Beginning of the end for Wenger?
FA Cup humiliation proves there's nothing left of legend
A controversial new book questions a leader's ability to lead.
His decision to surround himself with sycophants leaves him unchallenged, which only furthers his messianic complex.
He truly believes that he's the best man - the only man - for the job.
For me and you, that's Donald Trump.
For Arsenal fans, that's a little too close to home.
Like President Trump in the White House, Arsene Wenger stands defiant as his temple burns. The autocrat has turned oblivious arsonist, destroying his own kingdom without noticing.
Like Trump, it's always someone else's fault.
Last weekend, Trump had "Sloppy Steve" Bannon. Wenger had sloppy men in black.
More recently, Trump blamed the fake news for not seeing the wood for the trees.
Yesterday morning (Singapore time), Wenger blamed his fragile players for not seeing the Forest of Nottingham.
Arsenal were bundled out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest, manager-less and mid-table in the Championship.
The score was 4-2, but the result was never in doubt. The Gunners were incontestably awful, the cup holders turning into the comically hopeless.
Any hope that the legend still exists vanished in Nottingham.
Wenger made nine changes, sending out a woefully inept side that encapsulated their manager's dogma.
VETERANS AND YOUNG STARS
Arsenal's back four had a couple of international veterans and a couple of supposedly rising English stars. They all failed to handle Ben Brereton.
He's an 18-year-old kid in the Championship. He ripped the Gunners to shreds.
Per Mertesacker's creaking body carried out another mutiny of the muscles.
He's retiring at the end of the season and should never have been picked.
Alongside him, Rob Holding was equally inadequate. Wenger once spoke of Holding's promise in a way not too dissimilar to how Pep Guardiola once spoke of John Stones.
Holding was English, young and touted as a possible international centre back. He's 22 and still English. The other stuff isn't mentioned much now.
Holding finds himself on that well-worn path previously taken by Wenger's other great young hopes. Remember Theo Walcott?
No one in Nottingham does either and he played the full 90 minutes. He's a ghost in the shell, a haunted footballer struggling to escape the demons of lost potential.
He might have played his last game for Arsenal. With the FA Cup gone, there's little incentive to keep peripheral performers like Walcott and Mathieu Debuchy.
SHORT OF OPTIONS
Neither of them gave Wenger cause to keep them, but the Frenchman is short of options.
A club that made a pre-tax profit of almost £45 million (S$80.9m) last year - when annual turnover exceeded £400m for the first time - had a bench filled with kids.
At least three of the first XI are not yet shaving regularly and the rest wouldn't seriously challenge for selection at any of the top four sides in the English Premier League.
Wenger was saving the best of his threadbare squad for the League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea on Thursday.
So, Arsenal, it has come to this, resting players for a third-tier tournament that few people care about.
Wenger sacrificed a tournament that has arguably saved his Arsenal career twice.
He has won the FA Cup seven times, the same number as Chelsea and Liverpool.
Now he breaks unwanted records instead.
This is his first defeat in the third round since taking over in 1996. This is his first season without Champions League football. This is the first time he has been 23 points behind the EPL leaders in January.
This is the first time the French emperor truly has no clothes.
He's cruelly, viciously exposed now. There's nothing to hide behind, no excuse to fall back on. It's a mess of Wenger's making, with a little help from his friends in the boardroom.
Arsenal's majority owner, Stan Kroenke, continues to focus his energies on the relocated Los Angeles Rams - his NFL club and real sports passion - and remains an absentee landlord of the worst kind.
As long as Kroenke's north London property makes money, he's not particularly interested.
So Wenger endures unchecked, a lost leader with no limits to his power.
No one questions his decisions, his poor signings, his bizarre team selections and formations, both of which failed at Forest, or his inability to get the best out of proven talents - and then his inability to keep them.
So the League Cup now becomes the most double-edged of swords.
The Arsenal faithful always relish the chance to get one over on Chelsea, but defeat could represent the beginning of the end for Wenger.
If he runs out of tournaments, he'll surely run out of excuses to stay.