Film Focus: Previewing Manchester City vs. Blackburn

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2014

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04:  Gael Clichy (L) of Manchester City is tackled by Chris Taylor (R) of Blackburn Rovers during the Budweiser FA Cup third round match between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City at Ewood Park on January 4, 2014 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Just 11 days after the two sides drew 1-1 at Ewood Park, Manchester City and Blackburn will square off once again in an FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday at Etihad Stadium.

Here are some highlights of the match that kicked off third-round play in the prestigious competition: 

The first match saw the two teams capitalize on set-piece errors by their opponents, which is something both clubs will want to avoid in the replay. 

In this edition of film focus, we will take a look at the keys for both sides to advance to the fourth round to host Watford on January 25. 


Blackburn Must Defend Tighter on Set Pieces 

The first goal of the first match played between the two sides came off a Manchester City corner, as Alvaro Negredo was left wide open at the right post. 

The key to the goal was Edin Dzeko separating himself from his defender and sending a header toward his strike partner, who was left all alone to tap in the goal right before halftime.

Negredo was left wide open at the right post to tap home the first City goal.
Negredo was left wide open at the right post to tap home the first City goal.via FA TV.

Marking a formidable strike pairing of Dzeko and Negredo at the same time is a tough task, but for the Rovers to achieve a road triumph in Manchester, they must shut down the duo, who have been on fire as of late. 

The main thing that Blackburn can learn from the first goal is that they should never have all of their defenders shift toward the direction of Dzeko in the middle of the pitch.

Shifting an extra defender or two is a smart idea, but not the entire defense, including the man in charge of marking the other forward. 

If Blackburn can avoid a set-piece meltdown, they will gain one more advantage in what is going to be a rough road trip.


Marking Errors Cost City in First Game as Well

The equalising goal back on January 4 came from an unlikely source in Scott Dann, who like Negredo, poached on a ball near the right post and converted. 

Dann was able to pounce on the loose ball mainly because City keeper Costel Pantilimon could not hold on to an incoming shot by Rudy Gestede. 

However, the City defenders did shift their attention elsewhere and assumed that their keeper would take care of business, which is something City keepers have rarely done on a consistent basis in the last year (see Joe Hart). 

Dann was left alone on the right edge as Gestede sent his header on goal.
Dann was left alone on the right edge as Gestede sent his header on goal.via FA TV

While Pantilimon's blunder was the main reason for the goal, City's back four have to keep an eye on every single player in the box in case an error like that occurs.

Something tells me that manager Manuel Pellegrini will instill in his team that no mistakes can be made against the Championship side on Wednesday, a goal that should be easily accomplished at the home fortress the Citizens have created at Etihad Stadium. 


Creative Citizens Must Not be Allowed into Space

City did make a charge forward after the Dann equaliser, but they could not capitalize on any more of their scoring chances. 

The one chance that sticks out the most is the one taken by Jesus Navas in the 76th minute, two minutes after he replaced Negredo to create more width in the City attack. 

With four Blackburn defenders standing around him, handing him plenty of space, Navas unleashed a shot on goal that forced Paul Robinson into a sprawling save near the left corner of the net.

Navas was left open to fire away at Robinson late in the game.
Navas was left open to fire away at Robinson late in the game.via FA TV

The Sky Blues possess some of the best attacking talent in the world, and if the Rovers decide to hand them that much space in the replay, the hosts will surely take of advantage of it. 

That is why it is imperative for Gary Bowyer's men to force the City midfielders out to the wings and make the City offense beat their defense through the aerial route. 

When a ball does get sent into the box from a cross, Blackburn has a bit of height to deal with in the likes of Dzeko and Negredo.

While that is not the most ideal scenario either for Wednesday's visitors, it is a lot better than letting the diminutive Navas fire on target from 25 to 30 yards out on a repeated basis. 


Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.