No added time, Arsene!

CUSSED to the last, the old curmudgeon still manages to be the story. After a night when a battle for minor places vied with a battle for a minor trophy, Arsene Wenger was still getting the headlines.

If the Premier League game bought Jose Mourinho time, the League Cup told the Arsenal boss his time is up. For the umpteenth time. Literally and metaphorically.

Nothing tells you how deluded he has become more than his questioning of the fourth official for not adding enough time at the end. To which a genuinely perplexed Graham Scott asked: "Why would you want more time?"

Did Wenger seriously think his outplayed, outfought and outclassed side was capable of scoring three against City in a couple of minutes? Especially as they had long since hoisted the white flag as had their fans. The poor fella hadn't realised the officials were showing some mercy.

Perhaps that one seeing eye of his hadn't noticed how one end of Wembley had emptied. In their disgruntled thousands Gooners carried out their fire drill with well-practised precision as soon as David Silva slotted City's third.

One end of the huge stadium was a shimmering sea of light blue celebration, the other a gaping cavern of embarrassment, disgust, disillusionment. Deja-vu in spades.

With some 300 fewer kilometres to get home than their northern counterparts, they couldn't take it anymore – even if Wenger could. And they duly let rip. In the pubs, on social media, on Arsenal FanTV.

The difference this time is that the sober neutrals have joined in. The doyens of the old Fleet Street, the measured scribes who once admired this one-time innovator who took on and beat the mighty Fergie are now calling for him to go. But is Silent Stan listening?

Many admitted that even if Arsenal had somehow contrived to win, it would have been yet another hollow victory. But not for Wenger. He would have seen his first League Cup completing his domestic set and being halfway to a 'Mourinho double' – with the Europa League still a possibility.

Oh, how he would have milked that. Five trophies in five years! But what a false gloss on failure it would have been.

However, coupled with a healthy balance sheet, it probably would have been enough for the absentee owner. Now perhaps Wenger's second year of his contract (or is it a stay in perpetuity?) cannot be guaranteed.

The facts don't make pretty reading. With 11 league games to go, they are 27 points behind the leaders, 10 behind fourth place. They face a resurgent AC Milan in the strongest Europa League for years.

They're paying Mesut Ozil north of £300k (Rm1.6 million) a week but it's still not enough for him to turn up for a Wembley final. They've sold their best player to a rival and allowed two once-hot kids to prosper elsewhere, grateful to have left a sinking ship.

What will hurt Wenger is that it was City's old guard who scored the goals. He was the first to question the purpose, let alone the ethics, of the club's Abu Dhabi takeover and has been an unbending critic of what he sees as "financial doping". But man of the match Vincent Kompany was signed before the petrodollars poured in.

What an inspirational figure he is! Despite being wracked by injuries for years, he shows more fight, more inspiration and more leadership than Arsenal's pop-gun defenders do between them. Pep Guardiola's ribbon showed more defiance.

And fellow golden oldies David Silva and Sergio Aguero were the other scorers – both of whom are still performing at the highest level despite the proximity of their 30th birthday.

Guardiola has been rightly lauded for improving players and no small part of that has been his knack of coaxing even more out of his existing stars, even veterans. Contrast that with how Wenger has failed with players of all ages and all types.

The Catalan is the visionary Wenger once was. The Frenchman didn't even have the decency to acknowledge that Pep had raised the bar – it is sad, but the once-enlightened revolutionary has been yesterday's man for more than a decade.

Up at Old Trafford, his nemesis at least managed to turn things around. Those of us thinking defeat to Chelsea might be the moment the crowd started to turn against Mourinho were stopped in our tracks.

The Blues had looked sharper and were again denied by the woodwork. But a decent second half showing by United changed the game and the mood, and may have saved Mourinho's season.

But it didn't sort out Paul Pogba even though he started. A quiet game but perhaps that was what was needed for peace to break out. United found form that was not on show in Seville and even the much-maligned Romelu Lukaku impressed.

It looks like a tremendous battle for the remaining Champions League places will ensue but one that Arsenal may no longer be fighting.

Their opponents in the league on Thursday are none other than City.

Where Old Trafford remained onside for their manager, this could be when Gooners tell Wenger "enough is enough". He may be raging against the dying of the light, but his team are playing with a whimper.

Bob's latest book, Living the Dream, is available at MPH, Borders, Popular, Kinokuniya and Gerakbudaya bookstores.

(Bold) Good, Bad, Ugly & Stupid

GOOD – Vincent Kompany

Just imagine what City might have achieved had their skipper been fit over the past few years. For him to play was something special, to score and lift the trophy something else. After all the injury heartache no one has deserved it more than this Captain Fantastic.

BAD – Arsenal

"They are an absolute disgrace they are, walking on a football pitch at Wembley, giving up. Spineless. This is a dark, dark day. The team have just not shown up. There's nothing I've liked about this Arsenal performance – not one single thing," Gary Neville says it all.

UGLY – Dele Alli

The Spurs man seems to have a season ticket for this spot. Yep, he was at it again on Sunday. "Divey Alli" is what Gary Lineker called him and Alan Shearer dubbed his latest collapse "a blatant dive". His manager did as managers do – and defended the indefensible. With a reputation like his, he may never win another pen – even when he is fouled – and it could cost Spurs big-time.

STUPID – Wenger time

You'd have thought Arsenal were laying siege and City were clinging desperately to a one-goal lead. Wenger demanded to know why no more time was being added. "Why do you want more time?" the incredulous Fourth Official asked. Apparently, the Arsenal boss thought three goals were still gettable even though his team had surrendered and the fans left half an hour ago.