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Point the finger at yourself, Arsene

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

Follow Martin Rogers on Twitter at @mrogersyahoo

With the cracks in Arsenal's Champions League ambitions threatening to turn into gaping holes, Arsene Wenger spouted a predictable bunch of nonsense that did nothing to shift the focus from the real culprit.

Himself.

Wenger is an intelligent man, but he is never more annoying than when he is conjuring up inane excuses for the failings of his team, like he did once again after the Gunners lost their round of 16 first leg to Porto thanks to two goalkeeper blunders.

So much of what Wenger does borders on soccer genius, yet when he attempts to deflect blame he does so with all the clumsiness of a hack goalkeeper, or in this case Arsenal's Lukasz Fabianski.

Fabianski palmed the ball into his own net for Porto's first goal, then was involved in a horrendous mixup with Sol Campbell that led to a free kick for the Portuguese side's second in a 2-1 win.

Wenger chose to pinpoint referee Martin Hansson, the official who allowed Thierry Henry's controversial handball during France's World Cup playoff victory over the Republic of Ireland, as the reason behind the defeat. He claimed Hansson had allowed the free kick to be taken too quickly, but his comments should be given the short shrift they deserve.

If Arsenal cannot overturn the deficit in the second leg and stumbles again when it gets to crunch time in this competition, it will be Wenger's stubborn insistence on not just winning, but winning a certain way, that has stunted his team's progress.

Refusing to use the cash available to him and buy big-name players may have safeguarded the fiscal future of the club, but that philosophy has allowed Manchester United and Chelsea to surge way ahead of the Gunners in England.

Wenger loves to promote youth development, an honorable pledge which should be repeated at more clubs. But to take the next step, Arsenal needs genuine world-class quality, not an ancient Sol Campbell and an untested Fabianski.

Arsenal needs depth and experience and players who do not crumble under the kind of pressure inherent in the Champions League.

To do it, Wenger needs to tinker with his principles and dip his hand into the club cookie jar.

Cesc Fabregas – a 22-year-old with a far more level-headed evaluation of the situation than his boss – had things right on Wednesday,

"The goals were schoolboy goals," Fabregas said. "After the second one we were too soft. We were not strong enough to stand up."

Wenger can whine and moan and flap his arms all he likes, but most of all, he needs to swallow his pride. Or, if things go wrong, bite his tongue.

Man of the matches

Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United star continued his spectacular form and led the English Premier League side to a memorable 3-2 victory at AC Milan. Rooney showed why he could be the most in-form player in world soccer right now and made sure that United is on the brink of reaching yet another Champions League quarterfinal.

Shock of the week

Real Madrid lost 1-0 away to Lyon and faces a tough task if it is to remain in the competition. Despite splashing out enough money to buy a couple of small nations last summer, the Galacticos are in real danger of seeing their season collapse around their ears faster than Cristiano Ronaldo's fanciest sports car.

We're happy

Bayern Munich could breathe a sigh of relief after a late winner from Miroslav Klose pushed the German side to a 2-1 win over Fiorentina. But Bayern will be nervous about its trip to Italy for the second leg, with the Viola in impressive home form.

We're not

Ever since the draw was made in December, David Beckham was relishing the prospect of taking on his old pals at Manchester United. However, his night on Tuesday was ruined by Rooney's performance and his own miserable display – which saw him replaced after 72 minutes by Clarence Seedorf.