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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"Another home defeat sends Robson's men into the bottom three"
 real 14k

Boro boss Bryan Robson
"I thought we started well"
 real 14k

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger
"We were always serious and professional, and didn't conceed a goal"
 real 14k

Saturday, 4 November, 2000, 17:15 GMT
Gunners pile pressure on Robson
Thierry Henry celebrates
Henry celebrates the strike that sunk Boro
Middlesbrough 0-1 Arsenal

Middlesbrough started the afternoon without a league win at home in nine matches, and despite a bright start, they never looked capable of ending the run and easing the pressure on boss Bryan Robson.

Thierry Henry's penalty condemned Boro to their fourth successive league defeat and ensured Arsenal's fifth successive league victory.

Robson had appealed to the fans for more time to turn around Boro's slump in form and the Riverside faithful were in good voice and supplying plenty of vocal encouragement as their team began positively.

Playing at a very high tempo, the home side took the game to Arsenal, who seemed surprised to find themselves under seige in the early stages.

Clearance

Boro forced a corner after just four minutes, and it took a goal-line clearance from Lee Dixon to stop Gary Pallister's header opening the scoring.

But two minutes later Dixon conceded a free kick for a foul on Andy Campbell 25 yards out.

Phil Stamp's shot was spilt by John Lukic and the Arsenal keeper just managed to scramble the ball out of play with his feet.


I can't ask any more from the players than they gave today. I think the reaction of the crowd proved that. They worked very hard. The commitment was excellent and they didn't really get any breaks
  Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson
From the resulting corner it was Stamp who threatened again heading just over with Lukic back-pedalling.

Then Arsenal began to come into the game and exploited space down the right side.

Dennis Bergkamp had a left foot shot that went across the face of the goal on 14 minutes after a good run, and moments later Arsenal's success down the right flank continued as Henry left Pallister in his wake speeding past the veteran defender and delivered a pin-point cross for Parlour who blazed over from eight yards.

But Middlesbrough battled doggedly and Phil Stamp typified the tenacious approach, with tackles flying thick and fast.

Mark Crossley
Crossley is sent off for a professional foul

Arsenal started to dominate the game and Ljungberg was inches away from reaching a Bergkamp through-ball ahead of Crossley.

Now Middlesbrough's fragility at the back was beginning to be exposed by the pace of Arsenal's counter attacks.

Boro have failed to keep a clean sheet all season and it was typically sloppy defending that led to Arsenal's first goal, mid-way though the first half.

Freddie Ljungberg took full advantage of a mix-up in Boro's central defence, intercepting Pallister's intended pass to Vickers. The Swedish international burst into the penalty area and was upended by Mark Crossley as he rounded the stranded keeper.

Dismissed

The referee awarded a penalty and Crossley was dismissed for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, although with Pallister covering, the decision was debatable.

Hamilton Ricard was sacrificed so Boro could bring on replacement keeper Marlon Beresford, but his first action was to pick the ball out of the net after Henry sent him the wrong way.

Afer the goal, Boro's confidence visibly waned and it took some heroic goalkeeping from substitute Beresford to stop the floodgates from opening.


They have individual quality, everybody knows that, but if they can show in every game the fighting spirit they've shown today and the unity they've shown, they'll be all right
  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
On 41 minutes Beresford made a hat-trick of saves to prevent Arsenal doubling their lead.

First came a superb double save from Keown's header and Tony Adams' follow up. And from the corner that followed Gilles Grimandi was denied by the reserve keeper's agility.

Middlesborough emerged from interval looking determined not to be over-run and threw men forward in search of an equaliser.

And if Stamp had reacted quicker to Lukic's mishit clearance they would have got one, but Stamp stubbed his shot and his effort was not even close.

Silvinho and Briane Deane
Silvinho and Deane in battle
The home side were camped in the visitor's half during the opening minutes of the half as Stamp and Campbell in particular tried to take the game to their opponents, but Arsenal looked very dangerous on the break and Henry's pace was causing havoc in the Boro defence.

And Boro seemd determined to self-destruct as Noel Whelan's lazy back-heel flick deep in his own half, gifted posession to Thierry Henry.

Dismal finishing

The Frenchman took the ball on a couple of paces before curling his shot just wide of the upright.

And five minutes later Henry was guilty of missing another gilt-edged opportunity, as he tried to be too precise with his shot, attempting to place the ball in the top corner but sending his effort off target.

Henry the missed a third chance as the Arsenal finishing failed to improve and on 78 minutes Parlour joined in on the act, spurning a fantastic chance as he blazed wildly across the goal from Henry's cut-back, after good work form the Arsenal striker.

With just three minutes remaining Henry hit the post with a shot from the outside of his right boot and remarkably Middlesbrough had been spared a mauling due to Arsenal's woeful shooting.

And even a misake by Beresford in the final seconds, as the ball rolled along the goal-line after his fumble failed to increase the goal tally.

But for Robson, he knows if results keep going against him, he will not be spared the sack for much longer.


Middlesbrough: Crossley, Fleming, Vickers, Pallister, Deane, Campbell, Ricard, Summerbell, Stamp, Whelan, Cooper. Subs: Gordon, Festa, Karembeu, Beresford, Job.

Arsenal: Lukic, Dixon, Vieira, Keown, Adams, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry, Parlour, Silvinho, Grimandi. Subs: Wiltord, Lauren, Vivas, Kanu, Taylor.

Referee: A D'Urso

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