Exclusive Chris Maxwell PNE column

'The Arsenal game will be an exciting one for me'

'The Arsenal game will be an exciting one for me'

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This is the first time that I will have played in the third round of the FA Cup and to be facing Arsenal at Deepdale is some introduction.

Previously, I had been at clubs who came in at the 
first-round stage and they never got as far as this.

It is pretty exciting to be playing against a club of the size and stature, it is a 
chance for us to prove ourselves.

I watched Arsenal’s game against Bournemouth during the week and they showed two sides to them – a few frailties at the back but excellent when they went forward.

When they made it 3-3 at Bournemouth, I actually thought they would go on to win it.

No doubt Arsenal will rest a few players but whatever team they put out will be a strong one.

When a club finishes in the top four of the Premier League every season and competes in the Champions League, it will have strength in depth.

Take one player out of the team and there will be another quality player to replace him.

When teams are fighting for trophies on several fronts, that is the strength needed.

The pressure will all be on Arsenal to beat us and we will be doing our utmost to cause a shock result.

We can be physical as a team which could well help 
us – and we have home advantage.

If we stick with our game-plan and shape, we will ask plenty of questions of them.

When you play a team in any competition at any level, you often have a look at who is playing in your position for them.

The two senior Arsenal goalkeepers are Petr Cech and David Ospina.

It looks like Opsina will play against us and he tends to play a lot of the cup games, even the Champions League.

He is a very good keeper, a Colombia international who has played at the World Cup – not a bad pedigree for a second-choice keeper.

As for Cech, he has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world for the last 10 or 15 years.

He is certainly a keeper who I look up to and what he has done commands a lot of respect.

I do think home advantage will be very important for this game.

There have been some 
big crowds at Deepdale in the last few months and it 
is such a great stadium to 
play in when it is nearing capacity.

After the result against Leeds on Boxing Day, we owe our fans a good performance.

We played very well in the Sheffield Wednesday game which followed but they got the late equaliser which was harsh on us.

So if we can put in a really good display against Arsenal and work hard, who knows what we can achieve.

The manager has said this week that there is always a shock at this stage of the FA Cup, so let’s try to make sure it is us causing the upset.

We go into the game on the back of our first clean sheet for quite a while.

Against Burton Albion on Monday afternoon, we were very solid as a team and stopped them having even one shot on target.

That was the first clean sheet since the 0-0 draw with Wolves in November, so it was long overdue.

As a keeper, I pride myself on clean sheets and I’m judged on them at the end of the day.

We had deserved a couple of clean sheets as a team in the meantime, with the luck not having been with us at times.

After the Sheffield Wednesday game, when they scored with the last kick of the game, I tweeted that we had been unlucky. We had defended really well against the Owls, their goal came with their only shot on target after we could not quite get the ball clear.

There was the one against Nottingham Forest last month when the shot hit the post, bounced out and struck me on the back of the leg. When it comes to clean sheets and defending, we take the plaudits as a team and any criticism as a team.

We work very hard as a team to be solid from front to back, put in a lot of effort. A big thing here is the unity in the squad and the way that players can come back into the team and settle straight in.

Look at Paul Huntington for example. He was not in the team for quite a while but came back in at Bristol City and has done very well. Hunts and Bailey Wright were very strong as a pair in the win at Burton.

It shows that the work done in training is paying off, that we are listening to what the coaching staff are telling us.