FA Cup: Giroud hands Arsenal 4th round ticket at Deepdale

FA Cup By: Ambrose Udeme | 07/01/2017

Olivier Giroud's late  strike at the Deepdale stadium on Saturday secured Arsenal a hard fought passage into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup as the Gunners came from behind to win 2-1.

Callum Robinson’s early goal left Arsenal with a job to do to stay in the Emirates FA Cup but Wengers men returned after the break to put two behind Maxwell.

Aaron Ramsey who benefited from a fine work in the area by Alex Iwobi to score the equalizer before Olivier Giroud made sure the Gunners are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup competition after latching on to a back heel from Lucas Perez to power home the winner from close range.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger left out Alexis Sanchez, Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny and the injured Francis Coquelin.

In came Ainsley Maitland-Niles, David Ospina, Gabriel, Lucas and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Olivier Giroud, fresh from a week that delivered a scorpion kick, two assists and a late equaliser, captained Arsenal for the first time.

First Half

Arsenal's proud third-round record was under threat as early as the seventh minute when the influential McGeady cleverly turned away from a challenge to slide a pass towards Jordan Hugill. The ball ricocheted off him and rolled invitingly for Robinson to sweep past Ospina.

Lucas had a shot blocked but the momentum stayed with Preston. Keeping their shape when Arsenal had the ball, they sprang out on the counter at every opportunity, led by the cultured McGeady and the pacy Robinson.

Ospina beat Hugill to one McGeady cross before Robinson had a header blocked from point-blank range. Moments later, Robinson beat the offside trap only for his cross to elude Hugill, then Ben Pearson tested Ospina from range.

Arsenal got better. Lucas tested Chris Maxwell following a neat interchange with Giroud, and did so again with a firm header from Maitland-Niles’ right-wing cross. Then Aaron Ramsey plotted a path through the Preston defence but couldn’t get a shot away.

It was more encouraging, but Nacho Monreal came to Wenger's men rescue when Paul Gallagher lobbed Ospina - a sign that Preston weren’t about to go into their shells.

Second Half 

Arsenal trailed by two goals and won at Deepdale in 1999 but this time a half-time deficit was snuffed out in just 50 seconds of restart.

Wenger's men were on their game immediately and worked the ball wide to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whose cross eventually reached Alex Iwobi, who kept the move alive with clever footwork before teeing up Ramsey for a venomous finish from the edge of the box.

It was the Walseman's first goal of the season and it transformed the mood of the 6,000 travelling fans inside the ground.

Giroud and Oxlade-Chamberlain had shots blocked. Then Giroud got on the end of Granit Xhaka’s free-kick, but couldn’t get enough purchase on his header to seriously test Maxwell.

The Preston keeper was seriously tested by Shkodran Mustafi, flinging up an arm to keep out the German's first-time effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s corner.

Welbeck came off the bench and almost scored in spectacular fashion. But Giroud had already had the last word - yet again - when he fired home at the near post before thanking Lucas Perez for the sweet back-heel.