THE unknown factor and strength from set-pieces represent Blackburn Rovers’ best chances of causing an FA Cup upset in tomorrow’s third-round clash with Manchester City.
That is the view of former England goalkeeper David James who will be part of the BT Sport presenting team at Ewood Park.
James admits it would be major surprise if five-time winners City, unbeaten in 12 matches and chasing glory on four fronts, did not win the televised tie.
But the 43-year-old, who won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008, is not ruling out a shock success for six-time winners Rovers.
He believes the fact that Gary Bowyer’s Championship side no longer ply their trade in the Premier League alongside free-scoring City – whose Champions League victory at holders Bayern Munich last month kick-started their current seven-game winning run – may actually help them.
But he has warned they must make the most of any opportunity that comes their way.
“The reality is Manchester City will not have anywhere near as much information on Blackburn as they would do on say a Southampton,” said former City keeper James, who was also a losing FA Cup finalist with Liverpool, Aston Villa and Portsmouth.
“So that gives Blackburn a head start.
“If Manchester City think they’re going to win just because they’re Manchester City – that’s where you get upsets.
“I think this tie is an opportunity for an upset.
“Manchester City will be playing against players who are unfamiliar.
“I’m sure Manchester City will have sent scouts to a couple of Blackburn’s matches since the draw was made but they will not have the regular database to go back to so Manchester City may find it awkward.
“I’m sure their manager Manuel Pellegrini will be saying ‘just get through’ as opposed to winning it by four of five and I’m sure Blackburn will get the opportunity to create chances.
“I’m sure Blackburn will be looking at Manchester City and seeing if they have any weaknesses from corners or free kicks.
“If they score early it will be a long 90 minutes if they want to hold out. But it can be done and that’s the thing, they will get the chance.
“But they will have to be more clinical than Manchester City given they seem to have free rein on scoring and creating opportunities this season.”
James, who was in the Liverpool side the day Rovers were crowned Premier League champions at Anfield in 1995, reckons that chance may just fall to 16-goal top scorer Jordan Rhodes.
And if it does he can see Rovers’ overcoming the odds and knocking out last season’s losing finalists.
“It’s set for a wonderful day of football,” said James, who is looking forward to meeting up with his old England rival and returning Rovers keeper Paul Robinson as well as Rovers goalkeeping coach John Keeley, who he worked with at Portsmouth.
“Blackburn is a Premier League stadium, they’re a very vocally supported team and there’s the local rivalry aspect as well.
“Everything is set up.”
* BT Sport will be showing up to 25 live games including the final from this season's FA Cup with Budweiser. BT Sport is free with BT broadband, to find out more visit www.btsport.com