Arsenal squad lacking in quality according to former boss George Graham

Islington Gazette's Dan Mountney speaks to former Arsenal player and manager George Graham at the Ce

Islington Gazette's Dan Mountney speaks to former Arsenal player and manager George Graham at the Celebrity Golf day for Willow Charity held at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Former Arsenal player and manager George Graham believes the club are lacking ‘quality players’ after they missed out on the Premier League top four and winning the Europa League.

Islington Gazette's Dan Mountney speaks to former Arsenal player and manager George Graham at the Ce

Islington Gazette's Dan Mountney speaks to former Arsenal player and manager George Graham at the Celebrity Golf day for Willow Charity held at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The Gunners lost 4-1 against Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku last Wednesday, and missed out on the top four by a point after winning just one of their last five league games.

Graham, who played for the club between 1966 and 1972 - winning the double in 1970/71 - before lifting seven trophies as manager from 1986 to 1995, believes a lack of quality in Unai Emery's side is behind their shortcomings.

"I just think that the last few years the team have been struggling," he said.

"I think the quality of the players they had before were way above some of the quality of players they've got there now.

Arsenal manager George Graham celebrates, after the team paraded the European Cup Winner's Cup throu

Arsenal manager George Graham celebrates, after the team paraded the European Cup Winner's Cup through North London. Picture: Adam Butler/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images


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"You'd have to be a great manager I think, to push some of the players to the level you want them to be. I just think they need more quality players.

"When Arsene first came it was excellent. He bought players to the club that not many English people knew who they were, and he turned them into international players.

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"For easily over a decade, they were in cup finals, winning trophies. They were the team at the time alongside Manchester United, but if you look at the players now, that gives you the answer."

Speaking about how he assembled his trophy-winning sides, Graham added: "The players I bought, there were three reasons to bring players to the club.

A head above the others was George Graham of Arsenal as he got up to the ball against Burnley. Pictu

A head above the others was George Graham of Arsenal as he got up to the ball against Burnley. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

"You buy them, top quality players that you think are going to play every week.

"You then take a chance on the lower leagues which I did a lot because I knew the lower divisions very well. I knew who the best players were and luckily for the club and myself it worked out.

"That was the second way of bringing players in, and the third way was the youth policy.

"Before I joined, Arsenal were always renowned for having an outstanding youth set up and the people who ran it were excellent.

New Arsenal FC manager, Scotsman George Graham, at Highbury after his appointment was confirmed. Pic

New Arsenal FC manager, Scotsman George Graham, at Highbury after his appointment was confirmed. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

"In that respect, I was lucky because I had about eight players, you're talking about David Rocastle, Paul Davis, Michael Thomas, Tony Adams, Niall Quinn, Martin Keown. It's nearly a team. The youth policy was excellent.

"It worked out that the players under me who were bought cheaply and the players that were already there were hungry."

George Graham was speaking at the Willow Foundation Charity Golf Day at Brocket Hall. Willow, a charity set up by Bob and his wife, Megs in memory of their daughter Anna, organises special days for seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40. To donate to Willow visit www.willowfoundation.org.uk/donate.

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