Walsall landed long odds in the English FA Cup third round when the Saddlers beat higher ranked Brentford in the Dean Smith derby and one is willing to chance another English League One team in the knockout event’s fourth round.
The English FA Cup fourth round tie that one thinks has a reasonable probability of featuring an upset is the one between West Bromwich of the English Premier League and Peterborough of English League One. Thirty-seven steps separate West Bromwich and Peterborough on the English pyramid but, as they say in the boxing game, styles make fights and the Baggies have reasons to fear the Posh.
West Bromwich is seven points clear of the English Premier League relegation zone but Baggies fans are not in love with Tony Pulis because they believe that his style of football is not in keeping with their side’s proud history. West Bromwich owner Jeremy Peace hired Pulis to keep the Baggies in the English Premier League last season, a feat that the former Crystal Palace and Stoke manager achieved with a bit up his sleeve – Albion finished in 13th place, nine points above the third relegated team, Hull. Even so, Pulis has been on the nose with some sections of West Bromwich’s fanbase since day one of his reign and the manner in which the Baggies have played in recent weeks has only served to increase the percentage of Albion supporters who would like to see a coach other than the Welshman leading their side.
Remarkably, West Bromwich has not managed an attempt on target in each of its last two English Premier League matches and the Baggies scored with their only accurate effort against English Championship struggler Bristol City in the previous round of the English FA Cup. According to official statistics, West Bromwich is averaging an English Premier League-low 9.48 attempts per game and 2.96 attempts on target per match, hence why Baggies fans are calling for Pulis to go – they are bored of watching their own team.
Peterborough is an awful match-up for West Bromwich because the Posh are one of English professional football’s most attack-minded sides. Again, according to official data, Peterborough is averaging an English League One-high 16.56 attempts per game and 6.44 attempts on target per match. To put Peterborough’s numbers into some context, in England’s top four divisions the Posh ranks second to Manchester City (17.43) for attempts per game and second to Tottenham (6.61) for attempts on target per match. Peterborough has undergone some player changes since the English FA Cup fourth round draw took place but the Posh’s philosophy has not changed and their youngsters will approach Saturday’s game at The Hawthorns with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
West Bromwich required extra time and penalties to eliminate English League One side Port Vale from the English Capital One Cup second round in August and that supposed David versus Goliath clash, which was 0-0 after 120 minutes of action, took place at The Hawthorns. Peterborough manager Graham Westley is the type of boss who will make his team aware of how West Bromwich struggled to account for a lower ranked side than the Posh in another cup competition this term and Darragh MacAnthony, the man who pays the wages at the ABAX Stadium, is another excitable character as well.
One was surprised that none of the English FA Cup’s host broadcasters selected West Bromwich against Peterborough for live television coverage since the potential for a shock is there for all to see. Bookmakers are offering odds of +450 about Peterborough beating West Bromwich at The Hawthorns. Peterborough will not die wondering because of its style of play and that is all that one can ask of a live outsider.
Peterborough to beat West Brom
30th January 15:00 GMT