Olivier Giroud’s late heroics continued this time in the FA Cup 3rd round as his 89th minute winner saw Arsenal come through a difficult cup tie against Preston North End at Deepdale as 2-1 winners.
Giroud was captain of a fairly weakened arsenal side as the strenuous festive period saw Arsene Wenger rest key players such as Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny, while other injuries left Arsenal with only two fit senior central midfielders in Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey who both started. Arsenal went into the game as obvious favourites but an unlikely upset was always a possibility with Arsenals squad crisis and the magic of the cup thick in the air.
Preston stunned the gunners when Callum Robinson pounced on a shaky arsenal backline to give preston an early lead. things could’ve easily gotten worse as preston spurned chances to make it 2,3 and maybe even 4-0. Arsenal looked like the championship side in the first half and were all over the place as Preston sliced them open at will. Arsenal only created once clear cut chance of note in the first half when Nigerian youngster Alex Iwobi played in Olivier Giroud who wasted a great opportunity to level. Arsenal were incredibly lucky this tie wasn’t wrapped up by half time.
Whatever Arsene Wenger said to the team at half time obviously worked as the gunners came out a different side and scored immediately after the restart as once again Alex Iwobi showed great strength and composure on the edge of the box to hold off multiple defenders before laying off to Aaron Ramsey who fired in his first goal of the season and what a time to get it. Ramsey, who has looked a player shorn of confidence in recent weeks has desperately needed a goal and he showed a glimpse of his natural talent with this fine effort.
Arsenal had woken up and continued to dominate the second half. Arsene Wenger made no changes until the 79th minute when he brought on Danny Welbeck for his long awaited return to the first team with his first appearance this season. it wasn’t until the 89th minute that Arsenal created the game winning moment. Aaron Ramsey, boosted by the confidence from his goal, had given Giroud a long ball into the box, Olivier Giroud knocked it on and when it looked like the chance may have been squandered, Lucas Perez managed to backheel the ball back into the path of none else but Olivier Giroud who was the quickest off the mark to bundle the ball home and send the 5,500 travelling gooners into a frenzy. Giroud the hero in recent weeks came up with another massive goal for Arsenal who showed good character without some key players to come through a very tough tie and put themselves into the hat for the FA Cup 4th Round.
We were lucky this time, but the team in the 2nd half showed character and concentration to win the game in the finishing minutes. Next we face Southampton OR Norwich Away. Tough game considering how we have been playing on our away games in recent weeks. COYG march on!
Written by Ozzie (Ameze’s Brother)