AC Milan defeat saved Arsenal's season - Emmanuel Petit

Arsenal's 4-0 humiliation away to AC Milan in February was the catalyst behind their recent run of good form, believes former Gunner Emmanuel Petit.

The north Londoners have won six out of seven matches after the defeat and climbed to third in the Premier League.

"Maybe they grew up after all the criticism and after the humiliation against Milan," Petit told BBC Sport.

"Maybe they needed to be at a certain point to realise what they can do on the pitch."

Arsenal's defeat in the first leg of their Chapions League last-16 tie at the San Siro is their heaviest in European competition and was described as "a disaster" by manager Arsene Wenger.

They were dumped out of the FA Cup after a tame performance against Sunderland three days later and found themselves two goals down after 35 minutes of the north London derby against Tottenham the following weekend.

Before the match against Spurs, Petit himself had questioned Wenger's approach and described his team as "mentally very weak" and "playing like they don't know what to do on the pitch".

But Arsenal staged a stirring comeback to overhaul Spurs 5-2 and have won every match since.

Petit does not believe that some underlying problems at the Emirates Stadium have been solved however.

"When you lose against Milan and then have to play the derby against Spurs, you need to react," he added.

"If they can show this big character after all the criticism, they prove to everyone that we were wrong but first of all they proved to themselves that they were wrong as well."