Arsenal 7 Middlesbrough 0: Arsenal are back - Big time!

Last updated : 14 January 2006 By Brian Dawes

Henry - Head and shoulders above the rest
Johan was I believe starting a Premiership match for the first time and the Swiss youngsters were facing no lightweights in Yakubu and Viduka. They are both a trifle lardy as it happens. Incidentally today’s programme featured a 1935 thrashing of Boro that saw an 8-0 scoreline – if only eh?

We were back with an attacking line up and looked sharp from the off as we kicked towards the Clock End against a Boro in an all blue strip. Freddie should have had a hatrick today and he had a shot following a fast moving break that boded well for today’s game. Freddie then had a shot blocked. Johan looked bemused as a seemingly untouched Viduka hit the deck to win a free kick. At the other end Reyes was pressing and we won a free kick for hand ball that saw Henry fire it into the wall. A Cesc cross was headed clear as Arsenal appeared to be in total control. A wild shot from Doriva. Great cross from Freddie that Brad Jones spilt, he was lucky that it went to a blue shirt.

Arsenal began to work Boro over and Henry shaved the post with a tasty free kick. Reyes fired just wide with a decent snap shot. Reyes then won a great tackle that the twat Styles awarded as a free kick to Boro. Lauren had a shot blocked. Reyes obstructed on the right and we were all forward bar Lauren, as Henry headed over from Reyes sweet free kick. We were all over Boro like a rash but looked as if we’d maybe left our scoring boots at home. The shots were there but we’d already had more than enough to have taken the lead a good few times.

Gilberto with a low brilliant ball to Cesc who played a great ball wide to Freddie. Freddie took it on, looked up, picked out a cross but a slight deflection off a head meant Henry had to readjust slightly before unleashing his killer volley that rocketed past Jones for a 1-0 lead. Twenty minutes gone and it was looking good.

Twenty-one minutes gone and Cesc had a shot tipped around for a corner that Reyes took. When the ball came in Arsenal players ran for the near post while Philippe backed off to make himself space further back, he was unmarked when he powered a Radford like header past the helpless keeper. 2-0 to Arsenal – game over. ‘Who’s that team we call the Arsenal, who’s that team we all adore’. Arsenal were back, playing football and scoring goals. Unlike some other days however there was to be no easing off.

Yakubu got a head injury, hadn’t gone down and was treated on the pitch – why? Viduka had a limp shot, a mere token of a shot in truth, which was easy for Jens. On the half hour a killer ball from Reyes just inside our half left Henry in the clear and their keeper rushed out to the edge of his box but could only admire the composed way in which Henry slipped the ball past him. 3-0 and the inevitable ‘Go home, you might as well go home’. Shortly after this Pascal who’d been well supported by the crowd went down with what looked like a hamstring injury. He more or less went straight down the tunnel.

Helb - First Premiership goal
So Ashley Cole was to get 56 minutes in his first game back. He looked like he needs about four more games before he’s back up there but got a massive ovation for his mere arrival on the pitch. Pires to Ljungberg with a great reverse ball but it was cut out well. Yakubu backed into Freddie, Freddie went up and over in a manner not unlike Adam’s celebration with Morrow at Wembley, except Yakubu held on to our man so he didn’t crash to the ground. Weird, but rather sporting on Yakubu’s part. Henry, Reyes and Freddie in another move that highlighted Freddie’s possible lack of conviction in front of goal. The same three were involved in another fine move soon after. Henry to Pires but he was marginally offside. We were in exhibition mode, but positive with it. A free kick against Reyes as the keeper and defender appeared to collide.

Two Boro offsides in apologies for attacks, their lumbering front men being no match for our kids at any time today. On the stroke of half time Pires almost strolled into the box dummied a defender and chipped the keeper for a relaxed goal that was vintage Rob. 4-0 and just about time for the restart before a dejected Boro trudged off to the sound of a Gooner ovation for the good guys. Arsenal were back and kicking arse! The half time shot count was 13-2.

Arsenal kicked off the second half towards the North Bank as the Clockenders cheered Jens ritual forward rolls. Senderos won a fine header despite Viduka backing in. Mendieta had a hit and hope, with very little hope other than possibly breaking a glass in one of the boxes. Miss of the match was next when Freddie did brilliantly down the right, got it to the line and set up Thierry with a sitter. What a miss! ‘What the fecking hell was that?’ What we thought was our 5th was then disallowed for offside, it came when Rob delightfully headed a Henry free kick home. Lauren to Henry with almost but not quite the perfect ball.

Freddie won a free kick off Yakubu following some classy stuff by Cesc. Cesc was in his element today; against a limp Boro midfield the kid ran the show and oozed class. We were carving them up at will. Reyes was shoved over and a yellow card shown for Doriva, I think because of the quantity he’d committed as much as anything else, but who knows with Styles? From Henry’s free kick Gilberto headed home with a well-placed header for 5-0. It has to be said that Jones made a pig’s ear of the save that didn’t happen. It was put to me at this point by Trev, my neighbour in the West Lower, that maybe Boro were saving themselves for Nuneaton.

Wheater replaced Taylor. ‘Five-nil to the Arsenal’ as Cole made his first real run but Pires failed to find him. Reyes set up Freddie who had to score, or so it seemed, but it just wasn’t his day. We were in passing mode now and very delightful it was to see again. Henry won a corner as Cole drove forward again. We were just so in control and so enjoying it bot on and off the pitch. A killer ball from Reyes and Henry steamed through Boro again to net yet another cool, calm, clinical finish. 6-0 to Arsenal and this goal equalled Cliff Bastin’s record 150 league goals. Well done the 14!

Gilberto - On the scoresheet
Gilberto and Pires were replaced by Flamini and Hleb. A minute later Cattermole and Johnson replaced Rochemback and Viduka. Cattermole showed some largely misguided enthusiasm but keeness is not enough against the Arsenal in this sort of mood. Henry was held back by Doriva for a second yellow card and he duly walked the walk. Henry now reverted to type and attempted 40-yard free kicks, but against a generous Jones who can blame him? Parnaby and Freddie collided in the box and both went down requiring treatment. Boro’s best chance came with a shot that came back off the bar and the return header was well saved well by Jens as it arced towards the top corner.

Lauren was carded for a foul thanks almost certainly to the inevitable evening up syndrome that so many refs suffer from. Another great Arsenal counter saw Reyes' cross cleared from somewhere close to their line. One minor pleasure just after this was seeing Cesc telling Henry to mark his man, the kid has what it takes and a self-confidence that is well deserved. A ball from Henry to Reyes saw about three players collide in a heap as the ball bounced off Jose to fall a Hleb’s feet who gleefully netted. 7-0 and Alexander had opened his goal account with the Arsenal. It was pretty one sided after this!

Hleb missed a sitter when he blasted wide after good work by Cesc and Freddie. A great header by Johan Djourou who had played with total confidence throughout, he certainly looks to have what it takes. Freddie had yet another scoring chance but the keeper saved. Cattermole tripped Freddie then kicked the ball away so his yellow card was assured. Henry hit the free kick into the wall and Reyes fired wide from the rebound, it had been that sort of day with so many missed chances.

Boro were pitiful but this was a slaughter of epic proportions and Steve McClaren’s men were seriously lucky not to concede double figures. We had 24 shots of which 17 were on target and the football was emphatic. So I’m delighted to announce that Arsenal are back – big time!