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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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By ESPN Staff

Huth banned by FA and fined by Stoke

Stoke City have taken their own disciplinary action against Robert Huth after the defender was handed a three-game ban by the Football Association for violent conduct.

The German pleaded guilty to a charge of violent conduct after swinging an arm into the face of West Ham's Matthew Upson in an off the ball incident last Saturday.

Referee Martin Atkinson and his assistants missed Huth's blow as the pair tangled at a free-kick, but the FA's intervention was inevitable after video evidence.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis said: ''We have spoken to Robert and he knows what we feel. His reaction was poor and it could have cost us the game. Upson wasn't even looking at the ball as he blocked Robert off, but players have to retain their discipline in those situations, whatever the provocation is.''

Andy Wilkinson, who was axed after Huth's £5 million arrival from Middlesbrough in August, is primed to deputise at right-back at Tottenham on Saturday.

But Pulis added: ''Robert has been the most consistent player we've had at the club this season. He's one of the rocks our defence has been built on and he's been exceptional away from home.

''He's very disappointed he's going to miss games, but he's a good kid and a great professional who takes on board what we say to him. He will learn and bounce back from this.''

Meanwhile, Pulis is preparing to pit his wits against his old mentor Harry Redknapp, who he bumped into at the Fulham versus Hull game on Monday.

He said: ''Harry recommended me for my first managerial job at Bournemouth after we worked together there. We were two silly buggers who were crazy on football. We got on well and drove for hours and hours to all sorts of games in all parts of the country.

''We used to get the Rothmans out and ask each other questions along the way. They were great times and an important part of my football education. Harry is an amazing character who does something every minute of every day. I'm sure he sleeps with one eye open because he's into so many things.

''He's a big horse man and likes a bet, but he's absolutely crazy about his football. If you took his football away, I think it would kill him.''

Pulis believes Redknapp has assembled a squad capable of taking Tottenham into the Champions League and doesn't underestimate the enormity of Stoke's task at the weekend.

He added: ''I think we can now talk about a top eight rather than a top four. Aston Villa and Everton have been pushing for a while, but Manchester City and Tottenham will beat anybody on their day.

''If Tottenham perform to their maximum against us it will be very hard to stick with them, but I know my players will give it their best shot. We've drawn at Bolton and Everton in our last two away games and played very well.''

Tottenham's seven-goal top scorer Jermain Defoe starts a three-match ban, but Pulis added: ''They've still got Crouch, Keane and Pavlyuchenko, so I don't think we should feel too sorry for them.

''The top end of the pitch is always the most important and Harry's made two great signings in Defoe and Crouch. He knows they will score goals at the highest level.''

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