Velociraptor Formation


There has been hot debate, nay, even name-calling over who can play up front for Arsenal, specifically centrally. Not everyone rates Giroud. Fewer still rate Sanogo. Most of those have read in Arsene’s words the hope that Alexis Sanchez will be applied regularly in the Center Forward berth.

So…will Alexis Sanchez become a center forward for us? Or will he be a wide forward? Or some kind of hybrid.

Theo added his 10 cents worth…

““With me and him on the flanks, a lot of teams won’t be looking forward to playing Arsenal this year.”

But Theo is biased in these matters, if we’re honest.

And so, in my role as THE ARSENE WHISPERER, I have delved into Arsene’s musings to bring you all some clarity…

Wenger has been more coy about his intentions on Sanchez, like an Indian using brushwood to dust away the tracks of his horse, hidden behind some boulders:

“The fact that he’s efficient, the fact that he’s good off the ball,” the manager said. “He runs at people with the ball and he’s a very versatile striker. He can play through the middle, he can play on both flanks and he has the qualities that I think are needed in England.”

Gee, thanks for nothing, Arsene.

“He’s brave, works hard and all these qualities together made me go for him.

“At the moment he might play on the flank because Walcott is injured. As well [he can play] through the middle in some games; we can play with Giroud, we can play without Giroud in a 4-4-2 or in a 4-3-3.

Jesus Christ. That’s even worse. Why don’t you throw in that he can drop back into defense when needed, and he’s good between the posts.

“That’s why he is a major signing for us, that’s why we spend a lot of money on him. He has the quality to be efficient everywhere he plays.”

However, recently Arsene recounted the moment he decided to go for Alexis Sanchez. Once you know that, you know how he’s going to line up the team.

Arsene was watching a movie. Not just any movie. Jurassic Park.

And not just any Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park I.

And it wasn’t just any scene in Jurassic Park I. It was the scene where Dr Alan Grant explains to that snot-nosed little kid about Velociraptors. Here, you’ll get the idea…

Dr. Alan Grant: [Responding to an unimpressed 10-year-old] “Now try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous Period. You get your first look at this “six foot turkey” as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly, bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement like T-Rex – he’ll lose you if you don’t move. But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that’s when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two raptors you didn’t even know were there. Because Velociraptor is a pack hunter, you see, he uses coordinated attack patterns and he is out in force today. And he slashes at you with this – a six-inch retractable claw, like a razor, on the middle toe.

He doesn’t bother to bite your jugular like a lion, oh no … he slashes at you here [makes slashing motions below the child’s chest] or here … [above the groin] or maybe across the belly, spilling your intestines.

The point is … you are alive when they start to eat you.

So you know … try to show a little respect.

So, I think it’s pretty clear who the 6 foot turkey in the formation is, although 6’4” might be more accurate.

How we’re going to line up after that is just as clear: Theo on 1 side, Alexis on the other and a six foot turkey in the middle.

I pity the poor bastards who face us. We are gonna tear ’em up messier than Javier Mascherano’s rectum.


On a more serious/studious note, here are a few thoughts on squad size and signings. The short version…I’m not too sure there will be many more signings. In fact we may be already over Wenger’s theoretical limit.

Here is a quote from an oft overlooked interview with Arsene last year:

“My ideal squad would consist of 17 to 18 players and they would be young players. If you have too many in a squad you never have the chance to give a young player an opportunity.

“Once you have 25 senior players you can send your academy to the moon ­because no one will ever get the chance to play. Buying players is not as easy any more. There are more contenders and more great players.

PS: Around that time, Mourinho said he preferred 21 experienced players “plus the kids.”

Now obviously, they are both referring to outfield players or neither of those quotes would make sense.

So, how many outfield players did Arsene have in his core squad last year:

Sagna/Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny/Vermaelen Gibbs/Monreal (7)
Arteta/Flamini Ramsey/Wilshere (4)
Ozil/Rosicky (2)
Walcott/Chamberlain Cazorla/Podolski (4)
Giroud/Bendtner (2)

ie 19 players.

Plus some kids for experience, adaptation and assorted stragglers: Gnabry, Zelalem, Sanogo…Ryo, Diaby etc…

Now, I know you are bursting to say “But, injuries, man. Injuries. Injuries change everything.” Hmmm. I think Arsene will plan to fix the injuries by fixing the injuries rather than throwing bodies at it. Afterall, Murphy’s law means it will be your best players you lose, and you’ll be stuck with 11 backup-singers. So, you gotta fix the injuries. And that’s why they hired Shad Whatsisface from the German National Team.

But, might last year’s injury mauling encourage Arsene to throw 1 extra player into his ideal number? Possibly.

“My ideal squad would consist of 17 to 18 players:” 17 looks crazily low for Arsene to aim at. And we had Sagna to cover the CB role too.

This year we have:

Debuchy/Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny/Vermaelen Gibbs/Monreal (7)
Arteta/Flamini Ramsey/Wilshere (4)
Ozil/Rosicky (2)
Walcott/Chamberlain Sanchez/Cazorla/Podolski (5)
Giroud/Sanogo (2)

ie 20 players.

If we sign a forward, or midfielder we would be at 21, 22.
If we sign an experienced Centerback without selling Vermaelen, we’ll be at 23.

So, what do I think is most likely?
We won’t bring in another forward
We may sell Podolski or Santi.
We sign a DM only if he’s a perfect fit. If so, we sell Flamini?
This will be Sanogo’s year to prove himself, whether you approve or not.
Arsene will make sure to get Jack playing time in midfield and on the wing.
The young guys:

  • Joel Campbell? Nah. Talented but we have plenty of wide forwards, thanks.
  • Carl Jenkinson: He could go out on loan but my guess…he stays
  • Sanogo: He gets his chance to impress Arsene this year
  • Serge Gnabry: 50/50 on going on loan. If players stay fit, he won’t get a game.

Arsene likes a tight squad. It’s a philosophical thing. We’d probably all agree with him if we could get a “No Injuries” guarantee from him. Let’s pray the new fitness guru fixes it, and that Arsene and he develop a great working relationship.

Again, you may be fixated on how short the squad was last year. But I am 100% certain Wenger will attempt to address that by fixing our injury problems rather than throwing bodies at it.

And one last thing…Diaby!!! Could he play a Key Cameo role this year?. I pray so. For him and us. *Runs out of front door before launching self in to a running dive as the building behind explodes in a massive fireball.*