Greg Cunningham: exclusive PNE column

The FA Cup draw came through when we were all at Deepdale for the Christmas Carol Concert on Monday evening.

Thursday, 8th December 2016, 4:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:31 pm
Greg Cunningham in action against Sheffield Wednesday

When we found out that we had come out of the hat against Arsenal, our singing suddenly improved!

A few of the lads had their phones out when the draw was happening to get the updates and the mood was brilliant.

Make no bones about it, what a cracking tie it is for us and to be at home makes it even sweeter.

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There will be a full house against a top Premier League side.

It is a great marker to see where we are at and we will give it everything, as we do in every game.

Arsenal might make some changes but with the calibre of their squad, whoever comes in will be quality players.

The strength and depth of their squad is everything you would expect from a leading Premier League side.

We have to make Deepdale a tough place to come when Arsenal come, make things as difficult as possible.

Before we play Arsenal, there are six Championship games and that is where the focus is until January.

As a squad, we will keep our professional heads to make sure we pick up as many points as possible in that period.

But it is only natural that we will have a little think about Arsenal every now and then and relish the prospect.

It would be great to have plenty of momentum from our league form going into the cup.

This is the biggest FA Cup game that I will have been involved in during my career.

Last season we got beat by Peterborough in the third round, what a difference this time.

In our defeat to Sheffield Wednesday last week, there was of course the incident at the end involving Jermaine Beckford and Eoin Doyle. It wasn’t good, there is no hiding away from that.

They are two passionate players and were trying to do well for the team.

We were trying to get back into the game and things went the way they did.

It has been addressed in-house, the gaffer has dealt with it and the players have dealt withit as a group in the dressing room.

As far as we are concerned, it is all put to bed now and it will not happen again.

It is not a case of sweeping it under the carpet, forgetting it ever happened – it has been dealt with and lessons learned.

We have responded well to defeats this season and after losing to Sheffield Wednesday, we will be looking to return to winning ways.

There will be no better way to do that then in a local derby game against Blackburn live on the television.

We have prepared well for it in training during the week and it is up to us to take that preparation into the game.

That defeat aside, our form has been good over the last few months.

We were probably a bit more disappointed to lose last week as it came on the back of a two home draws.

So it does add something extra to Saturday’s game.

When you look at our form overall though, it is very good.

Every point in this division is hard-earned and until last week, the only side to have beaten us for a couple of months was Newcastle.

During that run, we had the win at Norwich, home wins over Huddersfield and Aston Villa, the draw at Brighton.

After the last three results though, we know that we need to get more wins on the board.

Earlier I mentioned the Carol concert at Deepdale and it was a nice occasion.

Paul Gallagher is the best singer in the squad, he’s got a decent voice to be fair.

The rest of us have voices like crows so our singing is not the best.

Having to sing a song in front of your team-mates seems to be a tradition when you join a new club.

To stand up as the new boy in front of players and staff when you’ve just joined a club and don’t really know anyone, is nerve-wracking.

My initiation song came when we were in Scotland a couple of summers ago.

I sang ‘Fields of Athenry’ which is a traditional Irish song and doesn’t need much of a voice.

It was a case of belting it out then sitting back down and getting on with my dinner with a big feeling of relief.

I’ve seen lads crumble when it comes to singing a song.

So perhaps if anyone wants to become a footballer, it is best to have singing lessons!