Patrick Vieira told Tony Pulis that Stoke City were only club Arsene Wenger talked about

Arsene Wenger hated his trips to Stoke City so much he complained about the length of the grass, measured the width of the pitch and tried to get throw-ins banned.

Wenger visited the Potteries six times while Tony Pulis was manager and only won once. He lost his next two games at Stoke after Mark Hughes had taken over too, just to rub it in.

It really made him angry and desperate for excuses.

And, just by responding to Stoke fans who were mocking his tantrums by having a tantrum, it only dug his hole deeper.

Pulis has recalled the rivalry as he appears as a guest on Peter Crouch’s hit BBC podcast, That Peter Crouch Podcast.

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He said: “I always want angles to get players motivated, to put fire into their bellies and something for the supporters to feed off.

“When Wenger first said it, called us a rugby team, it was the third time on the bounce we had beaten them at home. He was avoiding the question of how could a team with much less talent than Arsenal, who don’t spend anywhere near as much as Arsenal, who haven’t got the facilities and capabilities of Arsenal, keep beating Arsenal.

“Patrick Vieira told me, ‘We used to hate going to Stoke. You were the only club that Wenger actually talked about and worked on before. We just couldn’t beat you.’

“Wenger came one year and complained about the grass being too long. He wrote a letter to the FA. The referees and the linesmen had to come and measure the grass. I know he talked about banning throw-ins and saying they shouldn’t be allowed. That was all music to our ears.”

Arsenal defenders used to quiver when they had to defend a Rory Delap long throw.

But Pulis only discovered Delap’s special talent long after signing him from Sunderland – and even then it was by accident.

He said: “We only found out Rory Delap could throw the ball like that when the lads had a competition. He picked it up and hurled it to the back post. I’d never seen anything like it. He threw it flat.

“We pulled him to one side and asked him and it turned out he was javelin champion at school. It just went from there. We used it as a wonderful weapon. We stumbled on it. Liverpool now have a throw-in coach – when we were using Rory we were getting dogs’ abuse.

“As soon as I saw him throw it I thought, every time we get up the pitch we’ll use that. It’s like having eight or nine extra corners a game.

“Psychologically teams would be affected. We went to West Ham and they had moved the advertising boards in to stop him – so he just threw it from behind the boards. He still hit the middle of the goal.”

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