Stop whining about officials, Wenger
Arsenal manager's penchant for blaming referees is becoming an annoying habit
Arsene Wenger poured out his grievances right on cue.
Broken by a 2-1 away defeat by Everton yesterday morning (Singapore time), he began to sound like a broken record as well.
He reached into his brocade bag for a ready-made excuse.
After all, in Wenger's wacky world, self-examination doesn't really exist.
And who else could he have blamed, but the sitting duck in black?
The corner kick that led to Ashley Williams' dramatic late winner for Everton should have been a goal-kick awarded to Arsenal instead, Wenger sniped.
"Of course, it was no corner," the Arsenal manager said, before later adding: "He (referee Mark Clattenburg) is in a really good position to see it and it is not the first time we are really unlucky with his decisions."
He was proven right, of course, as Everton substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin had indeed touched the ball last.
It, however, wasn't the first time the 67-year-old Frenchman conveniently pushed the blame to the referees.
As Everton manager Ronald Koeman insinuated, it's becoming an annoying habit.
"It is the third time in a row I won at home against Arsenal and three times in a row it was about the referee," said the 53-year-old Dutchman, who masterminded two Premier League victories over Arsenal last year when he was the Southampton manager.
On the first occasion, at St Mary's Stadium where the Saints won 2-0 on New Year's Day, Wenger was incensed at official Craig Pawson for not sending off Florian Gardos in the 67th minute for a foul on Alexis Sanchez as he looked to race through on goal.
The second time, after the Gunners missed the chance to go top of the table by crashing to a 4-0 loss to the Saints on Boxing Day, Wenger pointed the finger at referee Jonathan Moss.
The first goal was "offside", he said, the second goal was a foul, and the third goal came about because Moss did not give his team a goal-kick.
If Wenger's point of whining was to deflect attention away from his own team's performances, then it simply isn't working.
Like Koeman, most would have seen through the overused ruse.
Wenger's assertion that his side's comeback victory over Stoke City last Saturday was evidence of a growing mental strength in the camp was swiftly crushed by an Everton side showing more fire in the belly.
Just days after Wenger announced that Arsenal are genuine title contenders, the Gunners lost a 14-game unbeaten run in the Premier League to a team who until yesterday morning had won just one match in their last 10.
Despite his team taking the lead at Goodison Park through a deflected Alexis Sanchez free-kick, Arsenal displayed worrying brittleness after the hosts equalised through Seamus Coleman just before half-time.
In the second half, Arsenal retreated into the shadows, setting the stage for Williams to give the home fans something to cheer about, finally, with his thumping header late on.
After the match, Wenger insisted that his team were not missing the injured Shkodran Mustafi in defence.
But the fact that Everton scored both goals through headers in a central area in the penalty box must be worrying.
The German centre back is out for about three weeks, which means he will play no part in the fixture pile-up during the Christmas period.
It starts with this weekend's trip to Manchester City, where they will face an even tougher test than at Everton.
Wenger must quickly find out what caused yesterday morning's collapse.
Or is he too busy finding out who's officiating Sunday's game?