Rugby player Tom Carus suffered catastrophic injuries in a school match in September and would have died on the pitch but for the heroics of an A&E medic in the crowd.
When Wenger and star striker Alexis Sanchez heard the 16-year-old from Leyland was an avid Gunners fan, they both sent touching “get well” messages to help his brave fightback from brain and open heart surgery.
Today Tom will be in a VIP seat at Deepdale to watch the FA Cup tie between Preston and Arsenal – just feet from the away dugout.
“I’m so excited to be able to sit in the best seats in the house and watch my favourite team, Arsenal,” he said.
“I really hope I get to meet some of the players and maybe even Alexis Sanchez and Arsene Wenger.
“I would love to thank them in person for their messages of support.”
While Chilean frontman Sanchez might not be in the squad at Deepdale, Tom and his dad will be sitting in two Virgin Trains First Class seats at pitchside within earshot of managers Wenger and Simon Grayson.
Preston’s travel sponsors have offered the seats after hearing Tom’s incredible story.
And North End have given the schoolboy and his family tickets for a hospitality lounge for the sell-out cup-tie.
Tom, who is a pupil at Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley, was badly hurt in a tackle while playing for his school team in Sheffield in September.
Spectator Bob Coupe, who works in a hospital A&E department, reacted with lightning speed and performed emergency surgery on the pitch using a kitchen knife. His speedy actions saved Tom’s life.
“Tom nearly died on the pitch,” said mum Sarah. “His heartbeat had dropped to 10 beats a minute.
“He was tackled and in a freak accident he dislocated his shoulder, but it ripped off his innominate artery. The injury is extremely rare and it was a miracle Bob was watching another match on the next pitch.
“Bob was so selfless and brave and we will be grateful to him for the rest of our lives.
“Tom’s had some incredibly tough times. He’s undergone open heart surgery, brain surgery, been in an induced coma, developed pnuemonia and become frighteningly weak after a long time in intensive care.
“He has had to deal with having to learn to walk again, struggling with his speech, swallowing, extreme fatigue and weakness to his left side.
“But he never complains and his determination and positive attitude have been inspirational. His recovery has astonished everyone.”
Striker Sanchez sent Tom a video message wishing him well, while manager Wenger wrote him a personal lettter.
He is now back at Stonyhurst, although he will never play rugby again.
PNE’s finance director Kevin Abbott commented: “When we heard about Tom’s ordeal we wanted to congatulate him on his bravery and his battle to make a full recovery.
“When we also found out he was an Arsenal fan we had no hesitation in putting him forward to Virgin Trains as a contender to use their First Class seats for our FA Cup fixture.
“Tom’s story is an inspiration to everyone and we hope that he enjoys his day with us.”