Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil celebrates scoring the Gunners’ second goal against Middlesbrough. (Reuters: Lee Smith)
Arsenal remains in the hunt for a Champions League spot next season with a 2-1 Premier League victory at Middlesbrough, which left the hosts in deep danger of relegation.
Alexis Sanchez produced a superb free kick to put the Gunners ahead three minutes before half-time, lifting the ball over the wall and past motionless Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
But the home side got back on level terms four minutes after the interval when Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo got on the end of a fine Stewart Downing cross.
Arsenal secured its first away win in five Premier League matches when Sanchez floated a ball into the box, which Aaron Ramsey cleverly chested down to Mesut Ozil who made no mistake from close range.
The result leaves Arsenal in sixth position, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City who have played one match more. Middlesbrough is second from bottom, six points adrift of safety with six matches left.
“I think we were focused and committed and you could see that we did not play with full confidence during some moments in the game,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
“When you are in a lack of confidence situation it comes back slowly and only the results help.”
Wenger felt vindicated by his decision to make six changes to the team which had lost in humiliating fashion 3-0 to Crystal Palace last week and switched to a 3-4-3 formation, a new approach for the Gunners.
“Sometimes when a team lacks confidence, changing the system helps the team to believe in something different,” Wenger said.
Arsenal faces Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend.