Arsene Wenger or not, Arsenal will never get close to Premier League's elite unless major spend is planned

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It was the day that reminded Arsenal fans that it may not actually matter who is their manager next season.

Now, after they scraped a point at home against Manchester City, it's down to the major share-holder, Stan Kroenke, and his fellow directors to make a vast transfer budget available, whether its Arsene Wenger doing the buying this summer or or a newcomer.

Its down to the board-room to really meet the basic challenge of the modern game and spend, spend and spend again.

And either way, that still may not be the answer for the big club that got left behind - unless the re-building job is already propely under way behind the scenes.

The current squad simply is not good enough or deep enough to compete at the top level of the game. It needs a major overhaul.

There is no magic formula or secret scientific process that Wenger - or any successor - can call upon to change that plain fact. Now its about cash, as distasteful as some of the purists might still find that idea.

Arsenal got away with it against City at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon but only because Pep Guardiola's team can't defend and are notoriously frail.

Yet for nearly all of the game, it was plainly apparent that City had a superior level of attacking and creative talent on show.

Its what you get when you spend the most money. And it makes no difference to the lesson Arsenal have to learn once again that, this time around, Guardiola's side were unable to make the most of that advantage in north London.

Its why, on the broader scale, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich rule the European game. And in the financial arms race of modern, elite football here, too, that is all that really counts in the end.

Unless Arsenal start matching their main rivals and stop the dithering around in the market-place and the late buying which has been their trademark in recent years in comparison with their biggest rivals, they will never catch up.

Its a nice idea to believe that you can thwart these new financial rules of the game. But its just not feasible anymore.

Forget the fact that the Gunners twice came from behind at the Emirates on Sunday. Some will see that as evidence of a resurgent spirit. It was, up to a point. They were not soft, as many believe they are.

In fact, though, spirit is a basic requirement of any team which takes itself seriously. And really, they needed three points.

With Arsenal under scrutiny like rarely before. with their manager's future in the balance and with their Champions League qualification hopes dangling on a thread, this was an occassion when that core value of the game was even more a part of the fundamental tool-kit.

And don't forget, either, that there were three occassions in the second half when City were close to wrapping up all three points - and that they must have left knowing they had allowed themselves to squander a win.

If it is Wenger who will be in charge at Arsenal next season, as he has been hinting that he will be, then he had better have some major master-plan up his sleeve.

It had best be taking shape already - because this match was yet another reminder that he has to belligerently face the economic realities and the might of clubs like City, Chelsea and Manchester United for which he has such an apparent dislike.

Wenger's recent patchy record in the market will not inspire a huge amount of confidence among the more disgruntled supporters that he can over-see such a re-building job.

But if he is not staying, the landscape in the transfer market may not appear so promising, either.

A new man will demand major spending if he is to make an impact and the board would have to promise that. If they haven't promised it already.

In fact, if Wenger is on his way, the new man should already be in place - secretly or not - so the summer's spending plans can already be under way.

Perhaps it's that matter which makes it most clear of all that Wenger is planning to remain in charge for another two years.

At Manchester United, the Glazer family eventually had to accept these facts after being accused of parsimony in their early years of ownership.

This is why they have £90 million Paul Pogba in their line-up and may have Antoine Griezmann on the way.

It still hasn't restored their former glories.

But unless Arsenal grasp the same nettle, they will never even get close to re-joining the elite.