Middlesbrough (0) 1 - 1 (0) Arsenal|
Riverside Stadium, Saturday 3rd February 2007
Hoyte (Denilson) Toure Senderos Clichy
Flamini Cesc Gilberto Rosicky
Henry Adebayor (Aliadiere 86)
Interesting starting line-up for Arsenal (as
earlier). Johan Djourou was the only defensive player on the bench,
but versatile enough for that to make sense. Theo Walcott, Jeremie Aliadiere,
and Denilson were there too in case we needed to go to a wider or more attacking midfield.
It was a slow start. Cesc Fabregas won the first corner on 7 minutes and
hit it too low and at the first defender.
Gael Clichy got free down the left wing, amidst howls of offside.
Emmanuel Adebayor may have been offside but didn't get involved in the
play, and anyway he looked level to me. Gael won a corner with
his cross but it was another wasted one - cleared easily to Kolo Toure
who hit a wayward shot from outside the box.
Moments later Tomas Rosicky scuffed a shot from 20 yards that
trundled through to the keeper.
Mathieu Flamini combined well with Adebayor, close passing to
get clear down the middle, but then cocked up an attempted pass to
Cesc, playing the ball behind him. As predicted, it was all very narrow.,p>
Jens Lehmann had to come out to deny Viduka. Didn't have to come out very fast,
Viduka is no Walcott. Then Lehmann was called on twice more in quick succession,
each time coming out to snaffle a cross coming high across his box.
Fifteen minutes in and all very scrappy.
Downing hit a looping cross from their left beyond the far post but it
was right on the goalline by the time it came down onto Yakubu's head
and he couldn't keep the ball in play.
On 19 minutes Yakubu broke through and into the box but
Justin Hoyte did brilliantly to get in front of the striker and
bring the ball away.
On 20, Fabregas tried a one-two with Henry but the skipper's return ball on the edge
of the box was too high for the Spaniard to take. This was just after
Boateng's overhead clearance in the same position had denied Cesc
Then Yakubu got free down their left, and to the corner, but his
pull-back for Cattermole was intercepted and cleared.
On the half hour the ball was cleared to Rosicky just outside the
left corner of the box (after a corner which he'd won). He cushioned it
nicely with his first touch and tried a far post curler with his
second, but it didn't come in enough.
Arsenal were getting more and
more on top. Just after the half hour we played keep ball for ages,
the move ending with Henry's attempted surprise chip from outside the box,
but he didn't get quite enough lift on it, and failed to surprise
Viduka caught Toure in the face with his elbow and got booked. Probably
the right decision - it didn't look malicious, he didn't throw his
arm at Kolo, but the arm was raised, unnecessarily, above Viduka's head and
A couple of minutes after the re-start, Henry put Adebayor in down the inside
right position. He managed to drag the ball past one defender, though a
tiny touch from te defender slowed him down a bit. He did brilliantly to
stay on his feet and with the ball at those feet, then tried to thread
the ball through 4 defenders to find Cesc's run to the penalty spot,
but it was cut out.
A stumble by oure allowed a long ball forward to fall to Viduka who
tried a 20 yarder which went harmlessly wide.
Henry went on a great run on 50 minutes, passed to his right for Cesc,
and Cesc tried to do the same for Adebayor, which would have put the
striker in loads of space bearing down on goal, but Cesc's pass was over-hit.
We had a good spell just around the hour. Cesc nearly put Adebayor in,
then Henry had a shot form outside the box after they'd scrambled it clear,
then Kolo had a long-raneg shot. None of them were clear chances though.
But then, on 61 minutes, a hoof forward was glanced on by Viduka,
and latched onto by Yakubu. Senderos got the wrong side of him and
bundled him over. First contact may have been outside the box
(hmmm, replays say not)
but the penalty was given together with a red card. Lehmann got a
yellow too for complaining, presumably. Yakubu stepped up and hit is
softly to the left as Lehmann dived the other way.
With Arsenal down to 10 men and needing to come forward, it was
immediately apparent that Boro fancied getting another. But we
defended their quick break, broke ourselves, and won a corner at
which Cesc did the "not beating the first defender" thing.
Gilberto dropped back to fill the space left by Senderos.
They won a corner which led tosome head tennis and Yakubu getting a
header on goal from 5 yards out, but he'd clearly pushed a defender to
make space for himself and the ref spotted it.
Arca got free on the
right of the box and should have just belted it for goal but worked
his way forward instead and hit a cross which Kolo cut out.
A cross came from their right towards Downing, right in front of goal but Hoyte did well to
stick a foot out and get the ball away from him.
On 76 Viduka did well to turn away from Gilberto just inside the
left corner of the box, and flash a shot at the near post which
Lehmann did wellto save. Lehmann got the ball from the corner
and appeared to carry the ball outside the box. Rolled it to Kolo who carried the ball forward up the right and over the halfway line. Then he chipped it forward finding Adebayor's leap on the edge of the box near its left corner. He nodded it down to Henry whose lovely cushioned first touch set him up for a second touch which was a low shot across the keeper and inside his left hand post.
Replays showed that while Lehmann's foot and part of his body had been
outside the box, the ball had been inside the line.
A minute later, Viduka rose well inbetween Gilberto and Toure to
get his head to a free kick from their left, but he headed it over the bar.
Denilson came on for Hoyte. He went to the middle of the park,
while Rosicky went to the right and Henry started hanging on the left wing.
On 85, Adebayor came off for Jeremie Aliadiere. The big man had been
doing well but maybe the Frenchman would have more legs.
In the last minute Aliadiere played a give-and-go with Cesc but went
down under challenge from Pogatex on the edge of the box as he tried to
get to the return ball. A crucial and excellent tackle.
Rosicky nade some space for himself with a crafty turn and hit a shot
from 25 yards or more which bounced wide of the left post as the keeper
The home side had the better of things as it went into injury time.
Mixed feelings on this one. We'd hoped for more than a point but to
come back from 1 down with 10 men (again),
well you can't really complain can you? Except perhaps for the slightly
lacklustre performance up till the point we lost Senderos, and the team selection which I do think made us too narrow across the pitch. At the end of the day, Boro were well worthy of the point.