We rate and slate the players as Middlesbrough lost once again to an Arsenal side, who had more than one player looking far from good enough to stay beyond the summer.
Brad Guzan: Had looked a solid presence in the Boro goal but positioning has to be questioned for Alexis’ opener for Arsenal, which he should have read and at least dived for. Did well to save from Ozil in second period though. 6
Antonio Barragan: Defended bravely when called upon and didn’t offer too much going forward. 6
Daniel Ayala: Handled everything thrown at him pretty well and looked a threat at the other end. Unlucky not to score when he saw a header cleared off the line. 7
Ben Gibson: Played well but wasn’t quite at his commanding best. Handled Giroud fairly well, nonetheless, and he did his chances of a summer move no harm. 6.5
Fabio: Had made a bright start with some roving runs down the left flank before injury forced him off after just 17 minutes. 6
Adam Clayton: Worked hard but struggled to impose himself on the match and fouled Xhaka clumsily for the free-kick that led to Arsenal’s equaliser. 5
Grant Leadbitter: Booked for an ugly lunge on Mesut Ozil but did his best to keep Boro ticking over. 6
Marten De Roon: Saw a header disallowed in the first half for offside but generally did OK and worked hard in the engine room. Replaced on 79. 6.5
Stewart Downing: Got better as the match progressed and comfortably had the measure of Nacho Monreal. Put in some decent crosses and provided Negredo with a fine delivery for the equaliser. Missed good chance to put Boro ahead, but generally impressed 7.5
Alvaro Negredo: The focal point of Boro’s attack and took his opportunity really well when it came his way. 7.5
Gaston Ramirez: Best player for the Teessiders in the first half causing Arsenal no end of troubles before fading after the break and then being replaced by Adama Traore on 68. 7
George Friend (on for Fabio, 17): Drove forward well and used the ball intelligently – a fact he’s often criticised for by Boro supporters. Played well. 7
Adama Traore (on for Ramirez, 68): Caused Arsenal plenty of problems but despite some sensational close control, was once again guilty of poor decision making in the final third. If there’s a more frustrating player in the Premier League this season, I’m yet to see one… 6
Rudy Gestede (on for De Roon, 79): Given no chance to get in on the action. 5
Coach: Steve Agnew said before hand that he was relishing the task of keeping Boro in the Premier League, but despite promising starts to both halves, it was more of the same for the Teessiders.
It was, on paper, a good time to play Arsenal, but on this evidence he did little to further his cause to get the job on a long-term basis and made predictable tactical changes. 5
Petr Cech: Did OK when called on but could do nothing about Negredo’s goal. 6
Gabriel: Showed again why he’s not Arsenal quality after struggling with the formation and whenever Middlesbrough ran at him. A passenger at best. 4
Laurent Koscielny: Looked comfortable at the heart of a rare-to-see three-man backline and had dealt well with all he faced until he lost Negredo for Middlesbrough’s equaliser. 6.5
Rob Holding: Did pretty well on a rare start but still looks a little out of his depth at times. Will never be anything more than a squad player at best. 5.5
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Did well when pushing forward but isn’t best suited to tracking back and looked a little unsure of himself when called upon defensively. 6.5
Aaron Ramsey: Neat and tidy in the middle of the park but largely restricted by Arsenal’s formation. Showed good awareness to set up Mesut Ozil for Arsenal’s second. 6.5
Granit Xhaka: His usual hard-working and busy self, but for £35million, he just doesn’t offer much or stamp any authority on proceedings. Average once again. 6
Nacho Monreal: Defensively not good enough and exposed badly by Downing for Boro’s equaliser. It’s easy to see why Arsene Wenger is actively pursuing a long-term replacement with the Spaniard in the closing stages of his Gunners career on this evidence. 4
Alexis Sanchez: Largely frustrated during the first period until he stepped up and curled in a brilliant free-kick. Also created the second and always looked to get the Gunners moving forward. Man of the Match. Replaced on 90. 8
Mesut Ozil: Mr Robot looked fairly subdued but still managed to lash home Arsenal’s winner. Subbed on 90. 6.5
Olivier Giroud: Kept largely at bay and saw the few sniffs he had at goal snuffed out by some determined defending. 6
Francis Coquelin (on for Mesut Ozil, 90): No time to make any impact.
Hector Bellerin (on for Alexis Sanchez, 90): No time to be as bad as he was last Monday!
Coach: Arsene Wenger opted to start with a back three for the first time since 1997 and while Arsenal’s superior talent eventually won the day, you’d feel their defence would have been more tested against better opponents.
It’ll be interesting to see if they’ll keep this formation next time out, but he can at least enjoy a better night’s sleep than he did last Monday and can celebrate a much-needed away win. 6