• 'The referee had a bad game,' manager says after 6-3 loss
• Jack Wilshere may be banned for raised-finger gesture
Arsène Wenger hit out at the referee, Martin Atkinson, after a 6-3 defeat that he claimed flattered Manchester City, arguing that a penalty decision and a couple of offsides that went against Arsenal affected the result in consigning them to their third league defeat of the season.
"The referee had a bad game," the Arsenal manager said, though he did admit that a combination of tired legs and a lack of defensive discipline had also contributed to the defeat. Arsenal had complained beforehand that an early kick-off following an away game in Italy on Wednesday night amounted to an unfair handicap, and Wenger said the effects of playing two games so close together were clear to see. Manchester City were not only playing at home on Saturday, their Champions League game had been on Tuesday evening.
"We did not quite have that freshness you expect to see," Wenger said. "I do not want to look for excuses after a defeat like that; we made too many mistakes running after the score and should not have conceded six goals, but the game on Wednesday did not help. The situation was not ideal, but what hurts me most is that we missed the chance to go nine points ahead of City. They were not unbeatable. They are one of the teams with a chance, of course, but I would not say they are the best team we have played this season. Everton were as good as Man City, and so were Southampton."
Arsenal lost Laurent Koscielny to a gashed leg in the first half and seem likely to see Jack Wilshere banned for a game after television cameras caught him making a raised-finger gesture to the crowd. Luis Suárez picked up a one-match suspension in December 2011 for a similar offence. "I did not see it but if it is proved we will have to accept a ban," Wenger said.
Something the Arsenal manager did see was Per Mertesacker, his captain, tearing a strip off Mesut Özil for declining to acknowledge the travelling support at the end. "Don't worry," Wenger said. "The Germans can sort that out between themselves." Özil later apologised, tweeting: "I was upset with the result and know I should have come to you to say 'thank you'."
Manuel Pellegrini was predictably happy after his side scored six goals at home for the second time in less than a month, even if Sergio Agüero had to limp off early in the second half with a calf injury. "I am pleased because not only did we score six against the best defence in the league, we had at least four or five clear chances to score more," the City manager said. "It was a more complete performance even than the one against Bayern, because we did not score four goals against Bayern and there were a lot of complaints about that."
The Chilean is clearly developing a sense of humour, though he will struggle to match his team for entertainment value. "It is very important to play entertaining football but I prefer not to allow the opponents to score three goals," he said. "I don't think we allowed Arsenal too many other chances though, and our philosophy is to continue trying to score more goals than the other team."