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Wenger’s Arsenal misery deepens with loss to Rovers

Laurent Koscielny: Face of Arsenal anguish

LONDON (AFP) – 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’s 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 haven’t won a major piece of silverware since lifting the FA Cup in 2005, must now raise their spirits for a last 16 Champions League first leg tie on Tuesday at home to German giants Bayern Munich.

But this 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.”

Blackburn defender Scott Dann said: “It’s obviously a great achievement to get the win. 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 after the third-tier side grabbed a dramatic equaliser in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Arsene Wenger: misery deepens

Oldham knocked out Everton’s near neighbours Liverpool in the last 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, Nigeria striker Victor Anichebe drew the Toffees level 11 minutes later when, from a flick-on by Nikica Jelavic, he hammered the ball home.

England centre-back Phil Jagielka then put Everton in front three minutes after half-time when he nodded in an excellent corner from Kevin Mirallas.

Oldham, propping up League One, though sent everyone forward including their own goalkeeper for a last-ditch corner and Matt Smith, who scored twice against Liverpool, rose highest to head in and spark jubilant scenes at Boundary Park.

Millwall won 3-0 away to non-league Luton Town, who had already ended Premier League Norwich’s FA Cup involvement this season.

Goals from James Henry, Rob Hulse and Dany N’Guessan saw south London club Millwall into the last eight for the first time since they went all the way to the 2004 final only to lose 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 just seconds before the final whistle after Marlon Harewood had doubled the Yorkshire club’s lead in the 19th minute.

Dean Bowditch pulled a goal back for the hosts just after the hour mark.

Sunday sees faltering FA Cup holders Chelsea taking on fellow west Londoners Brentford in a fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge after only a late equaliser by Fernando Torres prevented a mammoth Cup shock at Griffin Park.

Struggling Premier League champions Manchester City are at home to a Leeds team who ended Tottenham Hotspur’s FA Cup hopes in the fourth round, while top-flight Wigan travel to Championship side Huddersfield.

Manchester United, looking to win the FA Cup for the first time in nine years, face Reading in an all-Premier League tie at Old Trafford on Monday.

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