The English Premier League (EPL) is fast-paced, frantic and seemingly unpredictable; in fact, it's the potential for shock results and explosive local derbies that contributes to its giant global fan base. However, all this can make it difficult to know where to start with betting, especially when faced with so many markets and exciting in-play opportunities. Fortunately, hidden beneath the chaotic exterior of the EPL are a number of reliable trends that could make your weekend watch a profitable one.
The EPL might be known as one of the most exciting leagues in the world, but that doesn’t mean that every game is a feast of goals. In the 2013/14 season, a significant 20% of matches ended with just one goal scored; 12% finished 1-0, and 8% 0-1. The second most common scoreline last year was a home 2-0 victory, with 9% of games recording this result. Bear these figures in mind when betting on the correct score market, particularly when two closely matched teams go head to head.
An even more reliable result tends to be the 0-0 draw after 45 minutes. In 2013/14, 30% of matches were goalless when the half time whistle blew. This stat isn’t just useful for the half time scoreline market, but also for the half time/full time market. It can be particularly lucrative for punters who identify a team specialising in late goals; for example Everton who scored the latest overall last season, with the average time for their goals being around the 55th minute.
Some say that the home advantage is becoming less relevant in the Premier League, but the statistics beg to differ. Home wins accounted for 47.11% of results in 2013/14, with draws accounting for 20.53% and away wins 32.37%. And it's not a recent trend either, home wins accounted for 43.68% of results in 2012/13, 45% in 2011/12 and 47.11% in 2010/11. Next time you’re weighing up a tight contest, remember to factor in morale boosting home support, often referred to as ‘the 12th man’.
When it comes to cards per game, the stats aren’t nearly as volatile as the players. Taking high intensity derby games out of the equation, there tends to be a relatively consistent figure for the number of cards a given team will pick up. Last year, for example, there were an average of 0.14 red cards per game and 3.2 yellow cards. The average over the entire period from 1995/6 to 2013/14 was 0.18 reds per game and 3.4 yellows, so fluctuations are minor.
This has remained remarkably consistent despite the evolution of football tactics over the past 22 years. The lowest average was 2.45 goals per game in 2006/7, and the highest came in 2011/12, when the average was 2.81. However, for the past five seasons the figure has stayed above 2.75. As we’ve seen, this doesn’t necessarily mean that most games will see a hatful of goals, but rather that high-scoring fixtures happen a little more frequently. This could have something to do with the widening gulf between teams at the top and bottom of the league, with Manchester City recording wins of 4, 5, 6 and 7-0 over struggling teams last term.
A saying that gets rolled out every year is that the team sitting at the top of the league on New Year's Day will generally have the staying power to go on and win the title. Historically speaking, there's some truth to the claim, as the New Year's front runner has gone on to win the Premier League ten times out of 22. Equally, some teams have built a reputation for running out of steam in the second half of the season. Arsenal fans will know to keep their optimism in check when January 1st comes round, they’ve never gone on the win the league after topping the table on New Year’s Day.
At the start of every season football fans ponder who will be the Premier League's top goalscorer, and with high odds often available, and relatively few genuine candidates to pick from, it can be surprisingly easy to exploit this market. The top scorer has come from a top four team in every season since 2000/01. Sunderland's Kevin Phillips bucked the trend in the preceding season, but the decision should generally be limited to four, first choice strikers.
The ‘time of next goal’ and ‘goal to be scored in the next 10 minutes’ markets are among the most exciting to bet on in-play. This is partly because these outcomes are best predicted on the spur of the moment, when the build-up looks promising, or a team is under pressure. That said, teams do display trends that can be analysed in advance. For example, in 2013/14, Cardiff City scored six and conceded 19 in the last ten minutes, while Manchester City scored 12 and conceded one in the first ten. Having these figures at hand can be invaluable when making in-play choices.
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