Tuesday 15 March 2016 5:49 pm

Arsenal without Arsene Wenger is hard to imagine and I don't like saying it but the Gunners have gone stale. Now Frenchman has four games to save the Gunners' season – and his job

Their team had just followed an odds-defying qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League by going top of the Premier League, so Arsenal fans had more cause than most to celebrate over the Christmas period.

They must have started to believe that this was indeed their year. And there is no question that it should be: they have the required quality and have been in contention for the title throughout.

Yet over the last six weeks their campaign has turned and a familiar soft centre has re-emerged. To make matters worse, neighbours Tottenham have overtaken them and have a great shot at winning the league.

There is simply not enough power in the team, not enough dirty work being done, so they lose when they shouldn’t. And there is no getting away from the fact that responsibility has to rest with Arsene Wenger.

Now the Gunners boss faces a pivotal run of games, starting on Wednesday with a seemingly lost cause of a second leg at Barcelona and followed by Premier League fixtures against Everton, Watford and West Ham.

First and foremost, I’m a great fan of Wenger. Year in, year out, he has done a remarkable job and one of his highlights is preserving Arsenal’s status as a Champions League club for almost two decades.

But I can’t understand why he has been unable to win a Premier League title since the Invincibles season of 2004. After all, the Frenchman has been there and done it before – three times.

Somewhere on the way he seems to have pursued a kind of perfect football, with a team populated only by footballing players, when Arsenal were never that type of side before.

They always used to have a back four and goalkeeper you could build a house on; players with steel such as Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour. Now they don’t and it’s put Wenger’s position in doubt.

It’s hard to imagine Arsenal without Wenger, and the club’s board must feel the same, especially while he keeps ensuring there is money in the bank and that the team remains at a good level.

I also honestly don’t like saying it, but the Gunners looks stale. Wenger has faced accusations that his coaching is a little dated. I don’t have insight on that, but I do think the set-up needs freshening up.

He’s earned the benefit of the doubt, so if I were in charge I’d see how the next four games went. Barca is a write-off, but Arsenal need seven points from Everton, Watford and West Ham to stay in the title race.

If Wenger can’t achieve that then the board has two choices: demand that he adds more steel in the summer, or, with a heavy heart, call time after 20 seasons in charge and say goodbye.