Former Stoke defender, Andy Griffin, reckons that Potters’ fans should be thankful to Arsene Wenger for fueling their pre-match talks for the last nine years.

  • Griffin played in Stoke’s 2-1 win over Arsenal in November 2008
  • Reveals that Wenger’s criticism spurred them on in future
  • Stoke have won five and drawn three out of 19 against Wenger’s Arsenal, all of which have been at home

Ever since Stoke were promoted to the Premier League in 2008 and beat the Gunners 2-1 at home, Arsene Wenger has been far from complimentary about their ‘robust’ style of football and even describing them as a rugby team.

Griffin, who was in the Stoke team that beat Arsenal back in 2008, has revealed that Wenger’s scathing words about their football club actually spurred them on and been a huge part of pre-match talks ever since.

“After the win over Arsenal, Wenger came out and moaned and groaned about the way we played and certainly wasn’t gracious in defeat,” Griffin said.

“But for us, that first season was all about staying up, it wasn’t about playing nice football.

“We didn’t have the players Arsenal had, obviously, so we had to play to our strengths which was our work ethic, our tenacity, our aggression and our set plays.

“I thought Wenger was disrespectful. There are two sides to football. They had the tippy-tappy, intricate passing, but dare I say it, the reason Arsenal haven’t gone on to win the league is that they haven’t had a Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira.

“These were people who could play, but they could also play the ugly side of the game by putting their head in where it hurts and go to so-called horrible stadiums to get a result.”

He added, “You would think a manager of that experience would choose his words a little better. The last thing you want to do when you’re playing a team that doesn’t have the ability you have is rile their players up.

“It gives them an incentive to go out there with a point to prove and Stoke City players have certainly done that over the years every time they have played Arsenal at home.”

Stoke have a good record at home against Arsenal. Out of the 19 times they’ve faced the Gunners since Wenger took charge, five have been wins and three have been draws. Although Wenger’s team has won 11, every time Arsenal have failed to win, it’s been on Stoke’s turf.

The Potters will therefore fancy their chances going into the match on Saturday.