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Feb 16, 2013

Wenger makes no excuses for Cup upset

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refused to offer up his familiar plethora of excuses after his side's shock FA Cup exit, as he conceded the Gunners did not deserve to beat Championship rivals Blackburn at Emirates Stadium.

• Blog: Simply not good enough
• Brewin: Wenger's gamble fails again

The jeers that rang around Emirates Stadium were delivered with real venom as one-time Arsenal graduate Colin Kazim-Richard scuffed a 72nd minute winner to give a hard working Blackburn side their moment of glory, with a half-hearted Gunners paying the price for their lack of focus on this FA Cup fifth round clash.

On a day when Wenger opted to rest a host of star players ahead of Tuesday night's Champions League game against Bayern Munich, Arsenal's second string let their manager down and a clearly angry Wenger refused to offer his traditional line of lame excuses for this latest devastating defeat.

"We were not good enough to win the game, it's as simple as that," conceded Wenger. "No defeat is acceptable as you are in this job to win every game and it is very painful and disappointing to lose a game like that. What is important is to put it behind us and focus on the next game.

"You think I am happy with that? It happened. We had plenty enough chances to win and we didn't. We lacked ruthlessness and calmness in front of goal and scored with their only shot."

Wenger's decision to leave Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla on the bench for this tie backfired in horrible fashion, but the Arsenal boss insisted his team selection was not to blame for this defeat.

"I don't regret the team selection," he added. "We had eleven international players on the pitch at the start of the game and when we made the changes (bringing on Wilshere, Cazorla and Walcott after 70 minutes) the score was 0-0.

"For us this was a typical cup game. We had to keep a clean sheet and score in the final 15 minutes, but we made a massive mistake on the goal. I will not go into detail, but we were really guilty on the goal.

"This season is not over yet. We have to prove we are men and bounce back from this. That is all we can do. If you lose a game, people will be unhappy. I am as well, don't worry."

Rovers boss Michael Appleton hailed this afternoon's achievement as the "highest point" of his short managerial career.

Appleton - who started the season in charge at Portsmouth and then had a short spell with Blackpool - paid tribute to the efforts of his side.

"To come to Arsenal and get through a cup tie is one thing, but to keep a clean sheet and defend as well as we did is another, and that is testament to our players. We have two man-mountains in the centre of defence," he said.

"We had a feeling they might rest a few of their players because they have a big game on Tuesday in the Champions League.

"However, regardless of what side they were going to put out, we knew we would concede a lot of possession at times, but we are happy with that.

"We have a mentality now where we are hard to beat, and are resilient. It has been almost getting into the heads of the players to take pride in keeping clean sheets and enjoy defending, which people do not like doing at times, we also have a bit of quality as well."

Kazim-Richards was once on the books at Arsenal as a youngster, before beginning his professional career at Bury, with spells at Brighton, Sheffield United, Galatasaray, Toulouse and Olympiakos following before his latest loan move to Rovers.

Appleton said: "Kaz has been fantastic for the last five games and has played in a couple of different roles. I am delighted he got the reward today for all of his work, it was not his greatest of strikes, but I think he was just trying not to welly it into Row Z and got the bit of luck he deserved."

Be part of the Budweiser 2012-13 FA Cup fan film. Share your photos on Twitter: #tothedream

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