|Posted by Stuart Hughes on January 29, 2012 at 2:25 PM|
Saturday’s 4th round F.A. Cup tie at home to Stoke City is exactly what the F.A. Cup – in fact all cup competitions – are about.
A home game against a team from the next division up – in this case the Holy Grail of the Premier League. An opportunity to test yourself against a team who play in the division you are aspiring to get promoted to. An opportunity to provide a cup upset and become a giant killer.
I’m very happy with the draw and am looking forward to the game. After we beat Crystal Palace at home, I said I’d take anybody at home. Well we were drawn out first to play at Pride Park Stadium. Ideally I would’ve liked a lower division team or a fellow Championship side as that would’ve offered a better chance to progress in the competition.
But Stoke City can be beaten, particularly if their manager Tony Pulis opts to pick a less than full-strength side. Hopefully Stoke City view this game as a potential banana skin, whereas Derby County have nothing to lose and should be full of confidence on the back of a six-game unbeaten run that includes five wins and five clean sheets.
Stoke City are now a well-established Premier League side with some very good players, but this is the F.A. Cup and on any day anybody can beat anybody.
We can beat Stoke City and I hope there’s a big crowd of Rams fans in Pride Park Stadium on Saturday to cheer the Rams on.
Prediction: Derby County 2-1 Stoke City.
Potters Danger Man: This is a difficult one because there’s a lot of players in Stoke City’s squad that would start for Derby County if they were in our squad.
I’m going to go for Peter Crouch, even though I suspect he will be on the bench at best with any two from Cameron Jerome, Kenwyne Jones and Ricardo Fuller more likely to start against us.
Shaun Barker and Jason Shackell have formed a formidable central defensive partnership and I would love to see how they get on against 6’ 6” Peter Crouch.
Previous Encounters: The first game I ever watched live was against Stoke City. Showing my age it was way back in the 1971/72 season. Obviously pre-arranged, my Dad’s friend from work turned up out of the blue one Saturday morning and asked if I wanted to go and watch Stoke City v Derby County at the Victoria Ground. I was six or seven and so excited. To be honest I don’t remember much about the game itself but the record books tell me it was a 1-1 draw with Alan Durban scoring our goal.
Published in the Derby Telegraph on Friday 27th January 2012.