It has become a running joke among rival supporters and managers. So many times over the seasons, when questioned about a contentious incident or a penalty decision witnessed by every man and his dog, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has uttered his favourite catchphrase: "I did not see it." But Wenger has let the cat out of the bag - he does not need a trip to the opticians, he was simple telling a little white lie to "protect my players".
Wenger has revealed the sense of loyalty he feels to his players, and admitted it did sometimes stray into being dishonest if he felt it was in their best interests. Asked if he had ever been economical with the truth, the Frenchman told the Daily Mail: "Yes, because you are thinking, 'Why has he [a player] done that?' and you know you cannot explain it," Wenger said. "At times I saw it, and I said I didn't to protect the player, because I could not find any rational explanation to defend him. This is a job where you have to have an optimistic view of human nature or you become paranoid. You always have to think that a guy wants to do well. A coach is there to help. He must think that if he helps in the correct way the players will respond. You cannot be suspicious."
Wenger's team travel to Everton in today's late kick off. Of the league's supposed Big Four, Arsenal are the team who appear most under threat from the big spending of Manchester City and the continual improvement of teams like Aston Villa and Everton. Arsenal have lost two players, emmanuel Adebyor and Kolo Toure, to the Manchester side, but Everton manager David Moyes is hanging on resolutely to his prized asset, Joleon Lescott.
City manager Mark Hughes hinted on Thursday he would go above Moyes's head in his pursuit of England defender Lescott by suggesting City "were in conversations with the people who ultimately make the decisions at Everton". But Moyes said yesterday: "Lescott has had his head twisted in all of this. I hear that City think they are talking to people who make the decisions here, well that's me. I make the decisions, they have not talked to me and the player has been consistently told he is not for sale.
"He should get his head around that and get on with his career." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Watch Everton v Arsenal live at 8.15pm on Showsports 1 & 2