It’s been raining Gooners. Some weeks we struggle to find one fan from Sunderland’s next opponents to answer the Salut! Sunderland questionnaire. With Arsenal, it has been a doddle. From New York, Halifax, and Kent, they’ve practically been queueing to have their voices heard. Last up is Darren Wright*, who runs the very popular Gunners’ fansite Wrighty7. Arsenal have to make do these days without the feet – and deadly left hand – of Thierry Henry, but Darren predicts a dodgy Eduardo penalty in a hard-fought away win …
Salut! Sunderland: So, Arsenal are seen as by some as “dark horses” for the title.That makes you sound almost mortal after so long in the top four. Insulting , or a status that takes the pressure off you?
Ha Ha I suppose we looked “immortal” during the unbeaten 2003/04 season but as proved we are mortal like everybody else! To be honest Colin I don’t find us being “dark horses” insulting in the slightest. Manchester United and Chelsea have raised the bar in recent seasons and its up to ourselves and the others to match that. With Liverpool struggling, Manchester City spending and everybody expecting it to be a two-horse race between United and Chelsea I’m happy for Arsenal to be quietly doing the business and nobody really noticing!
Everyone raves about how exciting the Gunners are to watch. What do you remember of the days when it was “boring, boring Arsenal”?
The days of one-nil wins and total lock-down tactics? Yeah those Arsenal days wasn’t the most exciting but I suppose a win is a win and I’d take those all day. I must say Arsene Wenger has had his critics in recent years because of a lack of trophies but the way he has transformed Arsenal from a side playing total lock-down into total football has been little short of miraculous.
Tell me what you really think about Tottenham
Am I allowed to swear? I don’t see Tottenham as a threat to Arsenal in the league table but its all about bragging rights isn’t it? I always get that massive buzz in the build up to the North London Derby, during the game and normally only relax after another game unbeaten against them. The rivalry must feel the same as between you guys and Newcastle. The bragging rights and banter can go on for weeks, even after the game. Ask my mate Mabbs from White Hart Pain! The one thing that bugs me about them is their attitude. They truly believe they deserve to be in the Champions League but they have to earn it. They never learn but I suppose its not their fault they are a little deluded! Its in their DNA!
Overlooking his selective myopia, I am a great admirer of Arsene Wenger. What has the Wenger era meant to you?
I suppose those cheap contact lenses he wears from Tesco do not help his sight! Ha ha. Its always nice to hear when supporters from other clubs say how they admire Arsene Wenger. We are very lucky to have him at Arsenal. Great football, trophies and most importantly, loyalty. He has always stayed loyal to us even when clubs like Real Madrid have come knocking on his door. I truly believe that we should have an Arsene Wenger statue erected outside the Emirates when he calls it a day.
Were you surprised at how badly we did last season, and at Keane’s walkout, especially after we had reasonable results against you?
You had very good results against us last season and I was surprised really at how you did in the league. When you had your first season back in the Premiership after winning the Championship it was important that you stayed up and then built upon that. You stayed up but instead of building and improving you seemed to go backwards. Now Roy Keane did a great job in getting you promoted but I feel he spent big money on average players. I mean Chopra?? For £5m?? It didn’t surprise me that he walked out the way he did. He will do that everywhere he goes. I’m surprised he has lasted this long at Ipswich! You have a good manager in Steve Bruce now.
What will be this season’s top four in order?
Tough one Colin but I’ll go with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and finally I think Liverpool will nick fourth from Manchester City and Aston Villa in the last weekend of the season!
And who will go down?
I reckon Hull City (I’ll be pleased with that because I can’t stomach Phil Brown!) Wolves and Newcastle. Oh I forgot Newcastle are already down aren’t they?? Ok then the last spot will be Portsmouth.
If Sunderland and Man City appeared in neither list, where will we and they finish?
I reckon Sunderland will be around the top ten mark. As I’ve said you have a decent manager in Steve Bruce who knows his way around the league. You are strong at home (hopefully not this week!) with decent support. If you can pick up a few more points on the road then you can have a very good season.
Manchester City? They will be around the 4/5/6 mark battling with Liverpool and Aston Villa for the final Champions League place.
What memories do you have of previous Arsenal v Sunderland games home of away?
For some reason the main one at the moment seems to be when Dennis Bergkamp was sent off against you in 1997! I suppose a more happy one would be the fact that Andrei Arshavin made his Arsenal debut against you last season Colin. The little Russian has fast become an Arsenal favourite!
Who for you are the Arsenal greats?
There are many of course. In my time as a Gooner my biggest Arsenal greats would probably be Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Bergkamp, Steve Morrow and Andy Linighan. Steve Morrow because Tony Adams broke his arm after he scored a winner in the League Cup final and Andy Linighan scored the winner in the FA Cup final in the last minute of extra time in the same season, 1992/93? I was only ten so they were unsung heroes! Ha ha!
The Eduardo (Ngog?) question: you need a win to clinch the title. Last game last second, Eduardo goes down in the box. Everyone but the ref sees it as a dive. The penalty wins you the game and the title. You take it gladly, you take it guiltily or you’re so ashamed you almost wish you’d oly drawn?
Take it all day! Eduardo’s already done it this season so one more won’t hurt!
Club vs country. Who wins for you and why?
Club every time! Almost nothing gives me as much pleasure as seeing Arsenal win. I love Arsenal and seeing them lose can p*** me off for the next week! I can’t stand England. People will never realise that we aren’t as good as we think we are. We always give excuses for failure, we blame everyone but ourselves. One thing that grates me is we blame the influx of foreigners in England for the national teams struggles. Foreigners, in their droves, began coming to England in the mid-nineties, whats our excuse for winning only one World Cup in our history before that then?
Will you be at the game? If now how will you keep tabs and what will be the score?
Unfortunately for me I won’t be at the game because I can’t get the day off work! These days you have to take a day’s graft. I’ll finish early enough to be able to watch the game at my local boozer though. They have some “legal” channel from France or something! I reckon it’ll be a really tough game. As I’ve said, you are strong at home at will present a real challenge to any team at the Stadium of Light this season. Having said that I’m going for a 3-1 Arsenal win with Eduardo winning a penalty. Ha ha
* Darren Wright on Darren Wright: My name is Darren Wright, I’m 27, I’m from Kent and I work as a foreman in a double glazing firm. I’ve supported Arsenal since I can remember and have been going since I was about eight years old. I write the Wrighty7 Arsenal site and although it probably isn’t the greatest and most articulate Gooner site around it comes straight from the heart and I wont fanny about!