Patrick Vieira believes Arsenal's "lack of leadership" could force them into conceding the Premier League lead this season.
The former Gunners star, who scored the vital FA Cup final penalty when Arsene Wenger's side last lifted silverware in 2005, has spoken bluntly ahead of the North Londoner's trip to Manchester City.
Now head of development at the Etihad, Vieira's words aim to plant seeds of doubt within his former boss' squad, per Mike Walters of the Mirror:
When you look at Arsenal, they play fantastic football. But sometimes you need to win games playing badly, and I don't think Arsenal are capable of that at the moment.
Maybe there is a lack of leadership - they don't have a Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Sol Campbell. These are players who can be leaders on or off the field.
Vieira knows exactly what it takes to lead in Arsenal colours and was club captain during the side's memorable "Invincible" season of 2003-04.
His playing career was defined by battles on the pitch—most famously, with Manchester United's Roy Keane—and the willingness to give everything for the success of the team.
The 37-year-old's comments may come out of spite, as Walters' report suggests Vieira's exit came as a huge shock after the aforementioned cup final:
I had no idea that Cup final would be my last game - I wasn't thinking about leaving at all.
The club didn't really fight to keep me or ask me to stay. I was really close to leaving for Real Madrid the year before, the deal was done between the two clubs, but I wanted to finish my career at Arsenal.
Will Arsenal win the Premier League title this year?
The Senegalese-born player has remained in Manchester ever since and will be hoping the Sky Blues can bring themselves to within three points of the leaders when they do battle on Dec. 14.
Arsenal's recent loss to struggling Manchester United and inability to beat Everton at home will have many considering whether Wenger's men have the guile and backbone to go all the way.