Scouting Report: Preston v Arsenal


Scouting Report: Preston v Arsenal

Deepdale - Preston North End

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.
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. 

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