Four things we learned: Preston 1-2 Arsenal

Arsenal were drawn against Championship side, Preston in the FA Cup, with Wenger looking to mount a third FA Cup title charge in four years. Expectations were high for the Gunners to come out comfortable victors after starting as firm favourites, however, Preston showed resolve to set the game into turmoil and take the lead against the former champions. A terrific strike from Ramsey and the nail in the coffin from Giroud saw the Gunners advance but by the skin of their teeth. Here are the four things we learned…

1. Ramsey Annoys and Impresses

With the squad rotation in full force for an early round cup game, Wenger chose to bring a fully recovered Ramsey back into the starting lineup.

The Welshman has come under criticism recently for a collection of underwhelming performances and started the Preston game in the same manner. Committing to unnecessary fouls and persistently looking to dribble out of tight situations, Ramsey frustrated both his teammates and the fans. After a forgettable first-half, Ramsey came out firing in the second to tie the game up with a brilliant 46th-minute strike. With Ramsey showing glimpses of his former glory, the injury to Coquelin could see the Welshman partner Xhaka in the centre of midfield for some time to come.

2. Second String Defence Falters
The defensive shuffle saw only Mustafi regain his place with Gabriel alongside him and Monreal holding up the flanks along with Maitland-Niles on the right. The partnership of Mustafi and Koscielny was clearly a big loss, as Gabriel often found himself out of position and forced Shkodran to cover more than he could handle as was evident in Preston’s goal. On the other hand, Maitland-Niles put in a fine attacking display with threatening crosses but often found himself out of position with Chamberlain having to cover. Nacho Monreal found himself back in the starting XI and put in a solid performance, managing the defensive aspect with experience and picking the right times to move forward. On the whole, the back four failed to find the chemistry evident in Arsenal’s first-team.
3. Unstoppable Giroud
For the third game in a row Giroud has consolidated his start with a goal, and yet another decisive one. With the game locked at 1-1 and Preston looking eager to add another, Perez found Giroud with a clever backheel for the Frenchman to slot away. Giroud has once again found his form, during a period in which Arsenal need him most. Wenger will be eager to experiment with the prospect of both Giroud and Sanchez, as well as the now fit again Welbeck. If Giroud’s prolific form continues, the Gunners may have a chance yet to mount a serious title challenge.
4. Arsenal Do What’s Required
Having been down 1-0 to a second Championship side, Arsenal fans will have been forgiven for assuming another collapse was on the cards. With a poor showing at Bournemouth earlier in the week, another test of resolve was seemed to be on the way. The Gunners put in a shift and managed the game from there on out, with a few opportunities not being capitalised upon by Preston .
Having steadied the pace of the game, Arsenal slowly began regaining their dominance and found themselves creating more chances and taking over possession until the goal came. Once Ramsey got the equaliser the atmosphere shifted towards the Gunners and it seemed only a matter of time until the Giroud winner sealed the deal. With the prospect of a fit Welbeck and a more confident Ramsey it seems as if the resolve, as well as the depth of the squad is strengthening by the game. The signs are positive, as are the players and the fans, all that’s left now is for that resolve to be turned into more convincing wins.
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