Arsenal benefited from another late Olivier Giroud goal as Arsene Wenger’s men fought back to defeat Preston North End 2-1 at Deepdale to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Giroud’s stoppage-time header rescued a point in the Premier League on Tuesday as Arsenal recovered from 3-0 down with 20 minutes to go at Bournemouth, and his 89th-minute winner here broke Preston hearts.
The Gunners have never lost a third-round tie under Wenger, but that proud record looked in serious jeopardy after Callum Robinson’s early opener for the hosts, who missed three more excellent chances to extend their lead in the first half.
Robinson, Jordan Hugill and Paul Gallagher all failed to capitalise on a woeful showing from the visitors in the first 45 minutes.
But Arsenal were a different proposition in the second period and Aaron Ramsey’s first goal of the season within a minute of the resumption brought them level, before Giroud scrambled in a finish from Lucas Perez’s clever backheel.
v Sunderland: late goals
v Man United: late goal
v West Brom: late goal
v Bournemouth: late goal
v Preston: late goal pic.twitter.com/by6aCASalN
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 7, 2017
Arsenal, resting the “jaded” Alexis Sanchez, started poorly in that draw at Bournemouth, and they found themselves behind early on again here.
There was an element of luck about the goal as Hugill stumbled in a challenge with Nacho Monreal and Gabriel, the ball running perfectly for Robinson to tap home from close range.
Robinson threatened a second midway through the half, but his header following a rapid Preston counter-attack was blocked by Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal were looking increasingly ragged at the back and two minutes later it ought to have been 2-0, but Hugill failed to get a touch on Robinson’s low delivery across the six-yard box with the goal gaping.
Preston continued to dominate, but Giroud wasted the chance to punish their profligacy by chipping wide from a good position.
North End kept on coming, though, and only Monreal’s goalline clearance denied Gallagher a second after he had lifted the ball over David Ospina.
Robinson rightly had a goal disallowed for Paul Huntington’s foul on Ospina, and Preston continued to leave their mark on their opponents as an aerial challenge saw Hugill draw blood from the head of Gabriel.
It seemed impossible that Preston would be able to maintain their first-half tempo for 90 minutes and they were pegged back within a minute of the restart as Ramsey somehow squeezed his shot inside the right-hand post from the edge of the area.
Mustafi brought a fine save out of Chris Maxwell with a glancing effort from a corner as the game entered the final 20 minutes, before Giroud’s goal was correctly ruled out for offside.
But the Frenchman was not to be denied, linking up smartly with Lucas to stab the ball beyond Maxwell and spark delirious scenes among the travelling faithful behind the goal, who almost saw Danny Welbeck cap his long-awaited return from a knee injury with a fine strike but for a good save from the goalkeeper.
Key Opta stats:
– Arsenal have progressed past the third round of the FA Cup in each of the last 21 seasons, the longest current run in the competition.
– Giroud has scored in each of his last eight starts for Arsenal in all competitions, netting 10 goals in total.
– Despite having the same number of attempts as Arsenal in the first half (8), Preston failed to muster a single shot after half-time.
– Arsenal have lost just one of their last 37 FA Cup ties against lower league opposition (0-1 vs Blackburn in February 2013).
– Four of Ramsey’s five FA Cup goals have come in a third-round tie, with the other coming in the 2014 final.
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