Middlesbrough boss still up for fight ahead of Sunderland showdown

Alvara Negredo celebrates his goal against Arsenal. Picture by Tom Collins.
Alvara Negredo celebrates his goal against Arsenal. Picture by Tom Collins.
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Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew says he and his players are still up for the fight as they bid the stay in the Premier League.

Boro lost 2-1 at home to Arsenal last night after Alvaro Negredo had cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s superb 42nd-minute free-kick.

It took Mesut Ozil’s strike 19 minutes from time to clinch victory for the Gunners.

Agnew, whose side hosts Sunderland on Wednesday next week, was left to bemoan one that got away after Petr Cech pulled off a fine reaction save to deny central defender Daniel Ayala with 61 minutes gone.

Agnew said: “I think that was the moment. We have been waiting for it for a few weeks and I just felt that when we scored, we had Arsenal on the back foot.

“We pushed them back, and you’re just thinking the ball is going to bounce in the right area.

“Dani has done everything right, but the ball has got right down the line of Petr Cech.”

Boro performed creditably, but find themselves still six points adrift of safety with just six games remaining, and knowing time is running out fast.

Agnew, however, said: “Obviously we missed an opportunity. We all realise the task ahead, but equally we are six points off it, a game in hand and a terrific goal difference.

“The players were amazing in terms of their effort and commitment and attitude towards the game. They played with such an intensity, I couldn’t ask any more of them.”

Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal have to win each of their remaining seven Premier League games if they are to secure a 20th successive top-four finish.

Wenger said: “For us, the clarity is there - we have to win every game to have a chance to get in the top four, starting tonight.

“I think it will make the team a bit more serene. You could see that one some occasions, we were a bit over-cautious. Hopefully that will give us a bit more confidence. Mathematically it is still possible.”