Instead he offered a gentle reminder that assumptions can be dangerous. Although annoyed by Barton's less than angelic part in Gervinho's 75th-minute dismissal, the Frenchman later praised the "courage" of the Newcastle player and called him a "great player," albeit one sometimes betrayed by "temper trouble".
Standing in the St James' Park corridor in which the late Sir Bobby Robson once lectured reporters on the importance of appreciating life's "shades of grey", Wenger seemed keen to tell another audience that things are not always quite what they seem. Having warmed up by revealing a sneaking, wholly unexpected, admiration for Barton, he further developed his theme courtesy of a deconstruction of the received wisdom that Arsenal cannot hope to succeed until they start splashing serious cash on new players.
"We are not scared to spend but our target is not just spending money but finding the right player," said Wenger in the wake of a draw during which his team palpably lacked the inventive incision previously provided by the soon-to-depart Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri as well as by the injured Jack Wilshere.
"If you find the right player he can cost £2m or £20m. We have our scouts all over the world looking at the moment and, if we find him, we will do it. But I think it's weird that the amount of credit players get is linked to the amount of money paid for them. It's frustrating sometimes because it looks like players are judged just for the amount of money they cost."
Whether cheaply or expensively, Wenger knows he needs to augment a team which consistently struggled to wrongfoot Alan Pardew's excellent central defensive pairing of Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor. Coloccini particularly would probably shine in a potentially vulnerable Arsenal backline whose containment of the selflessly hard-working Shola Ameobi was down partly to his new sidekick Demba Ba's ineffectiveness and, principally, a lack of service from midfield.
Indeed there seemed a certain irony that, as visiting Arsenal fans implored Wenger to "spend some money", Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey were ensuring that Yohan Cabaye, the classy France playmaker Newcastle have signed from Lille, endured a tough Premier League debut for the home side. As Pardew reflected Cabaye, who, admits a pedestrian, if reassuringly spirited, home performance displayed encouraging glimpses of quality, will rarely face similarly high calibre opposition.
While it was uplifting to see a fully fit Ramsey back in the thick of things, Song's afternoon was spoilt by a cynical, unpunished, stamp on Barton.
Shortly afterwards Gervinho collapsed when clipped by Cheik Tioté, Barton grabbed him by the throat and mayhem temporarily ensued.
If the retaliatory slap by Gervinho on his assailant that prompted his red card was downright stupid, Barton could easily have found himself sent off rather than merely booked had Steven Taylor not restrained him. Such rash moments explain why, despite his availability on a free transfer, leading managers, Wenger included, remain reluctant to remove one of Newcastle's best players from Pardew's hands.
While Newcastle's manager cherishes Barton's ability he fears the circus surrounding him has taken a toll on his 50-year-old face. "I've been ageing rapidly in the last few months," said Pardew. "I had a look at some pictures of Arsène Wenger ageing this week and it was a little bit disconcerting so I will be putting on my baby lotion and trying to keep young."
Maybe Wenger has been following suit – or perhaps his secret is simply not accepting things at face value. Certainly on Saturday night an unusually relaxed and jocular 61-year-old belied the travails of a most awkward summer by suddenly appearing surprisingly youthful.
"It is a difficult time for us, yes," conceded Arsenal's manager before revealing an inner mixture of confidence and defiance unlikely to be underestimated by Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini and company. "I listen to every criticism, I understand it and I try to take it on board but I do not necessarily believe it."
Man of the match Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United)
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