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Can Stoke's wingers unlock City defence?

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 18:22 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

Before the FA Cup semi-final against Bolton former Trotters boss Sam Allardyce insisted that Stoke were an exciting team based on the number of times they deliver the ball into the box.

It is an interesting way to describe a style which has had its critics but has also been very effective, and Allardyce seemed justified in his assessment after that Wembley tie given Stoke's commanding display - they hammered Bolton 5-0.

True, Owen Coyle's side were not at their best that day but Stoke manager Tony Pulis will be aiming to make a similar impression against Manchester City on Saturday in the Potters' first FA Cup final.

City will provide a tougher test - they showed their strengths to come through their last-four tie against Manchester United in what is becoming a trademark scoreline of 1-0.

And it may offer a different problem for Pulis after City edged their semi-final with pressing tactics that the Stoke boss would have been proud of.


Stoke score a higher percentage of their goals through set-pieces but have only scored three more via this route than Manchester City

"It's unfair to call Stoke a long-ball team," says former Newcastle striker and Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer. "They play to their strengths and they give any team problems with them.

"Yes they have a long throw, yes they are very good at set-pieces but why shouldn't they use that to their advantage?"

BBC Radio Stoke commentator Nigel Johnson, who has been reporting on the Potters for 43 years, endorses that view.

While he believes the current team may offer a different style from the days of their late manager Tony Waddington in the 1970s, he would still pay to watch Pulis's side if he wasn't working at the game.

"There is not a player who runs out with that red and white shirt on who will not give you 100% commitment," he says. "They earn their money.

"There are many teams where you could say that the players are taking their money under false pretences. You can't say that about Stoke. They are a totally switched on outfit who are very well motivated by their manager.

"They will pressurise Manchester City from the start, and if City get frustrated Stoke might benefit and come out on top."

As Stoke showed in the FA Cup semi-final and in the 3-1 win over Arsenal last Sunday they will not only aim to annoy their opponents.

The form which has taken them to the Wembley final, a place in Europe next season and eighth in the Premier League has been down to two in-form wingers who have provided the team with an attacking threat down either flank.

It says much about the displays of left-winger Matthew Etherington that some regard his inclusion on Saturday as crucial to Stoke's hopes as he battles back from a hamstring injury.

But even in his absence over recent weeks, right-midfielder Jermaine Pennant has proven that he can make an impact too, setting up one goal and scoring another during the victory over the Gunners at the Britannia Stadium.

"Stoke have two very good footballers in Etherington and Pennant and if they are given time and space they will run at defenders and get balls into the box where Kenwyne Jones will be waiting," Shearer states.

"For a striker, when you have two out-and-out wingers who like running at defenders, who like stretching teams and getting balls into the box, it makes for a system that all forwards like to play with."

Pennant demonstrated his ability to run with the ball in the Bolton semi-final, covering half the length of the field before setting up Jones for the third goal.

The Trinidadian striker has scored five goals in his last six matches and, alongside Jonathan Walters, will be aiming to break down a miserly City defence which has conceded only 33 goals in 36 Premier League games this season.

Two of those came at Everton last weekend where Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman both scored with headers in the 2-1 victory.

Pulis was at that game and would have watched with interest when constructing his game plan for Saturday.

During the first half City were able to dominate possession and took a deserved lead through Yaya Toure, but in the second period Everton pressed the ball with added vigour and delivered it into the box more quickly.

That will be music to the ears of Jones who, with Everton's Tim Cahill, has scored the most number of headed goals in the Premier League this season (6). The 26-year-old also tops the list for headers on goal with 39 attempts, and the number of headers on target with 16.

The job of stopping the Stoke forward will go to one of City's most consistent performers this season - centre-back Vincent Kompany.


Vincent Kompany tops the list of the Premier League's most successful tacklers

The Belgian defender was named in the Professional Footballers' Association team of the year and has been the unsung hero of Mancini's defence this season.

With the Goodison Park lessons in mind and with Kompany flanked by Joleon Lescott and full-backs Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta, City should be able to handle themselves against any aerial barrage from Stoke.

But the threat will still remain at set-pieces, where Stoke have scored 44% of their Premier League goals this season, the highest percentage in the league.
That is why the return of the injured Robert Huth is crucial to Stoke's hopes.

"Not many teams are as big as Stoke, but City are one of them," adds Shearer. "They have players who can head the ball and attack it, and that will take the pressure off at times so I think it will be a fascinating contest.

"I don't think Stoke will change their game at all. They will play to their strengths and so they should - that is what got them there in the first place."

For those who still quibble about Stoke's methods, one final point - come Saturday Manchester City could field a starting XI worth £140m, whereas Stoke's cost a mere £26m, which is the approximate cost of Carlos Tevez.

You can also discuss more tactical issues and suggest future ideas on Twitter

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    I do agree with Shearer's comments above. I do think Stoke candefy the odds and win on Sat because they will no doubt be looking to get down the flanks with Pennant/Etherington.

    Even if Etherington is out, Johnny Walters will probably deputise and he can really put his head down and run with the ball powerfully. Stoke can really cause City and Kolarov/Lescott and Zabaleta a lot of problems down the flanks but the question will be all about the quality of the final ball.

    Put the right ball in and KW Jones/Carew (might be cup tied?)/Walters will be noddin' em in all day long, doesn't matter who your defence is.

