COMMENT By Dominic Toner
Arsenal travel to Middlesbrough on Monday night in the Premier League.
The Gunners will be looking to get back into the race for the top-four positions and will need to rediscover their best form if they have any chance of doing so.
Arsene Wenger’s side suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace in their last game and have lost their last four consecutive away matches.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough are 19th-placed in the Premier League table and are six points adrift of safety.
Here, Football Insider looks at three things to expect from the highly anticipated league encounter.
Ozil to play a major role
Arsenal’s under-fire attacker Mesut Ozil has come in for major criticism at times this season from fans as they feel he is lazy. The 28-year-old was non-existent in the away defeat to Palace and has struggled to make an impact on the big stage. However, he thrives against the lesser teams in the Premier League and should be able to pull the strings against Boro. The Germany international has still chipped in with 10 goals and 11 assists this campaign despite his criticism and is arguably Arsenal’s most creative player. He will be keen to bounce back with a strong display against Boro and he could be the key player for Wenger.
Plenty of goals
There should be plenty of goals in this game as both sides are desperate for the three points. Arsenal can wave goodbye their top-four hopes if they lose at the Riverside and need a near-perfect run if they are to make the Champions League spots. Meanwhile, Boro are looking favourites to be relegated this season and need a great escape to avoid the Championship. Arsenal have proven they can be deadly when their attacking unit click and should be able to get beyond Boro’s backline. However, they are likely to give the hosts opportunities and there should be lots of chances available.
Protests to continue
The group of Arsenal fans calling for Arsene Wenger to leave appears to be growing every week and the latest embarrassment at Palace will have only aided that. The French manager’s contract expires at the end of the season, but he is yet to announce whether his future will be at the Emirates Stadium. He is regarded as the north London club’s most successful manager ever, but there have been a number of large protests by supporters asking for Wenger to leave. They are on the brink of missing out on the top four, which would be the first time that has ever happened under his tenure. Arsenal fans were even turning on their own players mid-way through the Palace game and it’s only likely to continue against Boro.
In other Arsenal news, Piers Morgan has delivered his verdict on Arsene Wenger’s situation.