The scoreline tells a different story, but that was a pretty convincing win and much improved performance, with a Miguel Almiron double and Valentino Lazaro strike sending us into the FA Cup quarter finals!
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with our marks out of 10:
Darlow – 6 – Got behind powerful shots from Edwards and Austin in the first half, but too much of his work was unorthodox and unconvincing, with him almost punching a few efforts into the path of West Brom players. Did a relatively solid job in Dubravka’s absence – claiming a few awkward crosses well – but didn’t always look a safe pair of hands!
Manquillo – 7.5 – Solid defensively once again, being quick to react and sharp into the tackle – although he was beaten a little too easily in the build up to West Brom’s late second. Was steady on the ball, also making a few positive forward runs at the other end.
Lascelles – 7 – Won plenty in the air and made a few strong clearances when they whipped balls into the box. Kept Charlie Austin very quiet in the first half and just about coped as West Brom flung balls into the area late on – even if he did get himself in a bit of a tangle before their late second. A steady, no-nonsense display from the skipper.
Schar – 7 – Had mixed success on the ball, with a few of his Hollywood passes into forward areas being a little wayward. That said, his eagerness to create attacks and get on the ball did help us get on the front foot early on. Made an outstanding block to stop Zohore’s goal-bound effort to keep it 1-3 with 5 minutes remaining, but was caught way out of position for the late goal that made it 2-3.
Rose – 7 – Rarely got forward, but put himself about and kept West Brom winger Matt Phillips pretty quiet, tracking him well and blocking a few crosses. Got booked moments before half-time, however, which left him a little limited in the second 45. Phillips got more joy in the second half as a result, beating him easily a few times, however Rose did make a vital goal-line intervention to keep it at 0-3; a moment which proved to be decisive in the end!
S Longstaff – 6 – Played the Jonjo Shelvey role well at times, with a few impressive passes and plenty hard work, but we saw a few lapses at both ends and he didn’t always protect the defence well enough alongside Bentaleb. Had one superb effort from range well saved and the odd impressive cross-field pass, but lost the ball in bad areas on a few occasions and miscued a couple of half chances high and wide. There were glimpses of the Sean Longstaff we saw break onto the scene last season, but he doesn’t looked well suited to playing alongside Bentaleb.
Bentaleb – 5 – Wasted a huge chance early on, with a sloppy pass in a 2-on-1 situation denying Almiron a BIG opportunity to give us an early lead in the opening minutes. He showed glimpses of class on the ball after that – even if West Brom did give him far too much time and space on the ball – but appears to be a player who’s still brushing off the cobwebs after several month in Schalke’s reserves before signing at St James’ Park. Some neat touches and the odd bit of impressive footwork, but takes risks on the ball and seems a slight luxury in what is such a key area of the pitch. He was better than he was in that horror show at Palace, but it should’ve been a game he looked outstanding in against an ageing West Brom side that gave him far too much space.
Lazaro – 8 – After a few defensive errors at Arsenal and Palace, the Inter Milan loanee put in a superb display in a slightly more advanced role from the right wing. Looked sharp on the ball and did everything quickly, with his movement, flicks and weight of pass helping us create a few flowing attacks. Made a good run for his goal, allowing him to bundle home in the six-yard box from a Saint-Maximin cut back, and didn’t shirk his defensive duties either, making plenty interceptions in an accomplished and energetic display.
Almiron – 9* – Man of the match. Outstanding, with him adding quality and goals to his incredible levels of desire and work rate. One emphatic one-on-one finish slotted calmly into the corner and the other a powerful strike on the stretch. Tried to get close to Joelinton and make runs in behind, but also dropped into that no.10 role to give us an out ball as soon as we played out from the back. Worked tirelessly as ever and won several free kicks via sheer pace and persistence. A superb all round display from the non-stop Paraguayan!
Saint-Maximin – 8 – Was on the fringe of the game early on but was the one man who’s moments of sheer brilliance made things happen when he. First he came inches from scoring another FA Cup screamer, with a 30-yard strike crashing off the post, then a powerful run and perfectly weighted through ball created Almiron’s opener to give us a deserved 1-0 lead. He then played a key part in Lazaro’s goal after the break, with his ball across the box making it 0-3. Two assists and explosive as ever when he got half a chance to run with the ball.
Joelinton – 7.5 – He didn’t always hold up the ball well enough and snatched at a few chances, but he did a LOT of ugly work that allowed Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Lazaro to thrive. Showed plenty desire, making several good runs, headed away several West Brom corners and played a big part in Almiron’s second, with his clever back-heel bagging him a well deserved assist. If we’re forgetting the fact he cost £40m and just focusing on his performance, I think it’s fair to say he made a real positive contribution at both ends here.
Dwight Gayle – Wasted one big chance on the counter attack, failing to put Jonjo Shelvey in behind to kill the tie.
Jonjo Shelvey – Looked a little casual when he came on, doing little to take the pressure placed on us as they suddenly came into the game late on.
Florian Lejeune – Was thrown on in the closing stages. Bundled into Zohore to leave the home fans demanding a penalty in the 94th minute, but the referee was having none of it.