Arsenal still a week away, this is as good as it gets


What is it about a weekend without a Sunderland game that makes life seem good? Answers on postcards please. It’s made Colin Randall feel so good that he is taking leave of his senses and working himself into an implausibly optimistic frenzy about Arsenal away a week from now. He’s taken a pill and should be better soon …

Some great answers arrived today from the Arsenal fan who is previewing next week’s game at the Emirates for Salut! Sunderland.

“On paper an easy game – but not one to be underestimated,” is how he puts it. Come back a few days from now to see what else he has to say about us and them, but that seemed a remarkably kind – or diplomatic – summary of the how the match is likely to turn out.

arsenalIt is a measure of the despondency into which Sunderland fans have sunk that escaping from north London without another severe deterioration in our goal difference may be the limit of Mackem expectations. It is another measure of that despair that one or two fans have been joking about placing consolation bets on us going down (you can get nine or 10 to one apparently).

Or is this all too gloomy? Are we, instead, within sight of an extraordinary double? If Arsenal 1 Hull 2 was not just a fantasy scoreline last season, why not Arsenal 1 SAFC 2 this time?

I leave Salut! Sunderland readers to assess how seriously I believe that to be a likely outcome. After all, the performances I have seen at Stamford Bridge and Fratton Park would more realistically suggest a hammering on the cards.

But what if our depleted squad – depleted, that is, by insane suspensions as well as unfortunate injuries – plays as we did at old Trafford and White Hart Lane, but with a little more luck?

Our volunteer Gooner is not, after all, making idle talk when he goes on to mention the threat from Darren Bent. We saw enough of Alan Hutton in a dismal night at Pompey to realise that we at last have a full back capable of getting forward and causing real problems up front; it seemed to galvanise George McCartney so much on the left flank that he probably had his best game for us this season.

Lots of other things we saw at Fratton Park simply won’t do at the Emirates.

Packing our penalty area and heading cross after cross straight to an opponent lurking outside the box will cost us four or five goals. Bent himself will have to slot away any chance of the sort that came to him and went begging in the second half on Tuesday.

And if one or two of the Lads are planning another outbreak of kamikaze challenging regardless of the disciplinary consequences, we may as well send Arsenal the three points now in an e-mail attachment (that was a refinement of Jeremy Robson’s gag, on the eve of the pounding at Chelsea, about merely faxing them the win).

But let us for now be utterly irrational – a pre-condition of supporting Sunderland anyway – and pray for a truly heroic performance, plus the necessary good fortune at both ends, to secure our first away win since the opening day of the season, or at least prove that Arsenal are not unstoppable.

* Photographic encouragement by courtesy of “Mrs Logic” at Flickr. Credit to “Wonker”, also at Flickr, for the Arsenal shot.

15 thoughts on “Arsenal still a week away, this is as good as it gets”

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Martin. A fine thread – and it would be excellent to see Arsenal put disappointment next Saturday behind them and still win the league. Despite the “Eduardo question” that I pose to each opposing fan taking part in the Who Are You? feature, the Gunners’ football is a credit to the Premier.

    And sorry Juan Carlos, Salut! it is – it’s the footie offshoot of my original website Salut!, which began life in France and can be found at

  2. Kudos to the Arsenal fans who showed genuine class in their response to this thread.

    Football fans are not known for their impartiality, and you broke the mould. Thanks guys, and best wishes for the season. I hope we get to play you next year. If so the Shandies are on me!!

    Good luck.

  3. Unlike the first prick (and as a gooner I apologise for this muppet), I’m a bit wary. The article implies you’re worried about goal difference. I’d bite your hand off for a 1-0. Can we do a deal?

    When Bent was at the spuds, we had a song about Eduardo during his injury, one line of which was:

    “He’ll score more goals than Darren Bent. Eddie. Eddie”

    Well, I think most of us would do a straight swap now, if we could.

    Wish this game wasn’t vitally important to us, cos

    1) I like you lot, and if some team has to take pts off us at home, rather you than most.

    2) We would prob play without nerves and win.

    But I’m not taking anything for granted.

    Hope you come good this season, but just after the game.

    Thing I’m trying to ignore is that if any set of fans has to travel that far to get an unexpected win a a (so-called) big team, it’s your lot that deserve it. Just hope your good karma’s delayed till after The Arsenal. Best of luck there after.

    (PS I drank shandy as a 10 yr old, have lived just a bus ride from the Old Kent Rd in the past, and did have a faze when I liked Jellied eels for about 3 months when I was 8. Am I guilty too?)

    See ya next season

  4. wow, im ashamed about that other post from an “arsenal fan”.
    i myself like sunderland and hope they get out of the run of bad form and finish the season strongly (obviously not starting with the game against arsenal though obviously ;p )

    i beleive you have some good players, and you have a very good manager. dont worry i truly believe your lot will pull there fingers out soon.

