x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Wenger's blind eye

Arsene Wenger ended the day among a chuckling home support, arms wide open and a puzzled expression plastered across his furrowed brow.

Arsene Wenger climbs up to the stands after being sent off at Old Trafford on Saturday night.
Arsene Wenger climbs up to the stands after being sent off at Old Trafford on Saturday night.

He ended the day among a chuckling home support, arms wide open and a puzzled expression plastered across his furrowed brow. Nobody plays the wronged man better than Arsene Wenger, even when he is in the wrong. Wenger was sent off for trying to volley a plastic bottle in the death throes of Arsenal's 2-1 loss at Manchester United, a match in which his side's unbeaten start to the Premier League was torn down amid some sweaty scenes of upheaval. The Frenchman's fit of pique was induced by seeing a Robin van Persie goal rightly ruled out for offside. A touch of farce has adorned Wenger's week.

His reaction to the red card was as solid as Gerard Depardieu in Green Card, every bit as convincing as Eduardo's acting had been in the Champions League. These have been a manic few days in which penalties seem to have perforated Wenger's misguided sense of what constitutes natural justice. For his own sake and the healthy sheen emanating from his vibrant young side, Wenger, no matter how lovable a manager he is, needs to simmer down. It is all getting a bit silly.

To give or not to give, that is the question. United's Wayne Rooney picked himself up off the deck to convert a penalty much like Eduardo did for Arsenal against Celtic in the Champions League. Rooney's penalty around the hour negated Andrey Arshavin's rangy first-half opening goal. Abou Diaby's outrageous headed own-goal moments later condemned Arsenal to a defeat they barely deserved, but what goes around, comes around, as they say.

Celtic fell behind to Eduardo's dive and penalty on Wednesday, a decision that allowed the Premier League side to embark on a 3-1 second leg win and reach the group stages of the Champions League. Wenger threw himself into a ridiculous tirade against Uefa on Friday after news reached him that European football's governing body will discuss the Arsenal striker's shenanigans at a disciplinary meeting tomorrow.

Wenger has spouted some amusing stuff, claiming that Scots within Uefa, including the chief executive David Taylor, had embarked on a "witch-hunt" against Eduardo. Those suggestions have been dismissed by Taylor as poppycock, a bit like Wenger's analysis of how things went wrong for Arsenal at United. The Frenchman's comment that Rooney's award had been influenced by the Old Trafford crowd was as flawed as his belief that Eduardo had been defamed in Europe.

Eduardo was hardly shielded from public reproach when he appeared as a substitute to a universal chorus of "cheat". Rooney collapsed after the goalkeeper Manuel Almunia clawed at his feet, Eduardo was not handled by the Celtic keeper Artur Boruc, but chose to go to ground. Wenger has conceded that he sometimes chooses to tell fibs, rather than admit to seeing an incident he does not want to discuss. He appears to be seeing everything this month through big red and white goggles.

His week has been a tale of two penalties. One went for Arsenal, one went against them. The decision to send Wenger off was overly officious, but as he should realise in the Eduardo case, officials do not always get it right. @Email:dkane@thenational.ae