I was so certain that the game against Middlesbrough would be the start of our return to domestic form. We had a week to get over the Wigan result along with the return of Robin Van Persie who was certain to spark the team to life.
Not only this but I predicted a 4-0 victory and my predictions have been pretty good this season. Surely?!
Apart from Tomas Rosicky we were back to full strength.
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Eboue Flamini Cesc Hleb
Adebayor Van Persie
Theo was back on the bench, after missing the Wigan match with a thigh strain.
We started the game as expected, dominating the possession and spreading the ball around the pitch. Eboue almost scored the opening goal when he attempted to cross on 8 minutes but his cross was so poor that it ended up hitting the top of the crossbar no way near any of our strikers in the penalty box
On 10 minutes came the controversial moment. On first showing it looked liked Van Persie poked it through to Adebayor who was offside before he stroked it past Schwarzer. You can understand why the linesman may have missed it because it was a long way for him to see who made the contact but the referee was standing 5 yards away with a perfect view to see Boateng nip infront of Van Persie to touch it through to Adebayor who would have no longer been offside as it was the Boro man who made the 'pass'
Eboue had a shot saved by Schwarzer on 15 minutes, the Australian managed to parry out for an Arsenal corner.
on 21 minutes Fabregas played a long pass straight through the middle to Adebayor who was faced against Schwarzer but only managed to poke it straight at the keeper. Great chance, but what kind of defence gets beaten with one simple long range pass?
I'll tell you what type of defence. 24 minutes on the clock, Mark Schwarzer took a freekick deep inside the Boro half and played a long deep kick straight over the head of the Arsenal back four who tried to step up to play offside, the ball fell perfectly for Tuncay who played it square first time to Guess who?! Aliadière who scored on his return to the Emirates. Aliadière was in an offside position when the ball was played through but the linesman didn't give the decision. 1-0
Van Persie had a cross shot drilled wide on 28 minutes, which Adebayor couldn't quite get on the end of. Van Persie was looking rusty which I suppose is quite expected for a player who has been out for so long. He could not quite get into the game and get on the ball enough. Alot of his return passes were not finding the intended player.
Arsenal went in at half time 1-0 down and I was expecting to see a change of attitude. The first half Arsenals tempo was slow and all the passes were infront of the Boro back line.
I was hoping that we would see a half time introduction of Theo Walcott for Emmanuel Eboue but it was not to be. Arsene kept it the same and Arsenal kept the same tempo.
Van Persie dragged a shot wide early in the second half with Schwarzer scrambling across his goal.
On the hour Arsene made a double change, at least it was 10 minutes before he usually makes changes. Bendtner replaced Van Persie and Walcott replaced Sagna with Eboue moving back one to play at right / wing back.
Eboue Toure Gallas Clichy
Walcott Flamini Cesc Hleb
The introduction of Theo gave us that extra attacking threat, especially with Eboue pushing forward and things looked instantly better.
Bendtner had his first chance of the game on 64, he couldn't quite connect with Eboue's cross properly.
Arsenal created the best chance of the game when Hleb played a wonderful eye of the needle pass to Fabregas who was clear on goal to the left of the area but his slow shot was straight at Schwarzer's legs. Almost identical to the chance that fell to him against Wigan.
Still no way through.
Cesc had a header that hit the outside of the post on 73 minutes.
On 86 minutes Arsenal finally managed to grab a goal. Cesc Fabregas swung in a corner which Toure headered towards goal and the ball bounced off Schwarzer and into the net.
Walcott and Bendtner had half chances in stoppage time but it wasn't enough to get the winner. 4 draws in a row looks like we have thrown the title away unless we can win against both Manchester United and Chelsea and match them at least in the run in.