Arsenal rivalry is not a short-term distraction for Stoke City

Metro

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Stoke City player go to their fans at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City at The Hawthorns on May 11, 2014 in West Bromwich, England. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Stoke boss Mark Hughes has called on fans to crank up the noise for Arsenal’s visit (Picture: Getty Images)

It’s been more than 12 years since my beloved Stoke faced a real derby game. February 2002 was the last time, in fact – and it’s been even longer since we won the Potteries derby; back in 1997, in the First Division was that last occurrence.

Despite that, the fans still remain passionate in their support of the club – and there are a handful of teams who have become makeshift ‘derby teams’. The teams that everyone wants to beat.

That list includes the Midlands teams including Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. It includes Manchester United, mainly borne out of jealousy of their recent successes. And then there’s Arsenal.

Most fans think the rivalry between Stoke and Arsenal stems back to Arsene Wenger’s comments likening our style of play under…

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