henry_1

Arsenal started the better side without having much of an end product. Henry like in the last few games was not very involved in the play.

Tomas Rosicky was the best player on the pitch in the early stages, linking the play from the left hand side inwards.

He had a few trademark strikes which almost produced goals.

Flamini on the opposite side clearly looked like a player out of position. He was drafted into that position for two reasons. Firstly to give Theo Walcott a break away from the spot light and secondly to keep a lid on the impressive Stewart Downing who played a huge part in Boro's victory over Bolton last week.

Cesc Fabregas started the game a little slower than he has recently, wasn't really on the ball as much as we have grown accustomed to.

We were missing Robin Van Persie's ability to shoot in the final third.

Thierry Henry had a typical curling effort which just was saved after a good move.

HALF TIME.

A few nice moves, decent possession but no real urgency pretty much sums up the first half.

Arsenal were going to have to up the tempo in the second half if they were to get a win from the fixture. The second half started pretty much like the first. Arsenal were playing at one pace. We were lacking that grit and determination to get ahead. Almost as if our pretty passing would guarantee us an opening goal.

Then came the turning point. A long ball forward was won in the air by Mark Viduka and send Yakubu through on goal. Senderos came across and clumsily brought the Nigerian forward down. Penalty to Middlesbrough and to add insult to injury Senderos was sent off as he was the last man.

I was hoping that Lehmann would dive to his right but he dived to his left and Yakubu rolled it in the opposite corner of the net.

I've seen this far too many times now. We don't go and force the game. We play in 1st and 2nd gear until we go a goal down. And once again we were punished. That is the reason why we have gone behind so many times this season.

It may be better for us if every team we play against scores after the first 10 seconds then at least we will have a bit more urgency in every game.

On 78 minutes Middlesbrough had a corner which Lehmann plucked and almost carried the ball over the line. He threw to Toure who send a long ball to the head of Adebayor. Ade's flick landed at the feet of Henry in the box and he shifted it to his left and slide past Mark Schwarzer.

Denilson came on for Hoyte and Adebayor was replace for the midweek goalscorer Aliadiere.

Aliadiere almost had a run on goal before being stopped by Pogatetz and Rosicky had a 90 minute strike past the post. That was about the size of it really. We didn't really look like a side fighting to get back into the title race. I'm sure Wenger will point towards the Tottenham semi final, tired legs an all but I would have liked to have seen us play at a higher tempo before the sending off.

There is no doubt in my mind that if we were playing at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge then we would have seen a much different approach to the game.

Update 4th Feb

After watching match of the day again I noticed that it was never a penalty (I hold my hands up) It was outside the area for one. We didn't deserve anything more than what we got because of our attitude to the game. Players like Henry were supposed to be fresh. I also agree that Flamini is just not good enough to be an Arsenal player. Great energy and commitment but ability wise just not up to it. The only reason I can see that Wenger didn't start Denilson over Flamchickenburger is because of the 120 minutes against the scum.