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.
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 have not won a major piece of silverware since lifting the FA Cup in 2005, must now raise their spirits for a round-of-16 UEFA Champions League first-leg tie tomorrow at home to German giants Bayern Munich, but the defeat can only add to the pressure on long-serving Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side are a massive 21 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League.
The Frenchman, who had never seen Arsenal lose to lower-league opposition in the FA Cup since taking charge in 1996, said: “I couldn’t see how we could lose the game because we had a lot of the ball and they had one shot on goal, but they defended well and it’s the kind of game you can lose if you make a mistake at the back like we did.”
“We don’t need to think too much about the eight-season [trophy drought], the players who played today didn’t play eight seasons ago and we must focus on the next game,” he said.
Blackburn defender Scott Dann said: “We knew we had to dig in and cut down the space we gave them. We did that very well.”
Everton, the other Premier League side in FA Cup action on Saturday, were held to a 2-2 draw by giantkillers Oldham Athletic after the third-tier side grabbed a dramatic equalizer in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.
Oldham knocked out Everton’s neighbors Liverpool in the previous round and threatened a repeat when Jordan Obita, on loan from Reading, gave them a 13th-minute lead after turning in a cross-shot from Lee Croft.
However, Nigerian striker Victor Anichebe drew the Toffees level 11 minutes later when, from a flick-on by Nikica Jelavic, he hammered the ball home.
England international centerback Phil Jagielka then put Everton in front three minutes after halftime when he nodded in an excellent corner from Kevin Mirallas.
Oldham, propping up League One, sent everyone forward, including goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, for a last-ditch corner.
Matt Smith, who scored twice against Liverpool, rose highest to head in and spark jubilant scenes at Boundary Park.
“It was a tremendous cross and I managed to get my head on it,” Smith said. “We left it to the death, but they all count. We’ll go to Everton for the replay full of confidence.”
Everton manager David Moyes blamed a lack of composure for his side’s failure to secure victory.
“I thought we could see it out, but in the last five minutes we looked as if we were panicking a bit,” Moyes said.
Millwall won 3-0 away to non-league Luton Town, who had already ended Premier League Norwich City’s FA Cup involvement this season.
Goals from James Henry, Rob Hulse and Dany N’Guessan saw the south London club into the last eight for the first time since they went all the way to the 2004 final, only to lose to Manchester United.
Barnsley won 3-1 away to third-tier Milton Keynes Dons.
Chris Dagnall opened the scoring in the third minute, before sealing victory with his second goal late on after Marlon Harewood had doubled the Yorkshire club’s lead in the 19th minute.