    I'm a die hard United fan, and I remember the game when we went to Stoke in October or something. They just pepper you with balls into the box and Vidic was immense that day otherwise we would have been comfortably beaten. I just seem to remember that even though we would scramble it away for a throw, they would just stick it straight back in with Delap, and then a corner, and then a free kick...

    City will need to be on the top of their game and Mancini needs to leave out the likes of Silva and Balotelli who will just get absoloutely crunched by the majority of the Stoke team.

    Although Stoke are underdogs, they are only 4 places behind City in the league and perhaps they might be 'a long ball side' but they will need to pump that ball down the flanks/into the box as much as they can, cos they are a threat everywhere.

    Also, I feel Tony Pulis should be in the market for a really good set piece taker, a Nakamura or Matty Taylor or someone because I feel that they don't profit enough from indirect free kicks/corners consistently, but they do from long throws and Higginbotham can really hit a free kick.

    Come on the potters, keep City tropyless!

  • Comment number 2.

    1. At 20:48pm 12th May 2011, siralexferguson wrote:

    City will need to be on the top of their game and Mancini needs to leave out the likes of Silva and Balotelli who will just get absoloutely crunched by the majority of the Stoke team.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Leave out Silva??

    Silva is CITY's player of the year, he dictates the pace of a game, like a conducter and his orchestra.

    Keep possession, be patient and take your opportunities. That's how you beat Stoke. Don't get dragged into their game, play to your own strengths.

  • Comment number 3.

    Typical Red Rag posting by siralexferguson (still raw about the semi-final defeat are we?) I laugh at the way he waxes lyrical about Stoke's strengths, which we are all well aware of by the way, whilst ignoring the considerable strengths of City. Leave out Silva he says! Are you having a laugh mate, Silva has 'bossed' more games this season than Stoke have won, so I think you are way off the mark with that one. Stoke are a decent side & will be no pushovers but I feel that if City can play their possession game, then Stoke will struggle to impose themselves as it's hard to play when you don't have the ball! The likes of Kompany, Lescott & Rich

  • Comment number 4.

    Typical Red Rag posting by siralexferguson (still raw about the semi-final defeat are we?) I laugh at the way he waxes lyrical about Stoke's strengths, which we are all well aware of by the way, whilst ignoring the considerable strengths of City. Leave out Silva he says! Are you having a laugh mate, Silva has 'bossed' more games this season than Stoke have won, so I think you are way off the mark with that one. Stoke are a decent side & will be no pushovers but I feel that if City can play their possession game, then Stoke will struggle to impose themselves as it's hard to play when you don't have the ball! The likes of Kompany, Lescott & Richards will deal with Stoke's aerial threat comfortably, leaving Johnson, Tevez, Dzeko, Silva & Yaya to win the game for City. Stoke will struggle if City are on song but will be competitive to the very end. It's a good time to be a City fan, with only more success to look forward to. Enjoy your title celebration this summer & savour the memory as it will be a long time before you have another!! THE BLUE MOON IS RISING!!!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    For us to win the final we simply have to perform to our potential. We are a better team than Stoke. Anything less than 100% commitment and Stoke will win. If we get to the 75 min mark at 0-0 our exertions over Spurs may come into play, but if we are ahead 1-0, fear the worst my little pottery making friends.
    It's a very strange sensation knowing that the entire country wants a Stoke win but we may as well get used to it because it's not going to go away for the next decade.
    COME ON YOU SKY BLUES.

  • Comment number 6.

    @ Scottclarke 4

    Oh you've gone and spoilt the match now, what did you do played the game on Fifa. Word of advice set the difficulty to at least World class then Stoke might have given you a harder game.

    So the Blue moon is actually rising now is it? (yawn). Remember the only thing you have done this year is secure Stoke a place in the Europa League. You have not as yet secured a place in the Champions League, only the right to play in the final qualifying round and reach the Final of the FA Cup, something Portsmouth have managed twice recently. (Even Cardiff managed that astounding feat).

    Indeed the only team that has the right to celebrate anything so far this year is Birmingham City, and despite this they have been far less giddy than your lot.

    No not bitter about the cup semi, these things happen. I will however be laughing aloud if city do manage to become the first ever team in the history of football to lift a trophy on Saturday, because I really want to see this blue moon you keep talking about.

  • Comment number 7.

    City should be able to deal with Stoke's crossing and set piece accuracy as they have a relatively tall team. However, it all depends who scores first as Man City are probably the worst team at coming back from a goal down. Especially without Tevez as neither Ballotelli or Dzeko is committed enough to inspire from the front. Hopefully Stoke do score first and second and third to reward their hard work and admirable club structure.

  • Comment number 8.

    I hope Stoke city will drub man city and make them trophyless!

  • Comment number 9.

    After reading post #1, Man City might as well not turn up! This might be the 3rd Final blog in the last 24 hours, and I don't think I've seen one mention why City are above Stoke. You'd swear it was the other way round. And with so much infestation, I keep needing to look at the OPs to make sure they aren't Man Utd blogs. Why would you be so passionate about an event that has nothing to do with you? Is it so unbearable to not be the centre of attention and not be talked about?

  • Comment number 10.

    What an enlightening piece. Stoke will rely on their aerial strength, long balls, long throw-ins, wing play and set pieces. Wow. When will the BBC replace Shearer?

