Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0: Three talking points
Three talking points as Olivier Giroud fires Arsenal into the FA Cup quarter-final draw
Where does Welbeck fit in?
With Olivier Giroud grabbing the headlines with his two goals in the space of two minutes, summer signing Danny Welbeck’s absence of goals are becoming more noticeable by their infrequency. The £16m former Manchester United star continues his goal-scoring dry spell which goes back to 28 December – an away match against West Ham. In defence of the England international, he has been farmed out to the wide right position where arguably he is unlikely to find an abundance of clear goal-scoring chances. This does not stop players such as Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez, who seem to find the net with consummate comparative ease. Masterfully athletic and outwardly committed to the Gunners’ cause, the only addition that Welbeck needs to make to his game is more goals. Working in Welbeck’s favour is that his time in north London remains in its infancy. The 24-year-old, who resembles Bambi on ice with his ungainly running style and loose first touch, needs to develop a meaner streak though in order to add all important goals for both himself and his new club.
Middlesbrough prove the success of the loan market
Aside from the timespan between the 27th and 29th minutes, the visiting Smoggies handled the bright lights of the big city and the cavalcade of hypergiant stars on the opposing home side relatively easily. The gulf in class between the top sides from the highest and second-highest tiers of English football was shown though in those 120 seconds when Giroud put Boro to the sword with two quality finishes. Aitor Karanka has built a solid unit and has used the loan system to his advantage. Tottenham’s Ryan Fredericks and Chelsea’s Kenneth Omeruo dealt with Arsenal’s attacking threat well and show the benefits of the loan system. These players would not have been playing at their parent clubs, yet they were playing in the fifth round while their team-mates from Chelsea and Spurs fell foul in the previous round. There is no substitute for experience – both of the players and the relatively inexperienced manager in Karanka. The visitors can return to the north east with their heads held high, having played Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in the domestic cup competitions. Their real aim – promotion – is still their key focus.
Football is a universal language
Arsene Wenger made no bones about his concern over new signing Gabriel’s inability to understand the lingua franca that is English. While this fear is partially of his own making as nobody forced him to sign the Brazilian and one would hope that the former Villarreal player would be helped by the Spanish-speaking Gunners’ contingent Cazorla and Sanchez, the Frenchman will be largely pleased with his new recruit. His performance was far from angelic but the signs are there. The good thing about Gabriel’s on-field muteness is that he will be operating on defensive instinct so Wenger will get an impression of what type of defender he is. And once he masters the English language, his performances will improve at the same time as his conversion competence does too. For Gabriel himself, he could not have asked for an easier home debut but would be wise to realise the Premier League is a whole different ball game to the FA cup, which incidentally his new manager will hope remains in Arsenal’s trophy cabinet this season.