Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery has accused some of his players of not having "a good attitude" in a stout defence of his 18-month reign at the Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard was relieved of his duties in November last year after a run of seven games in all competitions without a win, with the Gunners eight points adrift of the English Premier League's top four.
He departed amid claims that he had struggled to motivate the club's biggest names, although he has hit back at those suggestions and insisted he was turning things around.
"Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years before I arrived. We stopped this fall and even began to rebuild the club with the Europa League final and fifth place in the league, only one point off Tottenham despite the fact that we took just one point in our final five matches," Emery told France Football on Monday.
"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: (Laurent) Koscielny, (Petr) Cech, (Aaron) Ramsey and (Nacho) 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."
Cech retired at the end of last season, while Monreal, Koscielny and Ramsey left North London for Real Sociedad, Bordeaux and Juventus respectively.
Meanwhile, Emery's relacement Mikel Arteta believes the club's "mini pre-season" in Dubai will stand them in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.
Newcastle are Arsenal's first opponents after the mid-season break, with Steve Bruce's side visiting on Sunday.
It will be the start of a hectic schedule for Arteta's side with games coming in the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup between now and the start of March.
The Spaniard hopes the camp helps get his ideas across quicker to ensure they start moving up the table from 10th position.
"We came here to work, it was like a mini pre-season," Arteta said.
"I wanted to use it to work on our principles and our styles of play, and as well how we live together.
"There are things I want to implement together as a group, not just for the players but for the staff as well. It has been really useful."
Australian Associated Press