Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger praises "needed" tactical change in Middlesbrough victory

Arsène Wenger praised the success of what he stated was a "needed" tactical change to his Arsenal side, with the Gunners recording their first away Premier League victory since January with a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough.

Game that we needed to win

Arsenal headed to Teesside knowing anything less than three points would effectively rule them out of the race for Champions League qualification and having lost their last four league matches away from Emirates Stadium, conceding at least three goals in each game, confidence was at a low.

Wenger surprised many before a ball was kicked at the Riverside Stadium, with the Frenchman opting for a 3-4-3 formation which saw Rob Holding come into the side for the first time in the league since August.

The new formation seemed to work throughout but found Steve Agnew's side tough to break down throughout the majority of the first period, but an excellent free-kick from Alexis Sánchez just before the break that proved the difference.

Agnew's men had an instant reply at the beginning of the second period with Álvaro Negredo's equaliser, but a 70th-minute goal Mesut Özil secured the crucial three points.

After the match Wenger stated that it was a game his side simply needed to win at any cost, and that though the formation was a success it was played to give players something new to believe in.

"It was a committed game we needed to win," Wenger told his post-match press conference. "I think in the first half it was tight because they defended very well and after that we were tested just after half time because it came back to 1-1."

The Arsenal boss added:"Then we were tested mentally and we found a response to win the game that’s what we needed and that’s what we wanted. Of course Middlesbrough did try because it was one of their last chances to staying the league and that’s why they never gave up."

"I felt that we were recently a bit ran over defensively to give a bit more reassurance to the team recently we faced many direct games," the Frenchman stated in reference to the formation change. "I thought before the game maybe they would play with [Rudy] Gestede and [Álvaro] Negredo and go for a very direct game."

"First time in 20 years and that shows you that even at my age you can change," Wenger jokingly added. "Sometimes when the team lacks confidence you know just to have something new to believe helps them to focus and overall the fact that we conceded three at West Brom, three at crystal Palace I felt that it was needed."

No urgency about their futures

It wasn't for the first time this season that Sánchez and Özil proved crucial for their side, but despite their individually excellent performances in North East that has silenced the noise surrounding their futures in North London.

Both stars have one year left on their respective contracts come the end of the season with talks of extension seemingly put on the back burner.

While Wenger addressed the nerves in the dressing room before the game, he also stated the futures of his goal scorers wasn't a concern just yet.

"Of course, the players care and when you don’t win your confidence in life goes quickly and comes back slowly," he said. "You could feel in the way we played that there was some nervousness there."

"Of course, but you know their future there still on a one-year contract," Wenger concluded. "So I don’t think there is an urgency about that in any way I've said that many times you perform on a football pitch because you love to play football."

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