Blackburn hand Arsenal embarrassing defeat in FA Cup

Feb 17, 2013, 08:13 IST | AFP

Kazim-Richards scores for Indian-owned Rovers' 1-0 win at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal’s hopes of ending their eight-year trophy drought suffered a huge setback after they were dumped out of the FA Cup at home to second-tier Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers’ Colin Kazim-Richards (left) scores against Arsenal in the FA Cup fifth round match in London on Saturday. Pics/AFP

Colin Kazim-Richards scored the only goal in Rovers’ 1-0 victory when he followed up in the 72nd minute, with a strike that went in off the post, after Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny failed to hold Martin Olsson’s shot.

Arsenal, who haven’t won a major piece of silverware since lifting the FA Cup in 2005, must now raise their spirits for a last 16 Champions League first leg tie on Tuesday when German giants Bayern Munich come to the north Londoners’ Emirates Stadium. But this defeat can only add to the pressure on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side are a massive 21 points behind EPL leaders Manchester United.

The Frenchman, who had never seen Arsenal lose to lower league opposition in the FA Cup since taking charge of the Gunners in 1996, is sure to come under fire for not including star players such as Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla in his startling line-up.

Jack Wilshere
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere rues a missed chance

The trio did all come off the bench only for Kazim-Richards to break the deadlock shortly afterwards and ensure Arsenal suffered a second embarrassing cup exit this season after fourth-tier Bradford knocked them out of the League Cup. “It’s obviously a great achievement to get the win, get through to the next round and also get the clean sheet,” delighted Blackburn defender Scott Dann told the BBC.

Arsenal’s defeat meant the first three sides into this term’s last eight of the FA Cup all came from the second-tier Championship. In other FA Cup matches on Saturday, Luton lost 0-3 to Milwall, while Milton Keynes Dons went down 1-3 to Barnsley. 

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