Pulis defends Shawcross ahead of Arsenal

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has voiced his support of defender Ryan Shawcross ahead of the club's clash against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

The last game between the two sides in February saw Shawcross sent off for a reckless tackle on Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey that broke the young Welshman’s leg.

Pulis said: “He's a great lad, an honest lad, a competitive defender who has done fantastically well for us.

"I've seen the challenge over and over again, and I'm convinced, as are 99.9 percent of people I've spoken to who have seen it, that it was an honest challenge. There was no malice in that tackle whatsoever.

"He made an honest, committed challenge, and he's nothing to worry about. He'll get that from me. He'll go out there and play."

Pulis laughed off suggestions that he was set to provide Shawcross with personal security for the game, saying: “Extra security? What? On the pitch? Yeah, we're going to play with 14 players.”

At the time Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was left fuming about the incident, describing it as a “horror tackle”, whilst Shawcross left the pitch in tears after his red card.

Wenger now, though, wants to put it firmly in the past.

“It is Arsenal against Stoke. Every game is different and it is a new start," he told the Gunners' official website.

“We do not have any preconceived ideas before the game happens on any individual. We want to win the game, focus on it and respect our opponent as we always do.

“What happened in the past, happened in the past. We have come out on that – I don’t think there is any need to add any fuel on it and just focus on playing football as we always do and respecting our opponents.”

Injured Ramsey – currently on loan at Nottingham Forest to regain match sharpness – thanked Shawcross’ team-mate Glenn Whelan for his assistance on the pitch but declined to mention the English centre-back.

Both clubs will be hoping the put the issue behind them this Saturday as they look to bounce back from defeat last time out, Arsenal away to Manchester United and Stoke at home to Blackpool respectively.

By Jamie Dickenson