  5. Lousy spelling of cheer.Thanks Cesc Factor, Arsenal fan speaking with common sense. I withdraw most of the bitter and malicious attack on your fans and your manager – but not all.

  6. I was in Jamaica for the last game. Surprisingly a couple of the locals were Arsenal supporters who took the result really well. I’m going back in a few weeks and I’m sure they will be the ones gloating this time.

  7. Some of us gooners, unlike the twit above who was probably watching the Chuckle Brothers the Saturday we decided to roll over and, as well as you played, give you the win forget to realise. Bragging about something that hasn’t happened yet is a stupid thing to do. No matter what poor form you are in, for what its worth, I really do believe you will have a safe, panic-free season, this fixture should not be taken lightly, especially with their front two. Good Luck after the 20th.

  8. Don’t we just love pratts like Odiegooner. It makes us realise why clubs like Sunderland represent the best in English football; no bandwagon jumpers for us. Fine stadium, but serial excuse maker for a manager and fans who have as much passion as a bunch of 90 year olds on an outing to Frinton. The Fast Show got it right years ago with their skit on Gooners- sat there not knowing what to chher and dipping into his hamper.
    Of course they will beat us, but it won’t mean anything to them. Let’s hope we can wake the Morgue up a bit.

  9. Leave it to a shandy drinking, Old Kent Road dwelling, jellied eel eating Gooner to elaborate on our self-confessed misgivings. Be advised to remain as silent as you are on the terraces. If you read my post properly (and I’m not sure if you’re capable cpnsidering your inability to spell simple words like “the”) I predicted in excess of 5 goals to Arsenal.

    Learn to read muppet. Nobody’s suggesting Sunderland will win, but rest assured if we do, it’s party time. I went to Highbury once – you beat us and the atmosphere was like a morgue. In fact – I think you were there – I saw the label on your toe.

  10. I love it really when people start day-dreaming. U couldn’t finish up a half-alive animal in pompey and u’re expecting to finish off a wounded animal. Okay, keep dreaming. I’m expecting a high scoreline of 4-1 to d arsenal. In perfect response to d shock defeat earlier. Go support a better team. U’d be lucky to beat d drop. LMAO.

  11. Colin – another great post.

    To be frank, Sunderland beating Arsenal at the Emirates!! I think it would be more likely for Lee Cattermole to come out of the closet, and that after his intended sexual corrective surgery, he expressed his intention to apply for the Mother Superior position at the local Convent.

    If Arsenal don’t score more than five, I pledge to eat my umbrella – only par-boiled.

    Ironically, the last time we played as a unit was against Arsenal. But since those heady days, the ever-familiar wretched form has “put paid” to our hopes and aspirations.

    Steve Bruce and the clan attribute their slump to the “expectations of our fans of a top 6 finish”, and that players have to possess the pre-requisite mental strength to play for Sunderland. Living in Canada it’s a bit tricky to get to our games, but from what I have seen, until recently, our unbelievable fans have been encouraging, win, lose or draw. Their encouragement and consolation towards our players after defeat, despite repeated disappointment is huge credit to them, and reflective of an understanding and patient consensus. Considering the misery we’ve been subjected to over the years, I think we have been magnanimously humble!!

    More to the point – and I am sure most Sunderland fans will agree, it is heart-breakingly painful to witness yet another collapse when our hopes were raised to such an extent. In the last 3 seasons (and I stand to be corrected) we have lashed out in excess of 100 million quid. We have the Chairman, the stadium, the infrastructure, and now we even have the missing link – MONEY, and the backing of a silent, yet supportive owner to boot – yet STILL we have a team of under-achievers, defended by a boss who claims the fans expect too much!!! Well Steve – as much as I rate you, I’m afraid that is a pile of steaming horse muck!! I am sure that over 95% of all SAFC fans would be content with the planned steady progression. The mid-table comfort zone sounds like the impossible dream. The prospect of entertaining football, and value for money that was recently touchable, is once again a flickering memory. Maybe those factors contribute to why our second-to-none fans get a little pee’d off.

    I’m sure the expectations of Blackburn, Villa, Everton etc. etc. do not exceed those of Sunderland fans. It begs the question, is this being tossed at us because of our dismal track record, and a suggestion that we should be content with moderate mediocrity??? Is it manipulative rhetoric to squeeze the last remaining morsel of patience out of us??? Can anyone honestly blame our fans for being sick and tired of sub-standard, half hearted, relegation-fighting, over-paid, under-achieving, undeserving players with the under-appreciated good fortune of gracing our turf year-in, year-out? I think not. Bless.

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