OLIVIER GIROUD scored a late, late goal to send Arsenal into the fourth round of the FA Cup despite a terrible performance at Preston.
The Championship side took an early lead and should have had more after a gutless Gunners performance in the first half.
Callum Robinson opened the scoring early for Preston, reacting fastest to a loose ball to finish.
Preston dominated the first half and should’ve had a bigger lead – but Robinson’s cross for Jordan Hugill was just too strong, while Paul Gallagher had a shot cleared off the line by Nacho Monreal.
Arsene Wenger’s half-time team talk clearly lit a fire under the Arsenal players as Aaron Ramsey scored within a minute of the restart – firing in a powerful strike off the post.
The visitors struggled to create after, however, and looked to be heading for an embarrassing replay.
But Giroud latched on to a superb Lucas Perez backheel to bundle the ball over the line and send Arsenal into the next round.
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
Preston North End: Maxwell 7, Vermijl 6, Clarke 6, Huntington 6, Cunningham 6, Gallagher 7 (Browne 60, 6), Pearson 7, Johnson 6 (Horgan 81, 5), McGeady 6, Hugill 6 (Makienok 75, 6), Robinson 7.
Subs not used: Lindegaard, Doyle, Spurr, Pringle.
Arsenal: Ospina 6, Maitland-Niles 7 (Holding 90, 5), Mustafi 7, Gabriel 6, Monreal 7, Ramsey 8, Xhaka 6, Perez 7 (Reine-Adelaide 90, 5), Iwobi 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6 (Welbeck 83, 6), Giroud 6.
Subs not used: Jenkinson, Martinez, Da Silva, Willock.
WHAT THEY SAID
Preston manager Simon Grayson: “[The late goal is] a bit of a kick in the teeth.”
“He went through a period where he was in discomfort. He kept focus, he has shown leadership and that’s why I made him captain,” Arsene Wenger on Olivier Giroud.