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Arsenal have to make big decisions: Is Wenger a GOONER or a GONER?

Is Arsene Wenger's tenure at the helm of Arsenal rightly in question or does the Frenchman have a case?

The debate between Arsenal supporters, and outsiders alike, regarding the presence of manager Arsene Wenger continues to roll along and will do so until the club either parts ways with him or achieves some much-needed success.

Sure, the north London club broke a trophy drought when lifting the FA Cup last season but a narrow victory over Hull City, who had finished 16th in the Premier League, is hardly something to hang your hat on for a supporter base expecting so much more.

Arsenal have been a consistent side over the last decade since winning the 2003/04 Premier League title without defeat but a severe lack of silverware filling up the trophy cabinet is clear for all to see.

Wenger's men have produced 10 top-four finishes in each of the years since the 'Invincibles' and have gained constant qualification for the UEFA Champions League, making it to at least the Round of 16 every year during that time.

Still, there is plenty of divide within the Gooners community as to whether or not this is positive or negative consistency. Some clubs yearn to be a perpetual figure in Europe's premier club competition and only dream of finishing in the top four or five in the league, year-in, year-out.

But for Arsenal, a side who had become so used to picking up silverware with apparent consummate ease, going empty-handed from 2005 to 2014 is simply not good enough.

Often bullied by the big teams who constantly challenge them - they have saluted just five times in their past 33 outings combined against Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City - the Gunners have been powerless to produce a genuine title threat in the past six or so campaigns with their closest finish being four points in arrears of champions United in the 2007/08 season.

To many, the obvious reasons for these shortcomings is Wenger's seeming refusal to break the bank and bring proven, world-class players to the Emirates Stadium.

The last two summer transfer windows have slightly gone against that safe fiscal trend with the additions of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez for a combined £77.5million.

In the recent transfer window, a further £47million was splashed out on the likes of Calum Chambers (£16m), David Ospina (£3m), Mathieu Debuchy (£12m) and Danny Welbeck (£16m) taking the total to £82m including Sanchez.

In these players, Wenger attracted a largely untried right-back who is seen as a player for the future, a back-up goalkeeper, an improving international full-back (who has since unfortunately been injured) and a striker with plenty of talent but a goalscoring record that certainly does not meet the credentials of a world-class player.

Many Gunners fans, and critics alike, felt Wenger was crying out for a new centre-back after he let Thomas Vermaelen - another captain - leave for Barcelona but the French tactician failed to attract anyone who could challenge Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for a starting berth.

It has been the absence of a quality central defender that has seen Arsenal concede late goals in recent fixtures and many critics, including past Gunners stars, have identified this specific area as somewhere that needs to be strengthened very quickly.

Placing the topic of defenders to the side, Wenger has won just one piece of silverware in nine years which is nowhere near an acceptable enough result for a club like Arsenal.

Look at Chelsea in recent times. Poor results saw Roberto Di Matteo given the flick in November 2012 despite winning the Champions League/FA Cup double the campaign prior after Andre Villas-Boas was given his marching orders earlier in the same season.

The following campaign they won the Europa League under Rafael Benitez before Jose Mourinho returned and now all is in place for a tilt at another Premier League title, while the Champions League, Capital One Cup and FA Cup are still on the radar.

This shows their commitment to achieving success while casting mediocrity (mainly in the way of management) to the periphery.

Owner Roman Abramovich is intent on success and will stop at nothing to achieve what he desires while Arsenal's co-ownership setup of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and Red & White Holdings business partners Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri have a preference of running their club as a business.

Manchester City have also built a very strong squad of late, admittedly by overspending, but the success of the 2011/12 and 2013/14 Premier League titles, 2011 FA Cup and 2014 League Cup speaks for itself.

In the days of financial fair play, Arsenal's operations appear to be clever acumen, but ask the Gunners supporters who have to fork out up to £2,013 (cheapest being £1,014) for season tickets (£97 for a single match) in recent seasons if they want millions upon millions of pounds in the bank or if they want to see more trophies placed proudly in the trophy cabinet in N7.

Wenger has been brilliant for the Arsenal Football Club since taking over in 1996 but has the time come for him to move on if his yearnings are to be consistently decent rather than longing for consistent brilliance?

The Wenger debate is sure to rage on, especially if nothing is achieved by the end of 2014/15, which is when the board has to make a challenging decision on whether or not they want an overabundance of cash in the coffers or an influx of cups, shields and trophies in the Hornsey Road showroom.

With a worth of around £1.3billion, making them the fifth most valuable football club in the world, it is time for Arsenal to start living up to expectations and re-announce themselves as a force both domestically in England and in the ever-increasing competitive beast that is the UEFA Champions League.

Whether that is with Wenger or not is the gargantuan question the Gunners brass have to ask themselves at the culmination of the current campaign.

Arsenal's record in all four competitions since 2003/04

2013/14 - Fourth/ FA Cup WINNERS/ UCL Ro16/ League Cup fourth round

2012/13 - Fourth/ FA Cup fifth round/ UCL Ro16/ League Cup quarter-finals

2011/12 - Third/ FA Cup fifth round/ UCL Ro16/ League Cup quarter-finals

2010/11 - Fourth/ FA Cup sixth round/ UCL Ro16/ League Cup Runners-Up

2009/10 - Third/ FA Cup fourth round/ UCL quarter-finals/ League Cup fifth round

2008/09 - Fourth/ FA Cup semi-finals/ UCL semi-finals/ League Cup quarter-finals

2007/08 - Third/ FA Cup fifth round/ UCL quarter-finals/ League Cup semi-finals

2006/07 - Fourth/ FA Cup fifth round/ UCL Ro16/ League Cup Runners-Up

2005/06 - Fourth/ FA Cup fourth round/ UCL Runners-Up/ League Cup semi-finals

2004/05 - Runners-Up, FA Cup WINNERS, UCL Ro16, League Cup quarter-finals

2003/04 - PREMIERS (without defeat)/ FA Cup semi-finals/ UCL quarter-finals/ League Cup semi-finals

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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