Preston North End 1 Arsenal 2
Robinson 7, Ramsey 46 Giroud 89

Olivier Giroud is simply on fire with his goal scoring just now, and it was his late winner which clinched this typical FA Cup third round tie at Deepdale. Callum Robinson gave Preston the lead, one which they could have added to. But a swift second half response and leveller from Aaron Ramsey a minute after the restart put Arsenal on parity. The Gunners then took control of the tie, but we’re constantly denied a second, until captain for the day Giroud pounced after some good work from Lucas Perez to go through to the fourth round draw and keep up Arsene Wenger’s third round winning sequence.

Arsenal have won the FA Cup six times under Wenger and he was faced with putting out a strong side, but also mindful of the many players he felt needed to take a breather. Alexis, Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin and Laurent Koscielny made way for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, David Ospina, Gabriel, Lucas and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The Gunners returned to Deepdale 17 years after a 4-2 win crowned by two goals from Emmanuel Petit. In all that time, Wenger still hadn’t lost an FA Cup third-round tie.

That sequence however was to come under threat as early as the seventh minute. Former Everton man Aidan McGeady cleverly turned away from a challenge to slide a pass towards Jordan Hugill. The ball ricocheted off him and rolled invitingly into the path of Robinson to sweep past Ospina for the opener.

Lucas saw his shot blocked but the momentum stayed with the home side, who were quick to win back possession and then counter through the lively McGeady and the pace of Robinson.

Ospina just beat Hugill to a McGeady cross before Robinson had a header blocked from close in. Robinson then beat the offside trap only for his cross to elude Hugill. Ben Pearson then tested Ospina from range.

The Gunners’ response saw Lucas test Chris Maxwell following a smart one two with Giroud. A firm header from Lucas after Maitland-Niles’ right-wing cross didn’t get beyond Maxwell as Arsenal got to grips with the conditions.

Back came Preston and Paul Gallagher’s lob over Ospina required the attentions of Nacho Monreal to keep it to just a solitary goal deficit.

Words will have been exchanged at half time, with Wenger letting his side know that the first half performance wasn’t good enough. It would bring about an early second half response.

The ball was worked wide to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Alex Iwobi, reached the cross to keep the move alive with some smart footwork before teeing up Ramsey. With very little back lift, the former Wales captain struck a venomous shot from the edge of the box with Maxwell rooted to the spot.

Ramsey’s first goal of the season transformed the mood inside the ground. As the 6,000 travelling fans audibly made their presence felt.
Arsenal were now in control and saw Giroud and Oxlade-Chamberlain shots blocked. Giroud then got on the end of Granit Xhaka’s free-kick, but his header didn’t trouble Maxwell, unlike Shkodran Mustafi’s first time effort which the Preston keeper got an arm to keep out following Oxlade-Chamberlain’s corner.

After an eight month absence, Danny Welbeck came off the bench and almost scored in spectacular fashion. Welbeck will feel like a new signing again and will be raring to go for the Arsenal cause. His seven minutes was influential , however it was Giroud who had the the last word. The willing Perez chased down a ball to cleverly back heel to Giroud, who anticipated it perfectly, guiding his shot past Maxwell for the Arsenal winner.

Wenger was delighted with the result and his captain’s winner.

” He scored recently many goals. In the squad, everybody contributes. It’s not about 11 and he is at the moment in good form. So for one month he scores goal after goal. I named him captain, I like to rotate the captaincy.

“He went through a period where he was of course in discomfort because he didn’t play and during this period that was quite long. He kept his focus and worked, I think he has shown leadership qualities so I made him captain today,” said Wenger.