Fabrice Muamba reckons Arsenal are being made to pay for not replacing Patrick Vieira
Arsenal should know they are in trouble the day their "heart" is being questioned by none other than Fabrice Muamba.
An Arsenal trainee from the age of 12, Muamba was nurtured as a replacement for Vieira, only to fall short in a career that took him instead to Birmingham and Bolton before it was ended prematurely by his cardiac arrest in 2012.
Twelve years after Vieira's departure, Arsene Wenger still has not found the answer, and nothing highlights the size of the hole than a trip to Stamford Bridge.
During the nine years Vieira was at Arsenal, the Gunners never lost a Premier League game there. By contrast, Chelsea have beaten Wenger's side eight times in their 11 visits since.
It is not just the player that has been missed but the effect Vieira used to have on the entire squad.
Arsenal never lost a Premier League game against Chelsea when Patrick Vieira was in their midfield
Muamba still remembers fondly his first day training with the first team. "It was not just Patrick's physicality, I was struck by his quality and ability to see stuff and how seriously he took football.
"He never let anybody get away with anything," explains Muamba, who recently completed his UEFA A licence and is considering a return to football.
"These days people are scared to let team-mates know exactly what they think of them. But when I saw him have a go at Martin Keown, I knew that nobody was above criticism.
"Watching him shout 'effing this' and 'effing that' at one of the most senior players in the club made me realise that absolutely everybody had to live up to his high standards.
"Patrick trained how he plays. If a tackle needed to be made, he would make it. And any youngster coming into training for the first time would be summoned for a quiet word beforehand at the side of the pitch.
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Muamba was being nurtured as a replacement for Vieira during his time at Arsenal
"The thing he told me was to give my everything always in training, because he certainly would be. By the end of the session, I had the bruises to prove it!
"It impressed on me the qualities that made Arsenal the best team in the country at the time."
That message has become corrupted following Vieira's departure and nobody at the club appears to be pulling young players back into line.
New arrivals think they are signing up to some aesthetic, beautiful crowd-pleasing football. Nobody is prepared to do the hard graft that underpins it in successful teams. It is a malaise that filters right through the club.
"People have the wrong idea about what it is to be an Arsenal player," Muamba says. "Some of them are in a dream world, pass, pass, pass. They say, 'That is the Arsenal way'.
Wenger looks set to start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in central midfield against Chelsea
"They get comfortable. Everything is tailor-made for them. The problem goes right through the squad.
"How many Arsenal players that go on loan actually end up playing for their clubs? They lack the will to fight for what they can get, the strength to fight for a place. They end up just being squad players even at the club they have joined.
"But at Chelsea or Manchester United, you know you cannot play every game, even at the top level. So already you have the right mentality to show the team you are on loan to what you can do every week in order to play as regularly as you can.
"From what I hear at Arsenal, the discipline is not as it used to be. Liam Brady is not in the academy. Eddie Niedzwiecki, before he joined Mark Hughes, and Don Howe used to keep everybody in check."
Wenger is likely to have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a central role at Stamford Bridge with a mixture of injury and suspension robbing him of Granit Xhaka, Santi Cazorla and Mohamed Elneny. But even at full strength, Chelsea out-gun them in such a key area.
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"N'Golo Kante could run past three of them on his own," Muamba said. "People have to understand, with the way the game is going, that is the level of commitment you need.
"It is his energy that means he chases until the 90th minute. He doesn't just launch himself at people from yards away. Too many players put in amazing tackles that look good for the camera. I would rather have somebody in my team who puts in a proper tackle with no fuss.
"Xhaka, for example, may be aggressive but he needs to control it. And Francis Coquelin only got into the side because people got injured – he was on loan at Charlton as a right-back, and people should not forget that. He came back and did well but it only papered over the cracks.
"Sometimes you have to buy experience. Arsenal really need to go out there and spend £30millon and get the best central midfielder in Europe – in my view, Blaise Matuidi at PSG.
"Why hasn't Arsenal signed somebody like that? You have to ask Arsene that. Everybody loves him and nobody who has been at the football club will speak against him.
"But some of those guys need to step up and repay his faith in them. It is time for them to deliver."