Arsene Wenger has claimed "half the dressing room wanted to leave" Arsenal this summer and the hangover could be behind their poor start to the season.
Sunday's 2-1 win over Sunderland lifted the Gunners back into the top half of the table, but they are 12 points off the pace at the top of the table already. Their early season struggles were highlighted by the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, coming on the back of a summer that saw Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri sold despite Wenger's insistence he wanted them to stay.
"It was a very difficult summer because half the dressing room wanted to leave," Wenger said in comments made on French radio station RTL and reported by the Guardian. "You're preparing for a season where you don't know who's going to come in, the players who are staying are asking themselves what's going on at the club, you've got a pre-season tour of Asia."
He added: "It was extraordinarily difficult. What saved us is that we're a club that are extremely solid and united. Other clubs would surely have gone to pieces in those circumstances.
"What people forget is that we lost three key players because we've also lost [Jack] Wilshere. Three who were important in our midfield. Nasri, Fabregas and Wilshere have all been lost and they were the basis of our midfield last season.
"We've had to reconstruct our midfield entirely because Wilshere won't be back until January. Still, we've disappointed this season so far, given what's expected of us, but I think we're on the up again. The problem is you can only climb the table slowly.
"We're not too far away in terms of points from fourth place. We're too far away from the top two."
Wenger admitted that simple economics meant that players wanted to leave Arsenal because there was more money on offer elsewhere.
"It's not that [players have to leave to win titles]," he said. "The problem isn't that. Frankly, if you compare what Manchester City have won in the past and what Arsenal have won, then you don't go to Manchester City to win titles. Players go to Manchester City because they pay much better than Arsenal.
"They are a force clearly, because they have exceptional financial clout, so it's not surprising what they've done."