THE statistics are frightening.
Of the 15 matches Manchester City have played at home this season they have won 14, scoring 59 goals along the way.
That astonishing tally includes two past Liverpool, three past Everton, four past Manchester United, five past CSKA Moscow, six past Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and seven past Norwich.
You would not blame Blackburn Rovers, then, for feeling a little daunted going into tonight’s FA Cup third-round replay at the Etihad Stadium.
Upbeat Rovers boss Gary Bowyer, however, insists the opposite is true.
“Everyone is excited and relishing the challenging of going to a fantastic stadium to play a fantastic team,” said Bowyer.
“We’ve got everything to gain and nobody outside our dressing room will give us a prayer.
“They are situations we quite like and within them we learn more and more about our players.
“And they’re really going to be tested on Wednesday – so from a staff point of view we’re really looking forward to it.
“But the players are looking forward to it too and the opportunity to play City again.
“The pressure is off. No-one gave us a chance the last time we played them and we managed to get a draw.
“It’s the same again this time. They are formidable at home but we’ll be telling our players to go there and have a good go at it, enjoy it and express themselves and see how far they’ve come.”
Bowyer’s confidence is not entirely misplaced. His in-form team are the only side to deny City victory in their last 10 games in all competitions after the initial tie at Ewood Park ended 1-1.
On that day Rovers frustrated and threatened Manuel Pellegrini’s lavishly talented team in equal measure.
Bowyer said: “The organisation and the discipline the players showed was fantastic and the spells when we did have the ball we used it quite well.
“While from set-plays we put them under quite a bit of pressure, so that’s something we will look to try and do again.”
If Rovers do pull off a major shock tonight they will become only the second side, after Champions League holders Bayern Munich, to win at City this season.
And Bowyer would become only the ninth manager – after ex-Rovers boss Kenny Dalglish, Sir Alex Ferguson, Josep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes, Harry Redknapp, Chris Hughton and Paul Lambert – to triumph at the Etihad in the last five years.
Bowyer admits the opportunity to pit his wits against City’s former Real Madrid manager Pellegrini again is one he is relishing.
“I will be immensely proud for myself and the club but it’s not about me, it’s about the lads performing on the night,” said Bowyer.
“Mr Pellegrini was fantastic with us after the game at our place.
“He was very complimentary. He is a very humble and is producing some fantastic football with some fantastic players and we’re just looking forward to the occasion.
“We’ve just got to enjoy it and give a good account of ourselves.”
Bowyer’s enthusiasm is shared by his side, who have lost just once in their last eight matches in all competitions.
“I think the players learned a lot from City at the game at our place, what with the speed of their play, their quality on the ball and the how they value possession,” said Bowyer.
“It was massive for our lads and it excited them. After the game they were talking about it and you could hear and see the excitement in them.
“That’s great and they’re going to get that opportunity again.
“They are a young team, with some experience back in there now, and they’re learning all the time and improving.
“When we set off at the start of the season the aim was to bring in some young, hungry players who were going to get better and better.
“We’ve got a long way to go until the end of the season but we’re delighted with the progress they’re making.”