Arsenal have not finished in the top two in a decade and fans are calling for a change

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The last time Arsenal finished in the top two of the Premier League was back in 2005 when they finished 12 points behind winners Chelsea. Since then, Arsenal have had four third-place finishes and six fourth-place finishes. 

Despite qualifying for the Champions League every season during the last 10 years, they have not managed to regain the glory days of the late nineties and the early 2000s. 

Arsenal have shown glimpses of their title winning potential but have faltered when it came to the second-half of seasons.


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During the 2007/2008 campaign, Arsenal lead the table for long periods of the season. At one point in February, the Gunners were on top spot, leading second-placed Manchester United by five points with only 12 games left to play. 

However, poor performances towards the end of the season allowed both United and Chelsea to leapfrog Arsenal, restricting them to only a third-placed finish. 

The frustration among fans has been evident and it might have reached a tipping point this season. 

During Arsenal's recent game against Norwich City at the Emirates, some fans were seen protesting against Arsene Wenger with banners and signs displaying "Wenger out" and "Time for change" slogans. 

But, Arsenal's lack of success has been a culmination of several factors, rather than just the manager's choice of tactics. 

Loss of Star Players

Throughout the last decade, Arsenal have lost key players at crucial times.

Cesc Fabregas,Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Song, Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Bacary Sagna have all left the Emirates in recent seasons, with the majority of them going on to win titles with their new clubs.

These are the star players that chose to leave for greener pastures, which left gaping holes in the team, which have never truly been filled. 

Arsenal's lack of success in Europe and lack of big names in the side has also been a barrier for high profile players to come to the Emirates. 

Lack of Leadership in the Team

During Arsenal's unbeaten title winning season in 2004, the dressing room not only contained several leaders but strong personalities. 

Patrick Vieira was the club captain but others such as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Jens Lehmann were massive personalities who often lead from the front during games. Such a presence is often overlooked but could provide great morale to a team. 

Fabregas and Van Persie provided some of those qualities during their time at Arsenal but their departures have created a vacuum where no one has really picked up the mantle. 

Mikel Arteta is the current captain of the team but has spent most of the season injured. In the Spaniard's absence, Per Mertesacker has taken on leadership duties, but it has not been enough in providing motivating the side during tough encounters. 

Wenger's Predictable Tactics

From 1997-2004, Wenger had the reputation of turning relatively unknown players into world class stars. He did it with Henry, Ashley Cole, Pires, Vieira, Sylvain Wiltord and several others. 

By playing several young players together, Wenger was able to create a cohesive force at Arsenal with great chemistry between players. Arsenal's flowing style with quick passing, movement, and one-touch passes blew the Premier League away. 

However, fans and critics quickly learned that the same philosophy of converting young players into stars does not always work. 

The French tactician has often refused to splash the cash in the transfer market unlike counterparts Chelsea, Manchester United, and City. 

It is important to occasionally bolster the squad with a few experienced and established players, and Arsenal always had the funds and prestige to do so, but Wenger preferred to stick with his tried and tested methods which opposing teams quickly caught on to. 

Inability to grind out results

Arsenal are by no means an average team. They are a top side who only know one way to approach games. Their age-old system of movement and passing are effective against most teams, but it often tends to fail against bigger teams who are able to deploy complex tactics and can adapt to different situations. 

When at their best, the Gunners are able to brush aside teams comfortably, but when faced with tough encounters, they seem to be subdued. 

To win the league title, it is important to grind out the one-goal-margin wins during tricky encounters. That is exactly what the current Arsenal team are not capable of, which could be attributed to a lack of mental strength or their insistence on following a single game plan. 

Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and even Liverpool have all been good at getting the results they need, be it in the league or in Europe. 

Leicester City have also been able to do that consistently this season, resulting in their mercurial rise to the top of the league. 

Changes need to be made

One thing is for sure, Arsenal need better players.

Their current team may be talented, but to truly compete for the league and in Europe, there needs to be some big players in the team, both in terms of quality and leadership. 

Three players that Arsenal must hold on to at all cost are Petr Cech, Mesut Ozil, and Alexis Sanchez. These three are world class players having won league titles with Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Barcelona respectively. 

They also have immense Champions League experience. Wenger needs to use these players to create a spine in the team, from which he can build a stronger side. 

However, many believe that the manager itself needs to be changed. The fans have endured Wenger for a long time and several of them believe that a managerial switch might be what Arsenal need to compete for major trophies. 

There has not been any indication from club officials of any intentions of appointing a new manager, but given that Arsenal are likely to finish in third or fourth spot yet again, a change might well be arriving soon. 

Should Arsenal be looking to replace Arsene Wenger this summer? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Thierry Henry
Alexis Sanchez
Robin Van Persie
Premier League
Petr Cech
Francesc Fabregas

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