through a Negredo equaliser just 5 minutes into the second half, but it was Mesut Ozil who would be the difference.
A beautiful cross from Sanchez found Aaron Ramsey who calmly brought the ball down the path of Mesut Ozil that then smashed the ball into the near post of Brad Guzan.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put in a man of the match display and was ecstatic with his teammates as the referee brought the match to a close. In his post-match interview, Chamberlain was quoted “in recent weeks it’s not gone well for us and to see our fans travel all the way up here on a Monday night, it means everything for us, for them to stand by us. It was only right we could get them three points and I would like to thank them”.
Chamberlain who had a stat of 88% passing accuracy, 9 crosses, 5 take-on’s, 5 clearances, 2 tackles and 2 aerial duels won has been impressive for the gunners during their dark times, exercising his leadership prowess on and off the pitch. Just like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, Chamberlain’s contract expires at the end of next season with negotiations set to begin as Wenger seeks to keep hold of the Englishman.
With Wenger switching to a 3-4-3 formation, many would be keen to see him go with the same development against Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup, or would Arsene result to his methods?