Arsenal managed to drag themselves over the line to win the race for fourth in the 2012/13 campaign, but yet again the club went without silverware. 

Here are the major factors that have prevented Arsenal from challenging for honours with the best teams in Europe. 

Wage structure and contracts 

The socialist wage structure at Arsenal is perhaps the major contributor to Arsenal's lack of silverware during the second half of Wenger's reign. Paying players like Squillaci upwards of £50,000-a-week has restricted the clubs ability to attract and keep better players.

Andrey Arshavin and Squillaci have recently left the club freeing up around £140,000-a-week that could have been used to pay someone of Gonzalo HIguain's quality with change left to spare. 

Some of Arsenal’s star players have learnt that they can earn more away from the club, which has relied on a more balanced wage structure. 

Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott all held the club to ransom after finding themselves in the last year of their contract – Arsenal only managed to retain the latter.

Arsene Wenger, according to Ivan Gazidis, decides player wages and contracts, so the failings regarding wages lie with Wenger alone. He must adapt if he is to prevent more mistakes.

Transfer policy

Last summer the club signed Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, a promising start to the transfer window with the squad shaping up to be a potentially title contender. 

But much to the anger of the fans, the previous season’s best performers Van Persie and Alex Song left the club to enjoy great success elsewhere and were not replaced.

Despite breaking even and making profit after selling Song and Van Persie, Wenger decided against using the money Ivan Gazidis claims was available for replacements, therefore ending Arsenal's chances for a title challenge before the season had even begun. 

Much of the £70 million that is reported to be available now was available this time last year according to the club. One can't help feel the board are beginning to lay the blame for the failure to spend with Wenger. The pressure on Wenger to spend is certainly increasing within the club.

If the club are to finally have a summer of progress, they must resist the temptation of large fees for important players like Laurent Koscielny. The team needs stability more than ever and keeping its key players must top priority.   

Poor signings 

Wenger has pulled of some wonderful deals in his time, most recently Santi Cazorla for under £15 million. But deals like this are becoming more and more rare. Gervinho, Squillaci, Andre Santos, Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh have all been failures. Podolski and Giroud performed pretty well but haven't met the high standards Arsenal fans are used to. 

What happened to Wenger's once famous ability to acquire cheap young talent from aboard and school them into important first team players? Amongst Arsenal's current crop of youngsters in the first team not a single player matches that description. 

Wenger has brought in Ryo Miyaichi and Joel Campbell, but they show no signs of progressing into important first team players. Apparent new signing Yaya Sanogo may fit this bill but injury problems may prevent him from reaching his full potential. 

Predictable tactics

In recent season The Gunners have become far too predictable to play against. Wenger rarely changes the formation from either 4-2-3-1 or a standard 4-3-3 no matter who the opposition may be.

The most successful managers today prepare for each game differently, changing tactics, players and formations depending on the qualities that their opponents may have. This is the key to being successful as a manager; Sir Alex Ferguson was the best example of this.

Wenger has done an exceptional job keeping Arsenal in the Champions League for a 16 consecutive season, during a financially restrictive transition into a new stadium. However, the Frenchman has become much too predictable regarding his team set up and tactics, which has cost Arsenal at times.

Opposing managers know exactly what to expect when facing the Gunners. Arsenal will try to dominate possession and pen the opposition in their half (making Walcott's pace much less valuable). As teams expect this, the lesser quality sides will usually pack the centre of the pitch and allow Arsenal possession in wider areas, as they possess little threat from crosses. 

Until the last few games of the recently finished season, Wenger used the same system for every game, the only variable being the personnel within that system. Aaron Ramsey's move into a deeper lying central midfielder was the only significant change Wenger made to the squad all season. 

If Arsenal are to beat the best in the league they need to be able to change their style when plan A isn't working. 

Perhaps Arsenal's biggest flaw is their inability to make life uncomfortable for the opposition when they don't have the ball. In the first half-hour of the match against Manchester United at home, Arsenal were aggressive and quick to close down opponents and the space around them. Koscielny was the epitome of this and his continued form was vital in the race for Champions League qualification.

This kind of aggression without the ball was not seen at the Emirates nearly enough and is something that must be improved moving forward. 

Mentality and leadership

For clubs to consistently challenge for trophies the squad need four or five inspirational characters to drag them through the difficult stages of the season. Currently the squad simply don't have enough big characters in the dressing room, to give players who are struggling with poor form a much-needed boost.

Arsenal's current club captain Thomas Vermaelen was arguably the worst performer in the first team last year. The captaincy clearly affected his game and he became a liability in defence. He failed to command the back four let alone the whole team and his major drop in form may see him leave this summer. 

After Vermaelen was subsequently dropped from the team, Mikel Arteta picked up the captain's armband and led the team on their best run of form during the season. Other than Arteta the team has no real leaders, except maybe Jack Wilshere who most expect to be a future captain for club and country. 

For the club to progress players already within the squad must step up and be counted, instead of hiding away when the going get's tough. 

What do you think Arsenal need to improve moving forward? Leave your thoughts below.


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Topics:
#Premier League
#Arsenal
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