FA Cup 5th Round: 10 Players to Watch

Peter Webster@@petercwebsterContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2012

FA Cup 5th Round: 10 Players to Watch

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    The FA Cup is set to enter the fifth round this weekend and it offers up an enticing meal of interesting fixures.

    The English competition can offer up shocks aplenty, as has been proven by years of upsets such as those featured here.

    With a few non-Premier League teams still in the competition, there might still be some surprises to behold yet.

    One can only dream.

    Let's take a look at some players to keep an eye out for this weekend.

Luis Suarez

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    Luis Suarez has recently returned from his eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.

    Suarez looked a little tired and didn't have his usual spark against Manchester United in the recent league match, despite scoring Liverpool's goal.

    Dalglish will want to ensure Liverpool go as far as possible in the competition, and Suarez needs to regain his match fitness so don't be surprised to see the Uruguayan starting against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.

James McClean

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    Sunderland midfielder James McClean has been superb for Sunderland since Martin O'Neill took over and gave the youngster a first-team opportunity.

    In his 10 games in the Premier League this season—only seven of which he has completed 90 minutes or close to—McClean has scored three goals and got two assists.

    If the Northern Irishman from Derry can take his form into the FA Cup, then opponents Arsenal will have a handful to deal with.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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    Sunderland need to be equally weary of Arsenal's latest young gun Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    The Ox has been superb for Arsenal in his last three league appearances for the club, but manager Arsene Wenger opted to rest him for the Champions League match against AC Milan, which Arsenal subsequently lost 4-0.

    Perhaps the rest was geared towards having a fresh Ox to unleash against Sunderland in the FA Cup.

    Sunderland's defence will need to be aware of his potential threat.

Juan Mata

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    Whilst Chelsea's Champions League aspirations may have stuttered of late, Spanish midfielder Juan Mata's performances of still been of a high quality for the London club.

    With a fifth-round tie at home against Championship side Birmingham City, Mata will be looking to pull the strings and take his club into the draw for the next stage.

Jermaine Beckford

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    Jermaine Beckford didn't do himself justice during his brief time with Everton in the Premier League, but now he's back in the Championship with Leicester City and showing that he still knows where the back of the net is.

    Beckford is the top goal scorer in this season's FA Cup to date, with five goals.

    Leicester City face a tough away tie at Premier League's Norwich City. Beckford will have to be at his best if the Tigers hope to progress.

Grant Holt

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    Norwich's Grant Holt scored his eighth and ninth league goals of the season in his last Premier League game against Swansea City.

    Norwich have a fifth-round home tie against Leicester City as a reward for their 2-1 victory in the last round against West Bromwich Albion. Holt will be looking to take his recent league form into this FA Cup encounter.

Fernando Torres

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    Chelsea paid £50 million for Fernando Torres for a reason.

    Torres may have suffered in front of goal over the past 12 months, but the Spaniard is a World Cup-winning striker and still has one of the best goals-to-game ratios in the Premier League.

    Sooner or later he is going to hit the goal trail. Birmingham City had better hope it's not against them.

Landon Donovan

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    Everton's tie against Blackpool will be the last game for Landon Donovan before he goes back to the USA to prepare for the MLS season with L.A. Galaxy.

    Donovan won Everton's player of the month for January after laying on five assists in the calendar month.

    Donovan will be wanting to go out with a flourish and this game against lower league Blackpool is the perfect opportunity for him to say goodbye.

    Expect him to be very lively.

Robin Van Persie

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    Robin van Persie has just been scoring too many goals for him to not get a mention as a player to be weary of.

    Van Persie has hit 22 goals in the Premier League already this season and looks set to keep that number rising.

    RVP will find a resurgent Sunderland team a tough proposition under Martin O'Neill, though, and his clear-cut chances may be limited in this tie.

Louis Saha

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    Tottenham Hotspur new boy Louis Saha hit the goal trail in his first home game for the club with a brace.

    With Harry Redknapp now having Saha, Defoe, Adebayor and Van Der Vaart as forward options, Saha will be looking to gain some match sharpness and prove his worth.

    If Redknapp gives him the start he likely craves, I expect Saha to be a very dangerous prospect against lowly League Two Stevenage.


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    The great thing about the FA Cup is that anything can happen.

    The lower teams come into the games with a real sense of belief and occasionally the so-called bigger teams can be found wanting.

    Players are rested, which sometimes upsets the balance of a team if they are used to playing a certain way, so don't despair if you're a Stevenage fan.

    The FA Cup is all about faith, and you can click here to see some of the most notorious upsets of all time if you want that faith restored.

    Thanks for reading and be sure to follow me on twitter @petercwebster where I post all my B/R content.