Stoke City Edge One Step Closer to FA Cup Dream After Beating Arsenal

3501055991 c2fab1e64d Stoke City Edge One Step Closer to FA Cup Dream After Beating Arsenal

Watching the Stoke City against Arsenal match on Sunday was a role reversal. Stereotypes aside, it was Stoke City who were playing some silky football at times, cutting down the wings and showing incredible skill while Arsenal looked tired, unimaginative and too entirely predictable.

For Stoke City supporters or anyone who has watched this team during the season, this wasn’t much of a surprise. The team has transformed itself this season thanks to the dominance by Jermaine Pennant and Jon Walters down the wings. The two, along with their colleagues, continually defended well in numbers but pushed forward pretty deep on the counter.

The secret to Stoke City’s win Sunday was that they left Arsenal to their own devices when the Gunners had the ball in their own half, spraying it around the pitch and letting Arsenal provide silky passes back and forth between their own players. But the moment Arsenal got the ball into Stoke’s half, Tony Pulis’s side pressured Arsenal on the ball, worked hard to defend as a team and employed man-to-man marking. Stoke then broke forward on the counter or whenever an opportunity presented itself. And it was no surprise when Kenwyne Jones scored Stoke City’s first goal from a corner when he ran towards the near post and scored one of the easiest goals you’ll see all season. It wasn’t a surprise because 56% of the goals scored against Arsenal this season have been from set pieces.

Under Pulis, he wanted his team to play more attractive football this season and they’ve certainly accomplished that. And they’ve done it without spending a lot of money in the transfer window. They picked up the on-again-off-again Jermaine Pennant for €3.2m from Real Zaragoza. And they got John Carew from Aston Villa on loan.

Stoke City’s win Sunday was a perfect tonic to lead them into their next match, the biggest in their club’s history. This Saturday’s FA Cup Final between Stoke and Manchester City may not be the dream final that some people wished for, but it promises to be a competitive match between two teams who are desperate for silverware. That desperation is a good thing since both clubs are not renowned for winning silverware in recent years. And it’ll mean so much to both clubs to lift the trophy at Wembley on Saturday.

Stoke’s defeat of Arsenal gives the neutral fans, such as myself, hope that the match will be a close and entertaining affair. Stoke certainly has the skill and confidence going into this match knowing that they can achieve anything. They outperformed Chelsea at Britannia Stadium and were unlucky to draw. They steamrolled past Arsenal. And this season, they beat Liverpool 2-0. They’re a tough team to beat who are going places under the tutelage of manager Tony Pulis. They’re one step away from greatness. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they will win this Saturday.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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25 Responses to Stoke City Edge One Step Closer to FA Cup Dream After Beating Arsenal

  1. JC says:

    This will be a fun match for a neutral like me because I won’t be TOO upset if either team lifts the cup. However, all things being equal, it would be more fun to see Stoke do it, since they are the underdog.

    Fascinating side story – does Mancini last into the summer if he fails to get the win? I’m guessing yes because he’s going to qualify for the CL, but I could also see him being axed if they get outplayed.

  2. jmansor says:

    As an Arsenal fan, the truth hurts. Great summary of yesterday’s game. I hope Arsene will admits his mistakes. I also have to admit I had the same thought about the FA Cup final. I was expecting Chelsea to roll over Stoke, but watching yesterday’s game it has a chance to be a good match. I wonder if Jermaine Pennant will feel the need to prove himself against Chelsea like he did against Arsenal.

  3. Guy says:

    Always for the underdog…..Go on Stoke! :-)

  4. IanCransonsKnees says:

    Copied this over from the Sunday thread as it seems more relevant here:

    Just got back from the Britannia Stadium. Chants of the day:

    1-0,2-0,3-1 To the rugby team

    You’re just a sh*t Barcalona, sh*t Barcalona

    Swing low sweet chariot (England rugby anthemn)

    I bet you saw that, I bet you saw tha-at, Arsene Wenger I bet you saw that (When a Stoke player commited a foul)

    He didn’t see that, he didn’t see tha-at, Arsene Wenger he didn’t see that
    (When an Arsenal player committed a foul)

    Stupid French tw*t, stupid French tw*-at, Arsene Wenger you stupid French tw*t (Just in general)

    Pleased with our performance, well refereed, Arsenal didn’t turn up on or off the pitch. A nice, easy warm up for next week.

    Keep an eye out for me at Wembley next week if you’re watching!

  5. Football says:

    Stoke’s good performance against Arsenal encourages all football fans to hope for a very close and entertaining FA Cup final. This final will definitely be a thrilling and maybe a high scoring affair with both teams desperate to get some silverware, like you pointed out.

  6. Dakota says:

    I think the Stoke and Utd matchup will be one of thrill. Like you said, maybe not the matchup that some were dreaming of, but both teams are going to be coming in determined to win. I think it will be a good game, well obviously because it is a FA Cup Final, but also because both of these teams are only 1 game away from winning. Stoke’s win against Arsenal was a good one too, and I definitely think they have a good chance this weekend of winning it

    • Why? says:

      ‘Utd match up’ and ‘prove himself against Chelsea’ Are Stoke playing Utd or Chelsea in the FA cup final? I’m confused lol.

  7. Evan says:

    As a City fan, I’m almost sure City will f*ck this chance up like we always do. If we lose, it’s just a continuation of the 36 year thing, if we win, well… I’ll be so happy it will be beyond words.