    Predictions for next year:

    Stoke to go out in the qualifying rounds of the Europa, and City to disappear in the group stages or last-16 (if they fluke it through the group stage). Cannot see Mancini doing anything any other manager with a budget equivalent to the GDP of three small countries couldn't do. He'll go at the end of next season when no further progress is achieved despite spending more than the Euro millions jackpot on players (speaking of which, I'm off to buy a ticket!).

  • Comment number 11.

    As a city fan I obviously want us to win; however whatever the result it will be great for English football to have a new winner. No one cares if Man U or Chelsea win it (except for their followers) and rightly so....it's become boring!

    City have more quality undoubtedly, however my biggest fear is stoke's desire and work rate....they really will want this! We are going to have to be on top of our game

    Oh and @2 ... Leave out Silva? have you actually watched any football this season? muppet!

  • Comment number 12.

    Simply cant understand why these blogs are full of hateful man u fans...if you dont like us go away... it's not like you have any reason to be here as you were knocked out in the last round remember? noisy neighbours? Wembley? Poznan? Rio getting the hump?

  • Comment number 13.

    #4. You mean Richards, Lescott and Kompany will handle Stoke's aerial threat like they did against Everton last weekend. I love the way they stopped 5ft 7in (or whatever) Leon Osman jumping like a salmon on Saturday.

    The arrogance of Man City fans is unbelievable. Blue Moon rising just because you're in the FA Cup Final, well, Millwall, Southampton, Cardiff, Brighton, Sunderland, Middlesboro, Coventry, QPR, Watford have all been there since you last were there. And congrats for spending £300m and achieving what Everton did 6 years ago with Kevin Kilbane and Marcus Bent in the team.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm really looking forward to the cup final and am impressed with the way Stoke play. You can't finish mid-table in the premier league if you are a long ball team, those days are over and I think Stoke have a lot more to offer than that.

    As for Manchester City they will have to up their game if they want to beat a determined Stoke and improve on recent performances, especially the stuttering win against Spurs.

    If they think that Stoke will be easier opposition than Spurs then they will get a shock, because Stoke will want to win this game just as much as City do.

    http://www.keelbyunited.co.uk

  • Comment number 16.

    United fan in peace...

    Really looking forward to this game, brush aside the idiotic tribalism and some good points have been made. I think @swindonbluearmy has nailed it on the head when talks about 'work rate'. This is no time for City's moneyed darlings to be petulant. A bunch of them will have medals from other competitions already, will it mean less to them than to Stoke's players? Does it mean as much to them as it does to the fans? Perhaps, perhaps not. David Silva cannot be left out. Quite frankly, I'm incredibly envious of the little Spaniard. He could have been a sublime replacement for Giggs when the welsh wizard retires, and he's often singlehandedly won City's games. If they had a metronomic striker with some experience and poaching ability, they really could have pushed for 3rd. Players need to be bought with a gameplan in mind (this is why Torres isn't working for Chelsea), and Balotelli and Dzeko, whilst good players, aren't necessarily City players.

    I'm excited for Stoke and I agree with the assessment that they're vastly underrated, the pressure is constantly there. They play a percentage game - pump enough balls into the box and one is bound to go in - but only because their cohesion and ability allow them to do so.

  • Comment number 17.

    DAWLEYLAD @15......, Watford finished second in 84 playing long ball. And recently Liverpool were mostly long ball with Benitez and Crouch and they were constant top 4;

    The point is it can be effective, especially if you have big physical lads like Stoke do. I'm impressed with Pulis but are u really "impressed with the way they play?"

    It's Nat Lofthouse stuff, stick it on the keeper. They win by battering teams and hey good luck to em, but its like hardly Barcelona or Swansea City Athletic Football Club is it now?

    Da KROOSHALL ting is tho, Citeh have the biggest physical presence in EPL, Kompany, Yaya, Viera, etc PLUS they have a top GK, 25 strikers and a far far better bench which often counts at Wembly.

    So much as I'd like the Potters to lift old big ears.........Its not gonna happen, soz.

    Mind you, the boy Pennant has a bit of history at the cup final does he not, the lads never played better

    Put a gap in em Jermaine! pin yer ears back son.


    Also, does Kompany give anyone else the willies? I just don't like him


    And while I'm here, FUZZFACTORY; idiotic tribalism is what seperates the Football from, errr the Marathon or the swimming for example.

    Back me up boys, who's up for some idiotic tribalism?

    its the CUP FINAL dude

    I've wrote all this but its just gonna get modded, darn

  • Comment number 18.

    "come Saturday Manchester City could field a starting XI worth £140m, whereas Stoke's cost a mere £26m, which is the approximate cost of Carlos Tevez."

    I do wish people would stop dragging this same issue up. Rooney, Berbatov and Ferdinand cost £90m between them but you don't see articles highlighting the fact that United are fielding a team worth > £100m.

    Clichéd though it is, come Saturday it's going to be 11 vs 11 - Stoke have already proven that they can beat top sides this season and can win with aplomb (case-in-point the semi-final against Bolton), and it's going to be up to City to make sure that doesn't happen tomorrow.

  • Comment number 19.

    @jonahmona: I'm all for tribalism, the Red Devil in me would love to see City get stuffed by Stoke, just off topic is all. I just hate it when other teams fans come onto MU threads just to say 'MU suck'. When a forum discussion degenerates into handbag scrapping and point scoring, it ticks me off is all.

