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FA Cup Third Round: Team of the Week

The FA Cup third round returned in all of its glory this weekend, world football’s oldest domestic competition pitting together some enthralling ties between clubs across the English footballing pyramid.

Holders Manchester City safely navigated their passage to the next round with a comfortable victory over Port Vale, whilst the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester are also in the hat for today’s fourth-round draw.

Elsewhere, Rochdale and Tranmere caused shocks against Premier League opposition, though it was the end of the road for AFC Fylde and Hartlepool, the only non-league sides left in the tournament.

Following the weekend’s action, here is The Football Faithful‘s FA Cup third round Team of the Week…

Goalkeeper: Adrian – Liverpool

Liverpool‘s back-up goalkeeper continues to prove reliable whenever called upon in a memorable debut season for the Spaniard, the 33-year-old bringing experience to a youthful and much changed Reds team for their Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Adrian made vital stops to deny Everton‘s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Holgate and Richarlison in the first half, the former West Ham goalkeeper’s series of saves providing the platform for teenager Curtis Jones to score the only goal of the game and secure yet another victory.

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Right-back: Luke Matheson – Rochdale

The teenager made headlines when scoring against Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this season, and the 17-year-old once again produced an impressive cup performance as League One Rochdale secured a replay with Newcastle.

The youngster was introduced as a first-half substitute with Tyler Magloire struggling at right-back, performing admirably to deal with the threat of Christian Atsu and bringing energy to the right-flank.

It was Matheson’s gallop down forwards that led to Rochdale’s equaliser, the full-back crossing for Aaron Wilbraham – a player remarkably 23 years his senior – to fire home and secure a trip to St James’ Park.

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Centre-back: Curtis Davies – Derby County

Crystal Palace were one of three Premier League sides to suffer an early exit, losing 1-0 at home to Derby County with Luka Milivojevic sent off in the second half.

Wayne Rooney‘s second appearance for the visitors may have taken some of the headlines, but it was another experienced star in the form of defender Curtis Davies who impressed at Selhurst Park.

The 34-year-old continues to be an important figure in a Derby side possessing more quality than their current 17th-placed position in the Championship suggests, and performances like this one from Davies will help the club to rise in the coming months.

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Centre-back: Dominic Iorfa – Sheffield Wednesday

Reverted back to centre-back, the former Wolves defender put in an assured display to help Wednesday knock out Premier League opposition in Brighton, the second-tier side securing a 1-0 away victory at the Amex Stadium.

The powerful 24-year-old nullified the threat of the in-form Neil Maupay, shining alongside centre-back partner Julian Borner to secure a clean sheet for Garry Monk’s Owls and a place in the draw for the fourth round.

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Left-back: Ben Chilwell – Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers will have one eye on lifting silverware with Leicester this season, given the Foxes hugely impressive season so far that has lifted them to second in the Premier League table.

The Northern Irishman ensured he played a side strong enough to comfortably deal with the threat of Championship strugglers Wigan, England international Chilwell starting at left-back and providing the assist for Harvey Barnes’ goal in a 2-0 victory with a surging run from inside his own half.

Leicester have never won the FA Cup, despite losing four finals, but look well equipped to make an impact this season.

Midfield: Neil Danns – Tranmere Rovers

Arguably the shock of the round, League One Tranmere coming from three goals down to secure a replay against Premier League Watford at Vicarage Road.

Micky Mellon’s side were taught somewhat of a footballing lesson in the first half, finding themselves 3-0 down at the interval as Watford ruthlessly punished some defensive errors from their lower league visitors.

However, the Merseyside outfit would fight back in some style in the second period, with veteran midfielder Danns at the heart of the action for his side.

The 37-year-old joined the club in September following Bury’s expulsion from the football league, but showed he still has plenty left in the tank with an all-action display to help his side earn a replay.

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Midfield: Oliver Rathbone – Rochdale

Another of the Rochdale contingent to impress against Newcastle, Rathbone was arguably the most eye-catching of the League One side’s stars as he shone at the heart of the midfield.

The former Manchester United youth player produced a tireless display, forcing Martin Dubravka into some smart saves with efforts from distance and proving a constant menace to a Magpies side who struggled to come to terms with their lower league opponents.

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Midfield: Curtis Jones – Liverpool

What a night for the Liverpool youngster, who took his chance in some style to score a stunning Merseyside derby winner and book Jurgen Klopp‘s side’s place in the fourth round draw.

A heavily rotated Reds side did enough to emerge victorious against Everton at Anfield, and it was the Toxteth-born Scouser who was the hero with a curling effort from distance to score his first senior goal.

The 18-year-old’s audacious intervention maintained Liverpool’s unbeaten home record against their city rivals – Jones not even born when the Toffees last tasted an away derby victory back in 1999.

Forward: Jordan Hugill – QPR

Mark Warburton’s QPR side enjoyed their day out against Championship rivals Swansea City, thrashing the hapless visitors 5-1 at Loftus Road to earn their place in the fourth-round draw.

West Ham loanee Hugill was the beneficiary of some slack defending from the Swans, ending a goal drought by scoring a first-half double including a magnificent chest and volley to open the scoring.

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Forward: Adam Idah – Norwich City

What a way to announce yourself to English football.

Idah was handed an opportunity from the start for Norwich’s trip to Preston, the 18-year-old Irishman responding with a stunning hat-trick to score his first senior goals in an entertaining 4-2 victory for the Canaries at Deepdale.

The talented teenager showed pace, power and a maturity in his finishing, his second in particular demonstrating his talents as he delicately fired over stranded Preston ‘keeper Connor Ripley from distance with his left foot.

Idah looks to be the next promising talent to emerge from a thriving Norwich academy, with senior recognition with the Republic of Ireland side now being talked up.

Forward: Tom Eaves – Hull City

The second forward to take home the match ball in our XI, Hull City’s Tom Eaves became the first player to score a hat-trick for the club since August 2017 against Rotherham this weekend.

The two sides played out an entertaining clash, though it would be the Championship side who would prevail, capitalising on their man advantage after Adam Thompson was dismissed in the first-half.

Eaves would notch a treble to secure a 3-2 victory, his headed winner and third of the game coming late in stoppage-time to seal victory in dramatic fashion.

Read – Six highest goalscorers in FA Cup history

See also – Tweets of the Week: Tom Pope, World War 3, and a Happy New Year


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