Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly yet expecting different results. The banality of opening a feature with a quote aside, it would not be wholly out of place to level this accusation at Arsenal.
Now Arsenal do not have it bad by any means. Fans of Newcastle or Portsmouth will rightfully scoff at any talk of hardship.
However, among teams of their stature, who harbor domestic and European ambitions every season, their relative rate of failure is unacceptable.
For the last five seasons, Arsenal have consistently fallen victim to the same mistakes. Their players have let the fans down time and time again. Therefore, in this feature, I pick out five players whose careers at Arsenal, for one reason or another, need to be brought to a close.
There remains a great chance that Arsene Wenger will not see it this way, but nevertheless, for these five players, time may be up.
When Eboue joined Arsenal, he initially won praise as the archetypical marauding full back. One journalist even compared him to Cafu.
But Bakary Sagna’s arrival showed everyone just how unschooled he was in the art of defending.
He has since gone through many roles—midfield anchorman, wing-forward, scapegoat, comic relief and lead choreographer. It has reached the point where he does not even look comfortable as a right back anymore.
Nowadays, he has become a sort of self-parody—a great guy to have anywhere but on the pitch.
All elbows and heels, most Arsenal fans cringe every time he makes an appearance, which he apparently does to provide "width" or to "shore things up." Is it possible for someone to have two weak feet?
Arsenal’s midfield three of Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere has rightfully won much praise this season.
However, the plunge in quality from those three to their backups is painfully noticeable.
Such is the hopelessness of Arsenal’s crop of reserve midfielders that it would be easy to nominate the washed up Tomas Rosicky or the obtuse Abou Diaby in this spot.
But Denilson gets the nod here simply because he epitomizes the absolute worst about Arsenal—weak, lackluster and defensively suspect.
Many fans find fault in Ramires, Anderson or Lucas Leiva, but Arsenal may have the most ineffective Brazilian midfielder of them all.
Even Arsenal fans have stopped defending him with gems like, "He accentuates our passing game." As if it really is that hard to do absolutely nothing but play five-yard passes backwards and sideways.
Unlike most of the players I considered for this list, van Persie is not here for his lack of ability.
He is close to being the complete striker; Dennis Bergkamp with a ruthless streak. His movement is intelligent, his finishing top class, and he may have the best technique and link-up play of any forward in England.
He has even managed to improve the use of his right foot (his chocolate leg, as he calls it), a weakness that was overstated anyway.
But if van Persie is your main striker, you’re not winning any titles.
The stats tell it all—he has missed almost half of Arsenal’s games in the last four and a half years through injury, and there is no sign of this track record dwindling any time soon.
And as long as Arsenal continue to pay him as their main striker, another high profile center forward is unlikely to join the club, given their tight wage structure.
Sadly, it is time for Arsenal to cut their losses.
Robin van Persie’s injury woes mean that Bendtner spends much of the season in Arsenal’s forward line by default.
As a result, whether out wide or through the centre, we see more of Bendtner than we should.
In many ways, it’s been your standard Bendtner season: a passable goal return, questionable boot selection and the occasional reminder of his self-confidence (just in case we had forgotten).
However, Bendtner has had ample time to at least begin to justify his self-perpetuated hype.
This has been his fourth season in the Arsenal first team, yet he routinely makes dumb decisions at the worst possible times, misses easy chances and screws up attacking possessions with his dreadful first touch.
He may have the highest talk to walk ratio in Premier League history.
This one may not be as difficult as you might think. In fact, many Arsenal fans have resigned themselves to losing Fabregas at some point.
No one is denying his quality, but he never seems to be fit enough to put together a run of games when his team needs it the most.
More importantly, his heart lies somewhere else.
Arsenal has been down this road with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and to a lesser extent, Emmanuel Adebayor.
All three experienced a summer of discontent where they were hotly tipped to leave the club for exorbitant fees. All three, for one reason or another, decided to stay. All three then put together a largely second-rate season and were sold the following summer for a largely second-rate price.
None of the above three players had anything even approaching the connection that Fabregas has with Barcelona. With Fabregas well into his own second-rate season, history tells us that the future is not bright.
If nothing else, losing Fabregas will be a blow because he has been the poster boy for the post-Invincibles Arsenal. He could yet still captain Arsenal to the Premiership title this season. However, you get the feeling that a Premier League title will only paper over the cracks in the Arsenal team.
However, Arsenal's problems in replacing Henry, Vieira and even Adebayor were well documented. Selling Fabregas would not be without its issues. But it would be a bold move, ruthless even. And ruthlessness is perhaps what Arsenal need to reinvigorate their stagnated squad.