    I'm gonna agree with you about Kompany, though. He has the eyes of a hitman.

  • Comment number 20.

    Tomorrow, no matter how we view it, it's about the Goliath with stars in the team, against the David with teamwork canceling the omission of stars.

    If Huth and Etherington are missing, it is going to hurt Stoke City's cause - this is the F.A. Final and they don't reach it every other season. They're both scorers, plus Huth is an excellent defender, while Etherington is tha major creator in Stoke's game.

    You know more or less what to expect from City: David Silva will impress and provide for an excellent spectacle. Tevez will play, if not starting, surely as a substitute and Tevez always gives his all. If there is a question on Manchester City, it is whether they sustain their performance for the duration of the match or have an lapses of concentration.

    Goliath v David F.A. Cup Finals are always a joy to watch. And these two teams are closer than what the cliche suggests. It's going to be mouthwatering. And it's going to have the tears for the romantics too. Looking forward to Saturday 14:30 pm!

  • Comment number 21.

    @18: Better case in point, Stoke's 3-1 win over Arsenal, who as we all know are above Man City in the league, for all their own problems. But that win proves that Stoke are perfectly capable of playing their own way and beating the big names. I'm very much looking forward to this game, I think it'll be a classic clash of big spending against team cohesion, and just maybe Man City will learn something from Stoke.

  • Comment number 22.

    @14. At 08:50am 13th May 2011, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    "and if you dont like City write your tripe else where"


    Says the boy who flooded the blog on United beating Chelsea on Sunday full of cocky comments and jibes!

    The word 'Hypocrite' springs to mind!!

  • Comment number 23.

    are people actually seriouis when they say that this club should win the FA Cup?

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Robert-Huth-handed-three-match-ban-for-punching-Matthew-Upson-article197479.html

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    how about this

    http://www.theoffside.com/world-football/ricardo-fuller-sent-off-for-slapping-his-teammate.html

    im ashamed to have stoke in England let alone in the premeir league. i hope no other country is watching on saturday. they would laugh at this once great country.

    Come on city!

  • Comment number 26.

    @23,24 AND 25!

    Because Man City are never splashed over the back pages full of training ground bust ups are they?!?! ... Plank!

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wal_sol - give up mate, you don't have the intellectual ability to comment on these blogs.
    You sound like you go all your knowledge of football from Tim Lovejoy's book and think football started in 92/93.

  • Comment number 29.

  • Comment number 30.

    28 - nice comeback,
    'You sound like you go all your knowledge of footbal'.
    very nice english too. how is year 7 treating you?

  • Comment number 31.

    This game will be a cracker with 2 diiferent styles being played and really going at each other from the off...and just look how the FA have mucked it up!
    I fully understand the 2 week rule that UEFA imposed on Wembley but the FA Cup should be a end of season show piece. Why did the FA not have all prem games being played on a Sunday? Stupid, stupid FA muck up again.

  • Comment number 32.

    Good luck Stoke !!

    Yup, on paper Man City should win this, but we all know that football is played on grass, not paper.

    I will be supporting the "underdogs".

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    27 - You for real pal? So u condemn Stoke players breaking opponents legs yet u hope 2 of there players are injured for life?! .. What a tool! ... I'm sure you've been in the dressing room to witness that! Do you know where Stoke is? .. What's the Chairman got to do with this? Least he never splashed 24mill on Mr Milner! .. Great buy! I'm not a Stoke fan! And City certainly won't 'wipe the floor' ..

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    WAL_SOL, steady on there dobin, its a mans game y'know, The great thing about football is that not every team tries to play like the Dutch in 1974.

    Pullis has found a formula to keep Stoke up, it aint pretty, but its good fun to watch them stick it up the gunners twice a year, and listen to Wenger afterwards.

    Thugs? perhaps.

    Bunch of animals? hystrionic.

    and Stop posting links - make your OWN points my friend

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    The entertainer is here? :)

  • Comment number 40.

    Given the choice of Man City (a team that are buying success but play football) and Stoke (a team that just destroy the game) I'd have to say I'd prefer a City win. It's unfortunate that the New Wembley pitch is no bigger than most PL club pitches, so Delap should still be able to unduly influence the game. Hopefully there will be no towels so that we don't have to spend half an hour watching him dry a football like most Stoke games.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think to say the BNP have a 'huge presence' in Stoke is over-egging it quite a bit - witness the fact that they were thrown out at the last election Besides, what does it have with to do with football? I've been to the Britannia many times and never heard any racist songs ( heard the odd 'No Surrender' a few times) or seen any support for any far-right group, explicit or otherwise.

    To try to link the club and supporters to the BNP is disingenuous at best (as is labeling the chairman, who has done so much for the local area, as an old fool and wishing that injured players have their careers ended).

    Re the alleged headbutt, does anyone really know what happened in this incident? I don't think Beattie's thoughts on the matter are to be trusted to be honest.

  • Comment number 42.

    40 - i often wondered how the FA let him do that. then wenger said they were a rugby team and there was the answer.

  • Comment number 43.

    @40 'destroy the game'?? Let me guess, Stoke are the reason why the England team are unsuccessful too?

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 40, SeeDubya,

    1. Man City have also some players they didn't break the bank for and they're quite good actually. In the past, when they were a feeding club, nobody was feeling sorry for them. Why not shut up now?

