Middlesbrough v Arsenal

Arsenal are handed the ideal fixture to rebound from a shocking loss last weekend as they travel to the Riverside stadium to take on a floundering Middlesbrough on Monday.

One win in four, including defeats to both Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion has left the Gunners in a position where they not only need a miracle to qualify for the Champions League, but they are also facing stiff competition for the last remaining automatic Europa League spot.

Uncertainty reigns at the Emirates, with their two-star players, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and long-serving manager Arsene Wenger hesitant in committing their futures to the club in recent weeks.

The Gunners need a comfortable win and one gets the feeling that anything other than three points will be a severe blow to not only the club's 2017/18 season, but their long-term future as well.

Their opponents are not in a particularly healthy position either. Steve Agnew inherited the club in freefall and, thus far, he has been unable to do anything to alter their downward trajectory.

Five losses and two draws in seven matches sees the Boro in a position where they will need to capitalise on both the games they have in hand on their fellow relegation battlers. 

Optimistic fans will, however, be very aware that if there was ever a perfect time to be playing the team from North London, it is now.

Speaking ahead of the match, Wenger acknowledged the possibility that the turmoil the club is currently experiencing could be a reason for the decline in performances.

“I hope not because when I speak about a mental test, it is to perform no matter what the circumstances are around you," he said. “Is that an influence? I would say I hope not.”

Agnew cautioned his side not to put too much stock in their opponents' current lack of form.

"Of course they're in a difficult moment, certainly away from home," Agnew told reporters. "But they have got top-quality players throughout the team, so we have no doubt it will be a really, really difficult game.

"It is a challenge because he's got top, top players through the squad. It's full of internationals and Arsene Wenger, in my opinion, is one of the most talented coaches there's been around for many years."

Team news is that Arsenal are likely to welcome back both Petr Cech and captain Laurent Koscielny.

The hosts have regained te services of Gaston Ramirez but are without Fabio (concussion) and George Friend (calf).

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