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Arsenal can lay down a marker


Pulis ready for City showdown

Stoke manager Tony Pulis is relishing his side's FA Cup final against Manchester City, claiming he is ready to prove doubters wrong once more.

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Pulis will lead the Potters out on Saturday hoping to upset the odds and earn an unlikely piece of silverware, although City are favourites to secure their first trophy since 1976 after Sheikh Mansour's cash injection transformed the club in 2008.

Stoke have progressed massively since Pulis took the reins in 2006 and the Welshman's work has seen the club turn themselves into Premier League regulars. Pulis is eagerly anticipating the cup final and is hoping Stoke's current form in the league can continue at Wembley.

"We are looking forward to this game. We have had three years of proving we can do what people think we can't," he said in The Sentinel. "I don't think there have been many teams who have got into the final of a cup competition and then had a run of results like we have had.

"That is credit to the players. We played Blackpool and, after 20 minutes, I was worried that some of them were going to get injured because they were so committed.

"But that is the way the club has been built over the last four or five years. They are a committed group. They have to believe in themselves and give themselves the confidence they need. But they beat Arsenal, and there is no greater fillip than that for us."

On the challenge of City, he added: "Physically they are strong and the two centre-halves have good experience. They have good players, but right through the team they are powerful as well."

Meanwhile, winger Jermaine Pennant is in similarly positive spirits ahead of the final and hailed the team spirit at Stoke.

"I've been at Arsenal and Liverpool and they are massive clubs but they've got something missing, you don't feel the togetherness," he told The Sun. "You'll have foreigners there and the English players over here and they'll all be separated. At Stoke everyone is one.

"I've enjoyed it most at Stoke because at the other clubs, while they may have been bigger, there was always something missing. Here everything is just perfect.

"Because it's such a massive achievement for the club to get to the cup final it makes it that little bit better. If you are at teams who get to an FA Cup final every other year it's like, 'OK we got to another final, great'. But it's the first time for Stoke so it means more and it's a first for me as well so we've got something in common."


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