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By ESPN Staff

Wenger has work to do - McLintock

Former Arsenal captain Frank McLintock firmly believes the future remains bright under Arsene Wenger but feels making the 'quantum leap' to Premier League champions this season may just be out of reach.

Wenger has signed a new three-year deal with the north London club, where he has brought unprecedented success since his arrival just over a decade ago.

But despite delivering three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs as well as guiding his side to the final of the Champions League in 2006, Arsenal have not won a trophy for two seasons.

Wenger firmly believes this current group of players can match the best, and the Gunners have opened the new campaign in some style - comfortably beating Sparta Prague to qualify for the lucrative group stages of the Champions League and are currently second in the Barclays Premier League table, unbeaten in four matches.

However, McLintock - who captained Arsenal to the double in 1971 and played more than 400 games for the club - feels there still remains some way to go to match the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to regain the championship crown.

McLintock told PA Sport: 'Arsene has done an amazing job since he came to Arsenal, and is not finished yet.

'However, it is an unsettling time at the moment because his fledglings are coming through. Some of them have got a bit to go yet.

'The fans will be behind Arsene and they have already seen an improvement from last year in the opening games.

'There are a lot of positive points about Arsenal this season, but whether you can take that quantum leap of winning the championship, I think it is a wee bit too far for them.'

McLintock added: 'They have some outstanding young kids there and will do very well and continue to improve - but I feel the gap they had last year [in the Premier League] will not be closed yet.

'They will get closer but I do not think it will be closed just yet, although I hope I am wrong.

'The gap last year was something like 20-odd points, and that is an awful lot to make up. Maybe the next season they will be a bit nearer.'

The summer sale of Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg means Arsenal have lost two key men as the `Invincibles' side of 2004 continues to be disbanded.

McLintock believes the Gunners would benefit from the addition of some more proven talent to their ranks.

He said: 'I would like to see a couple more experienced players in this side. Whether they have not got the money or whether Arsene does not think it is appropriate, I am not too sure.'

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, meanwhile, believes Wenger has laid the foundations to make the Gunners 'bigger than Real Madrid and Manchester United'.

Keown, 41, also played more than 400 times for the Gunners and was an integral part of the success under the Frenchman.

The defender - who left the Gunners in the summer of 2004 before brief stints at Leicester and Reading - firmly believes Wenger can now go on and take Arsenal to another level.

'Arsene Wenger's decision to sign a new deal is great news with everyone associated with Arsenal,' said Keown.

'Wenger has four more years and I think they will be his best years.'

Keown added: 'Wenger's challenge will now be to make the Gunners bigger than Real Madrid and Manchester United - and he has given himself every chance.

'Now that he's committed, he can continue to develop this young, capable team.

'The club has transformed into something completely different.

'He has more experience now, the team are playing at a new improved venue and there has been talk of new investment.

'It's going to be quite an exciting time at the Emirates Stadium.'