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Giroud's late goal saves Gooners from another punch-up

preston 1 arsenal 2 match review match report fa cup 2017

Match Review: Preston 1 Arsenal 2 - FA Cup - 07.01.2017

A few things that I not so much learned, but was reminded of this weekend: trekking up to Northern clubs is a pain and you find little reward when you get there; Olivier Giroud is a shiny golden god sent to show us the face of true beauty; some of our fanbase are a bunch of dicks more interested in having something to moan and fight about than the actual results of the team. We’re through to the next round and that’s all that matters, end of. It’s a cup competition, not a contest over who played the most worthy football.

Wenger named a strong team with only a few rotations in place. Ospina came in for Cech as expected, Koscielny and Alexis were both rested and replaced by Gabriel and Perez respectively. Alex Iwobi got to return to the number 10 role, with Ramsey shifting backwards to replace the injured Coquelin. Chamberlain started on the left, but the biggest surprise was seeing Ainsley Maitland-Niles start at right back. This indicates one of two things, either Wenger doesn't trust Carl Jenkinson and his Arsenal career is finished, or he plans to loan Jenkinson out and didn’t want to cup tie him. Either way, it looks increasingly as if Jenkinson’s career lies away from the Arsenal.

Despite the strong team named, we got off to a terrible start. Maitland-Niles was getting shredded down the right and looked nothing like a right back. We struggled to do anything useful with the ball and after just seven minutes the home side had the lead after a string of errors left a simple finish for Robinson. Gabriel was probably the main culprit, playing everyone onside by about five yards.

Preston really should have had more goals before half time and cut us open on more than one occasion. The usually supportive away section began growing restless as the our play got no better and the half drew to a close. It may have only been one half, but anyone who watched it will have agreed that we were absolutely dire.

Things got ugly on the concourse at half time, seemingly over a Wenger in/out argument. I get that we all care a lot and emotions run high amongst passionate fans, but having an actual punch up over who you think should be the manager is embarrassing. Sort your life out, see your kids a little more often (court orders permitting) and maybe seek some help from a professional if you really can’t control your rage over who manages your football team. What’s more there were plenty of kids around watching this sort of behaviour and that’s the last thing you need to see.

Sadly I’ve had more physical altercations with Arsenal fans than I’ve ever had with opposition ones. There shouldn’t be physical altercations between anyone, and I won’t pretend that I was totally innocent in any of the confrontations, but there’s something really unsavoury about the fact that someone in your own fanbase wants to chin you because you have a different view to them. There’s a toxic atmosphere amongst certain sections of our fanbase and it’s something we could really do with getting rid of.

Back on the pitch, Ramsey equalised immediately to begin the second half. He finally decided to pull the trigger after dawdling on a very good chances in the first half and relief washed over the away stand. Ramsey is at a critical point of his Arsenal career. As of this moment, he’s still living off his one standout season and his stock is falling. A good showing at the Euros helped to remind people what he’s capable of, but he’s got a lot to do recapture the form that had fans and commentators praising him to the hills. A goal or two might just help him settle down and find his rhythm again.

Frustratingly we couldn’t capitalise on the momentum the goal gave us, despite a period of sustained pressure. We dominated the half completely, but we looked to be headed for an unwelcome replay until someone beautiful made something beautiful happen…

Captain for the day Olivier Giroud has been in sensational form of late. He’s scored a ton of vital goals this season and threw in the goal of the season against Crystal Palace for good measure. It was his handsome figure that once again hauled us out of a hole, following some great work by Lucas Perez. The Spaniard chased a ball that was heading out for a goal kick and managed to back heel it into the path of his skipper and Oli forced it home to squeeze us into the next round.

Football is a funny game. That one moment was the difference between 5,000 Arsenal fans glumly travelling back down south with a replay hanging over our heads, or as was the case with me, bouncing down the motorway singing along to Giroud’s song and not caring (much) that we had three and a bit hours of road ahead of us. To think, we could have been enjoying a good old punch up in the car park instead…

Our reward is a trip to one of Norwich or, more likely, Southampton. A home match would have been a lot more desirable, but we have home matches either side of it in the Premier League. Southampton has not been a happy hunting ground for us recently, especially in cup competitions, but there is no reason for that to continue. If we turn up, it won’t matter whether it’s Norwich or Southampton, we’ll win. Good thing we never have a problem with showing up to games…

giroud goal preston

Teams

Preston (4-5-1)

Maxwell, Vermijl, Clarke, Huntington, Cunningham (Y), Gallagher (Browne 60’), Pearson (Y), Johnson (Horgan 81’), McGeady, Hugill (Y) (Makienok 75’), Robinson
Subs
Lindegaard, Horgan, Browne, Makienok, Doyle, Spurr, Pringle

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

Ospina, Maitland-Niles (Holding 92’), Mustafi, Gabriel (Y), Monreal, Ramsey, Xhaka, Lucas (Reine-Adelaide 92’), Iwobi, Chamberlain (Welbeck 83’), Giroud
Subs
Martinez, Jenkinson, Holding, Welbeck, Reine-Adelaide, Da Silva, Willock

Player Ratings

Ospina - 7/10 - Really didn’t have a save to make, not at fault for their goal
Maitland-Niles - 4/10 - Thrown under the bus a bit, he’s not a right back and got shredded
Gabriel - 6/10 - Mostly did a good job, but not sure what he was up to for their goal
Mustafi - 7/10 - Almost had to play right back too, did it well and looked like a leader
Monreal - 6/10 - Nothing really bad or really good, pretty unremarkable game
Xhaka - 5/10 - Looked sloppy, gave the ball away a lot in the first half
Ramsey - 7/10 - Scored a great goal, excellent second half made up for the abysmal first
Lucas - 8/10 - Absolute work horse and vital to the winning goal, looks a great player
Iwobi - 7/10 - Did well in a tight spot to set up our first
Chamberlain - 5/10 - Didn’t stick to the wing, spent most of his time cutting in ineffectively
Giroud - 8/10 - Captain fantastic, elite rustler of all his haters, all round gorgeous man

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