Arsenal will be hoping to make it eight wins on the spin when 17th-placed Middlesbrough visit the Emirates Stadium this Saturday for the 15:00 GMT kick-off in the Premier League.
The Gunners held on with 10 men to defeat Swansea City 3-2 in their last league fixture, whereas their midweek clash versus Ludogorets in the UEFA Champions League saw Arsène Wenger’s men turn on the style in a 6-0 win.
Recent form sees the odds of a victory stacked firmly in favour of 2nd placed Arsenal, with Middlesbrough gaining just two points from their last possible 18 and entering a winless streak since their 2-1 triumph against Sunderland in Gameweek 2.
The north Londoners won the last league meeting between the two clubs prior to Middlesbrough’s relegation in 2009, defeating the visitors 2-0 at the Emirates in the same year, but that stands as the only victory for Arsenal in the past six league encounters against Boro, containing four draws.
Saturday’s fixture also coincides with Wenger’s 67th birthday, a day in which the Frenchman has a 100% record on after a couple of wins against Manchester City and Reading in 2005 and 2006.
The Arsenal boss will be without the likes of Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka in the heart of midfield, however, as Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny step up to deputise.
Xhaka’s straight red card against Swansea earns him a three-game-ban, whereas Cazorla becomes a big doubt after hobbling off midweek versus Ludogorets.
Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud both returned to training this week after their respective lay-offs, but an eventual comeback is highly likely to be scheduled for Arsenal’s EFL Cup clash against Reading at the earliest.
Saturday’s opponents, Middlesbrough, have a relatively clean bill of health, with club captain Grant Leadbitter being the only doubt after recovering from an injury himself.
Predicted XI: Petr Čech; Héctor Bellerín, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal; Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny; Theo Walcott, Mesut Özil, Alex Iwobi; Alexis Sánchez