    2. When a team takes dangerous for the opposition fouls, nobody mentions added time for the foul to be taken. When Rory Delap takes a throw, everyone looks at their watch, if they don't have a long throw specialist in their team. Moaning is free but adds credit to that nickname "bad losers".

  • Comment number 45.

    41 - so Beattie cant be trusted but anyone currently associated with Stoke can? why? oh its because youre a Stoke fan, makes sense.

  • Comment number 46.

    Wal_sol - no, you're missing the point. I'm saying I don't know what went on in that dressing room but I know what was reported as having happened. Beattie left the club shortly afterwards under a bit of a cloud so maybe this makes him an unreliable person possibly?

  • Comment number 47.

    42. At 11:52am 13th May 2011, wal_sol wrote:
    40 - i often wondered how the FA let him do that. then wenger said they were a rugby team and there was the answer
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    isn't drying the ball an un-sporting interference? Surely the ball should be played in whatever conditions is on the field? The ball drying is cheating if you ask me. Yet again, another FA error!

  • Comment number 48.

    It's a very interesting table about the percentage of goals scored from set pieces. The 'big' clubs are well down on the list, which could show a couple of things: 1) as Alan Shearer says the smaller clubs have to play to their strengths and take their opportunities wherever they can get them 2) the bigger teams are overly reliant on scoring from open play. If the bigger teams did practice their set pieces more (every goal can make a huge difference) the teams could become even more lethal than they already are. I don't imagine that there is such a big variation in terms of the number of set pieces awarded to teams after all.

    And to #37. wal_sol - No. Just no.

  • Comment number 49.


    What's the alternative for a club like Stoke? bankrupt themselves and get relegated by spending a fortune on dross who are only interested in their next signing on fee? Managers are paid for success with the resources at their disposal, this would make Pulis a better manager than most in the premier league.

    It takes all sorts, if everyone in the league played like City would it be a better league?

    For all the talk of training ground / dressing room bustups, am not saying it's right (it's not) but City fans can hardly talk, anyone remember Mr Barton? also for United fans, anyone remember Beckhams eyebrow? this from the most successful manager in the country.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Lot of nonsense being talked about Stoke on here. Man up.

    Look I love watching Messi, but Edmundo could get me off my seat too. Vive la difference'

    Citeh should really be winning EVERYTHING for the money they've spent. Far more than Chelski ever did.

    What did they get for the half a billion? they finished above Spurs.....well done.

    Mancini is often embarassing and has underachieved IMO. He brings nada to the EPL. Classy player tho.

    And Citeh are hardly angels are they?

    Yaya Toure is amazing but Viera? Micah Richards? both every bit as willing to play the kicker as much as Etherington etc

    and Kompany was a disgrace v Everton, should have gone for the very late hit on the goalscorer.

    I hope Stoke win, I think Citeh will win, but it will NOT finish XI v XI. Giddy Up!


    I loathe Vincent Kompany


  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Barton was thrown out of city, shawcross was made captain. Stoke in a nutshell. the good thing is that the FA know all about Stoke, hence why Shawcorss will never play for england.

  • Comment number 54.

    Looking forward to a great game with 2 contrasting styles,coming from near Manchester it's good to have Utd and City in the champions league next season something to look forward to, i just think the F.A. cup has got unfashionable club winning written all over it this season just like the Carling cup and that's taking nothing away from Stoke or Birmingham who have been tremendous to do what they have done,this is a typical Arsenal v Birmingham scenario if ever there was one and this is the one competition that's got a big history for providing the unexpected. İf Man City lose this game it will be an enormous step backwards for them considering all the money they have frittered away on 6 strikers in the past 3 seasons only Tevez has justified the outlay, Stoke no pressure whatsoever i think i know who shoes i'd rather be in.Best of luck to both clubs and supporters for tomorrow enjoy it these opportunities don't come along to often.

  • Comment number 55.

    Wal_Sol,

    racist chanting at the Britannia??

    Surely as a Tottenham fan you would know all the words to the racist songs now wouldn't you?

  • Comment number 56.

    Nigel de Jong, he's never broken anyones leg has he?

    Played like a true gent in the world cup final as well.

  • Comment number 57.

    I remember hearing one manager (Can't for the life of me remember who) saying that if Stoke ball boys were allowed to hand a towel to Delap prior to a throw in, then ball boys at other grounds should be allowed to douse the ball in water when they play away.

    I'd love to see the look on his face if it happened!

  • Comment number 58.

    wal-sol, you're probably best not saying any more, you're coming across not only knowing nothing about football, but also a bit daft, sorry a lot daft!!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    @ no.4

    "The likes of Kompany, Lescott & Richards will deal with Stoke's aerial threat comfortably, leaving Johnson, Tevez, Dzeko, Silva & Yaya to win the game for City"

    You have some good players that can win you a game but DZEKO you are obviously deluded into thinking he can actually kick a ball - Just because he comes with a hefty price tag doesnt make him good in fact possibly the worst buy of the season when you compare talent to the price tag.

    good luck Stoke keep that banner ticking at Old Trafford

  • Comment number 60.

    wal_sol................Barton played for man city, Shawcross Stoke City, come on sunshine, switch on!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    wal_sol .. Your fighting a losing battle! Every comment you've made has been fully justified! I'm sure the right team will win tomorrow!

