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Mesut Ozil’s second-half strike secured an unconvincing 2-1 win for Arsenal away to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough that keeps their top-four hopes alive.

The Germany international’s seventh Premier League goal of the season sealed the victory after Alvaro Negredo had cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s stunning set-piece opener.

Arsene Wenger’s side slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last time out, prompting the manager to experiment with a 3-5-2 system at the Riverside Stadium – with Rob Holding in a back three – in an effort to encourage a more resolute display.

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Chances were scarce in a poor first half, but Sanchez swept in a fine free-kick to break the deadlock just before the break, only for Negredo to equalise five minutes into the second half.

Boro had produced a spirited performance, but Ozil finished a clever team move in the 71st minute to put the visitors back in front, and they held firm in the closing stages to claim a win that moves them back to within seven points of the top four.

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The defeat leaves Boro six points from safety, with only six matches left to play, while Arsenal snapped a four-match losing streak on the road in the top flight

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