David Luiz has refused to engage in a war of words with Unai Emery after the Spaniard questioned the attitude of some of the Arsenal players during his time in charge at Emirates Stadium.
Emery was sacked in December after guiding Arsenal to their worst run of results since 1992 and has since been replaced by Mikel Arteta, who picked up his second league win on Sunday when Newcastle were seen off 4-0 in north London.
Emery has given several interviews since leaving the Gunners and in one of them, while speaking to France Football, he suggested that certain unnamed players were largely to blame for what went wrong.
“We had Champions League qualification in our grasp and it went wrong in the end,” explained Emery. “But it was a good [first] 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.
“Given all that, it would have taken more time to successfully change to the new Arsenal I wanted.”
Those comments have not gone down well at Arsenal, with legendary Gunners striker Ian Wright labelling them as ‘delusional’.
But when quizzed on his thoughts of what had been said, Luiz was more restrained and said he could understand why Emery was looking to find reasons why his philosophy had failed to get results.
“I think Unai is a great coach, a great person,” said the defender. “The things didn’t work very well, especially the results and it’s normal to try to find some answers.
“I don’t judge anybody. I still have a lot of admiration for him and I think it’s not intelligent from my point of view if I say something.
“I think he was great, great guy, great coach. In football we need results, if the results aren’t coming everybody is going to try to find out why.
“I think he has his vision and we have to accept that in a nice way and in a humble way.”
Arsenal’s win against Newcastle on Sunday means they are now just seven points off the top four in the Premier League and has stretched their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions.
They have conceded just five goals during that time and have now kept back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in the league this season.
There is a growing sense around the club that they have started to turn a corner under Arteta and Luiz believes that the team is improving by the week.
But the experienced centre-back has warned that it is far too early to start getting carried away.
“I think to restart something like we did, with a new philosophy, with a new coach, with a different system, you have to think step by step,” he said.
“The first thing was to try to create the identity of the team, to improve in many ways, improve in the training ground, improve our behaviours, improve our way of training, improve our way of seeing things, our mentality.
“I think we are doing things every single week in a positive way, we are improving. Then in the end we start to get some results and we start to think about the table, start to think we still have the possibility and then we try until the end to do our best in the season.
“I am happy with the team, I am happy with how we are understanding better what Mikel wants from us every week. We are improving as a team.”
After travelling to Olympiakos on Thursday night in the Europa League, Arsenal’s next five games in the Premier League see them take on Everton, West Ham, Brighton, Southampton and Norwich.
On paper, it is a favourable run of fixtures but Luiz is well aware of the problems the Gunners have run into this season against the so-called lesser sides.
“We can’t judge by the name because we lost points against almost all the teams because they do very well,” said the 32-year-old.
“Like I said, it is up to us to understand what we are doing every single day and to continue to improve.
“Don’t think about the name of the opponent, we have to try to win games and try to [finish in the top four] because we still have the possibility.”