It is F. A. Cup weekend again and again Rovers are challenging but for the first time they are at home and favourites for the tie.
Manchester City will be the opponents vying for a place in the semi-finals but they are in poor form in the league and have been on the receiving end of a couple of thrashings by Rovers this season. It is quite some time since Man City last beat Rovers, it is now seven games unbeaten for Rovers against the men from Eastlands.
Both sides will view this as an excellent chance to reach the semi finals and will be hopeful of facing the winners of the Plymouth v Watford tie. That makes it a great incentive for both sets of players.
Mark Hughes on the F. A. Cup: “Getting back into Europe via the FA Cup was highlighted to me recently. It was made clear to me that if the draw falls correctly then yes, we could be two games away from a European place. That is the target
“It will be a difficult game against Manchester City. We know ourselves that when you are struggling at the wrong end of the table, but sometimes cup football can be a real respite from the traumas of trying to get points on the board.“
Brett Emerton on the cup: “Aside from the replay against Arsenal, it is the first time we have been at home in the Cup this term so it is something a little different. But hopefully it will be the same result, a win for us. It should be a great occasion.“
Brett Emerton on Rovers` form: “We are performing well defensively and we are scoring goals. It is pleasing that even though the team has been rotated of late and the players who have come in have done a superb job too.
There is good depth to the team at the moment so if we do pick up one or two injuries we can still carry on and perform well.“
Benni McGoalmachine on the F. A. Cup: “Now we are in with a real chance because we’ve got Manchester City, a humble side like ourselves. We’ve got everything to play for, but so do they. I think it would be a massive achievement. I’ve played in two World Cups , but to play at Wembley is quite special in football.
“The history of football and the career of a footballer if you have played at Wembley then you can at least say that you have been there at the highest level of your football career.
The FA Cup is the biggest cup after the Champions League in football.“
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
The only absentee, other than the long-term victims, is David Dunn. He is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. Shabani Nonda has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the win against Bolton last time out. That could mean Matt Derbyshire will drop to the bench.
Rovers from: Friedel, Emerton, Henchoz, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Berner, Bentley, Tugay, Mokoena, Pedersen, McCarthy, Roberts, Nonda, Brown, Derbyshire, Gallagher.
Player to watch: The Goal Machine
The goal machine is back in full swing, not even Rovers` dreaded penalty voodoo could prevent the South African from bagging his first brace in a Rovers shirt against Bolton. The spark is back that Hughes felt was lacking and having already scored against Man City his season and in every round of the cup so far, he will be keen to add to that.
Shabani Nonda is likely to partner him as Derbyshire makes way. His energy coming from the bench late on may be useful, if needed.
Manchester City Team News:
Stuart Pearce has a selection headache in attack. Georgios Samaras and Bernardo Corradi were useless in attack last time out so Emile Mpenza, who could have signed for Rovers in January, may make his first start for the club. Also pushing for returns are Darius Vassell and Paul Dickov, who have been absent through injury.
Man City from: Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Ball, Trabelsi, Barton, Ireland, Beasley, Samaras, Corradi, Isaksson, Jihai, Dabo, Vassell, Hamann, Dickov, Sturridge, Mpenza, Miller.
Player to watch: City’s frontmen
Key to Man City`s chances are Joey Barton and a striker who could score a goal. They have been performing well in the cup but they are still struggling to make an impact in front of goal. It has been City`s downfall this season. Their task won`t be an easy one as Rovers have only conceded a single goal in their last five games.
Match Facts & Stats
Rovers are looking for silverware in the F A Cup for the first time in 79 years.
The last time Rovers reached the final was in 1960, when they were beaten 3-0 by Wolves.
Mark Hughes was the only player to win the prestigious cup four times last century.
Man City have won the cup four times and lost in the final four times.
Mike Dean is the official for this F A Cup quarter final.
Despite Man City`s poor league form, this provides a totally different challenge and it will be a tight game. A lot will depend on Rovers` solid defence. If they are resolute and organised as they have been in recent weeks then Man City`s task will be doubly as tough.
To parallel that, Rovers are high on form and confidence and goals are being contributed all over the park. Benni and Nonda is the expected pairing up front and both are bang in form at the moment. They will be hungry to add to that.
I feel they will be the main factors that will see Rovers through to a 2-1 victory.
Lucas Neill brings the Hammered to Ewood on Sat 17 March.