Captain Cesc Fabregas scored both goals as Arsenal extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 20 matches with a comfortable 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
On a warm sunny afternoon in north London, Russian Andrey Arshavin — who scored all four of Arsenal’s goals at Liverpool on Tuesday — again pulled the strings for Arsene Wenger’s side, who go into Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal against Manchester United at Old Trafford in good heart. Just 48 hours after receiving an English FA misconduct charge following the FA Cup clash with Hull City last month, Spanish playmaker Fabregas put Arsenal ahead with a sublime 26th-minute goal. Nicklas Bendtner flicked the ball to Fabregas in the center-circle, who immediately released Arshavin down the left. The Russian raced into the area before laying the ball back across into the path of the on-rushing Fabregas, who drilled his shot past keeper Brad Jones, low in the far corner.
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Boro almost snatched an equalizer when former Gunner Jeremie Aliadiere took a through ball on his chest and raced into the area, but returning goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, fit again after an ankle injury, was quick off his line to make a crucial block. On 67 minutes, Arsenal cut the visitors’ defense wide open again. Arshavin stepped inside to find a square pass to Emmanuel Eboue, who slid the ball through into the path of Fabregas. Jones rushed out to close down the Arsenal captain, but was promptly rounded before Fabregas rolled the ball into the empty net. The result means fourth-placed Arsenal are now 10 points clear of Aston Villa, with four matches to play, and need just one more win to confirm the final Champions League qualifying place. However, they are only six points behind Chelsea, with the two still to face each other, and could still snatch third position. Meanwhile, at the other end, Middlesbrough remain third bottom of the table, but will drop to second bottom if Newcastle claim at least a point against Portsmouth on Monday. In the day’s other match, Blackburn aided their fight against relegation by defeating Wigan 2-0 to move up to 15th place in the table, six points above the drop zone.