So where do we go from now? One thing is clear is that the continued tinkering of the team isn't helping. When we made the changes on Saturday it was clear to see that we invited the pressure and it eventually told. When we travelled to Stoke, we rested Walcott, Nasri AND Van Persie. I say and in capitals, because those are arguably our three most dynamic players - Cesc aside. Arsene has talked about rotation but you can't tinker so much and expect a win. We have many talents in our team, but there is no substitute for creativity in a game which is wholly based on such an attribute. The selection of Bendtner and Ade means the "moment of magic" up front was also missing, which is something that Vela and Van Persie possess, which us also why the Ade and VP and the Bendtner and Vela partnerships work well.
When we travel to a place like Stoke, we need to play our game, which means using our pace, creativity and skill to pass them off the park. I can understand an extra midfielder or more defensicve when we're in the second leg of a Champions League game with a 2-0 lead to protect and effectively need to play out the game. But four central midfielders and two target men starting against new promoted Stoke? With the team selection, surely we were trying to match Stoke rather than put them on the back foot.
In all reality, ALL the dropped points this season shouldn't have happened. All could have been avoided. But alas, it's history now.
And the selection of Silvestre baffles me. Toure should always be chosen ahead of Silvestre. I'm sorry Arsene, but that is 100% the case. Yes, Toure was at fault for the first goal, but blame for goals will always have to be apportioned. Why didn't Almunia come out and catch the ball? We have a player in Johan Djourou who has excelled in every game he's played this season, yet somehow doesn't get a look in. It's not time to experiment with Silvestre. That really should have been done in pre-season.
I know there are financial constraints, despite our wage bill being vastly bigger than last season. But tactics, line ups, formation and set pieces are down to the manager. And I really hope Arsene realises this. Of course, I don't think he should be sacked, that's ridiculous, but how long can this go on before some change happens or has to happen. With the squad as it is, we do have the players to challenge. Look at them, when on form, they're pretty damn good. We've shown glimpses of this against Porto and Blackburn. If you lose against a decent team, then you can sometimes say "okay, it didn't go for us", but we have lost to both promoted sides this season in Hull and Stoke, and that's simply not good enough.
So it's over to you Arsene to sort out the team selection, get it right, restore Djourou, play 4-4-2, include the dynamic players when you can. If Nasri and Vela are fit against United, play them. They are the players that can score a goal out of nothing. If they are unfit, then invest in a proper winger who can come in, not Denilson and Diaby on the wings. We've got young Jack in reserve, Vela can also play there.
A Champions League game midweek and then the big one on Saturday. Man United at the Emirates. We REALLY have to win.