Arsenal beaten by 2nd-tier Blackburn in FA Cup
By Steve Douglas ,APLONDON -- Arsenal's miserable season reached a new low on Saturday when the team was beaten 1-0 by second-tier Blackburn in the fifth round of the FA Cup, leaving manager Arsene Wenger facing an eighth straight season without silverware.
February 18, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
Humiliated by fourth-tier Bradford in the League Cup quarterfinals in December, Arsenal left to jeers from its own despairing supporters after Colin Kazim-Richards stabbed home a 72nd-minute winner at Emirates Stadium to create the latest big surprise in the FA Cup.
Wenger had never previously lost to a lower-division team in the famous old competition in his 17 years at the London club.
“It's painful and disappointing to lose a game like that,” said Wenger, whose gamble in resting many of his top players ahead of Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich completely backfired. “It's very difficult to accept.”
The Champions League is the only trophy Wenger's men have left to play for — and they are big underdogs in that competition, too, especially after this lackluster display. The club's last trophy was the FA Cup in 2005.
The shocks didn't end there, with third-tier Oldham grabbing an equalizer deep into stoppage time to draw 2-2 with Everton. That earned the team a lucrative replay at Goodison Park and continued an impressive run that has already seen it eliminate Liverpool.
Luton failed in its bid to become the first nonleague team to reach the FA Cup quarterfinals in 99 years by losing 3-0 at home to Millwall, and Barnsley beat MK Dons 3-1 in another match between lower-league clubs.
After four of eight matches in the fifth round, there are still no topflight teams assured of a place in the quarterfinals.
Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle are among the Premier League teams to have been upset by lower-tier opponents this season, which is proving to be one for the underdogs with top teams seemingly focusing on the league and their European campaigns. Bradford plays Swansea in a surprise lineup for the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium next weekend.
Wenger cut a forlorn figure as he faced the press more than an hour after the final whistle, saying the Bayern match offered his team a chance at redemption.
“The season is not over,” Wenger said. “For you, (but) not me.”
Ironically, Kazim-Richards — a boyhood Arsenal fan and former youth-team player — stabbed home the scrappy winning goal off the post less than 60 seconds after Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott had been thrown on from the bench in a desperate attempt to avoid a replay.