The weekend's top performers

Team of the Week

February 17, 2013
By Chris Murphy
(Archive)

Jake Kean is the latest face to be pinned onto Arsene Wenger's dartboard after the Blackburn keeper had a stormer at the Emirates during Blackburn's FA Cup triumph over Arsenal. Kean faced 26 shots on his goal, making superb saves from a host of Gunners including Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott, showing oodles of composure as he marshalled his penalty box expertly in the face of an all-out bombardment.

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata is on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award
GettyImagesJuan Mata believes Chelsea must continue to attack Basel

In front of Kean, Grant Hanley was superb in making sure Blackburn offered as little space as possible to Arsenal's considerable attacking talent. A crucial block to prevent Gervinho bearing down on goal was the highlight, as Hanley threw himself at any ball that arrived in Rovers' box like a madman. It is this kind of defending that has seen him linked with Manchester United.

Jose Enrique was allowed to do what he does best against Swansea: attack, attack, attack. In fact, pretty much everyone in a red shirt could do what the heck they liked in the face of a feckless Swans outfit that were lucky to get nil. Enrique provided a constant threat down the left, polishing off one of the finest team goals in the top flight this season.

Olham's Matt Smith will get all the headlines, and a decent write up from yours truly shortly, but Jean-Yves Mvoto was a colossus at the back for the Latics. David Moyes didn't hold back hurling the likes of Victor Anichebe, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic at Oldham but though Mvoto was occasionally bested on the floor he won almost every aerial duel he contested. What he lacked in quality he made up for in 'want'.

The first of our midfield four is Callum McManaman, who put Championship side Huddersfield to the sword on a cabbage patch of a pitch in West Yorkshire. The 21-year-old had a decisive ten-minute spell that pretty much settled the tie, ending a fine run with a good finish to put Wigan 1-0 up before being heavily involved for Arouna Kone's second. He had a smaller hand in the third as he offered Roberto Martinez a new option on the flank.

It was no surprise to see Juan Mata excel against Brentford - the classy Spain international has produced the goods against far better opposition this season. It was the 24-year-old who finally broke the Bees' resistance as he fired home from outside the area. After Oscar's second, Mata teed up the clinching third for Lampard with a fine run down the left and an even better floated dink into the midfielder's path. A pleasure to watch.

Manchester City can boast a diminutive Spanish playmaker of their own, of course, and David Silva was far too good for Leeds at Eastlands. Silva was involved in most of City's attacking thrusts and had a hand in the opener, scored by Yaya Toure after some neat interplay. It was a Silva pass that teed up the third too, as Sergio Aguero crossed for Carlos Tevez to score before Silva's pinpoint through ball to Aguero saw the striker make it 4-0.

It would be churlish not to include Frank Lampard in our Team of the Week after the Chelsea midfielder became the club's all-time leading FA Cup scorer with a typically cool finish against Brentford. Unusually for him, it took a few chances for Lampard to find his range but his link-up play and movement was exemplary as ever. And when Mata got into space down the left he knew exactly where to position himself for a cross as he fired home his record-breaking goal.

Matt Smith celebrates his injury-time equaliser for Oldham
PA PhotosMatt Smith celebrates his injury-time equaliser for Oldham

Matt Smith clearly likes the FA Cup, and playing against Premier League teams from Merseyside. After dumping Liverpool out in the last round the beanpole striker came to Oldham's rescue as they lurched towards a 2-1 defeat to Everton. Making the sort of instant impact only a 6ft 6in striker can, Smith had the Toffees on the rack from every long ball and set piece the Latics launched. And the pressure told in the final minute of stoppage time, as he rose above everyone to nod an equaliser and earn the League One side a lucrative replay.

Smith's love for the FA Cup is shared by Barnsley's Chris Dagnall, who scored twice in the Tykes' victory at MK Dons. The striker netted the goal that knocked Hull out in the previous round and proved the difference again on Saturday. His first came with just 144 seconds on the clock as he finished from Jacob Mellis' pass before rounding the goalkeeper for his second late in the game.

It looks like Luis Suarez's mini slump is over after the Uruguayan adopted his familiar, instrumental role in Liverpool's Premier League humbling of Swansea. First the striker won his side a penalty after a foul by Kemy Augustien, converted by Steven Gerrard, then his through ball released debutant Philippe Coutinho to make it 2-0. Suarez played his part in a fine third, finished by Enrique, then grabbed his goal as he jinked wide of two defenders before a cool, low finish found the bottom corner.

Narrowly beating off competition from Oldham's caretaker boss Tony Philliskirk, Michael Appleton, the lower leagues' managerial nomad, is our gaffer of the week. He continued his promising start to life in charge of Blackburn with a phenomenal FA Cup upset. Rovers' triumph at Arsenal was built on supreme defensive organisation and discipline, and if they can retain that until the end of the season, a late charge to regain their Premier League status could be on the cards.