What Arsenal must do to finish in top four - Wenger

Karim Benzema Striker linked with Arsenal once more

Alexis Sanchez netted a first half free-kick but the north Londoners' ariel issues were exposed when Alvaro Negredo beat the returning Laurent Koscielny to Stewart Downing's cross to divert beyond Petr Cech. But he did win the free kick that Sanchez scored from and then started to control proceedings as the second half wore on.

Mesut Ozil grabbed a close-range victor for Arsenal in the 71st minute.

And the decision was all about boosting confidence, Wenger admitted, as he saw his side move up to sixth, seven points off but with a game in hand over fourth-placed Man City.

Hector Bellerin was booed by his own fans in last week's 3-0 humiliation at Crystal Palace as a result of the Gunners' terrible away days.

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez (R) celebrates scoring during the English premier league soccer match between Middlesbrough and Arsenal at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, Britain, 17 April 2017.

5 - Wenger played a wildcard by starting with a three-man defence for what must be the first time since his first season in charge and despite the win, it didn't really work. "We were riding our luck a little bit in one or two occasions on crosses, but overall we were a bit more solid defensively today", a visibly revealed Wenger said. "We knew we would face a direct game and recently we have been punished on that".

"But hopefully that win will give us more confidence".

Middlesbrough's target is just staying in the Premier League, but it is looking more perilous after a loss that leaves the northeast team six points from safety with six games remaining.

Arsenal would finish on 78 points if it were to take 21 points from its final seven games.

Rob Holding impressed for Arsenal against Middlesbrough.

However, his celebrations after Arsenal's goals on Monday did not look like those of an unhappy player.

Arsenal didn't create enough chances in a performance that brought to mind the term "sterile domination", to borrow a Wenger-ism.

Middlesbrough are the only side in English league football not to have won a league game during 2017 and that terrible run of form has put them perilously close to an immediate return to the Championship. You can always find explanations but we are professional people and our job is to perform.

But wins are needed and needed quickly.

Bellerin was sidelined for a month in November due to an ankle injury that resurfaced in January causing him to miss Arsenal's FA Cup win over Preston North End and league win over Swansea City.

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