More woe for Wenger as Arsenal crash out of cup
Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn
Published 16/02/2013 | 17:10
ARSENAL crashed out of the FA Cup as Blackburn pulled off a shock 1-0 fifth round win at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners face Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday night and manager Arsene Wenger had made several changes, with Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla all starting on the bench.
Even so there should still have been enough quality to see off the npower Championship side.
But Gervinho missed a great chance at the end of the first half which proved so costly as Colin Kazim-Richards' scrappy effort after 72 minutes proved enough to inflict Arsenal's first home FA Cup defeat since their move to the Emirates Stadium and hand Rovers a memorable win.
Blackburn, who still have not conceded a goal in this season's FA Cup, fashioned an early chance when a free-kick from the left was flashed through the Arsenal six-yard box and Markus Olsson knocked the loose ball wide at the far post.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had been given a chance to impress in midfield for Arsenal, and the England international was soon on the ball, releasing Tomas Rosicky down the right only for the Czech winger to clip his attempted cross behind.
Oxlade-Chamberlain then decided to do it himself, charging into the Blackburn penalty area and cutting a pass back across the six-yard box where Bradley Orr hacked clear.
The Rovers full-back was shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean in the 12th minute after scything down Gervinho as the Ivory Coast forward, back from the African Nations Cup, looked to break down the left.
Arsenal fans behind the goal at the Clock End called for a penalty when Rosicky's cross hit Scott Dann on the arm as he blocked it behind for a corner, but the referee was not interested.
The home side continued to press, forcing a succession of corners.
In the 25th minute, Arsenal finally got the delivery right from Rosicky, and Abou Diaby rose to power a bullet header goalwards, which Rovers goalkeeper Jake Kean beat away at full stretch with a magnificent reaction save.
Kean was on hand to palm away a looping header from captain Thomas Vermaelen, fit again following an ankle problem, as the Rovers goal was under siege again.
The best opening came just before half-time when Rosicky slipped Gervinho into the penalty area, but despite holding off the defender, the Ivory Coast forward dragged his shot wide of the post - before dropping to his knees and looking to the Heavens.
Blackburn started the second half brightly.
Vermaelen had to be alert as he touched a cross behind with Jordan Rhodes waiting to knock the ball in at the far post.
Slowly Arsenal regained momentum, and Diaby flashed a 25-yard effort wide.
Blackburn made a change after 63 minutes when Markus Olsson was replaced by former Arsenal man David Bentley, who rejoined his old club Rovers on loan from Tottenham - and received a less-than-warm welcome from the home support.
Rosicky crashed a 20-yard effort off the crossbar and Rovers defender Grant Hanley made an important block as Gervinho cut in from the right.
With 20 minutes left, Wenger had seen enough and made a triple substitution as Walcott, Wilshere and Cazorla replaced Gervinho, Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
However, out of nothing, Blackburn snatched the lead.
Martin Olsson burst into the left side of the penalty area and drilled the ball goalwards, which Wojciech Szczesny parried.
Kazim-Richards' scuffed follow-up effort bounced onto the post and in.
Arsenal immediately went on the offensive, with Walcott surging down the right, but was faced with a wall of blue shirts.
Diaby's effort was charged down and Kean somehow saved a close-range header from Walcott before Giroud's effort in stoppage-time was blocked as Rovers clung on for a famous win.