Arsenal were right on track under Unai Emery until the departures of Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey and Nacho Monreal last summer.
That’s the view of the former Gunners head coach.
The quartet were named as the Spaniard’s captain group alongside Mesut Ozil during his first season at the club, but 12 months later they had all departed the Emirates Stadium.
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Cech hung up his boots following the 4-1 Europa League final defeat by Chelsea and returned to Stamford Bridge in a behind the scenes role and Ramsey joined Juventus on a free transfer.
Koscielny’s return to France was shrouded in controversy as he went on strike to force a move to Bordeaux, while Monreal sealed a move back to Spain as he joined Real Sociedad before the summer transfer window closed.
These factors are what Emery feels are what led to his sacking at the end of the November as he felt he was doing a good job picking up the mess he had found the club in after Arsene Wenger had stepped down.
“Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years before I arrived,” he told France Football, as per Get Football News France.
“We stopped this fall and even began to rebuild the club with the Europa League final and 5th place in the league, only one point off of Tottenham despite the fact that we took just one point in our final five matches.
“We had Champions League qualification in our grasp and it went wrong in the end. But it was a good season and we had this notion of continuing to improve.
“But we lost our four captains: Koscielny, Cech, Ramsey and Monreal. They were personalities that we missed this season to stay on the right track.
“And some stars did not have a good attitude and asked for more than what they were giving back.
“Taking all of that into account, we needed time to succeed with our transition to a new Arsenal which is what I wanted.”
Following Emery’s sacking at the end of November, Freddie Ljungberg took temporary charge of the first-team and oversaw six games across the Premier League and the Europa League.
However, the Gunners did not get the new managerial bounce as they won just once under the Swede.
Before Christmas the decision was made to appoint former captain Mikel Arteta as the new head coach and whilst the Spaniard has made an impact, he too is finding victories hard to come by.