Download Video: Arsenal 0 – 0 Middlesbrough All Goals & Highlights 2016 (Premier League)
Arsenal edged to the top of the Premier League but there was little else to cheer for Arsene Wenger on his 67th birthday as his team played out a goalless draw against Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium.
Winless since beating north-east rivals Sunderland in August, Boro could feel aggrieved not to lead at the break after Petr Cech pulled off impressive saves to deny Adama Traore and Gaston Ramirez either side of the latter clattering the angle of post and crossbar with a brilliant free-kick.
So fluent in recent weeks, Arsenal were fitful in attack and Victor Valdes’ best save in the Boro goal came as he athletically thwarted Alexis Sanchez from distance.
Theo Walcott scored for the seventh time in six matches in the 6-0 Champions League demolition of Ludogorets on Wednesday but he fell well short of those standards and midweek hat-trick hero Mesut Ozil had a goal correctly ruled out for offside in stoppage time.
Aitor Karanka’s fourth-bottom side once again proved a tough nut to crack on their travels – six of their seven points this season have now come away from the Riverside Stadium.
Arsenal began confidently in pursuit of an eighth consecutive win in all competitions, pushing Middlesbrough deep into their own territory as Ozil lifted a free-kick over and Mohamed Elneny – into a midfield missing Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka through injury and suspension respectively – fired wide.
Ozil had a penalty appeal rejected after a coming together with Marten de Roon before a pair of scares for the hosts.
Alvaro Negredo won a 19th-minute flick-on from Daniel Ayala’s raking pass and Traore darted in behind Laurent Koscielny but Cech stood firm.