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Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup on Saturday after a 1-0 defeat to Championship side Blackburn. Rovers' striker Colin Kazim-Richards scored the only goal of the game and try as they might, the Gunners could not respond. The defeat leaves them with the prospect of an eighth consecutive season without any trophy, barring a miraculous performance in either the Premier League (where they trail leaders Manchester United by 21 points) or in the Champions League (they face German giants Bayern Munich in the first knock-out round).
Arsene Wenger and his men were booed off the field at full time by an understandably frustrated home crowd. The French manager later said he accepted the fans' reaction and said also that it was normal and justified. Saturday's game was a typical Arsenal performance, with the hosts enjoying most of the possession but failing to convert that into goals. The closest they came was when Czech international Tomas Rosicky hit the cross bar in the second half.
"It's absolutely normal [for fans to boo]. Do you expect people to applaud when you lose a game at home like that? I couldn't see how we could lose this game because we always had the ball and they had one shot on goal," the Gunners' manager said after the game.
Rovers' young goalkeeper, Jake Kean, was the star for Michael Appleton's side, with a number of good saves; Wenger was forced to admit that Kean and the Blackburn defence were excellent.
"... they defended well. They were resilient and it's the kind of game you can lose if you make a mistake at the back and that's what we did. We gave them the game, basically," the boss concluded.
Arsenal Legend Slams Wenger
Meanwhile, Gunners legend Ian Wright criticised Wenger's team selection for the tie against Blackburn. Arsenal started without their three most potent attacking players - Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott. All three were on the bench, presumably with an eye on the midweek Champions League tie against Bayern.
Nevertheless, Wright, who scored 185 goals in 288 appearances between 1991 and 1998, was unimpressed with the players' performance and Wenger's management.
"... have to blame the manager for sheer arrogance of not putting enough into the competition... [Wenger] has made it clear the FA Cup is something he is not bothered about... when you've got your manager talking about fourth place being the only priority, why are the players going to be any more up for," Wright commented on Rock 'N' Roll Football Show on Absolute Radio.