It was a rainy Monday night at the Riverside for Arsenal who came away with all three points after a tough game.
Arsene Wenger started with a crazy formation – three at the back for the first time in 20 years, with Nacho Monreal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain playing as wingbacks and Rob Holding getting his first start in the league in a while. It was odd but it kinda worked – better for some than the others.
1. Petr Čech 6.5
Čech was back in goal after being out injured and he did well. He made some good saves and reacted well when his defence got hi in trouble. He couldn’t have done much for their goal. I have to say, I didn’t feel too confident seeing him back but that grew as the match went on.
2. Gabriel 6
I’ve changed Gabriel’s rating from 5.5 to 6 a few times because I can’t decide. He is an average substitute defender. He shouldn’t be starting for Arsenal. He doesn’t make me, or anyone else, feel confident in our defence. He doesn’t always make big mistakes but a lot of half-mistakes that annoy me and others.
3. Laurent Koscielny 6
Although Kos played well and kept us safe for the most of the match, he should have reacted better for Boro’s goal. I mean, what was he even trying there? Decent otherwise, it was nice to have him back.
4. Rob Holding 7
Mustafi who? Haha 😉 Rob came into the line up tonight after Mustafi picked up an injury and he did well, definitely our best defender against Boro. Looked very disciplined – only 1 foul – and he didn’t try to do anything silly. Makes you think why doesn’t he get to called on instead of Gabriel.
5. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 8
A brilliant match from Ox down the right side of our attack. He did well in both attack and defence when needed – even though he was on a yellow card for the majority of the match. Created some chances, could have even scored in the last minutes. It was a good decision to drop Theo Walcott, who has been off-form the last few matches. The Ox definitely showed up and gave an remarkable performance. My MOTM!
6. Granit Xhaka 6.5
Xhaka had a rather quiet game against Boro, both defensively and in attack. The best thing he did was win the free kick for our first goal. He didn’t get booked, but a Boro player did for a foul on him. Xhaka saw less ball than usual so that’s probably why he didn’t leave much of an impression. A calm, decent performance.
7. Aaron Ramsey 7
It was great to see Ramsey start and it all paid off in the second half when he assisted Mesut with that amazing chest pass. He was involved, a lot, with over 90% passing accuracy. He was good, both in attack and defensively – 11 ball recoveries, more than any other player. He definitely enjoyed this new formation.
8. Nacho Monreal 6
Speaking of the new formation, Nacho wasn’t having it. He had a bad match on the left, failing to catch up with Boro’s players a few times. The cross for the goal came from his side when he failed to stop Downing from crossing. He was struggling the whole match but he did manage to get involved in attack sometimes.
9. Mesut Özil 8
Mesut had one of those matches where he’s quietly doing his job without anything too fancy and then just casually scores the winner. He did get the ball less than he usually would but he passed it around with 93% accuracy. But, what is even more awesome, Mesut – the one who doesn’t defend or tackle – made more tackles than any other player. Have that, media.
10. Alexis Sanchez 7.5
A good match from Alexis, his usual stuff most of the time. Running into players, keeping the ball for a tad too long sometimes, giving it away leading to Boro having a half-chance, but he scored an amazing free kick and pre-assisted Ramsey for Mesut’s goal – plus he created a few more chances and gave his shirt to a kid in the away crowd, so overall a good match. Wow, that’s a long sentence.
11. Olivier Giroud 6
Giroud finally got a start and didn’t use it. It’s not that he didn’t have chances – he did, more than one. He looked slow, waved his hands and huffed and puffed a lot when he missed. He’s better off coming off bench.