Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were enough to rescue a win for Arsenal away at Middlesbrough, keeping alive the Gunners’ hopes of finishing in the top four.
Arsenal started the game 10 points adrift of fourth place, and Middlesbrough were six points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.
Arsene Wenger started the match with three at the back, giving Rob Holding a rare start. While neither side impressed in the first half, Sanchez curled in a fine free-kick past a static Brad Guzan.
In the second half, Alvaro Negredo equalised for the home side, and with 20 minutes of normal time left, Ozil won it with a low shot from close range.
With the victory, Arsenal move into sixth on goals scored, while 'Boro now look doomed in their attempts to stay up. Arsenal's post-match celebrations betrayed their relief after a difficult period.
Has Arsene Wenger tinkered too late? A drop to three at the back is hardly rocket science, but putting three central defenders helps to shore up a weak defence, and gives more bodies in the middle of the park too. It certainly helped the side to play their three best attacking players, and gave Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal the chance to assist in attack and defence. It wasn't a great performance, but it was far better than it has been.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough): While he ended up on the losing side, Downing was 'Boro's most threatening player, and the most dangerous player on the pitch. His deft cross into the box for Negredo created a goal, and had he seen more of the ball he could have given Arsenal's new-look defence a tougher time.
Middlesbrough: Guzan 6, Barragan 6, Ayala 6, Gibson 6, Fabio 7, Clayton 6, De Roon 6, Leadbitter 6, Ramirez 6, Downing 7, Negredo 7. Subs: Friend 6, Traore 6, Gestede 6.
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