Preston North End v Arsenal Preview

Published 06/01/17 

An increasingly patchwork Arsenal begin their FA Cup campaign at Preston North End tomorrow as they look for a third trophy in four years.

No manager has won more FA Cups than Arsene Wenger, who would overtake George Ramsey, Aston Villa’s manager between 1884 and 1926, were he to lift the trophy for a seventh time this May.

It is perhaps then no surprise that he named the FA Cup a “big priority” and he will likely name several first-team players at Deepdale despite 10 of his squad being unavailable through injury, illness or their participation in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Danny Welbeck may make his return after nine months on the sideline and Wenger will hope that he and several other top names can help the Gunners past their mid-table Championship opponents.

TEAM NEWS

Wenger has confirmed that three senior first-teamers – Laurent Koscielny, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech – will be rested for the trip to the North West whilst Mesut Ozil is unlikely to be risked even if he has recovered from his illness.

Francis Coquelin has become the latest Arsenal midfielder ruled out with injury, his absence with a hamstring injury could be four weeks. With Santi Cazorla out until around March and Mohamed Elneny at the Africa Cup of Nations Wenger may have no choice but to field one or both of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey in central midfield.

Welbeck looks set to return to the substitutes bench as his recovery from a knee injury sustained in May is fast-tracked.

Preston will also be without a key player, striker Jermaine Beckford is suspended for kicking an opponent, but the manager has vowed to name a strong side.

POSSIBLE LINE-UPS

Preston: Lindegaard; Baptiste, Clarke, Wright, Cunningham; Gallagher, Pearson, Johnson, McGeady; Makienok, Hugill

Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Gabriel, Holding, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide; Giroud

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