Stoke manager Tony Pulis has fanned the flames ahead of his Stoke side's trip to Arsenal on Saturday by pointing out that the Gunners have a worse disciplinary record than the Potters.
The build-up to the Barclays Premier League encounter has been dominated by Ryan Shawcross' first trip to the Emirates since his challenge broke the leg of Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey at the Britannia Stadium in February.
Arsene Wenger had accused Stoke of using "rugby" tactics earlier in the season, but Pulis has taken the chance to hit back at what he sees as a false interpretation of how his side play, saying: "People have perceptions and you struggle to change those sometimes."
Pulis added: "We go into a game here where Arsenal have more red and yellow cards and have committed more fouls, yet you speak to the layman and it's 'Bad old Stoke going to the Emirates'. But the facts don't back up that story."
Pulis also suggested that Wenger is a man under pressure, with the Gunners having failed to secure any silverware since their FA Cup triumph against Manchester United in 2005.
"If they don't win anything this season he will be devastated," said Pulis. "I think Arsene Wenger is under quite a bit of pressure because there hasn't been a trophy won for five years or so. There's enormous pressure on him."
Wenger, who has said that only Ramsey can forgive Shawcross for his tackle in February's encounter, agreed that statistically his side have been worse offenders on the disciplinary front than Stoke, although he does not agree with how cards have been handed out to his players.
"He's right. We've got more yellow cards," said the Frenchman. "It's surprising about our yellow cards. Like the other night (against Manchester United) we picked up yellow cards but I thought it was a fair game."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.