In all of the furore surrounding Robin Van Persie's dismissal by Massimo Busacca a simple truth seems to have been overlooked - why did RVP foolishly strike Dani Alves on the face? Right after Busacca had cautioned him from making matters worse for entering into a war of words with Abidal.
He not only received a totally unnecessary booking but was thereafter skating on thin ice. Busacca without the hindsight of that first booking might have stopped with just cautioning the Arsenal striker for deliberately ignoring the offside whistle. But Van Persie was inviting trouble. Busacca probably thought another talking to was just going to be empty words. Underscoring the context of the undoubtedly harsh decision to give the second yellow.
Many have screamed bias and quoted statistics about Spanish clubs never having lost with Busacca officiating. Messi was clearly brought down by Diaby in the box right in front of the Italian referee. It was a clear penalty. Arsenal got an incredible break with his decision to wave on play. Which really waters down this whingeing about partisanship.
Now UEFA are contemplating a two match ban for Arsene Wenger and Samir Nasri after the two exchanged words with Busacca. An aggrieved Wenger hit back accusing UEFA of being a dictatorship and demanding they show humility by admitting they were wrong for the Van Persie sending off.
But where was Wenger when he had to calm his main striker and entreat him not to do something stupid. Pep Guardiola was on the sidelines waving his arms up and down visibly remonstrating with his players to take it down a notch.
Both teams were on the verge of something disastrous but there was only one manager who seemed to recognize the importance of mental composure. And Arsenal was the team unsurprisingly undone by momentary lapses of reason. It is a pattern well documented and shows no signs of mitigation. Reflexively the blame falls on the players. But this is too simple an explanation attributing this contagion to a sort of collective yawn. We have to look higher up for this malaise.
It has taken Wenger a while but he finally acknowledged that winning the Carling Cup was important to Arsenal's psyche. Thus it would follow the club would come out of the gates to end their six year old trophy drought against unheralded Birmingham. But evidently it seemed showing up was enough to earn them the Cup. It was the Blues who looked earnest and confident. And by the time the Gunners got going they were done in by another moment of mental fragility.
A teachable moment one would think. But here was Samir Nasri, not two days later virtually declaring Arsenal winner of the Premiership. Promptly Stoke cut them down to size. But he was just following Wenger's vainglorious cue that they were in line for a quadruple after winning an unnecessary FA Cup replay against Orient, 5-0. In the past, Wenger has compared Abou Diaby to Patrick Vieira on the strength of one display against Portsmouth. Just another example of the wishful fast tracking that has increased one trophyless year after another without the pre-requisite time, diligence, performance, and most importantly results on the field: Walcott will be the next Thierry Henry, Nasri is Pires, Wilshere is Rooney, Van Persie is Van Basten. It goes on.
This litany of self fulfilling prophecies is a dangerous sign that things are not going according to plan and Wenger is just rehashing past laurels. Just because you say so, doesn't make it so. Only in a world devoid of reality would someone like Nicklas Bendtner summon the braggadocio of best striker in the world. A world fostered by Wenger where it now seems bombast come first. Going after referees is another. Stacking imaginary odds against you requires creativity and invention. Unfortunately Wenger seems to be expounding more effort in that area than actually taking a good hard look at himself.