Will Arsenal finally learn from their mistakes with Jack Wilshere?

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True, Arsenal cannot compete with the spending power of the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United, but there are some things that must be done if they want to, at worst, remain a top-four club.

One of the biggest problems endured by clubs attempting to qualify for the Champions League is that they are effectively selling clubs, losing their best players and then almost having to start again.

Aston Villa are a prime example, making good money from Gareth Barry, James Milner, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, but then being unable to bring in efficient replacements with the cash.

Arsenal have done a better job in luring new players to the Emirates, but the fact is that they have failed to retain their most valuable stars or at least sell on their terms, like Arsene Wenger did previously with Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry.

Ashley Cole was the first to leave under this new player-power umbrella, but it is in the last two years that it has really become a problem that needs serious addressing.

For the club to retain a degree of power, players have to be kept under a long-term contract and these days, once a star player gets into their final two years, trouble is being asked for.

Arsenal have allowed Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie to enter the final year of their contracts and then heads are swayed by offers of more money or a bigger chance of trophies elsewhere.

Theo Walcott is another in the last year at present and is the first threatening to allow his contract to run out completely and leave on a free transfer.

Spending must increase, on both wages and transfer fees, if Arsenal are to become title challengers again, and this is where chief executive Ivan Gazidis and the rest of the board need to decide what they actually want from the club.

Keeping the best players is the only way Arsenal can attract more world-class players rather than those from the next tier down.

This must start with getting star young players to sign new deals when getting to within three years of their contract’s end and offering wages that the players believe puts them on par with other clubs.

Jack Wilshere is one of only a few true assets that Arsenal have left and he is contracted to the club until 2015.

The Gunners must be thinking about offering an extended deal soon to prevent the next saga in infuriating Arsenal fans and making the prospects of finishing outside of the top four in the near future a real possibility.

Arsenal are 8/13 to finish in the top four this season and based on current form, this is far from certain.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.