Arsenal's Theo Walcott reacts after a collision with
Blackburn's Jake Kean. REUTERS/Philip Brown
Arsenal were booed off the pitch after a second
humiliation in two months against lower league opponents when
visitors Blackburn Rovers beat them 1-0 in the FA Cup fifth
round with a late Colin Kazim-Richards goal.
Manager Arsene Wenger's gamble of leaving out a batch of
first-team regulars against the Championship (second tier)
side backfired as Arsenal fan Kazim-Richards struck a 72nd
minute winner to send Rovers into the quarter-finals.
Arsenal's Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Rosicky had come
closest to breaking the deadlock with a thumping shot against
the bar and Rovers had to survive furious pressure as the
hosts belatedly showed some urgency, but it was too little
"It's painful and disappointing to lose," Wenger, whose side
fell to fourth-tier Bradford City on penalties in the League
Cup quarter-finals, told reporters after another low point in
what has become one of his most difficult seasons at the
"We lacked ruthlessness and calm in front of goal and didn't
make enough of our corners and in the end we were vulnerable
to one mistake. We weren't good enough to win the game
With Arsenal 21 points off the Premier League pace in fifth,
a poor result at home to Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich in
their Champions League last 16, first leg on Tuesday would
virtually guarantee an eighth straight trophy-less campaign.
Unusually no top flight club is definitely yet through to the
FA Cup quarter-finals in what is becoming a vintage year for
less-fancied sides after Everton were held 2-2 having
conceded a last-gasp goal at lowly third-tier club Oldham
After eliminating Liverpool in the previous round, Oldham's
luck seemed to have run out as strikes from Victor Anichebe
and Phil Jagielka put Everton 2-1 ahead but Matt Smith's
stoppage time header sparked wild celebrations at Boundary
Three Championship sides are through after Millwall ended
Luton Town's hopes of becoming the first minor league club to
reach the quarter-finals for 99 years with a 3-0 victory
while Barnsley were comfortable 3-1 winners at MK Dons.
Manchester City welcome Leeds United and holders Chelsea have
a fourth round replay with visitors Brentford on Sunday while
Premier League leaders Manchester United play Reading at Old
Trafford on Monday.
Wenger made seven changes to the Arsenal side that won at
Sunderland in the Premier League last week, leaving the likes
of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla on the
Ironically, it was just after that trio had been introduced
to try and inject some firepower to a powder-puff display
with 20 minutes left that Rovers scored from a rare foray
A long punt found Martin Olsson in space and when his fierce
shot was only parried by Wojciech Szczesny, London-born
Kazim-Richards, on loan from Turkish club Galatasaray,
scuffed the ball into the ground and watched it bounce in off
"It was not the sweetest of strikes," said Rovers manager
Michael Appleton, with his third club in this season's FA Cup
having started at Portsmouth before a brief stint at
"In fairness he tried to keep the ball down because it could
have ended up in Row Z, and he got the luck he deserved."
With disgruntled Arsenal fans already heading for the exits,
one shouting "You disrespect the Cup Wenger", the Gunners
bombarded Rovers' goal but the visitors stood firm.
Wenger said his team selection was no excuse for the club's
first loss to lower league opponents in the FA Cup since he
took over in 1996.
"We had 11 internationals on the pitch at the start and when
we made the changes it was 0-0," said the Frenchman. "We had
a lot of the ball and they defended well. But we made a
massive mistake on the goal."
Despite 26 goal attempts, Arsenal can hardly count themselves
unlucky as, apart from the final 15 minutes, there was a lack
of urgency about their display.
Blackburn, relegated from the Premier League last season, had
one early chance when Marcus Olsson shot across goal but it
was mainly Arsenal possession without any cutting edge.
Rovers' Jake Kean made one flying save to keep out a header
from Abou Diaby and Gervinho wasted a great opportunity just
before halftime, pulling his shot wide after being sent clear
by Rosicky, as Arsenal failed to make the most of their
"It's important now to focus on the next game and it's an
opportunity to show we have character and that we are men who
fight for each other," Wenger added.