Stoke City, 9 letters . Mark Hughes, 9 letters. One would think a match made in heaven. What is the significance of the number 9? According to Chinese belief the number 9 represents attainment and success; on a personal level it signifies leadership.
Only …. as the eagle eyed geniuses who read AA will have spotted Mark Hughes has 10 letters and the number 10 signifies a cheating, spiteful, ignorant, charmless man (thank you, Morrissey)
Those who regularly read my posts will know my feeling towards both these entities – I have written many Stoke PM’s and all have the same theme. Why? Because whereas I dislike Tottenham due to an accident of geography, my dislike of Stoke has developed thanks to it being an execrable club and town.
My first visit to the Potteries scarred me for life – a 5-0 loss. A horrible town, a horrible game and a depressing drive South. All in all, enough to elevate Stoke into the heady realms of the Premier League of my most detested teams, where they have stayed ever since.
Eventually Pulis arrived and they became Orcs. Now, the marriage with the odious Sparky Hughes – it could only get worse.
Or can it?
The rumours are that Stoke are playing football!! Can this possibly be true? Can a man whose football philosophy is entrenched in kick-the-man-not-the-ball really encourage the Beautiful Game? The stats suggest that this is so – an average of almost 400 passes per game, a massive reduction in crosses and long balls and a 79% passing accuracy . A footballing victory at WHU and a draw vs Man City show this is a team in form.
But are they really turning from ugly ducklings into swans? (source: Hans Christian Anderson 1861). Is this the Shawcross Redemption? (too corny for a headline :-) )
A positive stat is that The Odious One (henceforth TOO) has visited the Emirates as a manager of 5 different teams and has yet to win. Some record. How the hell does this bloke get a job? He has destroyed every team he has managed and been sacked on all but one occasion – the other being when he left a team in the lurch to go in search of “success” prior to being binned from City. TOO was sacked by relegated QPR last season and yet picked up another PL job! And he has an OBE – certainly not for services to football!!
Arsenal: Not much to write as the team almost picks itself. The injury list will ease over the next couple of weeks and we will finally see who Mr Wenger has in mind for his starting 11 – I have no idea, but it is a luxury problem. We have quality throughout the squad.
How will TWOO (The Wizard of Ozil) cope with the kicking he will undoubtedly receive this afternoon? We have no Stevie Bould or TA6 to “remind” Stoke to behave. As such a strong referee is essential and today we have Mike Dean – not my favourite but highly experienced and fully aware of Stoke’s intimidating tactics. Let us hope he has a good game.
What I would like to see this afternoon is TWOO score his first Emirates goals (on his home debut) and for TOO to spend the game cursing his players, cursing the referee, cursing Mr Wenger, cursing the very handsome Arsenal centre forward, cursing the gods and driving back on the coach cursing his own players. and in particular cursing the chief Orc, Ryan Shacwross.
Now that would go some way to redeeming Stoke City.
written by Big Raddy