Arsenal vs Middlesbrough preview

February 14, 2015
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Arsenal vs BoroFA Cup holders Arsenal play host to high-flying Middlesbrough in the fifth round clash, hoping to avoid avoid the destiny of Premier League champions Manchester City.

Having climbed to the top of the Championship standings, Boro will be brimming with confidence when they face the Gunners at the Emirates.

After experiencing plenty of problems in the opening exchanges, Arsenal successfully returned to the right track, but the Gunners have achieved nothing yet.

The North London derby defeat to Spurs acted as a serious blow to their Premier League top 4 hopes, although hard-fought victory over Leicester somewhat improved the situation.

And while the league campaign remains the priority, Arsenal players will be very motivated to try and defend the FA Cup trophy, but that will be no easy task.

The Gunners eliminated Hull City and Brighton to reach the fifth round, and can now be backed at 1.47 (40/85) to see off Middlesbrough in ninety minutes.

Arsene Wenger has hinted he will make a number of changes to his starting line-up, with Gabriel Paulista, Wojciech Szczesny and Kieran Gibbs among those expected to start.

Alexis Sanchez is unlikely to be risked having picked up a knee injury, while Aaron Ramsey is definitely out of contention.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny – Chambers, Paulista, Koscielny, Gibbs – Rosicky, Flamini – Walcott, Ozil, Welbeck – Giroud.

Middlesbrough are clearly enjoying one of the most successful seasons in recent years and everybody at the club hope Boro will soon end a six-year exile from the top flight.

Aitor Karanka’s charges have been thoroughly impressive since the turn of the year, winning six and drawing two of their last eight league matches.

The excellent run saw Boro climb to the Championship summit, although they have both AFC Bournemouth and Derby County breathing down their necks.

Meanwhile, club’s League Cup campaign ended in spite of the 2-2 draw at Anfield, but the FA Cup stint has been a major success.

Middlesbrough defeated Barnsley on the road in the third round, but it was the 2-0 triumph over Manchester City at the Etihad that brought them wide recognition.

And seeing as how they go into the Arsenal clash on the back of a six-match winning run, you should know Boro are 4.33 (10/3) to make it to the quarter-finals.

Former Real Madrid defender Jonathan Woodgate is expected to start after returning into action at the weekend, but Daniel Ayala is set to miss between three and four weeks of action.

Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Konstantopoulos – Fredericks, Gibson, Woodgate, Friend – Adomah, Clayton, Leadbitter, Bamford – Vossen, Tomlin.

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