Arsenal and Preston North End have faced each other a total of 79 times in our history.
Out of those, Preston have won 26, while Arsenal have won 34 times (19 draws).
During our first meeting, all the way back in 1901, Preston beat the Gunners 2-0 in League Division Two. The following game, we draw 0-0 and the next 2-2 before Arsenal finally managed a victory in 1903. 3-1.
Preston’s more ‘recent’ history against Arsenal isn’t quite as flattering.
We haven’t actually faced each other since 1999 when we beat them at Highbury in the League Cup 2-1. We also beat them the same year, 2-4, in the FA Cup.
Before this, however, there’s a massive gap between 1960 and 1999. That’s right, we didn’t face each other for 39 years. Mainly because in 1961, Preston lost their best player, Sir Tom Finney, and were relegated to the Second Division while Arsenal remained in the first. Therefore, they were no longer facing each other twice a season.
Finney still is the club’s leading goalscorer with 187 goals from 433 appearances. No wonder they struggled once he left.
Since they were relegated, the Lilywhites have never been promoted back the First Division, now known as the Premier League.
Arsenal’s biggest win over Preston was back in the 1934/35 season when we won 5-3, while there’s was 4-1 in 1910/11.
What’s slightly worrying is that Preston also have pretty good home form against the Gunners, winning 18 games to our 12 on their turf (7 draws).
Saying this, this FA Cup tie is one of those fixtures where form really does go out the window.
First of all, it’s a cup game, so any team can beat any other. The magic of the FA Cup and all that. Plus, they’re only 11th in the Championship, it’s not as if they’re a Sunday League club (no disrespect).
Also, the stats taken, apart from the latter two games in the 1990s, might as well not exist considering you shouldn’t really take into account stats from half a century ago. We have different managers, team and styles of football.
This season, Preston have won seven games out of 25 at Deepdale, their home ground. In fact, they’ve had a pretty terrible time on their turf, even losing 4-1 at home to Leeds in December.
They’ve had some pretty poor results on the road, including a 6-0 EFL Cup thumping to former Premiership club Newcastle recently. However, they’re in 11th place in the Championship so they’re hardly struggling.
Arsenal haven’t been that fantastic… anywhere this season. Although we usually play well on the road for whatever reason, we’ve recently lost to Everton and Manchester City, and we drew with Bournemouth during our last game after going 3-0 down.
As is the norm for cup games, I’d expect Preston to come at us. Hopefully, we perform better than we did in the EFL Cup when we lost 2-0 at home to Southampton.
On paper, Arsenal should win comfortably but I’m never sure these days. All we can do is hope that whoever Arsene Wenger puts out is up for it and possibly ready to get kicked about a bit.