How many Salut! Sunderland readers scroll down the right-hand sidebar and then click on Soccerlinks? If you do, you’ll know that since the technical glitch that put us in something like 565th place, we’ve climbed back up to the top 100 and, when things are busy here, get as high as 35th. For this week’s Who Are They? candidate, we went straight to the top of the charts to find Chris Borg*, whose site, The Gunning Hawk pulls in an average of more than 5,000 visitors daily. Chris makes it all sound so easy. Sunderland’s task in trying to avoid defeat at the Emirates on Saturday is a long way from easy. Is our only hope that Porto soften them up? …
So, an easy one to keep your slender title hopes alive. I take it you couldn’t have wished for any better fixture, after beating Liverpool to stay on course, than us at home …
On paper, it is an easy game but one not to be underestimated. After all, you’ve got Bent up there, third in the top scorer list and our backline has been pretty shaky in recent appearances.
A great young friend of Salut! Sunderland is from the Emirates – UAE not stadium – and puts the Gunners at the top of her list of football preferences (Barcelona, Brazil, one of the Milans etc trailing behind). Does that confirm you are really a global brand these days, or do you cling to real club, real fan values?
Based on the statistics of our website, Arsenal is growing at an incredible pace in terms of “International” followers, which is good to see. In Africa, especially, there are a lot and a lot of die-hard Arsenal supporters.
Tell us the success story of The Gunning Hawk amid all the Arsenal sites.
The Gunning Hawk started on a cold day in September. I’ve been thinking of launching a blog for quite some time and was torn between Arsenal and programming, which is my daily full-time job. I pulled the trigger and went for a Gunners blog, mainly because I wanted my voice to reach the always-growing online community. I remember reading a blog a year before all this and thinking how right the blogger was so I posted a comment to back up his arguments but no-one seemed interested in what I was saying.
Luckily, many are nowadays.
And where do you stand on Arsene Wenger: personification of the Arsenal ethos, eloquent whinger, dignified elder statesman of the game – or something else?
I always insist Arsene is the man for Arsenal, although he needs to be less stubborn. Last season, and especially this one, you can clearly see that we’re not that far away to be a dominant force in the Premiership and Europe, but the boss has to address some issues else we’ll keep on getting closer but without every touching trophies.
Hand on heart, can you – will you – end up above Chelsea or Manchester United or both? What will be the top four, in order?
Well it is no longer in our hands, it’s up to the two above us. As it is, it’s very difficult for Arsenal to win all their games and see both Chelsea and Manchester United slip but we’ve done it when we were trailing by 11 points so nothing is impossible. If I am to be optimistic, I would say:
2. Manchester United
4. Manchester City
Be as cruel as you wish: the bottom three?
6) Seems it will end the way they are today, down there:
Are you surprised at how much Sunderland’s season has deteriorated since we beat you at the Stadium of Light, or did you see it coming?
You had a formidable run I remember towards the end of September, drawing against Manchester United and winning against Liverpool. I’m not sure if you suffered any injuries after defeating us but I see you drew a lot of games which in modern football is damaging almost as much as a defeat.
Cheer us up: did you laugh at Newcastle’s relegation?
Not really, no. I’m not really one who cares what our own neighbours are doing to be honest That is, I will not be out celebrating if Spurs are relegated and we end our season trophyless. After all, I always looked at Spurs as an asset for us in the Premiership as we beat them often but they make sure to take points away from the other top four teams.
Have you good or bad memories of any past encounters with Sunderland, home or away, cup or league?
Bad! Besides this season’s game, I remember a very disappointing 0-0 draw at the Emirates last February a game in which Carlos Vela – my “favourite” Arsenal player – missed two clear chances.
Give us your one-liner verdicts on
a: Niall Quinn …
b: Stefan Schwarz
c: Tottenham Hotspur
How outrageous is it that each Salut! Sunderland preview by a fan of our next oppponents this season includes what we call the “Eduardo question”? Essentially: if your team won the Premier/Champions League or FA Cup Final with a last-second penalty in the final match, awarded after what everyone in the ground except the referee saw as a dive, would you take it gladly, take it guiltily or feel so ashamed that you’d almost wish you hadn’t won?
I could spend hours discussing this. If that scenario takes place, I would be bitterly disappointed of course because we complain when Rooney dives and we complain when Gerrard dives. But, although the press would do it, I would not stop at that particular episode as you can’t put down to just that a full year of hard work.
And what did you make of the Thierry Henry controversy?
When he left, you mean? Well maybe Thierry knew that we wouldn’t have won anything when he decided to leave and I don’t blame him. Not long ago I said I wouldn’t be surprised if Cesc Fabregas leaves to seek glory elsewhere and I compared him to Batistuta, who left Fiorentina after years of loyalty and won the Serie A with Roma on his first season there. Ultimately football is about winning, players don’t work hard for nothing.
If you mean the hands ball against Ireland, I would have replayed the extra time.
Club vs country. Which comes first and why?
Club. I’m from Malta so not a difficult question to answer.
What will be the score of Arsenal v Sunderland and will you be there?
I never predict the score of games to avoid being a made a fool of after if I get it wrong and no, I’ll not be at the Emirates.
* Chris Borg on The Gunning Hawk:
Launched in September 2008, The Gunning Hawk grew at an incredible pace as it became a favourite amongst Arsenal fans who want to keep updated with what is going on with the club, the players and the team. The objective of the blog is to deliver the opinion of its authors regarding latest Arsenal news in an objective and professional way, making sure not to use capitalised or misleading headlines which don’t really say what the article is about, just as many other blogs unfortunately tend to do.
***** SEE ALSO: Arsenal still a week away, this is as a good as it gets *****
* Another photo from the Flickr pages of “Wonker”.