Sunday, August 20, 2017

Prediction: Middlesbrough vs Arsenal

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: bet365

Once again Arsenal face a make-or-break fixture in what has been a disappointing Premier League campaign. The Gunners are seventh in the standings, and if the season ended today they would not play in the Champions League next year. That is a luxury Arsene Wenger can’t afford, so his side will look to steal an away home against Middlesbrough this Monday.

It will not be easy accomplishment, though. Boro are fighting to avoid relegation, and they need the three points as well to avoid more complications. Aitor Karanka’s men sit in 19th place and are six points away from salvation, but they have a game in-hand compared to Hull City. Stealing points from Arsenal is not an easy accomplishment, but Boro will have to play one of their best games of the season if they want to get the result they need.

Middlesbrough

As stated before, Boro are locked up in a relegation battle against Swansea City and Hull. Two of those three teams will play in the Championship, and only one will remain in the EPL for the 2017/18 year. And there is no question Boro have the tougher road ahead of the three sides. To make things even more complicated, Middlesbrough are coming off a scoreless draw against Burnley at home this past week.

Team News

Aitor Karanka will not have defenders Fabio (concussion) and James Husband (knock) available for this fixture. Meanwhile, Callum Chambers (ankle), Gaston Ramirez (knock) and George Friend (muscle injury) are doubtul. All three will require a late-fitness test to see whether they can play or not.

Arsenal

Arsenal have not been very consistent this year, and they are coming off an astonishing 0-3 defeat against Crystal Palace last Monday. Most fans and experts want Wenger gone at the end of the season, but the French manager will try to silence the critics stealing an away win in this game.  Their recent run of results has not been very good, though, with just one win in their last four EPL fixtures.

Team News

Arsenal could be shorthanded at goal once again, which might become a problem. David Ospina (knock) and Petr Cech (calf) are both doubtful, and if neither can play then Damian Emiliano Martinez would start for a second consecutive game. Laurent Koscielny (calf) will undergo a late-fitness test to see if he will be available. Santi Cazorla (achilles ligament) and Lucas Perez (thigh), however, have already been ruled out.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Arsenal have won just one of their last four Premier League games (1W 1D 2 L)
  • Middlesbrough have failed to win their last 14 Premier League contests (6D 8L)
  • Middlesbrough have not scored in six of their last eight EPL fixtures.
  • The Gunners have one of the top scorers in the league this season in Alexis Sanchez (18 goals)
  • Arsenal are riding a three-game undefeated streak against Middlesbrough (2W 1D)

Conclusion

There is no question both sides need the three points, so it will come down to the quality of the players to get the job done. And knowing another bad result could bury their Champions League aspirations for good, I believe Arsenal will right the ship. The Gunners should win rather easily, putting another nail in Middlesbrough’s relegation coffin.

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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