QPR midfielder Joey Barton feels Arsenal’s current crop have ‘no spine or character’.

Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton has criticized Arsene Wenger ahead of tomorrow’s London derby with Chelsea raising doubts about their strength in characters. Arsenal, who last lifted the league title back in 2004, have just a solitary win and 16 losses in their last 20 away games against the top five in the past five campaigns. Last season they were humbled 6-0 by Jose Mourinho’s side in Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge. Sunday’s clash marks the 18th year in charge as Arsenal boss for Arsene Wenger but Barton feels that rival managers have “had Wenger on toast”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, Barton said, “In big games they get under his skin and work them out tactically. The poor away record against rival clubs is probably the reason they haven’t won a title for years. Nobody can criticize Wenger on the job he has done to build the infrastructure at that club to a fantastic level. But it’s probably been sacrificed at the cost of trophies and challenging at that level.”

“You think of his teams of [Emmanuel] Petit, [Patrick] Vieira, [Tony] Adams, [Martin] Keown and all those kind of warriors. You look around the Arsenal dressing room now, the people who would win you those kind of games against the top four clubs – they don’t really have an abundance of them. At the latter stages of a season they come unstuck because of that lack of – I hate to say it – a real lack of character or spine within the team.”

“One of the things that comes out of the Arsenal dressing rooms is the change in culture from his first sides to now, where he’s developing from within. One player told me that Arsene doesn’t like anybody raising their voice at half-time if it’s not going well. He almost frowns upon it. Sometimes you need someone to galvanise and that might be a shouter and bawler. It may not be Arsene’s way, but I think they lack that. Psychologically, the managers of these big clubs are usually top managers and I think they’ve had Wenger on toast. Sir Alex Ferguson had him on toast in the end and Mourinho’s got him on toast now. That’s what costs them.”

Arsenal are currently unbeaten in the league so far but dropped points against the likes of Leicester City and Everton have left them six points behind early pacesetters Chelsea.