  8. Yespage says:

    That’s the deal with this Final. Man City has the talent to blow Stoke City off the pitch. Man City also has the ability to not bother to show up. But Man City has to win this game. But they’ve played 3 games in 7 days.

    And Stoke City has been playing well enough in the last couple of months to beat Man City straight up and Stoke has zero pressure on themselves and will have 20,000+ die hard fans blasting it out in Wembley.

    I can see Man City winning 5-0, I can see Stoke winning 3-1. I just can’t wait for this Final. The FA Cup Review Show was a tease! Go Stoke!

    • MCHobbit says:

      As a City supporter, I actually agree with your assessment – if City can find a way to convert the chances that Silva and co. are creating with Tevez out, they could easily win 5-0. But recent form for both squads also suggests that it could finish something akin to 3-1.

      Obviously I’m hoping for the earlier of the two, but it will be exciting to see nonetheless.

      However, I do wonder about the pressure quotient. Yes, I agree City has more due to the amount spent and expectations for silverware. But if their current CL position holds – or if they even wrap it up against Spurs tomorrow – they will know that this is not their last opportunity to at least be in the running. Can Stoke say the same, or will they see this as a once in a lifetime chance, with little possiblity of a return. Not that they can’t return, obviously.

  9. Why? says:

    You may find that Tevez will be playing.

  10. Dave (dlbags) says:

    Hey Gaffer how does one watch the exciting Championship playoffs the week? It’ snot on Foxsoccer.tv (even though Sky has them). This is what I’m talking about in another thread. The FA should be giving these game to people in America online to hook us on more than the EPL.

    I’m picking Reading, man they’ve had a strong push and did well in the FA cup. but for your sake I hope Swansea go up.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Dave, the playoffs will be live on Fox Soccer Plus. For those who can’t get Fox Soccer Plus, I’m hoping the games will be shown live on FoxSoccer.tv too. My guess is that they will and that the schedule on FoxSoccer.tv’s site hasn’t been updated, but let me check with Fox and I’ll get back to you.

      I too think that Reading can beat Cardiff. Swansea have a tough challenge against Forest. Should be very exciting and I highly recommend watching the playoffs!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  11. Ed says:

    How many times have we heard Wenger say: “We showed that we can fight”? now he thinks “there isn’t a lot to say” after the game against Stoke. Welll I think there is a lot to say to the fans who turn up every weekend or those who pay for cable TV and get up in the middle of the night to watch athe most frustrating team in the EPL. They have to sell Fabregas before he realizes how weak, injury-prone and inconsistent he is. Arshaving, Bendtner, Djourou, Rosicky, and Chamakh also need to go and Wenger needs to get serious about wining the title next year. No more French players, no more players who are close to retirement and no more rubbish about giving our young team another chance to learn next year. Except for Wilshere, thet haven’t learned anything and if I was Wilshere I’d bee looking to join Man U. I hate Man U but when it gets tough they get the results and don’t choke like we do. TOO ALL FANS out there; don’t go to the game against Villa this Sunday….the club needs to realize that enough is enough; one game with poor attendance won’t hurt the club and will make them re-evaluate our position.

    • Yespage says:

      Your comment is a bit off-topic. I’ll say that you are being a bit hard on Arsenal. They were a weak penalty award away from contention. I like Liverpool, but Lucas clearly dived and the only Reina deserved a point in the Arsenal v Liverpool match. That little difference probably made a huge difference in both Arsenal’s chance to contend in the end and to bother caring much on the pitch as the season is rather meaningless now.

      • Ed says:

        I know I’m off topic…..I just wanted to put it out there and I’m not being hard….just very frustrated for a third year in a row

  12. Luis says:

    As a Stoke City supporter here in the states who watches every stoke game because i had fox soccer tv or fox soccer plus available how can you say the key to Stoke is john walters on the flanks? It’s Matthew Etherington that provides the width and creativity out wide and most importantly the great crosses into the box. I do like any press that Stoke get and cant wait for Stoke to hoist the trophy
    Cheers

  13. Josh says:

    I know! Do people even know what teams they are talking about?

  14. Dave says:

    Clearly showing how Stoke are the class of the Premier League. But hey at least you aren’t rioting and assaulting fans from the other teams anymore so I guess some progress is better than none. Hope your knuckles didn’t bleed too much from the walk to your house.

  15. IanCransonsKnees says:

    Stick to the opera instead then. Such sensitive souls out there. No sense of humour some people. Especially when they’ve been d**ked by a rugby team.

  16. Dave says:

    Sure I’m sensitive but you have to use an asterisk to type here what you are chanting.

    Most of what you say is clever and I have no problem with the “French tw*t” stuff is over the line.

  17. IanCransonsKnees says:

    Hush little gooner don’t you cry
    You won’t win a thing no mattter how hard you try
    Hush little gooner don’t say a word
    You’ve slipped up in the league you’ll probably finish third
    Hush little gooner you’ve screwed it up
    You couldn’t even win the Carling cup
    Hush little gooner lifes not fair
    You haven’t got any silverware.

    Better?
    Some advice for anyone who fancies experiencing Stoke in the flesh, I’d stay away from the Britannia Stadium if you’re a bit soft.

  18. Dakota says:

    That’s how i feel about it too. Either way, either outcome, will be okay. I kinda want to see Stoke win just outta spite of ManCity, but honestly either way isn’t going to make me to upset.

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