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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 September 2006, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Arsenal 1-1 Middlesbrough
By Ian Hughes

James Morrison
Morrison struck early as Arsenal conceded first at home again
Arsenal were forced to come from behind again at their new Emirates Stadium to rescue a point against Middlesbrough.

James Morrison curled in on 21 minutes after a one-two with Jason Euell - and keeper Mark Schwarzer kept Boro ahead with a number of fine saves.

But Boro had skipper George Boateng sent off on 64 minutes for two cautions and then Thierry Henry scored from the spot after Emanuel Eboue was fouled.

Arsenal poured forward after that but Boro withstood the intense pressure.

The result leaves Arsenal still searching for their first Premiership win of the season and was a world away from the 7-0 thrashing they handed Boro the last time they met in London.

William Gallas made his Arsenal debut and was employed at left-back - a position he was supposedly reluctant to play at with former club Chelsea.

And he was caught napping for Boro's goal, admittedly along with the rest of the Arsenal defence, when Boro took an unexpected lead.

Morrison picked up the ball on the right flank and exchanged passes with Euell to cut inside the Arsenal backline before flicking a smart shot beyond Jens Lehmann.

Until then, Arsenal had made all the running, carving out intricate patterns of play and regularly testing Schwarzer.

606 VIEW
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But for all their possession, the Gunners had little penetration - and even less potency when they did manage to create an opening.

Schwarzer was easily equal to efforts from Henry and Robin van Persie - and made one outstanding reflex save to tip over a fierce shot from Alexander Hleb.

Boro's doggedness in defence was typified by Jonathan Woodgate, making his debut following his loan move from Real Madrid.

Tough in the tackle and bossing his team-mates with authority, Woodgate led Boro's backline with a genuinely classy performance.

And in midfield, Boateng performed similarly, until he got himself sent off.

His first yellow card was unnecessary as he argued with the referee following a quick free-kick taken by Henry, which clipped the outside of the post.

Moments later Boateng clipped Freddie Ljungberg, appeared to hurt himself in the process and his misery was compounded when he was booked again.

And then it got even worse for Boro, as they conceded a penalty after Stewart Downing was judged to have tripped Eboue.

Henry converted with ease to bring his side level - and immediately Arsenal made three changes to their line-up.

Among those to come on was new signing Julio Baptista, the muscled Brazilian seemingly introduced to add steel to Arsenal's silk.

But he could not help Arsenal find a way through, and their usually measured approach play became increasingly frantic.

Boro will be delighted to have come away with a point, while Arsenal continue to misfire and the concerns must be growing in north London with the side fourth bottom of the Premiership table.


  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger :
    "I cannot say that I am unconcerned. When we fail to win a game we have dominated, it is always worrying.

    "It was one of those games when we had all the ball, and the chances against a side that refused to come and play.

    "But we got ourselves into trouble by falling behind and gave ourselves a mountain to climb. We just cannot finish off teams."

  • Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate:
    "We knew we would need strength of character and discpline in the way we played and we had it in abundance.

    "We showed it throughout and to hang on the way we did when we were down to 10 men was was a fantastic achievment.

    "We scored a great goal on the break and then it was a case of defence against attack but someimes you have to do that at places like this."


    Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Djourou, Gallas, Hleb, Fabregas, Silva (Rosicky 69), Ljungberg (Julio Baptista 69), Van Persie (Adebayor 69), Henry.
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Flamini.

    Booked: Van Persie.

    Goals: Henry 67 pen.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Davies, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Morrison (Parnaby 72), Euell, Boateng, Rochemback, Downing (Cattermole 72), Yakubu (Viduka 85).
    Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Johnson.

    Sent Off: Boateng (64).

    Booked: Pogatetz, Davies, Euell, Boateng, Downing, Cattermole.

    Goals: Morrison 22.

    Att: 60,007

    Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).

    SEE ALSO
    Premiership photos
    09 Sep 06 |  Football


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