Stoke beat Arsenal as players show their Wembley motivation, although boss admits he has some injury problems ahead of the big match against Manchester City
By Wayne Veysey at Britannia Stadium
Tony Pulis hailed his Stoke City players for proving how “desperate” they are to play in the FA Cup final against Manchester City.
The Stoke manager was delighted with the application and attitude of his team as they beat Arsenal 3-1 ahead of the Potters' trip to Wembley next weekend.
“I’m so pleased the players have given their best,” Pulis told reporters.
“Their performance and attitude to win a game of football was, without doubt, 110 per cent. That speaks volumes for them as a group. They are all desperate to play in that game next week. [Kenwyne] Jones, [Jermaine] Pennant and [Jonathan] Walters are a handful and they proved that.”
Nevertheless, Pulis believes the club’s achievement of a fourth consecutive campaign of Premier League football is even more noteworthy than appearing in an FA Cup final.
“We are a team that is much improved compared to when we first came in the Premier League,” said the Stoke boss.
“People are talking about next week being the biggest game in the club’s history but we must not forget that we will have a fourth year in the Premier League, which is a massive, massive achievement.
“We have got better, improved but kept that DNA. What we have just seen [today] was a great game of football. We played one of the best teams in the country who are used to playing against the Barcelonas and other teams in Europe. These are big games for this football club.”
Pulis has a few injury concerns ahead of the historic City match. He admitted the club are “a little concerned” about Robert Huth’s knee injury, sustained in the second half, but Jones “should be okay” for Wembley.
Matthew Etherington will be given “the best opportunity we can” to prove his fitness ahead of the final. “He is one of our star performers,” admitted Pulis.