    @56 ... Spot on! Disgusting in the World Cup Final!!

  • Comment number 62.

    City need to have this game won in the first half, where it will be a test of 'Skill rather than Will'. Otherwise Stoke may do the 'rope-a-dope' routine on them in the second half... a bit like they did on United!
    However if Man City make and take the chances, that Silva and Tevez in particular will provide, then it should be 'no-contest'; but we all know things don't always turn out like that! IMO the longer it goes as a 0-0, the greater the chance for Stoke to pull it off!

  • Comment number 63.

    It would be nice to think that good old fashioned hard work and endeavour will win the day against flash money based teams who think they can buy trophies. So, I hope Stoke win...that and I am a Man U fan...!

  • Comment number 64.

    Another good blog on the FA cup final spoilt by an idiot who dislikes Stoke, most of which happens throughout the world of football!

    I've always said I love the way Stoke play to their strengths and it's great to see a physical side doing well; football is getting worse with 'over physical' tackles being frowned upon.. In my opinion you cant beat a good physical challenge!

    I'm a United fan but not a typical one that will look to ridicule Liverpool/Man City etc at any opportunity, good on them for getting into the CL (even if it's buying the spot..) and they've done well to get to the FA cup final. But as I said I like the way Stoke play to their strengths, dont care what people think and do it all very well! So I will be supporting them tomorrow!

  • Comment number 65.

    That has to be one of the most confusing articles I've ever read. This is an article about a match between Stoke City and Manchester City, and it's full of sentences like "During the first half City were able to dominate possession", and "Not many teams are as big as Stoke, but City are one of them".

    Secondly, I don't think Alan Shearer has any tactical ideas outside of "get the ball in the box". It's all he ever says on MOTD too. It's no wonder his Newcastle team were relegated with the seeming lack of depth in his tactical thinking.

  • Comment number 66.

    What's the point in Ryan Giggs / Antonio Valencia / Nani then? If you can't get the ball in the box, you won't score goals. It doesn't have to be in the air, it can be on the floor as well.

    If it were Arsenal playing wingers and getting quality ball in it would be just the way football is supposed to be played, fantastic ball in from Walcott...? but as Stoke do it it's some sort of neanderthal football. Surely if they didn't use the wingers they could be accused of that? at least they are using the whole pitch.

    If you've got wingers who can cross, better to use the flanks and get good balls in than just lumping it up to the big centre forward. Probably more chance of a loose ball as well for other striker / midfielders to follow up on. Get round the back of the defenders rather than taking them front on.


  • Comment number 67.

    As a Stoke fan I'm really not used to this much praise and adulation. Everyone used to hate us, what's going on?

    Man City fans have been through a hell of a lot of the last 15 or so years (and to be fair we've been down there with them) so I know it means a lot to them. They will probably have a lot more days like this to look forward to in the coming years and may even eclipse their nearest rivals in doing so.

    For Stoke fans, this is a once in a lifetime oppotunity. Yes we are on the up and my goodness i'm looking forward to Europe next year, even if it's just qualifying (as someone pointed out further up).

    I'm hoping we go out and perform like we have for the majority of the season, I don't expect the players to give anything less that 100% because they've worked so hard to get here and deserve all the credit. If we go out and perform to our best ability then it's up to Man City to beat us (but a win would be nice)

  • Comment number 68.

    I was reading a blog about Stoke yesterday and this wal_sol geezer must have put the most amount of hate filled comments for Stoke out of everyone. Today he is back again. For someone who hates Stoke so much he is quite obsessed about blogging and reading about them. It's starting to look like jealousy to me.... Thing is - us Stoke fans are used to reading this sort of drivel from haters like this and you know what - it just makes us all more determined. I will be at the final tomorrow and can not wait - Stoke have every chance of winning and the haters will see what a good performance they can put in....

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Are Man City the new Millwall as in "no one likes us, we don't care" or are they still suffering the little brother syndrome "no one likes us, it's not fair"? Truth is most of us neutrals would prefer they behaved in the former manner as opposed to the latter. The F.A. Cup has always had the tradition of neutrals rooting for the so-called underdog on the day of the final, tomorrow will be no different.

    Courtesy of a dear friend, who's a Potters fan, I witnessed Stoke City's annihilation of Bolton in the semi-final at Wembley, not only was their football a delight to watch but it was also a delight to be among their ecstatic supporters. As a spectator you want to be entertained and I for one am relishing the prospect of what this year's final promises to deliver, a cracking clash of two fantastic teams both of which are unaccustomed to lifting any coveted trophy. The contrast between them on the day may well be that Man City are too tense in their focus on immediate success while Stoke City will be calm, collected and continue to play with the flair and fluidity they've shown over the past few weeks.

    Many of the comments posted in this string are obviously made by those oblivious to observing the progress Pulis has made with his team this season. Their ignorance is still apparent in the belief that Stoke are just a physical side with a Rory Delap throw, the same people would be incapable of recognising attractive football even if they were paid to do so.

    I'll be looking for my mate John on the terraces who's made the trip to London from Sweden twice to follow his beloved Stoke, that's the sort of spirit this team has revived in its supporters and I truly hope they are victorious.

    Come on The Potters!

  • Comment number 71.

