Sunday’s FA Cup game against Middlesbrough was a lot more straightforward than many of our writers expected.
In addition to our extensive pre-match coverage of the game, we’ve got our writers together for a short prediction on how they thought the game would pan out.
Here’s how we go on:
Lee Hurley Predicted Win 2-0
I predicted a professional 2-0 win that would be more straightforward than most imagined with no problems at the back despite expected changes.
Helen Trantum Predicted Win 1-0
I half arrived at the correct score line, but it certainly wasn’t the route I expected when we made our predictions, and even more so when I saw our starting defence.
As it was, our fringe players were clearly up for it, and our more regular players showed that they appreciate the importance of this competition too.
Mesut Ozil gave a midfield masterclass and Santi Cazorla once again showed that size doesn’t matter as he gave an all action display in behind the German. What a revelation the Spaniard has been in that deeper position!
Boro, as expected, set up for the 0-0, and with a brave but slightly foolish high line too (until we pushed them back at least).
However Arsenal did what Man City so obviously failed to do in the previous round – we scored (twice) while we were battering them in the first half.
A cracking team goal and a piece of combined inspiration and technique from Alexis and Oli.
The second goal settled us down and put paid to any nervousness (for the players, if not the crowd – this is Arsenal after all!) and we really should have had more in the second half.
Still, a win is all that matters and that it came with a decent performance was an added bonus.
A thoroughly professional job and a potential banana skin picked up and tossed in the trash.
Another home tie now please!
Stephen Bradley Predicted Win 3-0
Hard to complain with a performance that was as comfortable as a nap on a cloud.
Middlesbrough, despite playing two up front, never posed much of a threat offensively. They were more than content to sit as deep as possible and watch us play in front of them.
That’s why it’s virtually impossible to draw any long-term conclusions from this game. Yes, Cazorla was superb in the middle of the pitch, but he was given so much time on the ball, he was in effect playing at CAM beside Özil instead of behind him.
All you want from these games is a competent performance and no injuries. We got both on Sunday.
Bring on the quarter-final draw. Bradford away please
Paul Williams Predicted Win 2-1
As expected, this weekend Arsenal progressed to the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
What wasn’t expected, at least, not by me, was the ease with which progression was ensured.
Banishing any worries about a slow start, an ultra attacking line up containing Giroud, Welbeck, Sanchez, Santi and der Mesut, were on the front foot from the off.
Although it took close to half an hour for Giroud’s expertly created opening goal to arrive, like a London bus, the second one- a beauty- came almost immediately after and with that Middlesbrough were done.
At the back Gabriel eased himself in as if he’s always been there whilst a clean sheet for Szczesny will have done his chances of a first team recall no harm at all.
If only all Arsenal games could be like this…
Sylvain Jamet Predicted Win 4-1
Well the boys have done a good job. Two goals a clean sheet that I didn’t expect.
Would have liked a couple more goals.
Let’s hope for more of the same in the next week in the Premier League against Palace.
Lewis Ambrose Predicted Win 2-1
That was a thoroughly enjoyable performance!
Way more comfortable than I’d anticipated, and it was nice to see Gabriel slot right in.
We played quickly and confidently, and it was a real joy to watch.
Özil and Cazorla were just magnificent, and it was interesting to see Alexis, Giroud, Welbeck develop their understanding further.
She wore, she wore, she wore a yellow ribbon!
Nia Griffiths Predicted Win 2-1
Alright so I was slightly wrong. I predicted we would win but I didn’t think we’d keep a clean sheet and I certainly thought Middlesbrough were going to have more of a go than that.
Overall I’m delighted with that performance. We were leaps and bounds better than against Leicester and hopefully we’ll carry on in this manner.
Again, Santi Cazorla was a dream to watch and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of him slowing down.
It’s such a privilege to watch a player like him come into his prime. Ozil was brilliant too, as was Alexis, although I feel he has a little bit to go before he’s back to 100%.
However, as I said in my player ratings, Alexis at 99% is still better than most players in the world.
The first goal was a brilliant team effort and the second was an amazing individual volley from Giroud, which actually made me yelp out loud. The Frenchman also had a good overall game.
It was a good match to introduce the newbie Gabriel to the team because although he had little to do, he still made a solid tackle towards the end and got to know how we play.
Onto the next round we go.
Andi Foster N/A
Andi is still missing and still assumed drunk.
Prediction: He’s in for one doozer of a hangover.
Sean Ferguson Predicted Win 2-1
That was a lot easier than expected.
Two first half goals from Giroud were enough for us to book our place in the next round and closer to another FA Cup final. I was concerned about the inclusion of Flamini before the game but they very rarely threatened and to be fair he had a decent game.
Gabriel won’t have many easier games in a Arsenal shirt, what he had to do he did well and this was a great game to start his bedding in process in a new country.
I thought Santi, Alexis, Giroud and especially Ozil were fantastic and on another day we would’ve scored a few more. The link up between Santi, Alexis and Ozil was fantastic and I wonder if we will see the little Spanish magician playing along side the DM more in the future.
We won’t have many easier 2-0 wins this season so let’s hope this is a confidence boosting win going into a run of three tricky looking games in eight days.
Bring on the draw!
Mark Fine Predicted Draw 1-1
An old adage is if you think something will happen, and it does happen every time, then why bother to play the game? Well, I thought this was going to be a defensive struggle and apparently so did Middlesbrough.
The problem is we played Arsenal’s typical possession-based attacking style of football – not what they have been showing recently and it was clearly the right approach.
Middlesbrough sat back the entire first half and never looked to be a threat, primarily because we took them out of the game early on. We started quickly, and had 66% possession tthanks to precisely placed and timed passes from Ozil and (Captain!) Cazorla.
Together, they absolutely dominated the midfield.
As a result, Middlesbrough were two down in the first 30 minutes and never recovered.
I think they may have crossed into Arsenal’s territory three, maybe four times in the entire first half and only started to mount a serious, prolonged attack after 75-80 minutes.
By then it was way too late.
I’d like to say Gabriel put in a stellar debut performance. Quite frankly, he and the rest of the defence had nothing to do for most of the game, and the final 10-15 minutes of play is not really enough to judge.
Bottom line: Pleasantly surprised and glad I was wrong.