Arsene Wenger praises Olivier Giroud's leadership skills after FA Cup win

Olivier Giroud was named captain for the game by manager Arsene Wenger
Image: Olivier Giroud was named captain for the game by manager Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger hailed Olivier Giroud's leadership qualities after his captain for the night snatched a late FA Cup winner for Arsenal at Preston.

Giroud scored his fourth goal in four games since returning to the starting line-up, sinking the impressive Sky Bet Championship side with a deflected 89th-minute effort in the third-round tie at Deepdale.

The striker has spent most of the season so far on the bench, but since scoring a late winner against West Brom on Boxing Day he has hit a goal of the season contender against Crystal Palace and a vital equaliser at Bournemouth.

PRESTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07:  Olivier Giroud of Arsenal (L) shoots past Chris Maxwell of Preston North End to score their second goal during the Emirates
Image: Olivier Giroud scored in the 89th-minute for Arsenal against Preston

Wenger is pleased with how his fellow Frenchman has responded to being left out for a prolonged spell and was happy to hand him the captain's armband as one of the senior figures.

"He has scored many goals recently. Everybody contributes and he's in good form at the moment. It's been goal after goal," Wenger said.

"I like to rotate the captaincy. He went through a period of discomfort when he didn't play and that was quite long but he kept his focus and worked. He's shown leadership qualities and that's why he was captain."

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud (R) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the winner against Preston in the FA Cup third round
Image: Olivier Giroud celebrates his winning goal

Wenger admitted he was not happy with the performance of his players in the first half.

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Preston ran their illustrious visitors ragged for 30 minutes and were unlucky not to lead by more than Callum Robinson's early strike after creating a host of chances.

It was not until the second half Arsenal looked like the Premier League side. They equalised with a fine goal from Aaron Ramsey soon after the restart and played with more intent before their extra quality told late on.

Asked if he was angry, Wenger said: "Yes, at half-time. We are at the top level in the Premier League and we were dominated.

"Preston had chances and we were just not at the pace the game demanded. Preston were organised and were quick in the transition. We were in trouble every time.

"They played in a very intelligent way. They are a good side, I was really impressed."

Callum Robinson of Preston celebrates scoring the opening goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup third round at Deepdale
Image: Callum Robinson opened the scoring for Preston at Deepdale

Preston manager Simon Grayson felt the least his side deserved was a replay.

Grayson said: "It was difficult to speak to the players after the game and know what to say.

"I am extremely proud of the way we played, we made a very strong team look ordinary in the first half.

"We wanted to try to win a match, or at least draw, and we are disappointed we conceded so late.

"It wasn't what we deserved. Nobody would have begrudged us if we'd won or drawn because the performance in the first half was as good as I've seen since I've been here."

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