FA Cup 4th Round: 7 Biggest Stars of the Weekend

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 27, 2013

FA Cup 4th Round: 7 Biggest Stars of the Weekend

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    Another weekend of FA Cup action, another slate of upsets and shocks.

    Aston Villa, Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition by lower-league sides, so it's fair to say we've got quite the set of heroes to celebrate.

    Here are the men who take the plaudits.

Pablo Zabaleta

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    The fixture between Manchester City and Stoke City has ended 1-1 on a consistent basis over the last few years, so many were skeptical about tuning in for Saturday's early kickoff.

    Going to form, it was a relatively drab contest, but the Citizens escaped Stoke-on-Trent with a victory courtesy of Man of the Match Pablo Zabaleta's late goal.

    He was a superb defensive and offensive presence all game long on the right-hand side, and his stabbed effort at the back post ensured Roberto Mancini's men continue their cup conquest.

Olivier Giroud

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    With Arsenal's form very much up-and-down of late, a trip to the Amex Stadium represented a true potential banana skin for Arsene Wenger's men.

    The home crowd upped the pressure, and Gus Poyet's side went out with the belief that they could knock out yet another English Premier League side, but it was Olivier Giroud who continually pegged them back.

    The visiting Frenchman is on a good scoring run at the moment, and while it was Theo Walcott's winner that edged them the tie, Giroud's brace went a long way to doing the damage.

Scott Rendell

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    Luton Town have had a seriously tough decade, but this result goes a long way to putting the smiles back on fans' faces.

    They're the first non-league side in 24 years to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, and it was Scott Rendell who played the part of hero on Saturday.

    His late winner at Carrow Road dumped Norwich out of the competition as the Hatters rode their luck and withstood a relative barrage.

Matt Smith

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    In perhaps the biggest shock of the round, a solid Liverpool side were sent packing by an inspired Oldham Athletic.

    The Man of the Match in everyone's eyes was Matt Smith, who until recently was playing part-time football while studying at University.

    The FA Cup presents a stage for players like Smith to prosper, and he took his chance. He bullied Sebastian Coates, dominated every marker and scored two goals to help secure a 3-2 win.

Ross McCormack

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    It wasn't just his goal, because in all honesty the cut inside was very predictable and Steven Caulker needs to look at himself there.

    It was his overall contribution and his willingness and readiness to step into the void Luciano Becchio left in this Leeds United side that impressed the most, and he is largely to thank for a fifth-round tie to come.

    Superb on the deck and a threat in behind, Tottenham simply failed to live with him.

Karl Robinson

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    There were heroes all over the pitch at Loftus Road—too many to count perhaps—but one man who stood in the dugout played a big part in a historic win.

    Six weeks ago this fixture was even, but with Queens Park Rangers dramatically picking up form, MK Dons were walking into a torrid afternoon on paper.

    As the FA Cup consistently proves, however, football isn't played on paper. Robinson inspired his men to a 4-0 lead at a Premier League side, then eventually won 4-2.


Ryan Giggs

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    Manchester United took Fulham apart 4-1 on Saturday evening and Ryan Giggs was the standout performer.

    The 39-year-old placed a cute penalty to the goalkeeper's right in just the second minute, then proceeded to boss the game despite his aging legs.

    The Cottagers made the fatal mistake of giving him time and space—both out wide and centrally—and allowed him take control. If only we could still see him turning out on a consistent basis.