I don’t know what was more embarrassing for Arsenal fans on Tuesday. The way their side capitulated in a 5-1 home defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Or the fact that Arsene Wenger claimed after the match that Arsenal are in “great shape”, despite suffering the second-worst defeat in Champions League history.
Despite watching his side implode after Laurent Koscielny was sent-off after conceding a penalty in the second half to end any hopes the Gunners had of reaching the quarter-finals, Wenger was keen to praise his players for showing “spirit and pride” and instead blamed the referee for the defeat.
“We put Bayern under pressure and were unlucky because it was a 100 per cent penalty at 1-0 in the first half against Walcott,” Wenger said in his post-match press conference.
“In the second half, the referee killed the game. After that, it was very different, but the referee I think was very powerful for Bayern tonight.
“Lewandowski, it was not only not a penalty, he was offside and on top of that he gives us a red card. That killed us completely.
“Overall, I must say that Bayern are a good side but today they must also say thank you to the decisions of the referee in the second half.
“I am angry and frustrated and at the moment, because we are in a difficult period, even more so.
“It’s absolutely unexplainable and scandalous what happened really – that the guy behind the line gives the penalty and on top of that the red card after he had given the yellow.
“We have to take it on the chin and I have to stand up. I will take a lot of criticism but it doesn’t change my mind. In the game, you have to deal with these situations but it doesn’t make them right.
“I felt that we played very well and the referee has let us down. It was more the decisions of the referee that killed the game.
“It’s irresponsible from the referee. At the end of the day, that is the reason for tonight’s result.”
It was an astonishing outburst even for someone as tone-deaf as Wenger. After being asked about his own future and whether he had just managed his final match for Arsenal in the Champions League, he responded:
“I don’t know. You always worry for headlines, I’m here to speak about football not about my future.”