We kick off our FA Cup campaign with a third-round clash against Preston on Saturday and ahead of the game Michael Cox analyses our opponents.
Simon Grayson has been in charge for nearly three years – which, amazingly, puts him 11th on the list of longest-serving current managers. He holds the impressive record of being promoted from League One with four different clubs in the last decade: Blackpool, Leeds, Huddersfield and now Preston.
Grayson is a keen tactician who has played a variety of shapes this season – 4-4-2, 4-5-1 and 3-5-2. This weekend he seems most likely to deploy a 4-5-1 in order to compete in midfield, relying on either Simon Makienok or Jordan Hugull to hold up the ball and bring others into play.
Preston are a direct team who are unlikely to engage Arsenal in a midfield possession battle. Indeed, in the Championship this season they have the third-lowest pass completion rate, but win the second-highest number of aerial duels, outlining their approach nicely. Expect them to put numbers behind the ball for long periods before attacking quickly through their wingers – probably Irish international Aiden McGeady and exciting youngster Callum Robinson.
Robinson is the man to stop. Although considered a forward in his teenage years and still capable of being deployed up front, he’s more likely to be deployed out wide. A quick and tricky player who can be lethal on the counter-attack, Arsenal must watch him carefully.
AREAS TO TARGET
Preston are likely to defend narrow and invite plenty of crosses, where defender Tom Clarke will look to dominate the box. But the full-backs can be prone to diving into challenges, with left-back Greg Cunningham particularly rash. Some trickery down the flanks before intelligent pull-backs might be Arsenal’s best bet at Deepdale.
More polls and quizzes to follow soon
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.