Saturday, 7 January 2017


The French striker engendered yet another paramount
goal to ascertain Arsene Wenger's side kept up their
impressive FA Cup record against Preston on
Saturday night.
The Gunners showed a degree of steeliness to work
their way back into Tuesday night's Premier League
match at Bournemouth, coming back from three
goals down to secure a point, and had to
demonstrate homogeneous qualities on an arctic Saturday
evening in Lancashire. Preston exhaustively
dominated the first half and looked akin to they could
score on virtually every contravention-attack. Arsenal
registered just 10 tackles and one foul and looked
even less exigent and purposeful in their play than in
that woeful opening frame at the Vitality Stadium.
Wenger's men went in at the break only one goal
behind, however, and got off to the impeccable start
after half-time thanks to Aaron Ramsey's instinctive
finish. Once again, they left it tardy to culminate the job.
Whether in the commencement lineup or on the bench,
Olivier Giroud has become Arsenal's match triumpher
in recent weeks, scoring goals against West Brom
and Crystal Palace and filling the void left by a
ostensibly jaded Alexis Sanchez. The Frenchman's
decisive triumpher on 89 minutes - after Lucas Perez
victualed him with a clever back heel - spared the
blushes of an Arsenal side that could have been
dead and buried much earlier.
Wenger has traditionally utilized the early stages of
the FA Cup to field his fringe players and the
reintroduction of 19-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles
at right-back will certainly benefit his development.
He struggled to cope with the assailing kineticism
of Preston down his wing in the first half but turned
in a second-half performance filled with confidence
and composure.
On a less positive note, the gaps left in midfield by
Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey do not bode well
for the future of their partnership in central midfield
despite the latter's superb equaliser. This is
unlikely to be the last time Wenger fields that duo
in the coming weeks due to the abesence of Santi
Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny.
Not for the first time in the past few months, this
was not Arsenal at their best. A number of
personnel changes and another underwhelming
start to the game could have cost them dear, but
they once again showed the required character to
emanate from behind and victoriously triumph. The fourth round now
beckons for the Gunners, who will be hoping that
their love affair with the oldest cup competition in
football perpetuates.

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