Well after a fairly drab draw by the seaside I think the general consensus amongst the very lively (and well oiled) Stoke following was that a point was a good result and bar a slight knock to Wilko we had come away pretty unscathed - which was a big plus point. Blackpool are fighting for their lives yet we held them comfortably despite not getting out of second gear.
After losing Danny, Ric and potentially Matty to long term injuries, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one on Saturday who found themselves wincing every time one of our lads went into a challenge. We simply don’t have the depth in our squad to cope with injuries so to lose three first team players is a bitter blow. We will no doubt make the best of a bad situation and I, like everyone else connected with the club are praying we somehow get Matty back for the final as he has been in superb form again this year.
In spite of a couple of setbacks being a Stokie at the minute is bloody great and it has been really pleasing to see how we have coped since our fantastic win at Wembley. Two away draws and a thumping 3-0 against Wolves (which could have been six) has put us in a very healthy league position and keeps us bubbling along nicely.
Our home form in 2011 has been tremendous but clearly it will be severely tested on Sunday when we “welcome” Mr Wenger and his little angels. There is quite a lot of bad blood between the two clubs now (older Stokies would argue it’s been there since the seventies!) and I imagine this weekend’s fixture could be a fiery encounter.
It would be easy to say “what’s in the past should stay in the past” but the comments emanating from the Emirates and in particular from Mr Wenger since last season’s fixture at the Brit have meant that this is a game many Stokies have been looking forward to.
We all know that Aaron Ramsey suffered an awful injury and we all know (except those from North London) that it was merely an unfortunate accident. However we also remember how Stoke’s best wishes were seemingly snubbed, we also recall Mr Wenger’s “rugby” remark and the fabrication about Ryan supposedly kicking Gomes (Spurs fans may now be wishing this to be true!)
Football has a habit of throwing stories up that you couldn’t even dream of and Ramsey scoring the winner against Manchester United this weekend will certainly give many a London based hack the opportunity (not that they need one) to probably stick the knife into Ryan and Stoke (you can tell there are some who hate the fact we’ve made the cup final) in the build up to Sunday’s game. No doubt we will get to see many pictures of the challenge from numerous angles but none will show Bendtner holding Ryan back so that he got to the ball later than he wanted. I’m guessing none will show the shot where the two players’ stances as they approach the ball are a mirror image of each other either.
Sadly these are all points lost on the new generation of Arsenal fans who will happily ring up radio phone-ins bestowing us with their pearls of wisdom despite (in their own words) “not being able to make today’s game.” The other issue that people don’t want to consider is the fact that either player could have ended up seriously injured from the challenge as they both went in with 100% commitment. I think we can all accept that had the roles have been reversed and it was young Ramsey walking away unhurt and it had been Ryan who had suffered a broken leg, there would not have been hardly a peep out of the assembled press as we would have been expected to simply get on with things.
Such is life though and as the Antichrist of the Premier League we must continue to prove the doubters wrong and maybe, just maybe if we continue doing what we’re doing, people will start to appreciate the club we are evolving into.
We Stokies are proud people; we love our club and will not meekly roll over when we hear lies and derogatory comments made about the Potters. The club is fast becoming a template for all promoted teams to aspire to emulate. We are locally owned, have no debt and go about our business in a quiet and professional manner.
Luckily we have 24,000 fans who will speak on behalf of the club and believe me, we will not be quiet.