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The Toe Poke

Team of the Week

Without two exceptional interventions from Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart at Wembley, it might well have been Manchester United looking forward to an FA Cup final clash with Stoke. The England stopper was out swiftly to deny Dimitar Berbatov a clear sight of goal in the first half, before he brilliantly flicked Nani's deflected free kick onto the crossbar in the second half.

In front of Hart, Vincent Kompany was a colossal presence in City's defence. Aside from City's mini-meltdown in the first half, when Berbatov was afforded two golden chances in the space of a minute, Kompany marshalled the backline superbly, winning back possession frequently, and dealing time and time again with balls into the box as ten-man United became increasingly desperate.

However inconsistent Theo Walcott may be, it is still quite some ask to come on and mark the winger on only your second ever appearance for Liverpool but Jack Robinson did it superbly. Replacing Fabio Aurelio after only 22 minutes, the 17-year-old was immediately tested as Arsenal fed the ball down the right and encouraged Walcott to charge his new opponent, but Robinson was not found wanting. A very promising performance.

Birmingham returned to their miserly best against Sunderland, with Roger Johnson outstanding. As ever, Johnson's display was packed full of commitment and passion, driving his team on to victory. The highlight of his afternoon's work came with a brilliant goalline clearance from Stephane Sessegnon, after Ben Foster had saved from Lee Cattermole.

With Johnson imperious at the back, Sebastian Larsson was Birmingham's stand out attacking player. On his 100th Premier League appearance the Swede scored his side's opener out of nothing, chasing down what seemed like a lost cause to poke the ball under Simon Mignolet after making up ground on Phil Bardsley. Whenever Larsson was on the ball Birmingham looked dangerous and his delivery was exquisite, as ever.

Should Manchester City go on to lift the FA Cup, then Yaya Toure's winner against Manchester United may come to be regarded as one of the most important goals in the club's recent history. Whether or not it will spark a trophy glut at Eastlands is up for debate, but what is not in question is Toure's quality. Quite apart from the goal, which he made for himself, Toure was City's driving force in the middle of the vast park that is Wembley.

Those who wrote Wigan off as doomed before their trip to Blackpool hadn't counted on the form of Charles N'Zogbia. Temperamental at best, the Frenchman often disappears in games of magnitude, but his display at Bloomfield Road offered genuine hope that the Latics can beat the drop. N'Zogbia laid on the opener for Hugo Rodallega before scoring the crucial second himself moments before half time after a slaloming run into the box.

Shorn of Marouane Fellaini, Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman has suddenly become the creative spirit in Everton's engine room. After a man of the match display at Wolves last weekend, Osman carried his excellent form into Saturday's game with Blackburn, revelling in the extra responsibility manager David Moyes has handed him. Osman opened the scoring for the Toffees, with a powerful, angled drive and was unlucky not to add to his tally.

Bolton's Wembley nightmare against Stoke was kick-started by Matthew Etherington. The former West Ham winger, along with Jermaine Pennant, led the Potters a merry dance in the FA Cup semi final. It was his superb strike that sparked the rout, as he picked up a loose ball and slammed it into the bottom corner. From then on, he and Pennant terrorised the Trotters, as the Potters went goal-crazy.

One of those to profit from the foundations laid by Etherington's pearler was Jonathan Walters. The striker returned to haunt the club that let him go nearly ten years ago with a brace that rubbed the Trotters' nose firmly in the dirt. His first was fitting of the occasion, as he picked the ball up in his own half before galloping downfield, cutting inside and hammering a shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen. He completed a memorable brace with a back-post stab after Kenwyne Jones' cross into the box.

Didier Drogba made a mockery of his omission from last week's Champions League clash against Manchester United with a typically powerful display against West Brom. Rumours have it that Drogba might be on his way out of Stamford Bridge in the summer, but though he is advancing in years, his bullying of the Baggies proves he still has what it takes to make an impact at the highest level. The 33-year-old opened the scoring, capitalising on Nicky Shorey's error, and forced Scott Carson into the save that allowed Salomon Kalou to make it 2-0 before launching the move that lead to Chelsea's third.

After guiding Stoke to their first ever FA Cup final in empathic style, we bow down before Tony Pulis' managerial prowess and officially ordain him our manager of the week. Oft criticised for his direct style, the Welsh wizard's outfit produced five goals of undoubted quality - none of which came directly from a punt downfield or a Rory Delap throw in. With confidence soaring after a five-star performance, Pulis won't have a problem convincing his players they can best Manchester City in the final next month.


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