English FA Cup
January 26, 2013
Pulis confident ahead of cup clash
Stoke manager Tony Pulis believes their "phenomenal'' recent FA Cup record is unsurpassed by anyone and that gives him great confidence ahead of their fourth-round tie with Manchester City.
The game is a repeat of the 2011 final which Roberto Mancini's side won 1-0, but in the seasons either side of that the Potters have been knocked out at the quarter-final stage.
Those defeats came at Chelsea and Liverpool, but with City set to visit the Britannia Stadium, where they have not won since 1999 when both teams were in the old Division Two, Pulis is bullish going into the tie.
"Our record is as good if not better than anyone else's in recent seasons,'' he said.
"You look at our record in the past three years and it is phenomenal to have only lost three games.
"Two of those were quarter-finals away to Chelsea and Liverpool and the other the final at Wembley against Man City.''
Pulis insists there is no element of revenge for their final defeat of two years ago, a game he has never watched since.
"We just want to go out and do our best,'' he added. "We understand how difficult it will be because they are a great footballing team with wonderful world-class players.
"We need to turn up and be 110% and we need our supporters to be 110% and I have no doubt they will turn up.''
Stoke's traditional defensive stability has been shaken in recent weeks, with 10 goals conceded in three league matches.
Pulis believes they have ironed out some problems in training this week but knows they cannot afford any slip-ups if they hope to extend their cup run.
And he will pick a strong side despite the fact they have a match at home to Wigan on Tuesday.
"The first goal is always key against the big teams,'' he added. "What we need to do is make sure we don't give silly goals away which we have been doing over the past few weeks.
"Hopefully we have got to grips with what the difference has been.
"We defend as a team and I think that is most probably where we have fallen down a bit, we have stopped doing our jobs.
"When we defend as a team we are very difficult to break down. If you defend as individuals it is much easier for the bigger clubs to score.''
On his team selection he added: "Of course the game against Wigan comes into our thinking, we have to stay in the Premier League so you have to balance it off.
"But the one thing we have done at this club is treat cup games, especially the FA Cup, as seriously as we can.''
Andy Wilkinson's back problem is likely to keep him out.
The full-back sustained the problem in their third round replay last week and while Ryan Shotton played 45 minutes in a midweek friendly after a hamstring injury he may not be risked.
Thomas Sorensen is set to replace Asmir Begovic in goal, as has been the policy for cup matches this season.
In Mancini's first season in charge City were taken to a replay by Pulis' men in the fifth round and beaten 3-1 at the Britannia after extra time.
That was a defeat Mancini avenged at Wembley the following year, 2011, as City won the final to claim their epoch-making first trophy since Sheikh Mansour's 2008 takeover.
Mancini said: "I have good memories, it was a fantastic moment.
"To win a trophy after 35 years was very important for us because we worked hard and also for the club and our supporters.
"We wanted to win that final, to start to win and it was an important moment for us.
"We want to try to do this every year if it is possible.
"We have the FA Cup and Premier League this year and we want to try to win. It is important for us to win every year.''
City will check on Samir Nasri after the forward was hampered by a virus this week.
Right-back Pablo Zabaleta is fit after overcoming the foot injury that forced him off in last week's Barclays Premier League win over Fulham.
Midfielder Yaya Toure and defender Kolo Toure are at the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast while right-backs Micah Richards and Maicon (both knee) remain out.