Arsenal 4 Middlesbrough 1: Arsenal lead the 'Boroughthon'

Last updated : 10 January 2004 By Brian Dawes

Henry's penalty beats Schwarzer
The psychiatric couch is awaiting Mills and company who were taken apart today. A string of clean sheets means absolutely nothing if you turn up wearing brown trousers. As it happens they turned up in an exceedingly boring navy and maroon kit which suited them to a tee. Or do I mean Teeside?

Boro must have recalled our opening away day when we stuffed them 4-0 although to be fair they did attempt to battle in midfield. But they competed with niggly little hacks rather than up front hard stuff and it was brushed aside by a midfield which now has Vieira back at full throttle. We also had Gilberto nicking the ball at will and our two wide boys vying with one another to get on the score sheet. Add Henry up front roaming wherever he wanted and a very lively Aliadiere in the starting line up and you can see why Boro were immediately put on the back foot.

Lauren, Campbell, Cygan and Cole formed an impressive back line that, once Pascal had settled down, looked very dominant. But then again Job and Nemeth are not the scariest of forwards. Our first break came when Jeremie skinned Southgate for pace and got in a shot that was blocked by Schwarzer’s leg and seemed to come back off the bar. Cole then set up Thierry whose angled low shot was well saved for a corner. Freddie had a cross headed clear. Pires took a free kick wide left which Sol headed over and Henry had a long range shot easily saved. The pattern of play had been set, we attacked and they watched us. Sure the likes of Job had the odd break but all the real play was in front of the Clock End goal which we attacked at will.

Henry crossed and it was blocked but came out for Pires who shot wide. There was one great shot from Doriva, which was from range, and going in the top corner until Jens pulled off a fine save. Pires was giving Mills some stick and even shoved him over. Jeramie dropped deep and absolutely skinned Ehiogu with a great turn but the end result was too many passes by the rest of our forwards looking for the perfect goal. A rare Boro counter saw Job caught offside following a decent move. Another great Arsenal move was again over-cooked. Gilberto made his first contact of the day, on Zenden and got a yellow card. ‘D’Urso you are ****ing useless’ was screamed somewhere near me ‘Naa he’s not that good’ was the retort. Zenden hacked away all game and didn’t get a card. Almost immediately in fact he charged Pat in the back, then Doriva was late on Pat.

Pires tripped Mills; yes I haven’t got that the wrong way around. Henry burst through and won a corner after running out of room. Zenden into the back of Gilberto. Pat was on song as he had a low drive wide at their end followed by a great saving tackle in our box. Doriva arrived about ten minutes late for a tackle on Pat and then looked surprised to receive a yellow card. Job had a bit of a run but this was basically one way traffic with all roads leading to the Clock End. Freddie had a shot, Rob had a shot and Arsenal were breaking as only Arsenal can, we looked on song but needed a finish. We seemed to be over complicating our play around their box, as when Gilberto couldn’t find the space following another fine move.

Mad Mills - Made to look a complete muppet by Henry
D’Urso gave another joke free kick; I don’t recall the circumstances I just recall laughing at the little prat. Lauren had a cross too deep and the Pat hit one too far after another good break. Boro were sitting back, mainly because we were pressing them back and it saved time. Pat was upended in the box as he seemed to be clipped by Ehiogu, I think. You see them given, you see play waved on, there was contact and this time it was given. Mills did his best to disrupt Thierry’s concentration and should have been booked for not getting out of the penalty area in less than ten minutes. It went past Schwarzer low to his left. Thierry’s celebrations were not a million miles from Mills, can’t think why! 1-0 Arsenal. One or two others, Sol included appeared to mention the score to Mills, such a nice chap as well, why does everyone dislike the bald, filthy, grimacing Neanderthal so?

