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Perennial Underachievers: Will Arsenal Ever Break Through Their Glass Ceiling?

09/04/2015 22:29 BST | Updated 09/06/2015 10:59 BST

It's hard not to be taken in by Arsenal. They play the most attractive football in the country, boast some of the most talented players in Europe and offer so much promise on the domestic front.

But we all know that the Gunners are perennial underachievers - or "specialists in failure" - as Jose Mourinho once put it.

We've been waiting for so long to be proven otherwise - be it the neutrals or Arsenal fans, perhaps everybody bar supporters of Tottenham Hotspur - but Arsenal just can't (and won't) break through their glass ceiling. Not this season anyway.

Their failure has reached a point of tedium. The frustrating thing is that they're so capable of breaking through to the next level, even with the much criticised Arsene Wenger at the helm. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a couple of key signings in the right positions and a little toughening up might just take them that step above.

Cast your mind back though - how long have we been saying that for? We're dating back to the days where Thierry Henry was still parading around the Emirates as Arsenal captain.

They've taken over Liverpool in the "next year could be our year" stakes. Unfortunate, but there's an argument for it to be true. Unlike the Reds, they always deliver at some point over the course of the season to a level that suggests they are good enough to win the Premier League title. That point is now - since their defeat at Southampton on New Year's Day, Arsenal have won ten of their last 11 Premier League games - and seven on the spin. That's championship form.

Their latest victory came over Brendan Rodgers' side on Saturday. It was full of the complete football we've become accustomed to from the Gunners in 2015. While Liverpool turned up like lambs to the slaughter, Arsenal smelled blood and but for a couple of lucky moments before the first goal, glided to a 4-1 win.

It was the perfect example of what they can do when the pressure's off. Arsenal are in no danger of winning the title this year. Chelsea are too far ahead and they won't let their lead slip - and even if they did - Arsenal wouldn't have the stones to capitalise.

Arsenal are like that talented kid at school - the one who who has so much to offer, but is a little scared of the spotlight. He prefers to just fade into the background and while he might be a little proud of what he's done, he doesn't like the attention on him. Nor the pressure.

They are this year destined to settle for their usual position of top four hoggers, though we might even see them rise above their customary fourth placed slot. But realistically, what difference apart from the formality of a Champions League qualifier and an extra couple of million will it make?

It's first or last. Arsenal have been living in the shadow of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City for too long and it's time to step out. The capability is within them. Mental barriers can be overcome, it's just the question of how to do so that will again fall on Arsene Wenger's shoulders this summer.

Their flair will never subside under Wenger. They've been the best team to watch in England for most of his reign as manager - perhaps dating back to when the Frenchman sealed his first Premier League and FA Cup double in 1997/98 - and certainly when the "Invincibles" were around. But it's now 11 years since they lifted the league title and they've only two FA Cup trophies to show for their efforts since then. It's not really enough.

While they have the Cup to contend for and it would be a nice end to the season if they were to win it, Arsenal fans want and expect more.

Wenger won't be around forever, but it's his duty to bring Arsenal back to the position of champions before he sets off into retirement. We don't know when that'll be yet, but with the shackles off after their stadium repayment plan and Wenger proving he's not scared of spending big money, Arsenal have moved about an inch closer to where they want to be.

They're not far away from the top again. But that's been the case for too long. We'll have to wait and see what they do in the summer to know whether next year will be their year. But the excuses are running out.

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