In my last FA Cup piece on giantkilling, I discussed why Brighton & Hove Albion’s victory over Newcastle could not be described as a giantkilling despite Brighton playing in a lower division. After Tuesday evening’s first batch of replays, I would now like to investigate why one Premier League team beating another is classified as one of the bigger shocks to date.
QPR’s victory at West Bromwich Albion was the fourth most unlikely victory of this year’s FA Cup third round to date according to a set of averaged bookmakers’ odds. It was even more unlikely than non league Luton Town’s victory against Championship team Wolverhampton Wanderers 11 days ago. This was primarily due to the fact that QPR were away and Luton Town were at home in those respective matches. The role of home advantage is illustrated perfectly when we look back at the first match between QPR and West Brom as the London team were favourites that day.
QPR though are regarded as a much weaker team than West Bromwich Albion as shown by their respective rankings in the Euro Club Index. That objective ranking rates West Brom as the 96th best team amongst Europe’s top flight clubs with QPR 138 places behind them at number 234. Looking at their actual index scores, we discover that QPR are rated around 78% as good as West Bromwich Albion. That is quite a difference in quality which was then amplified by the home advantage which we would expect West Bromwich Albion to enjoy when playing at The Hawthorns. All of this combined to make an all-Premier League clash produce one of the surprises of this year’s FA Cup third round.
Ten of the 30 FA Cup third round matches played to completion to date have been won by the underdog on the day. This includes Fulham’s win at Blackpool in Tuesday’s replay as the Premier League club, like Newcastle United at Brighton, were the underdogs on the day. However, the biggest surprise of all in this year’s third round could also come in an all-Premier League tie. That is if West Ham United win at Old Trafford within 90 minutes.