Preview: Arsenal v Middlesbrough (Sunday, 4pm)

17:12 12 February 2015

Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford

Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford



Relegated from the Premier League in 2009, Middlesbrough have rarely threatened to return – but there is a growing feeling on Teesside that this could be their year.

Boro have flourished since Spanish coach Aitor Karanka arrived to replace Tony Mowbray in the Riverside dugout at the end of 2013 and they moved to the top of the Championship with a 2-1 win at Blackpool on Tuesday.

Karanka’s team put together an eight-match unbeaten run in the autumn –including their drawn Capital One Cup tie at Liverpool, eventually settled after a record-breaking penalty shoot-out that finished 14-13 in the hosts’ favour.

However, Boro’s current sequence puts that in the shade – they have won their last six games in all competitions and have not been beaten since a 2-0 loss to promotion rivals Ipswich just before Christmas.

Their defensive record is far and away the best in the Championship, with 20 goals conceded in 30 games, and they also claimed the FA Cup scalp of Manchester City, triumphing 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Key players

Karanka has made good use of his past association with Jose Mourinho by borrowing several Chelsea players, including defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Tamas Kalas and forward Patrick Bamford.

Bamford has made a significant impact, netting 11 goals to date – although he is one behind former Ipswich man Grant Leadbitter, who forms part of a solid midfield partnership with Adam Clayton.

Lee Tomlin is also in double figures, while Boro’s other attacking options include Ghana international winger Albert Adomah, Spanish forward Kike and on-loan Belgian frontman Jelle Vossen.

Last time

Cesc Fabregas registered a goal in each half at the Emirates in April 2009 as the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners against a Middlesbrough side sliding towards the drop.

Boro, who have drawn on their other two previous visits to the Emirates, last tasted victory against Arsenal seven years ago, with Tomas Rosicky scoring a late consolation as the visitors went down 2-1 at the Riverside.

The two sides last met in the FA Cup during the 2003-04 season, with Middlesbrough’s Joseph Desire-Job cancelling out Dennis Bergkamp’s opener at Highbury before Freddie Ljungberg’s double and a David Bentley strike secured Arsenal’s 4-1 fourth round victory.


Brighton were no pushovers in the last round – and the in-form Championship leaders should be even less so. This looks like a 1-1 draw and a Riverside replay.

Latest Islington Sports News

Yesterday, 07:30

Unbeaten Archway light-middleweight Tony Milch intends to demonstrate his championship credentials when he returns to the ring at York Hall next month.

Yesterday, 07:15

On paper at least, the Gunners face a fairly straightforward contest against a misfiring Middlesbrough side at the Emirates on Saturday. Indeed, William Hill’s 12/1 odds, posted in favour of an away win, provide a clear indication of the strength of Arsenal’s favouritism.

Thu, 08:00

Islington BC’s Jerome Campbell praised his coaching team after reaching the last four of the National Development Championship with a confident display on Sunday.

Thu, 07:15

Oleg Yurkevyah and Constantin Tronciu both netted hat-tricks for Niva FC as they thrashed Wounded Knee 8-0 in the Hackney & Leyton League Premier Division.

Wed, 21:51

Arsenal’s first match against Bulgarian opposition was a successful one, as Arsene Wenger’s men ran out comfortable 6-0 winners on matchday three of the Uefa Champions League group stage.

Wed, 15:13

Andy Maud finished second on his Metropolitan League debut to lead Highgate Harriers to victory in their opening race of the season at Claybury.

Tue, 13:33

Six successive Premier League wins on the bounce mean Arsenal take on Middlesbrough on Saturday at the Emirates as joint leaders.

Tue, 01:06

Theo Walcott has warned his Arsenal teammates not to be complacent ahead of their Champions League match against Bulgarian opponents Ludogrets at The Emirates on tomorrow evening.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport


Show Job Lists


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now