Mark Hughes is confident Stoke City can continue Arsenal’s Britannia Stadium hoodoo on Sunday, even if the direct play of the Tony Pulis era is long gone.
Arsene Wenger has claimed just a solitary victory from the Gunners’ seven Barclays Premier League visits to Staffordshire since Stoke entered the top flight back in 2008.
In their early meetings, when Pulis was at the club’s helm, Arsenal were typically undone by a more physical style of play that they have moved on from since Hughes arrived and installed a philosophy more akin to Wenger’s own ideology.
However, having won both of his Britannia Stadium meetings with the Gunners during his spell in charge, Hughes has ensured trips to Stoke have remained unhappy ones for Wenger’s men.
“Our record is good. It’s a record we’d like to think we can expect to maintain,” Hughes said ahead of Sunday’s meeting.
“It’s something that we’re proud of. We’ve always caused good Arsenal teams here real problems, even before my time. It’s something that we want to continue, something we have the capability of doing.
“We may play in a slightly different way to other times when they’ve struggled here. In the last couple of occasions we’ve gone up against them at the Britannia, we’ve played a different type of football but still caused them problems.
“Either way they know they’re going to be in a game that’s intense, with high quality, and questions will be asked of them.”
Hughes on Wenger longevity
Hughes will come up against a manager who this year celebrates 20 years in charge of the same club – an achievement the Welshman does not believe will be emulated in the modern era.
Wenger and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe are the only two Premier League bosses to have longer tenures than Hughes, who believes the Frenchman’s early success helped him retain his position during nine trophy-less years recently.
“That time doesn’t exist now – you’re judged on a weekly basis rather than yearly or seasonal basis,” Hughes said.
“That opportunity to really impact on your group of players and have the time to bring the type of players that you want into your club, that’s not afforded to any manager at any level in this day and age. That’s why it’s such a challenge to be a Premier League manager.
“Arsene very quickly started winning trophies for Arsenal. I think that’s sustained him because he had a period in recent years where he wasn’t winning trophies but, as a consequence of what he’s done in the past, he very much deserved to keep his position. Now he looks very, very close to getting the title again, which is what everyone connected to Arsenal would want.
“That longevity is something that not too many clubs have. I’m sat here and been at this club for two and a half years and (third) behind Arsene Wenger – that tells you how crazy it is. It is what it is; every manager understands that longevity is something to desire. but it’s not something that’s guaranteed.”