Date: 26th April 2009 at 12:36am
Written by:

On Sky

Results earlier today confirmed Arsenal’s stronghold on fourth place, but it also made catching Chelsea even harder. The Blues are currently nine points ahead of us, and they have a superior goal difference. So in all honesty, Arsenal has nothing to play for in this match, but the same can’t be said about our opposition. Boro are fighting for their Premier League lives, and with only four more games left after this one, it’s now or never for the Riverside club.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene had this to say on the opposition. “They are always difficult,” conceded Wenger. “They are a good side who made a bad start in the season.’

“Because they are a young side, the lack of confidence has given them a big problem this season. But I believe they are a good team, they have a good young promising manager and the future will show that.”

Injured fullback Gael Clichy praised Anfield hero, Arshavin. ‘Andrey is a phenomenon, who never doubts,’ he told L’Equipe Magazine.

‘In less than two months he has already learned English, dares to say what he thinks to everyone and can make the difference at any moment on the pitch.’

Southgate knows the importance of this match. He said: ‘We have to win a game that we are not expected to in the next few’

‘We have got players who can deliver, but for me when I look at the next two fixtures, there is no pressure on us in those two fixtures, although we understand the importance of them.

‘The players have just got to go out and have a go at them and keep ourselves in there with a fighting chance, and there’s no reason why we can’t do that.’

Arsenal Team News:

There has been many reports suggesting that Djourou, Almunia, and Adebayor will be back in the squad, but I doubt they will be. Arsene won’t risk rushing them back too early. Also I expect that Wenger will rest many of the big guns, which will contribute to a Boro result.

Possible Starting XI: Fabianski, Sagna, Toure, Silvestre, Gibbs, Eboue, Denilson, Diaby, Arshavin, Eduardo, Bendtner

Player to watch: Eduardo

I hope the Crozillian will be able to make his first Premier League start since that incident tomorrow. Dudu is probably foaming at the mouth to play with Arshavin. Eduardo makes clever runs into great areas, and Andrey can pick out a pass to meet the run. I think they’ll do well together.

Middlesbrough Team News:

Gary O’Neil and Didier Digard return to the Boro squad to boost their chances at the Emirates. Southgate has had the privilege to start the same eleven in the last two games against Fulham and Hull, which has seen them gain 4 points.

Chris Riggott and Emanuel Pogatetz are out.

Player to watch: Tuncay Sanli

The Turkish international is a great talent. Reports linking him with a move to bigger clubs has unsettled him a bit, but the quality is still there. Denilson will have to keep him in check.

Match Facts & Stats

Arsenal have scored four goals in their last two games.

Three of the last four games between Arsenal and Boro have ended 1-1.

The next game for both of these clubs is Manchester United.

Toure will be making his 100th Premier League start for Arsenal.

Ref Watch:

Chris Foy will be the head official for this match. He has managed 22 matches this season handing out 78 yellow cards and 2 reds. This gives him a 3.64 card per game average.

Match Prediction:

As I said above, I think Arsene will take this game lightly. We have locked up fourth, and unfortunately 3rd is out of reach. Why shouldn’t he prioritize the Champions League? It’s a long shot, but its our only shot at silverware. Boro need points and I think they’ll get at least a draw, maybe more. I predict a 2-2 draw at the Grove.

Next Fixtures:

29/4 (Wed) – Manchester United (A) – Champions League

2/5 (Sat) – Portsmouth (A) – Premier League

5/5 (Tue) – Manchester United (H)- Champions League