Middlesbrough v Arsenal: Agnew aiming to add to pressure on Wenger

Steve Agnew will go head-to-head with embattled Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitting the Frenchman's plight shows just how difficult Premier League management can be.

Interim head coach Steve Agnew is aiming to gain his first win in charge of Middlesbrough tonight (Picture: PA).

Wenger and his side will arrive at Middlesbrough tonight scrapping to keep themselves in the race for a top-four finish.

The Gunners’ chief is facing concerted calls for his head even with his track record after a disappointing campaign by the club’s standards, and Boro’s interim head coach believes that simply demonstrates how tough life at the top can be.

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Agnew, who desperately needs a first victory of his fledgling reign against Arsenal, said: “Absolutely. The game is results-driven, we all know that, and he’s had 20 years at Arsenal, which is an amazing achievement.

“Of course they’re in a difficult moment, certainly away from home. But they have got top-quality players throughout the team, so we have no doubt it will be a really, really difficult game.

“It is a challenge because he’s got top, top players through the squad. It’s full of internationals and Arsene Wenger, in my opinion, is one of the most talented coaches there’s been around for many years.

“Of course it’s a challenge, but one I am very much looking forward to.”

Agnew was installed as Aitor Karanka’s temporary replacement last month, when he was handed the chance to make the job his on a permanent basis.

Four games in and he has two draws to his name, but finds Boro six points from safety with time fast running out.

The pressure is growing by the week, although Agnew says: “A playing career is something that you never want to end. You prepare yourself for the game within the team. But, obviously, coaching is different, completely different, because you now have a 25-man squad to manage and to work on. But it’s something I have always enjoyed doing and I’ll continue to do so.

“I’m enjoying it. It is and it continues to be a challenge, but one that I’m enjoying and relishing. The response from the players and the staff has been first-class.”

Agnew has been boosted by the return of George Friend and Gaston Ramirez from calf and ankle injuries, respectively,. Calum Chambers is ineligible to play against his parent club under the terms of his loan agreement.

Last six games: Middlesbrough LLLDLD Arsenal LWLDWL.

Referee: A Taylor (Cheshire).

Last time: Middlesbrough 1 Arsenal 1; December 13, 2008; Premier League.