Former Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has spoke on the effectiveness of Rory Delap’s long throw-ins and the struggles teams like Arsenal had at dealing with the tactic.
During their spell in the Premier League, Stoke were consistently known as a physical side who were always very difficult to beat. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, in particular, always seemed to struggle when they came up against the Potters in away games.
The Gunners lost five of out of eight games at the Britannia Stadium between 2008 and 2014, with Delap’s long throw constantly causing havoc in the Arsenal defence.
Wenger would frequently critique Stoke’s robust style of play. Speaking to The Peter Crouch Podcast, Pulis outlined that he would use the Arsenal manager’s complaints as motivation to continue getting the better of the north London club.
“When Wenger first said it, called us a rugby team, it was the third time on the bounce we had beaten them at home. He was avoiding the question of how could a team with much less talent than Arsenal, who don’t spend anywhere near as much as Arsenal, who haven’t got the facilities and capabilities of Arsenal, keep beating Arsenal.
“[Former Arsenal captain] Patrick Vieira told me [sic]: ‘We used to hate going to Stoke. You were the only club that Wenger actually talked about and worked on before. We just couldn’t beat you.’
“Wenger came one year and complained about the grass being too long. He wrote a letter to the FA. The referees and the linesmen had to come and measure the grass. I know he talked about banning throw-ins and saying they shouldn’t be allowed. That was all music to our ears.
Pulis also explained how the club stumbled upon Delap’s throw-in which became a supremely effective weapon during his time at Stoke.
“We only found out Rory Delap could throw the ball like that when the lads had a competition. He picked it up and hurled it to the back post. I’d never seen anything like it. He threw it flat.
“We pulled him to one side and asked him and it turned out he was javelin champion at school. It just went from there. We used it as a wonderful weapon. We stumbled on it. Liverpool now have a throw-in coach – when we were using Rory we were getting dogs’ abuse.
“As soon as I saw him throw it I thought, every time we get up the pitch we’ll use that. It’s like having eight or nine extra corners a game.
“Psychologically teams would be affected. We went to West Ham and they had moved the advertising boards in to stop him – so he just threw it from behind the boards. He still hit the middle of the goal.”
Delap played 208 times for Stoke and for years in the Premier League.