PULIS SALUTES STOKE ACHIEVEMENT
Stoke boss Tony Pulis hailed another milestone for his club after they completed the season unbeaten against the Barclays Premier League's so-called big six at the Britannia Stadium.
The Potters held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw on Saturday, the same scoreline they managed against both Manchester City and Manchester United, while they drew 0-0 with Chelsea and beat Tottenham and Liverpool earlier in the campaign.
Pulis said: "It's a great testament to the players and the football club. It's the first time in the four years we've been in the Premier League that we've managed to do that."
Stoke have established a reputation for defying the odds since their promotion in 2008 and, although they look likely to just miss out on a top-10 finish this season, it has been another notable campaign.
Their run to the last-32 of the Europa League was particularly impressive, and Pulis now wants his side to end the season strongly in games against Everton, QPR and Bolton.
The Welshman said: "We've moved on as a football club. We've played a lot of games away from home in the cups, and in the Europa League I think everybody knows the amount of miles we've had to cover.
"It's been a long season, a fantastic season in many respects for the club, and the players are still going.
"We've got a very difficult game on Tuesday night. Everton are one of the real form teams at the moment so we'll have to be really on it to get anything out of that.
"Then we finish with QPR and Bolton, who are both fighting for their lives, so it's going to be tough."
Stoke had beaten Arsenal on three of the Gunners' four previous visits to the Britannia Stadium and they went ahead on nine minutes on Saturday when Peter Crouch headed in Matthew Etherington's cross.
But Arsenal levelled six minutes later through Robin van Persie and the two teams rather cancelled each other out after that.
Potters goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was pleased with the performance after last week's 3-0 defeat by Newcastle, and he said: "I think we deserved a point overall. We played very well, stuck to the task very well.
"Sometimes you're most vulnerable when you score and I think that showed. But we took the blow on the chin and kept plugging away. Credit to the lads, our energy was at a high level.
"It's good to bounce back after last week and we'll move forwards. When you play the bigger teams it's always a fantastic occasion and we seem to rise to it."
In the week he collected the PFA and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year awards, Van Persie notched his 35th goal of the season with a simple finish from Tomas Rosicky's cross.
"He's a master at generating his own space," said Begovic. "Even though you try and close him down as much as you can, he's going to be able to make space for himself, and that's why he's one of the best players in the world."
Having been the form team in the league, Arsenal have stuttered over the last three games, losing to Wigan and drawing with Chelsea and Stoke.
A point still turned out to be a positive result, though, with Newcastle surprisingly thrashed at Wigan, but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger conceded their confidence may have taken a bit of a hit.
The Frenchman said: "It's a good result because Newcastle dropped points but for us it's important to win our next two games. Anything less will not do it.
"Recently we haven't scored so many goals. We didn't score against Chelsea last week. Maybe it is linked with belief."
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