There’s a reason why the question ‘can they do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke?’ gets asked.
The Potters didn’t collect the most points on the road when Tony Pulis was in charge but that didn’t matter as they were a different animal at home.
From Rory Delap’s menacing long throw-ins that would often get caught in the howling wind to Andy Wilkinson’s barely legal crunching tackles, the last place a player wanted to be was at the Britannia Stadium.
One team that were found wanting at Stoke was Arsenal, with Pulis claiming three wins over the Gunners in all competitions in his time as Potters boss.
And former Stoke striker Peter Crouch admits there may have been some slightly underhand tactics from the team in preparation for Arsene Wenger’s men coming to town.
“Arsenal was our home banker, we made things difficult,” Crouch told BT Sport.
“We trained in the middle of the pitch before we played Arsenal on a Friday – just to cut it all up so they couldn’t play!
“The grass was grown longer and I remember looking at Aaron Ramsey and he couldn’t see his boot. He went ‘Crouchy?’ and I went ‘this is what we do!’”
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For many years of Pulis’ time managing Stoke in the Premier League, Barcelona were the standout side in world football.
However, Crouchy has a feeling they could’ve got a result against Pep Guardiola’s swashbuckling side back then.
“At the time I think we were the only team that could’ve beaten Barcelona! If Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta came to the Britannia at that time I reckon we could’ve turned them over,” Crouch added.
“We made it horrendous for teams.”
Stoke’s rough-and-tumble style wasn’t to everyone’s taste but it worked for this group of players and Pulis. And Crouch still looks back on the atmosphere at the club with great fondness.
“I bought into it [Stoke’s style] straight away. When I arrived there there were a lot of players playing above themselves,” Crouch said.
“The attitude and camaraderie and the group that he’d built was amazing, it was one of the best dressing rooms I’ve ever been a part of.
“You just knew you were going into battle every day and you were going to get a result because of the work rate, the attitude, the endeavour, the dedication. It was a great dressing room.”
But there was no danger that Pulis was going to let the players get above their station.
“Tony’s best line of all time – he felt we were getting ahead of ourselves – he said ‘don’t get ahead of yourselves lads, you’re bang average players in a fantastic system,’” Crouch added.
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