A football match was won last night. By Arsenal. Away from home. I’d almost forgotten about what that felt like.

Middlesbrough were the side dispatched and now in the cold light of day you can say with some comfort that they are probably almost definitely going down. Arsenal were hardly immense and at times we looked exactly like a team with such fragile confidence, but we got over the line thanks to two goals from the big money players, which is about time.

The biggest surprise of the evening came when Arsène shuffled the entire set up of his team. It just goes to show you how bad its been that Arsène felt forced in to a formation set up and with Holding given his first start in the league since the beginning of the season, as well as the Ox and Nacho deployed as wing backs, this latest roll of the dice will have no doubt pleased some.

But it didn’t really start fabulously. I thought defensively we still looked a little shaky at the back and there were times in both halves where Boro got in behind and throw our lines a little too easy. But we can be thankful that they are as poor as they are going forward because otherwise we might have come-a-cropper. It’s weird though – now that I’m sat here writing today’s blog I can’t work out in my head whether I liked this new set up or not. We still looked a little ropey, but there were some encouraging performances. Holding played well. The Ox was great on the right hand side. Ramsey even had a decent game and I don’t remember the last time I said that. Up top Arsène opted for Giroud who was hardly his best, but I thought the two behind of Özil and Alexis was interesting. 

I’m not sure whether we’ll see the same again next weekend against City, but I’d probably be a bit more excited about the change in style if this was pre season and we were trying out things. As it stands though, I think Arsène will revert back to type with the semi final, so let’s not all get too excited just yet.

We do need to give Holding more game time though. He’s shown the kind of composure that Gabriel has never really demonstrated and although he’ll make mistakes, the more game time he gets, the more he’ll be able to iron out the kinks in his game.

Ramsey and Xhaka also looked more controlling than it has done. Perhaps that’s because Boro let us have more of the ball, but at least they didn’t seem as shocking as West Brom away. 

It’s hard to call really. I’m pleased that we won – obviously – and I think I’m pleased that Arsène is trying different things to fix th situation. But I’m also a little worried that we won’t get an opponent so amiable to us for the rest of the season, so I don’t know whether we should just be shrugging our shoulders and saying “ahh, eff it” and going down this route for the rest of the season, or not. I suppose it can’t be any worse than it’s been so perhaps Arsène is in the “eff it” stage of going all in with a new playing style. If he is, at least it’s something different for us to see, as opposed to repeating the same mistakes with the same set of players and the same tactical set up.

I’m hoping that the next week sees a lot of work on the training ground from the players with this new style. You could see how much it meant to those players on the final whistle and if ever we needed a result to give us a confidence boost ahead of a vital game, this was it. 

Roll on next weekend.