18 March ~ It says much for Stoke City's lack of Cup tradition that we are making history today. The League's second oldest club, who will celebrate their 150th anniversary next season, are competing in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the third successive campaign, which, perhaps embarrassingly, has never happened before. Chelsea saw us off in 2010 with a 2-0 defeat at this stage on their way to winning the Double. Last season we beat West Ham in a bit of a thriller, before giving Manchester City the first trophy of their current "project" in May. On this basis it is reasonable to assume that if Liverpool are victorious this afternoon they will probably claim some more silverware.
It is equally reasonable to assume that Kenny Dalglish's team will fancy their chances of winning today's game. Stoke City are tough to beat, we are told every week by the media, but a lot of teams seem to do it. Liverpool have managed it already this season, in the Carling Cup. Add to this our frankly appalling goalscoring record – just nine goals away from home this season and none in four Premier League appearances at Anfield – and it is hard to see a Sunday afternoon treat for the watching public on ITV.
While it would be odd to predict a classic, many of the ways Stoke City operate are odd. How many other comfortably placed Premier League teams have scored only three goals from open play in 2012? What other club would leave £8 million midfielders on the bench while Salif Diao plays? And why do we not play wingers , but look to a right-back to provide width?
Crucially among the oddities, Tony Pulis rests players so they are fresh for FA Cup matches. We played a stronger team against Crawley Town in the last round than we did against Valencia in the Europa League four days later.
Equally odd for a team that has never won the trophy and has never before reached three consecutive quarter-finals is the fact that Stoke City supporters love the FA Cup. Those arguments about how the Cup has lost its magic in an age that obsesses about the Premier League are not heard in Stoke. We are desperate to win it and Liverpool, although expensively assembled, have nothing that Stoke should fear – apart from Steven Gerrard and Luis Suárez.
History, omens and tradition may be against us, but Liverpool will not have accounted for the presence of Marc Wilson. One of Pulis's many square pegs in round holes, the right-footed midfielder who plays at left-back has so far only lost one Cup game in his career, the final last year. Hopefully his record holds. If it doesn't, you can put your money on Liverpool winning the Cup. Andy Thorley