By Giuseppe Muro
Stoke host Arsenal on Sunday just six days before they face Manchester City in the FA Cup Final.
So is there a chance that Tony Pulis’ side will have one eye on Wembley?
We spoke to Mike Baggaley of the Staffordshire Sentinel to get a Stoke perspective on the game at Britannia Stadium.
Getting to the FA Cup Final is huge. It’s arguably the biggest game in the club’s history. Stoke were one game away from winning the league title just after the war, they have played in two FA Cup Semi-Finals and won the League Cup in 1972 but this is a big one.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
The size of the victory against Bolton was a surprise to everyone. Stoke fans were quietly confident going into the game because Stoke have tended to play well against Bolton since coming into the Premier League and the team was running into a bit of form. But Bolton are a good side and are above Stoke in the Premier League meaning they started as slight favourites. There were 70,000 people at Wembley and I don’t think one of them would have expected a 5-0 scoreline.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
The fear from the supporters is that they will pick up more injuries ahead of the FA Cup Final. Since getting to the Final they have been desperately unlucky to lose Ricardo Fuller at Aston Villa and then Matthew Etherington against Wolves. Etherington has been a regular in the side so if he doesn’t make it that will be a huge blow. He has torn a hamstring but he has not been ruled out [of the Final].
Having seen the way Stoke have played since the Semi-Final, they have taken confidence from the result and are playing well. There hasn’t been any sign of them having one eye on Wembley. At the moment, there has been no sign of Stoke taking a half-hearted approach and that has been shown by the manager’s team selection. I would think Tony Pulis will play his strongest team against Arsenal and I wouldn’t expect him to make too many changes. Having said that, if he does I don’t think too many Stoke fans would be upset.