The former right-back, 35, who played 284 times for the club, reckons new boss Emery must change the attitude of the dressing room if the Gunners are to fight for trophies again.
The club will spend a second season outside of the Champions League following a sixth-placed Premier League finish, following 21 years in Europe's elite competition.
Gunners stars like Mesut Ozil have come in for criticism over his work-rate during games.
Sagna told the Standard: “The team is and was too nice. They never liked to argue. We were just too nice to each other, we were like friends.
“To be successful you need to be bad sometimes, to have a go at each other. It’s like any other business: if you run a company and expect more from someone you need to wake that person up.
"It wasn’t happening at Arsenal. We were enjoying giving everything for each other but if someone wasn’t doing the job 100 per cent we didn’t blame them.
“They definitely need some leadership. Every single team has players with good influence. I’m not talking about quality and skills, I’m talking about behaviour and attitude.
“Emery asks a lot, he’s very demanding but he can get what he wants. Some of that team are young, they want to learn and be successful. He will bring some discipline to Arsenal.”
Sagna is expected to leave Italian side Benevento after they were relegated to Serie B.
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He performed solidly for France at Euro 2016 but has now seen the years catch up with him and missed out, as expected, for his country's World Cup squad.
Sagna acknowledges compatriot Paul Pogba has not had the best of seasons, but backs his former international team-mate to star at Russia 2018.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Sagna added: "He had a so-so season with Manchester United because he got a lot of criticism because when you cost £100m people expect you to score many goals, people expect you to make a lot more.
"People have to remember he is only a holding midfield player and he has orders from the manager and to me a holding midfield player is there to protect the team and to defend first.
"That's what he's been doing, but I'm looking forward to seeing him shining and he's going to shine."
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