Team of the Week
Choices are slightly limited this week, given there were just four games in the FA Cup, but had there been 40, Edwin van der Sar would surely still have been our goalkeeper. The veteran was in inspired form against Arsenal and hardly put a foot wrong. A double save from a deflected cross and a Laurent Koscielny shot were the highlight as Old Trafford begged the 40-year-old for "one more year".
In front of Van der Sar, Chris Smalling showed why his reputation is rising steadily with a calm, assured performance that belied his young age. He shackled Robin van Persie to such an extent that the Dutchman's influence on the game was limited and seemed to have harnessed that uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. A healthy habit for a defender.
In a lethargic Manchester City display (is there any other kind at the moment?) Micah Richards again starred at both ends of the pitch. He did well to cope with pacey threat of Jobi McAnuff after a few early wobbles and was never found wanting in the desire stakes, throwing himself into tackles in the air and on the floor. And it was his headed goal that booked City a derby clash with rivals Manchester United in the next round.
Stoke had to rely on two defenders to book their Wembley appearance, as Robert Huth and Danny Higginbotham found the net. The left-back notched the winner with a powerful free-kick that Rob Green couldn't keep from squirming over the line and celebrated with a good old fashioned jump for joy. He had a solid game at the back too, as West Ham pressed forward late on.
Fabio only managed 45 minutes against Arsenal but he made quite an impression. Lining up in a midfield that also contained fellow defenders John O'Shea and his brother Rafael, Fabio showed enough trickery to confirm Sir Alex Ferguson's selection. He created an early chance for his brother and then grabbed himself a poacher's goal after Javier Hernandez's header had been saved by Manuel Almunia.
In what was a lacklustre Arsenal performance Jack Wilshere stood head and shoulders above his team-mates. The 19-year-old was at the heart of everything Arsenal did in both a defensive and attacking sense, launching into tackles, linking play, making vital interceptions in his own penalty area and threatening United's rearguard with his direct running. More than once he threw his hands up in disgust at the lack of assistance he received from his colleagues.
Another youngster to make a mark this weekend was Birmingham's 17-year-old midfielder Nathan Redmond. It was only his third involvement with the senior side but he showed enough on Saturday to justify the club's decision to hand him a professional contract last week. He troubled Bolton left-back Paul Robinson all game with his pace and trickery, and set up Kevin Phillips' goal with a neat flick on.
As they so often do, Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies terrorised the opposition with a combination of power and finesse. The Swede, playing in a left wing role, was a constant menace for Birmingham, and hammered home Bolton's first with a powerful finish. Davies tormented his namesake Curtis, winning a penalty for his side, which he coolly dispatched. When both players are on their game, Bolton look a potent force.
For the second week running, David Silva was Manchester City's best attacking player. As the likes of Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira laboured, the Spaniard again showed the vision and craft that persuaded the club to spend big money snaring him from Valencia. His shooting radar may have been malfunctioning but his passing and movement was too much for Reading to handle at times.
While still not performing at the level he set last season, Wayne Rooney still has enough in the tank to affect high profile games, as he showed against Arsenal. Dropping deeper than his strike partner Javier Hernandez, Rooney dictated much of United's forward play with accurate distribution, none more so than when his floated cross for Hernandez led to the opener. Then he popped up to seal the game with a cute header after Hernandez's effort looped up invitingly.
Bolton's quest to win the FA Cup for club legend Nat Lofthouse, who died in January, marches on after Owen Coyle, masterminded a superb victory at Carling Cup holders Birmingham. Twice the Trotters took the lead and twice they were pegged back, but the Scot has moulded his attacking principles with a strong team spirit which means they can never be counted out. They got their reward in injury time as Chung Yong Lee nodded the winner and booked a date with Stoke at Wembley.