Ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s FA Cup Fourth Round game with Stoke City, here is a round up of all the talk ahead of the tie. James Milner and Matija Nastasic assess City’s chances of success at the Britannia Stadium and Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, previews the game.
I didn’t see the names come out of a hat but it’s a pretty good draw for us, even though it’s not the easiest of places to go. Our thinking is, if you want to win the FA Cup, you have to beat everyone anyway. The fact that we’re taking more than 4,000 fans is really important because the Stoke fans make a lot of noise, but our supporters are brilliant and will give as good as they get when it comes to creating an atmosphere. As I say, the Britannia Stadium is not the easiest of venues to go to but if we can quieten the home crowd early on then so much the better.
No, there’s no needle from our side – I can’t speak for Stoke but I’m sure they’d like to get one over us for the 2011 final. We’ll just treat it like any other match and what’s happened in the past shouldn’t affect this game too much.
I’ve always enjoyed playing for this club since the first day I joined – we have unbelievable fans and a great stadium so it’s always been a pleasure for me to be a City player. The only thing that’s been frustrating for me this season has been that I feel I’ve being playing well but there have been several interruptions due to injury and suspension, but hopefully that’s all over with now.
I just want to stay fit and play as well as I can each week. Like I say, our fans have always been brilliant towards me and I already knew what they were like after coming here and playing against City for other teams. I’ll always give 100% whether I’m having a good day or a bad day and that’s something they clearly appreciate. We’ll be doing our best to give them another day out at Wembley next May, that’s for certain.
Of course, we know how difficult it is to play at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke are a
well-organised team but we are prepared for a physical battle. We will have to work on defending the long ball into the box but we have played against this kind of challenge before and I am confident that we are good enough to go there and win. In Serbia and Italy, there are no teams like Stoke – they are a product of English football and that is their identity, I guess.
We know about the bogey team tag and also the pitch tends to be narrower than usual at the Britannia Stadium, so we expect a tough 90 minutes. But Chelsea went there recently and won 4-0, so if we believe in our way of playing, work hard and play our football, I believe we can end our poor run of results at their ground. I am looking forward to the game. The FA Cup is a competition that everybody always looks forward to – supporters, the club, for us it is very important.
Our record is as good if not better than anyone else’s in recent seasons. You look at our record in the past three years and it is phenomenal to have only lost three games. Two of those were quarter-finals away to Chelsea and Liverpool and the other the final at Wembley against Man City. Our record is as good if not better than anyone else’s in recent seasons. You look at our record in the past three years and it is phenomenal to have only lost three games.
We just want to go out and do our best. We understand how difficult it will be because they are a great footballing team with wonderful world-class players. We need to turn up and be 110% and we need our supporters to be 110% and I have no doubt they will turn up.
The first goal is always key against the big teams. What we need to do is make sure we don’t give silly goals away which we have been doing over the past few weeks. Hopefully we have got to grips with what the difference has been. We defend as a team and I think that is most probably where we have fallen down a bit, we have stopped doing our jobs. When we defend as a team we are very difficult to break down. If you defend as individuals it is much easier for the bigger clubs to score.
Of course the game against Wigan comes into our thinking, we have to stay in the Premier League so you have to balance it off. But the one thing we have done at this club is treat cup games, especially the FA Cup, as seriously as we can.