Queudrue clattered Freddie but no yellow. Good break where Tel and Freddie combined. Fierce cross from Ljungberg. A power shot from Lauren which was a bit wild. Arsenal were in charge. Great Aliadiere run but his cross was behind Henry, shame! We then won a free kick outside the box and to the left. Henry shaped for a shot, just by way of a change but hit it to Pires at the near post, Rob seemed to get something on it and it either came back off their defender on the line or the post. Close one. Jeremie went down with an injury, calf or ankle I’d guess, and went off for treatment. Two minutes added time and Pires was bowled over on a run just outside the box. Turbo man took it and aimed towards Freddie, who was arriving at the far post, the ball arrived knee high and a Boro player sliced it home. An Ehiogu o.g. I would say. Two-nil up at the break and it about summed up the balance of play, there was no balance in the play, we were all over them.

Kanu’s warm up at half time, plus Pat Rice coming on and showing him a page of notes during the break was a rather obvious clue that Kanu was coming on for the injured Aliadiere. Our soon to be absent Nigerian was given a warm welcome, as was Mills in front of us in the West Stand. Mills greeting was mainly of the hand gestures variety though. Freddie won an early corner that was punched clear. Mills shoved Pires in the back but the offside flag was already raised. Zenden had a hit and hope, but the hit was crap and the hope entirely absent. A series of Arsenal corners followed including one that was a deflected shot from Ljungberg. Freddie was playing well down the right and Doriva was still hacking away, this time at Pat and Freddie, the second was deemed to be a free kick by the Muppet in charge. Pires almost found Cygan who was nearly there for a glanced header.

Our third came when Henry, in their box on the left, tried to find Kanu in their box on the right with the outside of his foot. It was blocked but fell to a well placed Pires who tapped home. 3-0 Arsenal and the points were in the bag. We eased off now with some relaxed passing. The Gunners were now in our pass it around all day but try not to take the piss too much mode, just in case they get narked into some rough stuff. It wasn’t a problem; Boro rarely got close to the ball. Doriva was replaced by their team mascot who masqueraded in the number ten shirt. A series of one-twos between Pascal and Ash was greeted with ‘Same old Arsenal, taking the piss’. I’m surprised no one came up with the ‘Can we play you every week?’ ditty, which was more appropriate for the four match Boroughthon. Boro tried some long balls and Pires, he’d taken a knock, was replaced by Edu. No sooner was Edu on than he was celebrating our fourth goal. Kanu in his razzle-dazzle style beat about forty-two players before finding Freddie who fired home from an angle on the right.

Freddie - Goal No. 50 for the club today
Zenden aimed at row Z before more exhibition play resumed. Freddie was replaced by Ray. Edu did well but Henry tried to be a tad too clever from his pass. It was at that stage of the proceedings where if Arsenal were a Jazz Band you knew it was time for everyone to take it in turns for a centre stage solo. A mix of Masterclass, over the top solo’s, can’t be arsed too much and loads more razzle-dazzle. Henry even let Edu take a free kick; it landed in row MM of the North Stand, since you ask. A bit of half-paced passing was followed by a charge upfield by Gilberto that was screaming out for Henry to find the perfect cross, but he couldn’t.

Maccarone was on and looked for a penalty as Jens came out and dived at his feet. I’m not really sure but it looked a bit iffy to me. Maccarone clung on to the ball like grim death and certainly wasn’t going to let anyone else take it. It was his dive and his pen; he blasted home to leave Boro flattered by a 4-1 scoreline. Thierry still had time to see a shot tipped around for a corner and a free kick that was surely just a way of giving a ball to the North Bank. That’s leg one to Arsenal in the Boroughthon. That’s 8-1 to Arsenal in our two League matches and six points. Here’s hoping the reserves and youths get their chance to take us ahead in the first leg of the Carling Cup

J. Ross was today’s 4th. official, I somehow doubt if it was Jonathon Ross but I bet he couldn’t have been a bigger joker than Mr. No Personality who wandered about aimlessly in the middle. Actually I’ve changed my mind; I think Andy D’Urso is a brilliant ref and would like to propose him as the ideal candidate to swap with Collina next season.