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Sunderland v Arsenal: leave aside next week’s Carling Cup game and it’s the start of three really tough tests, and Mackems would settle now for a repeat of last season’s fixture. Perhaps Braga will tire them out tonight. Pat McLaughlin* runs the wildly successful JustArsenal.com fan site (million hits a month) from an armchair somewhere in Yorkshire. He expects the Gunners to thump us – but, then, he thought us dark horses for a sixth-top finish a year ago …
Salut! Sunderland: Solid enough start for the Gunners. What is your expectation for the season?
I have high hopes. I know Arsenal fans like to moan a lot, but I seriously believe the team is a lot stronger than last season, and we weren’t that far away. Squillaci and Koscielny will tighten things up at the back, and if Arsenal can avoid the ridiculous amount of injuries they sustained last year, I see no reason why we can’t finish at the top of the pile this time around.
Just Arsenal. Right at the top of the pile – as in the Soccerlinks hitlist – last time I looked, with 13,000 hits a day. Congratulations but, adopting envious pose, how do you do it?
LOL I’m not too sure actually. I only started the website last summer so I was a new boy when we last spoke, and the only things I can say for sure is dedication and consistency (four stories a day, every single day). And I think that quite a lot of Gooners seem to like the way I write.
Tell us where you are in the Big Four scheme of things. I always unraise my eyebrows at Arsène Wenger’s selective condemnation of foul play and admit that I admire him as man and manager. Is he still the one for you?
No doubt about it. The man’s a genius and is dedicated to raising standards. I think that is why he gets so p*ssed at “rugby tactics”. He simply doesn’t believe in it!
Last season, Arsenal were seen by many as both victims (eg Aaron Ramsey) and sinners (Mr Eduardo). Do you really think the Sunderlands/Stokes/Birminghams are out to get your players, and do you really believe Eduardo was unjustly criticised?
Eduardo was definitely picked on. The Rooneys and Drogbas of this world don’t get half the stick re “sportsmanship” as Arsenal do. Perhaps it’s because of Wenger’s philosophy….
You have a fair number of celebrity supporters, from literature, film, media, business etc. Are you more charitable about them than Roy Keane used to be about Man Utd’s “prawn sandwich” brigade?
No! They are just glory-hunters lol! Arsenal’s support seems more “grass-roots” than most. (Perhaps Sunderland could claim the same thing?)
Marouane Chamakh. You won’t necessarily know this but we were in for him a year ago, only to be insulted by Bordeaux, their manager and president (Laurent Blanc, Jean-Louis Triaud) saying we were not a big enough club for him. How good is he? And were we better off settling for Darren Bent?
Chamakh must be good if Wenger likes him that much! But seriously he is a godsend. He is our only fit striker (after just three games lol!). If only Wenger had splashed the cash 12 months earlier, perhaps we’d have won something….
And what will be the finishing top four this season? And, in case you ever look that far down the table, the bottom three?
Arsenal; Chelsea; Man Utd; Tottenham.
I desperately want to see Blackpool survive, so three teams beginning with W
Do you have any good/bad memories of Arsenal and Sunderland from the past? Or of players – Quinn, Schwarz, Stokes
I have a brilliant memory of Sunderland from the 70s. He scored the winner in the FA Cup Final against Man Utd in the last minute lol!
Have you already forgotten the World Cup and with what enthusiasm are you looking forward to Euro 2012?
No interest at all. I’m a European Irishman…
Will you be at our game? What will be the score.
I have a seven-week-old baby right now (and a two-year-old). It’s hard enough to get to the computer, never mind a game….4-1 to us
*Pat McLaughlin on Pat McLaughlin (taken from last season’s item): I spent my whole life trying to escape from London and England. I went to France for the first time when i was 20 (30 years ago!). I have lived in France for a year, Spain for five years, Malta for a year, Thailand for six months, and visited many more places in between. I can’t wait to get away again. I am fluent in French and reasonably good at Spanish, so I see my retirement in one of those countries. But Thailand is my ideal place. (Not all of it, just the island of Koh Phangan).
Late update (Sept 2010): reading my comments from last year were interesting. I’ve got my wish anyway, and will be moving back to Spain in four weeks time. Beach at the end of the road….can’t wait!
Interview: Colin Randall
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