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wenger's blame game

MORE pressure has been heaped on Arsene Wenger following Arsenal's shock Champions League defeat at home to Monaco last night.

The Gunners need a St Patrick's Day miracle in the second leg next month if they are to overturn the 3-1 dismal deficit .

An exit at this stage of the Champions League to one of the weakest teams left in the competition would see fresh questions raised about Wenger's fixture at the Emirates.

Before the first leg, Wenger had talked up his side's chances of advancing past Monaco (see yesterday's back page) and included the Gunners among the 10 potential winners of the Champions League, but Arsenal's hopes are in tatters after that limp defeat.

There's now a blame game going on at the London club with Wenger criticising his players' approach. "It looks like we have lost our nerve and our rationality on the pitch. The heart took over the head and at that level it doesn't work. Our weakness was more down to mentality," he said, deflecting criticism from himself.

"Mentally we were not ready or sharp enough to get into this game. We paid for it. If you look at the number of chances we missed, at that level you cannot afford that. We used our hearts more than our brains."

Defender Per Mertesacker, at fault for at least two of Monaco's goals last night, claims his side are still in the tie. "We never give up. It's easy to write us off now but it's just half time. A lot of things can happen over there," he said.

Geoffrey Kondogbia put Monaco ahead on 38 minutes, before striker Dimitar Berbatov (inset) crashed in a second on the break. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain grabbed Arsenal a lifeline in stoppage-time, but Yannick Carrasco slotted Monaco's third moments later.