FM18 | Letou Choose | Stoke City’s Road To The FA Cup Final
Yesterday we looked how Swansea got to the FA Cup Final, today we’ll look at how our opponents – Stoke City – made it to the Wembley showpiece.
Mark Hughes has confounded expectations in the Premier League to finish sixth ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, who brought in Jorge Jesus but he wasn’t able to deliver European football. Stoke has already qualified for next season’s Europa League with the league position.
Stoke’s journey began with a visit to Bramall Lane and a game against Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United, which is never easy whatever league the Blades are in. Goals from Erik Pieters and Ramadan Sobhi saw off Sheffield United.
One of the elements of the FA Cup road taken by my own Swansea team was one without another Premier League opponent, perhaps suggesting that we had it ‘easy’. Stoke came up against Premier League opposition in Brighton in the fourth round. Xherdan Shaqiri, who by the way is the best player Stoke City has ever seen, put the Potters in front before Anthony Knockaert equalised. Stoke relied on goals from Choupo-Moting and Berahino to see them through to the next round.
Derby County were Stoke’s reward, which was a much simpler task at the bet365 Stadium as they blew County away with a 4-0 win. One from Shaqiri again complimented by a hat-trick from Saido Berahino completed the rout.
While we took on Reading at the Liberty in the sixth round, Stoke City went away to the Emirates. Arsenal were deservedly Premier League champions this season but fell to Stoke in a 2-1 narrow loss. This was clearly and obviously Stoke’s most significant victory of the run to the final as it was the defenders they had to thank for the victory. Michael Lang opened the scoring in the second half, Alexandre Lacazette then equalised from the penalty spot. The winning goalscorer was an unlikely one, Kevin Wimmer coming up with the decisive finish.
In their semi-final, Stoke City came up against Crystal Palace. Desperately needing to give their fans a good showing after a season spent flirting with relegation, which eventually would see them drop down to the Championship. It took until extra-time before the only goal of the game was scored, Raul Ruidiaz on 100 minutes to send Stoke into the final.