In truth we we lucky not to be behind after the first quarter, Szczesny forced into a couple of fine saves, a solid keeper who seems to exude self belief. We did have some good chances at the other end as well, Watt finding a post with a poked effort from a Wilshere cross. Coquelin looked handy, putting in a few very decent tackles as he tried to halt the West Brom flow. Wilshere threatened with his pace and tricks, showing his ability to open up defences on his own with one great dribble and shot that flew just wide. We were handed a big advantage when Thomas was given a straight red for an elbow he threw at Wilshere. The game bustled towards half time, a penalty claim came and went, while Mikel Silvestre showed just why he is not on view on a more regular basis at the Emirates.
The second half began in a rather bitty manner, with Arsenal struggling to make the extra man count. Sunu was replaced by Vela and Coqeulin by Randall, the former added a bit of pace to our attacks. The atmosphere built slowly, a half chance here and there while the Baggies still carried a threat on the break, Mulumbu showed some talent having replaced Cox midway through the half. In the end the break came when Sanchez Watt's predatory instinct was rewarded after a great Kiely save from an excellent low Vela shot. Vela then capitalised on Randall's excellent chip which bounced back off the bar to leave a relatively simple finish. At the other end another excellent chance for West Brom went begging as Wood shot tamely wide.
Overall the game was turned by that moment of stupidity from Thomas. West Brom's poor finishing combined with Szczesny's excellence kept the sheet clean for our defence, while the game gradually swung in our favour as that extra man counted. Vela added a bit of spice to the attack, while Wilshere was a constant menace. It is amazing just how many talented youngsters we have at our disposal thanks to Arsene's attention to the youth policy, although few of them will make it as first team regulars, nights like this are great for a lot of supporters who cannot get tickets for other matches, while the experience gained by a few of them could prove invaluable in the long term. Well done Arsene and the lads, let's keep our fingers crossed for another home tie in the next round.