• Kieran Horn

FA CUP TOTW: WHO MADE THIS WEEKS FA CUP DREAM TEAM?



Despite their being no fans in attendance there was still a certain aura of FA Cup magic around grounds this weekend and while there were no major cupsets, there was plenty of breath-taking performances.


Manchester City were pushed to the limit by Cheltenham Town, Wolves scraped past a dogged Chorley and Jose Mourinho had to bring on the big boys to see of Championship strugglers Wycombe.


Here is the TOTW from the fourth round of the FA Cup:


Goalkeeper


Max O’Leary

While there wasn’t an abundance of match-winning performances by goalkeepers, Bristol City’s Max O’Leary was on hand to ensure Millwall had no such luck in front of goal.


The Robins put in a clinically professional performance against their fellow Championship opponents scoring three and keeping a clean sheet.


O’Leary made seven saves in the game, two of which were very important, denying Alex Pearce with a strong left hand and then later in the game preventing Ben Thompson from getting on the scoresheet with an impressive diving save.


Defenders


Ryan Fredericks

Following the summer signing of Vladimir Coufal, Ryan Fredericks has been brandished to the bench but his display against Doncaster Rovers could give David Moyes a tough decision in the coming weeks.


West Ham ensured there was no chance of an upset, fielding a strong team and dispatching of League One Doncaster by scoring four without reply.


Fredericks bombed forward at any opportunity and had something to show from it when Pablo Fornals converted his pin-point cross.


And then his driving run and shot in the second half, resulted in a debut goal for Oladapo Afolayan which sealed the victory.


Ben Tozer

Just for his goal-line clearance alone Cheltenham captain Ben Tozer deserves a spot in this team.


Early on in the game, Benjamin Mendy struck a fierce effort that was destined for the top corner but Tozer miraculously threw himself in the way of the strike, diverting it out for a corner.


And his monumental long throw-ins paid dividends when Alfie May converted from one on the hour mark.


Marshalled by Tozer, the backline defended resolutely throughout and kept one of Europe’s best teams off the scoresheet for 81 minutes.


Although the League Two defence eventually succumbed to Manchester City’s world class footballers, conceding three goals late on, they had put in a performance to be extremely proud of.


Kevin Long

The defensive partnership at Burnley between James Tarkowski and Ben Mee is seemingly untouchable in the league, especially after their recent victory over Liverpool, but if either one miss out through suspension or injury, there is a suitable replacement waiting.


Kevin Long successfully completed all four of his tackles, kept a clean sheet and rounded off the victory over Fulham with a goal for himself.


After comfortably dealing with the physical presence of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara up front, Long clearly fancied scoring as well.


Following some pinball in the Cottagers box, the Clarets defender reacted quickest to poke the ball past Marek Rodak.


Yerry Mina

It genuinely must be a dream for an aerial dominant player such as Everton’s Yerry Mina to look up and see James Rodriguez lining up to take your set pieces.


The two Colombians have already combined this season when Mina nodded home a Rodriguez free-kick against West Brom.


This time round in the dominant FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday, it was an in-swinging corner that was powered home by Mina.


Alongside his goal, Mina also made 68 passes in the game 97% of which, found their target while also making eight ball recoveries.


Midfielders


James Maddison

With Dele Alli totally out of favour at Spurs, a spot has emerged for a creative midfielder to take his place in the England squad and I whole-heartedly believe James Maddison should be that player.


After suffering with some niggling injuries, Maddison has returned this season with a desire to rediscover his best form and upon feedback, start scoring more goals, something he did against Brentford.


Luke Daniels was unable to fully grasp Harvey Barnes effort and Maddison raced onto the scene and slotted the ball into an empty net, his dribbling ability and strength was also on show when he set up Cengiz Under for the Foxes equaliser.


Matt Grimes

Not many defensive minded midfield players pop up with two goals in a game, but no one clearly told Matt Grimes that.


Swansea continued their excellent form with a 5-1 drubbing over Nottingham Forest with Grimes contributing to a third of the goals in the game.


His first strike certainly came out of nowhere, sending a dipping and swerving 30-yard effort flying past Jordan Smith and then for his second he bested the Forest keeper in a battle of wits from the penalty spot.


Tanguy Ndombele

This time it’s not even my heavy Spurs bias, despite only spending 22 minutes on the pitch, Tanguy Ndombele played a part in all three of Spurs’ second half goals.


With the game poised at 1-1, Jose Mourinho turned to the bench bringing on regular first-teamers: Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Ndombele, and most surprisingly of all it was the latter who had the biggest impact.


The Frenchman’s lofted through ball to Kane ensued a penalty box scramble which was eventually clinically finished by Harry Winks.


Just minutes after the second goal, Ndombele side-footed home Son’s pass and then he finished off the game with some superb jinking footwork allowing him room to fire past Ryan Allsopp.


Attackers


Tammy Abraham

Following the sacking of Frank Lampard, all Chelsea players will be aiming to impress over the next few games ahead of a new manager being announced, and Tammy Abraham has certainly done that thus far.


Abraham scored all three of Chelsea’s goals in the win over Luton opening the scoring with a calmly curled finish from Timo Werner’s pull back.


Six minutes later he got his second, looping a header over Simon Sluga following a dinked cross from Reece James.


And for his hat-trick the best but arguably easiest of the goals, culminating a superb team move tapping home from a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross.


Liam Cullen

From his lethal finishing against Nottingham Forest, it’s actually quite hard to believe that Liam Cullen only has two championship goals this season, a tally he matched in 90 minutes.


The 21-year-old tucked home a delicious Wayne Routledge cross with the inside of his left foot to give the Swans the lead.


Ryan Manning then set up Cullen for his second with a low driven cross which the Welshman finished with precision.


Marcus Rashford

The two United wide men caused severe problems all game for Liverpool’s attacking full-backs with both Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood setting up one another, but Rashford just gets the nod for his tremendous assist.


It was clear that United were always looking for their wide players on the counter-attack and it was on one of those very attacks where Greenwood got his side back on level terms.


Rashford spotted Greenwood in acres of space on the right and sent a perfectly weighted cross-field pass straight into the path of the teenager who showed great composure to finish past Allison.


Greenwood then returned the favour playing a through ball into Rashford, which was misjudged by Rhys Williams, allowing the MBE winner to put United in front.


Manager


Michael Duff

This spot is often awarded to a winning manager who makes the right decisions pre-match and during, and while Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff wasn’t on the winning side, he did everything as well as he could.


Knowing that if he sent out his team to match City they would be outplayed; he organised his back five to be ruthless yet disciplined and ensured Alfie May was always a nuisance up top.

They played to their strengths of always having that Ben Tozer long throw and eventually it worked, and for 22 minutes Cheltenham were in dreamland.


And although the result went the other way, any manager who is able to organise his team not to concede for 81 minutes against Manchester City deserves heaps praise, let alone if they’re from three divisions below.