Wenger blames officials after Arsenal's defeat to Southampton

Arsene Wenger believes the officials have to take as much blame as Arsenal's under-performing players for the Boxing Day humbling at Southampton.

Leicester's defeat at Liverpool meant the Gunners arrived at St Mary's knowing victory would see them usurp the surprise Premier League leaders at the summit.

However, Southampton ended a run of six winless matches in some style, triumphing 4-0 on a night when the scoreline could have been worse for the visitors.

Wenger remained calm and composed after the match, though, apportioning much of the blame to referee Jon Moss and his officials.

"Well, I think Southampton made the game very physical," the Arsenal manager said. "We lost too many challenges and that explains why we lost the game. But that's one aspect, so well done to them.

"The second aspect is that on the first three goals we were really unlucky with the decision of the referee.

"The first goal was offside, the second goal was a foul and third goal was a goal-kick, so if you're a bit below par and on top of that you have the first three goals against you in the decision-making then it's even more difficult.

"On top of that, well done Southampton and I hope in the next game we have this kind of decisions for us."

Steven Davis appeared to have strayed offside in the build-up to Cuco Martina's extraordinary opener and Laurent Koscielny tripped under pressure from Long before he added Saints' second.

The Arsenal boss also felt Jose Fonte's header was borne out of an earlier poor decision, leaving just Long's stoppage-time strike without complaint.

Asked why Wenger was smiling as he bemoaned a 4-0 loss, he said: "Look, I smile, I don't smile - what can I do about it?

"I cannot influence that but I must say they were sharper than us in the challenges and on that front we've got to look at what we can master.

"Decisions of the referee you cannot master, but our own behavior we can and on that front I believe Southampton looked stronger in the challenges and we lost too many tonight."