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The ex-captain has lambasted the club's owners, believing the lack of ambition that forced Robin van Persie to leave, and a focus on profits ahead of trophies, is alienating fans

Tony Adams has publicly criticised the Arsenal board for lacking ambition and failing to hold on to their biggest stars in recent times, as well as questioning the set-up of Arsene Wenger's team.

The high-profile departure of club captain and leading goalscorer Robin van Persie to Manchester United in the summer appeared to many to signal Arsenal's unwillingness to challenge for the Premier League title. Critics felt that selling their best player to one of their biggest rivals, rather than matching the ambition of the Dutchman, symbolised the Gunners' fall from eminence.

Now Adams has aligned himself with those critics, lambasting the hierarchy at Ashburton Grove, where an eight-year trophy drought and increased ticket prices are at the forefront of Arsenal fans' minds.

Adams told The Independent: "The board see profits and it's got to the stage where the fans see no trophies. There is a balance; it is difficult, don't get me wrong. But they have to try to do it. The board, the owner and Arsene's job is to structure it in a way where you keep your best players, they are on good salaries and you are going for trophies. Because they are a million miles away at the moment.

"This game is about players and they [Arsenal] haven't got the players. I would have loved Vincent Kompany. I think he is exceptional. He was the best defender in the league last year and before that Rio Ferdinand and [Nemanja] Vidic have been great. I am a big fan of Jonny Evans.

"I will say, year in, year out, the team with the best defence wins the league. You have to be resilient and last year Manchester City with Vincent – he was the best. They have had a few problems early in the season but Pablo Zabaleta has had a good season. Gael Clichy has improved. All of a sudden they are getting better."

Former central defender Adams holds the distinction of being Arsenal's most successful skipper, lifting nine trophies during a 19-year career at his only club, for whom he made 669 appearances and scored 48 goals.

Now he not only finds himself disagreeing with the Gunners' transfer policy, but also questioning the defensive set-up at the club and the way his former boss Wenger utilises his centre-backs.

He continued: "I don't agree with the way he rotates his central defenders. It's an area of the pitch [where] you need familiarity. This is the argument I would have with him. His full-backs are too offensive. It's OK if you have someone in central midfield who can play centre-half."

Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday where they will face Chelsea in a 13:30 kick-off.

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