Worst ever for Wenger: Fans call for Arsenal boss to resign after FA Cup shocker
Andrew Warshaw and Joe Bernstein
21:07 GMT, 16 February 2013
23:56 GMT, 16 February 2013
Despondent Arsene Wenger rued another devastating defeat as the worst season in his 16-and-a-half-year Arsenal reign plumbed new depths amid a torrent of abuse at the Emirates.
With Bayern Munich visiting north London in the Champions League on Tuesday, Wenger made seven changes for yesterday's FA Cup fifth-round tie with Championship side Blackburn but suffered another humiliation as his team were again humbled by lower league opposition.
Colin Kazim-Richards's 72ndminute winner not only extended Arsenal's trophyless drought to eight years but was the first time under Wenger's tenure that the Gunners had lost in the FA Cup to a team outside the Premier League.
Tought to take: Arsene Wenger reacts as Arsenal slumped to defeat against Blackburn
With Arsenal's board set to review
their manager's position at the end of the season – and Wenger himself
understood to be considering his position – Everton manager David Moyes
last night emerged as a shock contender to take over next season.
Elsewhere, seven arrests were made as
a heavy police presence at Luton's FA Cup clash with Millwall ensured
there was no chance of a repeat of the hooliganism that erupted when the
sides met in 1985.
Three hundred Bedfordshire police
were on duty in the Kenilworth Road area as a 'small minority' of fans
were involved in a tense stand-off after Millwall's 3-0 victory.
Barnsley striker Marlon Harewood was
alleged to have been abused by a fan during his side's 3-1 win over MK
Dons, with the home side's manager, David Flitcroft, intervening.
Decider: Colin Kazim-Richards fires past Wojciech Szczesny to dump the gunners out of the FA Cup
At the Emirates, Wenger's postmatch
press conference lasted barely five minutes as he was bombarded with
questions about his side's continuing frailties in a season now in
danger of going into freefall.
'It's very painful and very disappointing,' said Wenger, whose
side were knocked out of the League Cup by League Two Bradford in
Even when he brought on first-choice players Theo Walcott,
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, they failed to find a way through
Michael Appleton's resolute side and were booed off.
fan and Ryder Cup golf hero Ian Poulter tweeted: 'Utter crap Wenger
that's your lot you have to go, take a bow you've done an amazing job
over the years but enough is enough …'
Down and out: A dejected Jack wilshere reacts to Kazim-Richards' goal
'We had 11 international players
on the pitch at the start of the game,' said Wenger, whose side had 26
shots – 12 on target – and totally dominated possession.
'But we made a
massive mistake on the goal.'
Asked if the current season was his
worst, Wenger hit back: 'It is not over yet. For you maybe, but not for
me. It's important to focus on our next game. It's a good opportunity to
show we have character.'
Famous victory: Michael Appleton (left) congratulates Jason Lowe after victory at the Emirates
Wenger's contract runs out in 2014
and he has so far refused to discuss a new one. If he leaves at the end
of the season, he may look to return to France.
Aware of Wenger's perilous position,
Moyes has told Everton he is unlikely to discuss his own future until
the summer when his current deal runs out.
Despite his close relationship with
owner Bill Kenwright, there is irritation inside Everton at Moyes's
tactics, which they regard as a form of blackmail to push for new
Into the last eight: Blackburn claimed a morale-boosting win, continuing Appleton's fine start as boss