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Preston North End 1-2 Arsenal: FA Cup match report

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It was decidedly un-pretty, but Arsenal win the Battle of the Invincibles to stay in the FA Cup.

Preston North End v Arsenal - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
this is somewhat representative of the game’s quality
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arsenal stumbled early, but recovered to win a contentious FA Cup Third Round match against Preston North End. Here’s how it happened.

Atrocious start

The first half was bad, there’s no two ways about it. Obviously allowing the go-ahead goal wasn’t ideal, but frankly Preston could (and maybe should) have scored at least another goal, and possibly more. The midfield and defense were beaten numerous times, Arsenal couldn’t maintain possession, and all around it was simply a poor performance, particularly considering the competition.

Punching back

Thankfully, immediately after halftime Arsenal got their lives together and struck back. And “immediately” is barely an exaggeration – in their first move forward after the restart, Arsenal took it right to Preston, and Aaron Ramsey did what Aaron Ramsey does, striking a sublime shot from distance under pressure right inside the post to level the score. Arsenal continued pressing after that and looked likely to score again soon after, but were unable to capitalize.

Then, as if intending to, Arsenal bookended the second half with goals. Aaron Ramsey played the ball into the box in the 87th minute, and Lucas took possession right on the end line. He was pressed, but played an amazing backheel pass to Olivier Giroud – who had scored earlier but had it rightfully called back for offside – and Giroud bullied through a Preston defender’s challenge to loop the finish past the keeper and in.

Classic opposition

Whenever Arsenal has a game against a team like Preston North End, it feels like the game plan is basically the same. Try to kick the crap out of our players, hope the referees let you get away with it, and then get super aggrieved whenever an Arsenal player fights back. It was incredibly annoying (to me and to the Arsenal players, it appeared) and I have to say it drained me of any pity there might have been when Giroud scored. I’m always glad when a chippy, whiny team loses, and this is no exception.