Who are you? We’re Arsenal (and Barca, Brazil and Argentina!)

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The tension is beginning to build. Sunderland have a strong strike force and, on paper, a semi-viable defence but no one knows quite how Steve Bruce will fashion a midfield from depleted ranks. Arsenal have problems, too, from injuries of their own to question marks over some of Arsène Wenger’s players (though Sod’s Law decrees that the hapless, fumbling Lukasz Fabianski would have a blinder if he played against us). We turned again to New York City and Fatima al Shamsi*, a rare Man City-loathing Emirati (above, left, with her sister Alyazhah), for a few more nuggets of wisdom from the world of gloryseeking Goonerworship. Fatima is charitable about SAFC, pragmatic about cheating, unladylike about Barcelona’s Ibrahimovic and restrained in her match forecast …


What about Arsenal’s season? Are you still right behind Arsène Wenger or do you feel you need someone else to move you on? I take it you’ve been following your Gunners from afar.

Unfortunately still watching them predominantly on my laptop although I have made a few trips to sports cafés whenever we’ve had an 11am kick off (NYC time). I like to be behind Arsene but our starting 11 against ManU was a horrible choice , although to be fair I’m not too sure what our alternative options could have been given the state of our injuries and such. I’m starting to get frustrated (about time too) but despite that, I still have faith in our crazy French man. What we do need is to get a decent experienced player to help pull the talent we already have all together – and I don’t count Sol Campbell as one, despite his goal against Porto this week. also more importantly we need to look into some decent goalkeepers neither Almunia nor Fabianski play convincingly enough to be part of a top team.


But you must regard Sunderland at home as an easy one. If you cannot beat us, you have no chance of challenging for the title.

True. But given our sporadic up and downs this season I still won’t underestimate my opponent until we win.

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Given that you have – or had – a soft spot for Sunderland, have you been alarmed by our descent into yet one more relegation battle?

Yes, to be honest I thought you guys would fare better this season, but there’s still hope, call me an optimist but I don’t think it will end all that tragically for Sunderland.

Hand on heart, can you – will you – end up above Chelsea or Manchester United or both? What will be the top four, in order?

Ideally I would say Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool. Unfortunately seeing how ManU have been playing recently, with Rooney damn near unstoppable, I’d say realistically Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool (cant stand Man City).


And the bottom three? No need to spare my feelings.

I don’t see the current bottom three doing any better so: Bolton, Burnley, Portsmouth


Knowing how you loathe Chelsea, I suppose you had a laugh at the John Terry saga.

Hahaha, yeah I thought it was ridiculous, but then again whenever athletes or any celebrity get involved in this type of thing I thing its an absolute waste of time to even bother following the petty problems of the spoilt rich.


And bring us up to date on how your other football passions are going.

Barcelona are doing quiet well, not the same powerhouse as last year, but then again that was ridiculous and I didn’t expect it to go on. As long as we win La Liga this season I will be satisfied. With that said, I think Ibrahimovic is absolutely overrated and useless to be honest and would much rather get Eto’s back, I don’t care how many goals he’s got to his name this season, as an overall player he’s shite.

How outrageous is it that each Salut! Sunderland preview by a fan of our next opponents this season includes what we call the “Eduardo question”? Essentially: if your team won the Premier/Champions League or FA Cup Final with a blatant last-second dive unseen by the referee, would you take it gladly, take it guiltily or feel so ashamed you almost wish you hadn’t won?

Take it. Perhaps in my younger more naïve days I’d feel bad, but honestly watching it happen a few times, why not?


And what did you make of the Thierry Henry controversy vs Ireland, or have I already asked you that?

Oh Henry, I tend to ignore anything he’s done post-Arsenal even though I support Barcelona, I’d rather not taint his glory days with his subpar performance in La Liga or anything else he’s involved with.

The World Cup looms. Are you excited? How will Brazil, Spain, Italy, England and – no joking – Paraguay (supported a little by Salut! Sunderland because they have Paolo da Silva AND play in red and white stripes) fare?

Spain are absolutely on fire, but so are Brazil, after watching the Confederations cup over the summer they are probably my favorite 2. I don’t care much for the style of football Italy play, I like the flair that comes with the Brazilian team. But the likes of Rossi are quiet impressive

I also have a soft spot for Argentina, although I wish Maradonna would just go find something else to do with his time. As for Paraguay I’d love to see some surprises from that team.


What will be the score of Arsenal v Sunderland?

2-1…I think thinking modesty is my best bet at this stage.

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* Fatima al Shamsi is a much-travelled student of environmental science and human rights at Columbia University, New York. She came across Salut! Sunderland while working (with me) as an intern at The National, Abu Dhabi, for which she now writes a weekly column from the Big Apple. In a previous Who Are You? feature, Fatima dealt with the impudent gloryseeking taunt like this: “I am definitely not a glory seeker! When I was younger me and my dad bonded a lot during the weekends by watching matches together. . we had time to watch the Spanish, Italian and English leagues .. so I had a favourite team in each one. Although you may call me a gloryseeker for these teams, I picked them as a child based on favourite players and rivalries within my household between me my parents and my siblings so they just happened to be good teams and not a conscious ‘glory seeking’ decision. These days I don’t really keep up with the Italian league much but I do follow Barça games as much as I keep track of Arsenal (although if it has to come down to it, like it did champions league finals 2006, it’s always Arsenal first).”


Colin Randall

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