Neil Humphreys: Arsenal are built to fail
Wenger, owner, players and even fans to blame for failure
Arsenal's annual slide towards irrelevance can be attributed to just about everyone associated with the club.
No one escapes blame. They are all culpable.
From owner Stan Kroenke to manager Arsene Wenger, the players and even the genial supporters, they are all at fault to a degree.
Jose Mourinho once sneeringly referred to Wenger as a "specialist in failure", but the Manchester United manager was wrong.
Every Gunner is a specialist in failure. They are dipped in rejection and self-loathing, leaving the Emirates Stadium reeking of anti-climax.
Without a change in mindset, attitude and, yes, perhaps even the manager at the end of the season, there cannot be an end to the club's interminable stagnation.
It's a painful truth to acknowledge, particularly for a decent man like Wenger, who is governed only by his principles (and his £8m (S$14m) annual salary.)
But any Gunner still clutching at the straw labelled "principles" needs a reality check - or a glimpse at the league table of season ticket prices.
Arsenal's refusal to seriously challenge Europe's powerhouses is not about principles in the dressing room, but money in the boardroom.
The embarrassing 3-1 defeat by Chelsea was just the latest reminder of Wenger's threadbare squad and his usual lack of alternatives.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of Arsenal player.
There is the rare gem, the one who naively joined the club with quaint hopes of lifting the title only to quickly realise that the Gunners specialise in mediocrity. He is Alexis Sanchez.
Then there are the authentic superstars, seemingly content to coast on their natural talent and remain a big fish in an average pool. Call it the Mesut Oezil syndrome.
And finally, there are those who occasionally flirt with greatness, but consistency always eludes them. No other title-challenging club really want them.
They are Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey and most Arsenal signings since their last title in 2004.
Once in a while, they'll take the breath away and fool the foolish once more into believing that this is their year.
This is the end of tippy-tapping, melting snowflakes and the beginning of a brutish era of voracious, title-chasing beasts.
But it never is. Wenger doesn't sign those players anymore. He hasn't since Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit and Sol Campbell.
Instead, he focused on a new stadium and salary ceilings.
Initially, his views were admired. He was a beacon of fiscal prudence in a morass of gluttony.
WENGER THE ACCOUNTANT
But the recent TV deal, guaranteeing millions of dollars every year, now makes Wenger seem not only irrelevant, but also tight-fisted.
He sounds like an accountant managing an MNC, rather than a football manager.
Moreover, the vast TV revenue also renders the additional cash from Champions League qualification less significant, which undermines Wenger's insistence that a top-four finish constitutes a major success.
Add all of this to the fact that the Gunners still hold the dubious record of charging the highest prices for match-day tickets and it's hard not to conclude that corporate greed, rather than coaching principles, drives Arsenal's business model.
As long as Wenger keeps the cash coming in, Kroenke has no reason to sack him. The American owner has said as much.
As a result, Arsenal are a club defined by a lack of urgency, both in the transfer market and on the pitch. There's no reason to look over one's shoulder for a swinging axe.
Everything feels nice and cosy at Arsenal and where do nice guys typically finish?
And yet, the fans keep coming back. They continue to pay the highest ticket prices to watch a financial success, not a football one. They, too, must question their priorities.
Kroenke loves Wenger not because he puts trophies in the cabinet. He puts money in the bank.
Unless the owners suddenly change tack - and they won't - Arsenal will be stuck with a complacent manager, a weak squad and a lackadaisical mindset.
But they'll still have their principles.
When another season ends in failure, perhaps the Gunners can say that having principles is like winning a trophy.