Arsenal manager Unai Emery reckons the squad lost their fighting spirit under his predecessor Arsene Wenger ahead of the Europa League final.
Emery, who replaced Wenger last summer, is hoping to cap off his debut campaign by leading Arsenal to victory against Chelsea in tonight’s Europa League final in Baku.
Overall, it’s been a respectable first season at the Emirates Stadium for Emery with 35 wins, eight draws and 14 defeats in his 57 matches.
Although the Gunners failed to secure a Premier League top-four finish for the third time in a row after finishing a point behind fourth-place Tottenham in the league standings.
But replacing Wenger, who had coached Arsenal for 22 years, was never going to be an easy task.
“When I arrived here, we changed some things. Before Arsene Wenger, Arsenal were very competitive,” Emery told the Telegraph.
“With Wenger, it was very competitive and also he gave the team quality players, with a competitive spirit, who created the best moments in Arsenal. But in the last years they lost being competitive, keeping only the quality.
“I learned with other coaches, and also listening and watching, that here you need to be competitive with physical players and quality players.
“You need both. If you only have quality players it is difficult to catch up to the others. It is the same if you only have physical players, with no quality. So my idea is to share the two, to create a team with both.
“Above all, the idea is to be competitive [again] and we are doing this, getting competitive little by little with this team. We need more, yes.
“We can’t do it all in one year. But we have reduced the distance, we have started to compete with some other teams.”
“[Arsenal lacking fighting spirit] This was the first information I received when I arrived here,” Emery added.
“The team is, step by step, showing more character.”
The Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal will begin at 21:00 (CET) tonight.