The way I see it - Arsenal v Middlesbrough (FA Cup)

Last updated : 22 January 2004 By Jason Hogan

My other half could probably write a War and Peace style testimony to that given the amount of weekends if not weeks that have been spoilt over the years by such an event I can tell you.

However, Tuesday night was a rare exception. Having seen us lose to at home to Boro on the box I didn't bother with the usual post match rant and rave at my normally bemused other half, I just afforded myself a wry smile and a philosophical shrug of the shoulders.

I can honestly say that in spite of the result, I enjoyed Tuesday's game a lot more than I thought I would. I thought it was a fairly open game and notwithstanding the presence of Danny " the 14-carat pillock" Mills, the game was played in a great spirit.

Now, this may sound a little cheap given that everybody knows that the Arsenal have bigger fish to fry over the next few weeks and months but, I have to give Boro and particularly Juninho a little credit for what their win last night.

The little Brazilian has always been a favourite of mine and I remember when he left after his first spell at Boro I said at the time the Premiership would be all the poorer without players like him. Now of course he is in his third spell with the club and on the evidence of last night, he has certainly not lost that ability to make things happen.

If Juninho was the best player on the pitch then Chris Riggott was not far behind for me. When he moved to the Riverside in last year's January sales I thought that he would be a sound acquisition.

In fact, I will go as far as saying that if, as has been rumoured, Gareth Southgate does defect and join ManUre then I think that Riggott could turn into a more than adequate replacement for him in the long term.

From our side of things, I didn't think that the kids did too badly at all. The impetuosity of youth was there for all to see at times, particularly in young Quincy. I was a little disappointed for (rather than in) David Bentley though. True, he had just about the best two chances the Arsenal had on the night but for long periods the game seem to pass him by a little. If I am honest this is one lad who is absolutely crying out for a spell on loan somewhere in order to build up his competitive match sharpness and hone the art of consistency.

Overall I think that nothing major was missing on the night (apart from a goal or two of course) and in a way I thought the performance of Edu summed up the Arsenal best. The lad had a fairly mixed evening. Time and time again he did brilliantly in win possession back for us yet he often then undid his good work by giving the ball away.

Sometimes it's the little things (or the little details as Ruud Gullit would say) that make the difference in matches and if we were guilty of anything it was misplacing either the final ball in or the final shot in and around their penalty area.

Still, the fact is that we live to fight another day and I for one believe Wenger when he said after the game that the tie is far from over. It will be certainly intriguing to see what sort of side Wenger puts out at the Riverside next week that's for sure.

First of all though, the Arsenal will of course meet this lot AGAIN on Saturday this time in the FA Cup and it is at this point, to put it bluntly, where all the aforementioned comments of goodwill to Boro are well and truly put to one side.

I shouldn't really need to spell it out to any of you Gooners out there that Saturday's game is a totally different kettle of fish. The way I see it is like this; when Boro turn up at Highbury on Saturday they will effectively be coming not only to take away what currently belongs to us they will also be out to deprive us of a real shot at FA Cup history.

The thought of them actually achieving that as well as gaining a place in the Carling Cup final at our expense is not something that sits well with me at all.

It's a distinct possibility that some of the big guns will come back in for Saturday's game. Whether they do come back in or not, the fact is that I will be far from happy if our name is not in the hat for the fifth round as of right come Saturday night.