    I don't like Stoke. Their fans appear to revel in the reputation they have for brutality, the cynical way they use Delap also riles people.
    Thank god, generally in football, teams like this seldom prosper.
    And yes, we do fear what Stoke can do but they will certainly have to think about what our players are capable of. If they win, they'll have earned it and good luck to them but if we win I hope they accept defeat gracefully and not bleat about our riches.

  • Comment number 72.

    47. At 12:01pm 13th May 2011, Reinasbaldhead wrote:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    isn't drying the ball an un-sporting interference? Surely the ball should be played in whatever conditions is on the field? The ball drying is cheating if you ask me. Yet again, another FA error!


    Considering your point, your name is quite ironic. Correct me if i'm wrong but Goalkeepers use a towel to dry their gloves. Surely the same rule should be applied to them?

  • Comment number 73.

    @wal sol

    You are bringing up the incident about Robert Huth and Matthew Upson.

    What about this...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/n/newcastle_united/9055823.stm

    De Jong and Ben Arfa.....

    Amazed at what you are writing as you clearly have a dislike for my club. I guess some people could say that not everyone likes your club either.

    Ashamed to have us in England is very far fetched but we are used to the criticism, it drives us on, the fans, to cheer on our club even more.

    Keep up with your blogs if you feel you need too as we will continue to revel in our first ever Final appearance in the most famous Cup Competition in the World.

  • Comment number 74.

    @Stuart MCFC.

    You are but one of a long list of people that doesnt like our club.

    Fact is Delap's longs throws havent been as effective as they were in our debut season 3 years ago so I cannot accept the fact that people still bleat on about this when if I look, a lot of clubs are now employing the same technique.

    We are not one dimensional, we are competitive and thats what has made us so successful. People need to realise now that the old "route one" debate is over and Stoke are now a creditible side.

    I doubt Stoke fans will comment on your riches as we arent bothered. What I do hope is that if Stoke win, then Man City dont start moaning abotu unfair treatment.

  • Comment number 75.

    the only thing i am hoping for from tomorrows match (and i'm sure this will go down like the proverbial brown sandwich for most man city fans) is that they go with a team that excludes tevez.

    I am personally sick and tired of his attitude (as reported in many newspaper articles over the last couple of months). he is undoubtedly a very effective player, but i would like him to witness his team playing well within out him, while he broods on the bench about his percieved 'mis-treatment' from man city.

    it really ticks me off the way he thinks he can bad mouth his manager, attack the club for having the audacity to allow him time off to stalk his ex partner, and criticise his employers for not allowing him to leave to spain or italy so he can be closer to his kids...who live in brazil.

  • Comment number 76.

    Its going to be a case of whether the individuals can beat the team. City have some fantastic individuals in the team, some would walk into any other Premier League team (United would take De Jong, Hart, A Johnston and Silva no doubt about that).

    However they don't have the togetherness attitude which has run through Stoke team throughout the year.

    Its sad to say, this game depends on Mancini and his decisions. Man City are a destructive juggernaught that can run through teams with ease when playing heads up football, however Mancini decides to play against this way and often ties a dead weight to the team with his selections, tactics and subsitutions.

    Its not often you hear this but an early goal in this game could be the worse thing possible for this footballing showpeice.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    I know this may have been said before, but has anyone noticed how Manchester City fans have now picked up the arrogant traits of United and Chelsea fans. They always said they were the 'real' supporters of Manchester and 'down to earth'. Same old story, bit of cash and now Stoke don't deserve to be on the same pitch as them. City are just another cash-rich club, who most of the UK now hope will slip up on Saturday. Stoke are now the good old-fashioned club with genuine fans. Quite amusing turnaround.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    @ wal_sol,

    your ratio "postings" / "spreading laughter" has decreased dramatically today.
    You have to work harder on that!

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    @77 and every other post you've wrote on! .. Jack it in now! Its boring! Jog on .. I hope Stoke batter the hell out of City tomorrow!! Just for the pleasure of knowing your reaction!

  • Comment number 84.

    @wal sol

    Why are you bothering with what your writing? "writing" hmm.

    I will keep bringing you back to De Jong's leg break of Hatem Ben Arfa.....

    I admire what your trying though, unfortunately being a Stoke fan, I see what your bleating every time I read an article about Stoke.

    Good luck when your shiek decides he's bored.

  • Comment number 85.

    I still dont understand why Stoke get labelled as a physical team. Refs dont show them too many red cards unlike some other Premier League teams (eg Arsenal). The facts speak for themselves. Just regurgitating a load of bilge spewed out my other people proves nothing. Our forwards have to contend with defenders jumping all over them at set plays and nothing is given. Kenwyne Jones must get fed up spending half of each game with opposition defenders hitching an 'air ride' on is shoulders. There was a hilarious, if not dangerous incident, in the Cardiff game when a defender launched himself onto Kenwynes shoulders and Kenwyne ducked down to send the guy flying over him to land on his neck. Ouch!

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    59. At 12:30pm 13th May 2011, ManchesterisRED wrote:

    The likes of Kompany, Lescott & Richards will deal with Stoke's aerial threat comfortably, leaving Johnson, Tevez, Dzeko, Silva & Yaya to win the game for City"

    You have some good players that can win you a game but DZEKO you are obviously deluded into thinking he can actually kick a ball - Just because he comes with a hefty price tag doesnt make him good in fact possibly the worst buy of the season when you compare talent to the price tag.

    good luck Stoke keep that banner ticking at Old Trafford
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------What you going to write about if the banner comes down???

