The Gunners have dropped 17 Premier League points since their 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day; their 3-0 loss to the same team only a week ago shows how far they have fallen. Arsene Wenger continues to take criticism of him on the chin but without a comprehensive win over relegation threatened Middlesbrough, it looks increasingly unlikely that Arsenal will be able to push for a Champions League spot.
Middlesbrough will be boosted by captain George Friend and Gaston Ramirez returning from injury and will be hopeful of stealing some points against Arsenal, despite failing to win a game in 2017 so far.
Boro’ have struggled in front of goal all season, scoring only 22 times, and they will have to rectify that quickly if they are to stand any chance of saving their stalled Premier League campaign.
Arsenal have the same season every year
Arsenal have the same season every year
1/8 Surprise early defeat
A surprise early defeat, such as 2013/14's to Aston Villa or 2015/16's to West Ham United, makes July's Emirates Cup win seem like a distant memory.
2/8 Impressive win against top club
A promising win against a title rival, like last season's 3-0 victory over Manchester United or this season's win over Chelsea, has the Emirates hoping for the best again.
3/8 Injuries start to mount up
However, a long queue starts to form outside the treatment room. Key players, as well as regular absentees, tend to be the victims.
4/8 November curse strikes again
Arsene Wenger's side then begin to unravel in November, with the curse kicking in after an away defeat against one of the top flight's lesser lights. It's around now that the already-faint hopes of a title challenge start to fade.
5/8 Champions League elimination
The most predictable part of it all comes in February, with Champions League elimination, usually to Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Monaco, if they are really unlucky.
6/8 Title hopes finally killed off
A heavy, signature defeat to a fellow top six side puts paid to any lingering hopes of a title challenge in late February or March. 2013/14's 6-0 reverse at Chelsea, Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game in charge, is perhaps the most memorable example.
7/8 Strong rally to finish
The pressure is off, time to turn the style on. A rally at the tail end of the season does wonders for Arsenal's league standing, but little to combat allegations of flakiness.
8/8 Top-four finish
Arsene has his 'trophy'. Champions League football is coming to the Emirates again next year. What more could the fans want?
What time is kick-off?
The match kicks off at 8:00pm.
Where can I watch it?
It will be shown live on Sky Sports 1, coverage begins at 7:00pm.
It’s a big game for…
Alexis Sanchez: Training-ground tantrums and contract speculation has dampened the strikers blistering start to the season. Sanchez’s below par performance at Crystal Palace only emphasised the need for him to put aside his off-field concerns and play his part in avoiding what is turning out to be a bitter end to the Gunners’ season.
Middlesbrough are unbeaten in their last four Premier League home games against Arsenal (W2, D2).
Jose Antonio Reyes scored Arsenal’s second goal in 30 seconds which helped the Invincibles romp to 5-3 win at home to Middlesbrough in 2004.
Player to watch…
Ben Gibson: The man who earned his first England call-up earlier this season has been the key to Boro’s impressive defensive record. Their collective resilience has been due to the commanding centre-backs leadership and communication.
If Gibson is able to live up to his impressive season which has seen him lead the Middlesbrough defence to 10 clean sheets, it will be challenging for Arsenal to take control of the tie.
Middlesbrough 0 Arsenal 0, Premier League, October 2016
Middlesbrough 0 Arsenal 2 (Giroud 2), FA Cup, February 2015
Middlesbrough 0 Arsenal 2 (Fabregas 2), Premier League, April 2009
Middlesbrough to win: 11/2
Arsenal to win: 13/25