May 21 2013 Latest news:
By Nick Wright at the Emirates Stadium
Saturday, February 16, 2013
FA Cup fifth round: Arsenal 0 Blackburn Rovers 1
Arsenal were dealt another crushing blow in their bid to end their eight-year trophy drought as they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Blackburn in a result that will leave Bayern Munich licking their lips.
Having already crashed out of the Capital One Cup and long since out of the running in the Premier League, the Gunners look set to come up short once again in their quest for silverware.
The misfiring home side were badly out of sorts at the Emirates as Colin Kazim-Richards’ second half strike ensured they were knocked out of the FA Cup by a lower league club for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
Arsenal’s hopes of silverware now rest on the Champions League, with the daunting task of beating German giants Bayern Munich in the last 16 fast approaching.
Indeed, with one eye on Tuesday’s eagerly-anticipated Champions League showdown, Arsene Wenger left the likes of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott on the bench.
It was a decision that would come back to haunt him as Blackburn were comfortable dealing with the Frenchman’s makeshift line-up.
Laurent Koscielny returned from injury to partner Thomas Vermaelen in central defence, while Francis Coquelin deputised for Bacary Sagna at right-back.
Abou Diaby and Thomas Rosicky came into midfield, while Gervinho started on the left wing for his first appearance since the Africa Cup of Nations.
Wenger’s glut of changes made for a disjointed showing from the home side, as they struggled to turn possession into chances.
Finding it difficult to pass their way through the middle in the first half, the Gunners had to settle for a succession of corners instead.
Abou Diaby had the first good chance from one such set piece after 23 minutes when, having already nodded wide from a Mikel Arteta free kick, he drew an acrobatic save from Jake Kean with a flicked header from Rosicky’s corner.
Kean had to be on his toes to save again minutes later, when another Rosicky corner was inadvertently headed towards his own goal by Blackburn defender Bradley Orr.
New boy Nacho Monreal and Gervinho shot wide from long range but the much-maligned Ivorian then squandered Arsenal’s best chance of the half two minutes before the break.
Diaby found Rosicky in midfield and his through ball was perfectly timed for the onrushing Gervinho, who wastefully dragged his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
He fell to his knees in disbelief as the Emirates crowed groaned in frustration.
Rovers hardly threatened in the first period but they gave Arsenal an early scare after the break, when Coquelin was robbed on the right and Marcus Olsson’s cross forced Monreal to concede a corner on the stretch.
From the resulting corner Jason Lowe’s goal-bound header was nodded away on the line by Arteta.
Arsenal still struggled to carve out meaningful chances, but after a number of wayward efforts from Diaby and Rosicky they went closer, when the Czech midfielder cannoned a swerving shot off the underside of the bar.
Wenger called for the cavalry, sending on Walcott, Wilshere and Cazorla, but moments later Rovers got their goal.
Martin Olsson’s driven shot was saved by Szczesny but the rebound fell to Kazim-Richards, who’s first-time shot bounced off the turf and looped in off the far post.
The pocket of Blackburn fans in the corner of the Emirates exploded as silence descended on the home supporters.
Blackburn keeper Kean saved from Diaby and Walcott in the closing stages as the visitors held on, with furious boos ringing out from the home fans at the final whistle.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Coquelin, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Monreal, Diaby, Rosicky (Wilshere 70), Arteta, Gervinho (Walcott 70), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Cazorla 70), Giroud. Subs not used: Mannone, Sagna, Ramsey, Podolski.
Blackburn: Kean, Orr, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson, Pedersen, Williamson, Lowe, Markus Olsson (Bentley 64), Kazim-Richards, Rhodes (Goodwillie 85). Subs not used: Usai, Givet, Fabio Nunes, Rekik, Nuno Gomes.