By Jack Malone

Arsenal host Middlesbrough in the Premier League on Saturday in a match between two sides who have experienced contrasting fortunes so far this season.

The Gunners’ narrow win over Swansea last weekend sent them into second place, leapfrogging North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

They followed up that result with a superb 6-0 Champions League win over Bulgarian title holders Ludogorets Razgrad at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.

The only negative from that game was a knock picked up by Santi Cazorla; he will face a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Fellow midfielder Granit Xhaka is suspended, meaning Mohamed Elneny could come in to partner Francis Coquelin in the centre of the park.

Olivier Giroud is still short of match fitness and will not be involved, whilst Wales international Aaron Ramsey, who has appeared just once this season, remains sidelined.

Petr Cech is likely to be recalled in goal, but Danny Welbeck, Per Mertesacker, Chuba Akpom and Carl Jenkinson will all miss out.

Manager Arsene Wenger will again be looking to Theo Walcott to provide the goals at the weekend; the Englishman has already found the net nine times in all competitions this campaign.

Middlesbrough have struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League after winning promotion from the Championship in May and currently lie in 17th place, having won only once in their opening eight matches.

They will be boosted by the return to full training of captain Grant Leadbitter this week although he is unlikely to be risked for the trip to the Emirates.

Calum Chambers is unavailable to face his parent club and full-back James Husband is still hampered by a shoulder injury.

Former Manchester United full-back Fabio da Silva is fit for selection having managed just 10 minutes of first-team football this season.

Adama Traore, the summer signing from Aston Villa, looked threatening in a cameo role last week and may well be handed his first league start here.

Goals have undoubtedly been the problem for the Teessiders; they have the second-best defensive record in the bottom half of the table, but are scoring at a rate of less than a goal per game.

It is hard to look past the hosts for this one and the Gunners are expected to run out comfortable winners against a Boro side short on firepower and confidence.

Possible Arsenal starting XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Iwobi, Ozil, Walcott; Sanchez

Possible Middlesbrough starting XI (4-2-3-1): Valdes; Barragan, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; De Roon, Forshaw; Traore, Ramirez, Downing; Negredo


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