MATCH REPORT: ARSENAL 0-0 MIDDLESBROUGH

Arsenal’s streak of seven consecutive wins in all competitions has been brought to a halt after succumbing to a 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough this afternoon.

The Gunners were unable to break down the barricade set up by the visitors, meanwhile Middlesbrough also had their fair share of chances to claim the game’s first goal.

The draw sees Arsenal claim top spot in the Premier League table for the time being, with Manchester City and Liverpool both being afforded the chance to overtake the north Londoners following their respective fixtures this weekend.

Despite early pressure from the home side, it was Middlesbrough who managed to muster the first real chance of the game through Adama Traoré.

The ex-Barcelona youngster took the opportunity to burst through on goal from the right flank and dispatch a shot, but Petr Čech was on hand to block the Spaniard’s effort, as well as the follow-up from Álvaro Negredo in the 17th minute.

Aitor Karanka’s side were knocking on the door no more than two minutes later from Gaston Ramirez’s free-kick, with the Uruguayan smashing the post and leaving Negredo unable to react in front of goal.

Arsenal’s response came moments later, also from a set-piece, when Alexis Sánchez tried his luck from a free-kick; a strike that forced Victor Valdes to parry the effort wide for a corner.

Ramirez returned to cause Arsenal a spot of bother with a back-post header, but Čech was again equal to it in the 33rd minute.

Arsène Wenger’s side came out the strongest in the second period, making Middlesbrough hearts stop momentarily as early as the 48th minute.

Peeling off the back post, Sánchez was able to square the ball across an open goal, but Laurent Koscielny was unable to get a touch on the lofted pass from a few yards out.

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Sánchez continued to try to turn the screw with two separate efforts in the 51st and 54th minute, the first going just wide of the target and the second being denied once more by his former Barcelona teammate, Valdes.

The visitors’ response came on the counter in the 58th minute, again through Traoré, who had too much pace for the likes of Nacho Monreal and Koscielny to handle before failing to beat Čech for the second time in the game.

Ex-Valencia man Negredo also had the chance to dispatch a strike from inside Arsenal’s box late on, but Koscielny was on hand to impede the former City striker with a last-ditch slide tackle.

With the seconds ticking down at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal did eventually manage to have the ball in the back of the net in the 93rd minute when Mesut Özil diverted Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot goalwards, but the German saw his touch chalked off for offside as the game headed towards its conclusion.

Player Ratings: Petr Čech (9); Héctor Bellerín (6), Shkodran Mustafi (5), Laurent Koscielny (6), Nacho Monreal (3); Francis Coquelin (5), Mohamed Elneny (5); Theo Walcott (5), Mesut Özil (5), Alex Iwobi (4); Alexis Sánchez (6)

Subs: Lucas Perez (5), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (5)

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