    Why are UTD fans commenting on these blogs. Your team is not involved, you were well beaten in the semi-final. Watch the game on TV, join in and sing "Abide With Me".

    With the exception of Football_UK's comments, the United fans commenting on this game are BITTER.

    You have your final on the 24th, leave your BITTER rehtoric for your own blogs.

  • Comment number 88.

    @wal sol

    Funny how Im not being quiet, your just choosing to ignore me and every other Stoke fan that has replied to you.

    Whos therma?

    Your commenting on Huth again this time as the German.

    Again Ill bring you to NIGEL DE JONG

    The leg breaking Dutchman...
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/n/newcastle_united/9055823.stm

    Or I may bring up MARIO BALOTELLI

    The elbowing Italian....
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1362378/Referee-Mark-Clattenburg-spot-Mario-Balotelli-elbow.html

    The list goes on...

    You said its funny how Stoke fans go quiet when people talk about Delap. I think you will find there is a few that are replying to you.

  • Comment number 89.

    Good Luck to Stoke. Sorry, I wont be watching the match. I'll be too busy celebrating Man Utd becoming the most successful English football club in the history of the domestic game.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    13. At 08:44am 13th May 2011, Glass Frazzle wrote:
    #4. You mean Richards, Lescott and Kompany will handle Stoke's aerial threat like they did against Everton last weekend. I love the way they stopped 5ft 7in (or whatever) Leon Osman jumping like a salmon on Saturday.

    The arrogance of Man City fans is unbelievable. Blue Moon rising just because you're in the FA Cup Final, well, Millwall, Southampton, Cardiff, Brighton, Sunderland, Middlesboro, Coventry, QPR, Watford have all been there since you last were there. And congrats for spending £300m and achieving what Everton did 6 years ago with Kevin Kilbane and Marcus Bent in the team.

    ===========================================

    This is probably the best post I've read all day.

    Oh, and don't forget to add Portsmouth to that list of FA Cup finalists. They reached it with a hell of a lot less money than City. In fact, you could probably have purchased the entire Pompey squad on that day with less money than it took to purchase any one of Dzeko/Lescott/Barry/Balotelli.

  • Comment number 92.

    89. At 13:59pm 13th May 2011, SAFs_Hairdryer wrote:
    Good Luck to Stoke. Sorry, I wont be watching the match. I'll be too busy celebrating Man Utd becoming the most successful English football club in the history of the domestic game.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Very funny, know one cares.

    It's FA Cup Final day and I'm playing me Joker

  • Comment number 93.

    Can't really see how Stoke are being labelled as a dirty team. On the disciplinary table they are sitting basically in the middle, with the worst culprits being Man City and Arsenal. So if there is any talk of Stoke being a 'rugby' team, perhaps it should be redirected.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    87. At 13:57pm 13th May 2011, The Stepford Sheep wrote:
    Why are UTD fans commenting on these blogs. Your team is not involved, you were well beaten in the semi-final.

    ===========================

    I'm not a Utd fan, but I do find the opinion that you can only comment on a blog if it references your team slightly intriguing.

    I don't think Alan Shearer is a Stoke or City fan, yet he has been allowed to add his thoughts ;)

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    96. At 14:09pm 13th May 2011, bobbieflowers wrote:
    wow you're so clever, picking some one up on the orthgraphy...central to a debate on football

    --------------
    Pot.Kettle.Black ;)

  • Comment number 98.

    96. At 14:09pm 13th May 2011, bobbieflowers wrote:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------OK, I stand corrected, only UTD fans care about the possibility of winning at Blackburn.

    I believe most people are intrigued about a game between 2 teams that never take centre stage.

    95. At 14:09pm 13th May 2011, FortressFratton wrote:
    87. At 13:57pm 13th May 2011, The Stepford Sheep wrote:
    Why are UTD fans commenting on these blogs. Your team is not involved, you were well beaten in the semi-final.

    ===========================

    I'm not a Utd fan, but I do find the opinion that you can only comment on a blog if it references your team slightly intriguing.

    I don't think Alan Shearer is a Stoke or City fan, yet he has been allowed to add his thoughts ;)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------Fair comment: Your user name indicates were your football love lies.

    I just wanted to make a point. It seems Utd fans are more concerned about what STOKE may do to CITY rather than commenting on their own websites in relation to their Blackburn game.

    I guess it shows just how far CITY have come to now be pre-occupied in the minds of Manchester Utd fans.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    Once upon a time there was a lonely little kid
    he had no friends so he asked his mum and dad if he could have a pc
    mum and dad discussed it for a while
    and as they didn't know what to do with this child
    they decided to buy him, as present, a PC
    and the child chose wal_sol as his notorious, easy nick
    and immediately started posting in the blogs of BBC

    He didn't know how to stop
    he sent and this and that and the other, right away on the spot
    and all readers were laughing, very loud and non-stop.
    He was irritant but funny
    A virtual Mr Bean for a while
    And the readers kept on reading
    all the comments he was filling
    and nobody ever told him a simple, little truth
    his words were there, an ever living, easy proof
    No matter what he says in the future any more
    He's the established Mr Bean and Mr readme, Mr Blob.

 

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