The fourth round of the FA Cup threw up it’s fair share of surprises, with Crawly and Brighton upsetting bigger teams to secure their place in the next round of the famous old competition, while Stevenage will also represent League One in the next round after beating Notts County.
With some huge ties taking place over the course of three days, GMF is here to pick out 11 players who excelled and helped move their team one step closer to a dream final at Wembley (in the majority of cases!).
Goalkeeper: Chris Day – Stevenage were able to set up a lucrative 5th round tie with Tottenham after holding off fellow League One side Notts County to claim a 1-0 win, and while it wasn’t exactly backs to the wall stuff, Chris Day was on hand to ably cope with whatever the Magpies could throw at him.
Day saved well from Lee Hughes and Alan Judge to deny the away side an equaliser, while a Sam Sodje header was also well dealt with.
Defence: Adrian Marriapa – The Watford defender demonstrated some of the talents that have prompted both Newcastle and Arsenal to consider signing him in the January transfer window, as he put in an assured performance in Watford’s 1-0 defeat against Tottenham.
Mariappa coped excellently with the physical threat posed by Emmanuel Adebayor, as well as dealing well with Spurs’ renowned movement on and off the ball.
Daniel Agger – While most agreed this was the least physical Manchester United line-up in living memory, Daniel Agger certainly deserves praise for the manner in which he and his defensive cohorts limited their rivals attempts on goal. The fact he also scored Liverpool’s first goal of the game only sweetens the deal.
Tony McMahon – Both Sunderland and Middlesbrough emerged with credit after producing an enthralling Wear-Tees derby, but it was Tony McMahon’s duel with James McLean that had the fans on their feet.
McMahon battled gamely with the in-form Sunderland winger, and it took something special from the Black Cats to break the away side’s resolve.
Midfield: Antonio Valencia – The Ecuadorian is a model of consistency out on the right wing, and that was no different in United’s defeat against Liverpool.
Valencia was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet and was a constant thorn in Jose Enrique’s side – he is surely United’s most in-form player.
Theo Walcott – Often lamented for his wasteful nature and his inability to pick the right ball, Walcott demonstrated that even if he still needs to polish certain aspects of his game, his raw pace and ability to run with the ball marks him out as a real threat. Always looked dangerous against Aston Villa and scored a (fortuitous) goal.
James McLean – How did Steve Bruce overlook James McLean? Ever since Martin O’Neill took over at the Stadium of Light McLean has been in his side and the youngster has replayed the faith shown in him with a series of scintillating displays. He played his part in Sunderland’s goal and looked a threat throughout the game.
Barry Robson – He may have thrown away his man of the match champagne because of an error that ultimately cost Middlesbrough the win, but Robson merits his inclusion not only for his all-action display but for his superb goal that gave his side the lead. His volley was sublime and even with the mistake Robson was Boro’s strongest player on the day.
Darren Pratley – The former Swansea man has cut a frustrated figure this season, but unleashed all his pent up aggression in the best way possible as he scored Bolton’s equaliser before Chris Eagles helped the Trotters into the 5th round.
Pratley was full of energy and was key to Bolton’s win, helping to rush and hurry a Swansea side known for playing attractive football.
Attack: Matt Tubbs – In what proved to be his final goal for Crawley, Matt Tubbs has done well to leave on a high as he helped the League Two outfit into the last 16.
Bornemouth have snapped him up, mainly because of the qualities he demonstrated on Saturday to help knock Hull City out. An excellent finisher.
Robin Van Persie – The Dutchman moved level with Dennis Bergkamp on 120 goals for Arsenal, and while both his efforts were from the penalty spot, Van Persie’s composure in taking two spot kicks within minutes of each other deserves credit.
Another game, another sterling performance from RVP.