Punter2Pro specialises in offering intelligent analyses, expert opinions and resources aimed at helping bettors to make smarter, more informed sports bets. This section contains Football posts from the Punter2Pro Professional Sports Betting Blog. Read this section to learn how to analyse football using statistics - rather than as an irrational, biased fan.
Football Index is the world’s first football stock market. It enables traders to buy and sell shares (“futures”) in football players, with the view to build a profitable portfolio. Players earn dividends based on good performances and positive media coverage.
It’s a innovative concept that provides a fresh, and more transparent way to invest in football. The platform appeals to recreational punters as well as those from a professional or financial background. It’s only going to grow in popularity.
Much like a betting exchange, you trade against other players. Football Index only earns from the 2% commission they charge on every sale — not from losing bettors. So if you churn through a lot of players, you’ll end up paying away more commission (keep that in mind).
There are however some situations where Football Index will take on your investment themselves (by market marking), should there be a lack of liquidity (money available) to fulfil your chosen bet. Doing so enables more transactions to take place on the market.
Extremely Generous Signup Offer
Football Index currently offers a staggeringly generous refund for any losses incurred during your first seven days of trading. Bet as much or little as you want. If you lose money, you can claim back up to £500.
Original Concept With A Broad Appeal
A ‘Football Stock Market’ is an original spin on familiar concepts.
Recreational punters, professional sports bettors, Betfair traders, financial traders, and fantasy football fans will feel right at home using the platform.
Football Index is also likely to appeal to FIFA Ultimate Team gamers. FUT players are so fixated on player attributes/potential — and frequently buy & sell them on the marketplace to generate “coins” — that they’re perfectly poised to put those skills to the test.
Intuitive User Interface
Football Index adopts the familiar Buy/Sell (Back/Lay for sport) trading format popularised by Betfair, and the financial markets that preceded it. Seasoned bettors will instantly take to it; novices will find it easy to pick up as they go along.
Rewards Knowledgeable Football Fans
Those with an ability for spotting up & coming players before their ascendancy to stardom will be able to invest real money, and generate a profit. It’s much the same as investing in small companies: do your research, buy at a low share price, collect dividends, and sell-on at a profit once that business has grown into something significantly more valuable (ideally).
Traders on Football Index also have the option to buy “trackers” — such as the “Top 50” and “Top 100” — which essentially invests in multiple top-rated players at once. If the players within the tracker live up to expectations, then you’ll collect dividends from it.
Note: bets on Football Index carry the same risk as any investment. Player values rise and fall. It doesn’t always go the way you had hoped.
Nowhere Near As Risky As Spread Betting
One of the fundamental differences between Football Index and a Spread Betting site is that you can’t lose more than you have deposited. So if your deposit was £200, then you only stand to lose that much. You can’t accrue debt.
Furthermore, losing your entire deposit(s) would suggest your investments are worthless — which is highly unlikely since you’re dealing in football players, where the market prices are dictated by opinions and perceptions. So as much as we may feel that some players are worthless, in reality they’re not!
More Than One Way To Win
Football Index pays out in two ways:
The payouts are determined by one, or both, factors:
Media Rankings: The Top 200 ranked players are eligible for media dividends, and this is is scored based on the sentiment within popular media posts — from sources such as TalkSport, FIFA, the Daily Star and the Daily Mail. If players are below the Top 200, they can’t be rewarded media bonuses.
Match Day Rankings: On any eligible match day (Europe’s 5 major domestic leagues, Champions League & Europa League), Football Index ranks all the participating footballers according to a list of weighted statistics: “The Football Index Scoring Matrix”. This determines the payout per player (if any).
2. Price fluctuations
Footballers can rise in value as a result of increased demand, which enables you to cash out your bets at a profit. It’s much like greening-up from price movements on Betfair — except you “Buy Low, Sell High” like in the financial markets.
Footballers are promoted and relegated from the Top 200 at midnight each day, and remain in that list until midnight the following day. Players below rank #200 are called “Squad Players”.
Encourages Long-term Investments
Football Index is all about investing for the long-haul. Returns are made by holding players and waiting for the right price to sell. You don’t win or lose big overnight — so you can afford the time to consider your actions carefully. This makes it unlike the vast majority of sports betting sites, that benefit from spontaneous ‘punts’.
Disadvantages of Football Index
Limited Payment Options
Only credit/debit cards can be used at the moment. There’s no option to use an e-wallet, which is a shame.
Lack Of Third Party Applications
Part of being a sports trader is utilising tools to improve, scale, and automate your betting strategy. Football Index doesn’t yet offer an open API — therefore there’s a distinct lack of third party applications compatible with the platform. This means no automation.
App Doesn’t Work Outside Of The UK
Unfortunately the strict UK betting rules mean that Football Index can’t be used abroad. It’s problematic if you’re away from home, but want to adjust your portfolio. There’s probably ways around this — but it’s not particularly advisable.
Occasional Low Liquidity
Football Index is still growing, so on some occasions they’ll step in to fill your bet request. Ideally the market would be liquid enough to cope with all requests and stand on it’s own two feet, so to speak. I think it’s just a matter of time before it does, though.
Note: You can buy 100 shares of any player at one time. This is quite substantial.
Requires Some Familiarising
Football Index isn’t quite “pick-up & play”. It requires a bit of education, experimentation, and an understanding of the terminology.
In particular, there’s the “IPO” (Initial Public Offering) players. Those of you that aren’t from a financial background won’t immediately understand the acronym. An “IPO”, in Football Index terms, is a new footballer that’s about to be added to the market:
Up to 50 footballers can be introduced to Football Index, per day, at an introductory price of their discretion.
Luck plays a huge part in sport. But there’s only so far good fortune will carry a football team over the long-run. In time, weak teams will be found out.
There’s a simple way to determine just how lucky (or unlucky) a team has been over a period of time (e.g. a season). This gives you an idea of what to expect from their results in the future.
The Premier League Expected Points Table
Take a look at the final 2017/18 Premier League table in order of ‘Expected Points’ (taken from Understat). The leftmost column lists the team’s real finishing position.
The table confirms that Manchester City deserved to win the title… by a long shot. No surprises there. However, they were expected to notch only 91.09 points — which is 8.91 less than their glamorous 100. So they still over-performed, based on Understat’s Expected Goal estimates.
I’ve highlighted all significant outliers in yellow. These teams obtained significantly more, or less, points than they were expected to. Using this simple technique you can identify both lucky (and unlucky) teams for any of the major top flight leagues.
The Premier League’s Luckiest Teams
1. Manchester United
Achieving +18.67 points over Understat’s estimate is enormous.
Some Man United fans may have felt disappointed they didn’t close the gap on local rivals, City. Yet perhaps they should have been content with a 2nd place finish, considering the Expected Points table ranks them 6th.
Given that the other top clubs achieved points tallies so closely aligned with Expected Points, it’s reasonable to think that United need to improve if they’re aim is to replicate, or better, last season’s achievement.
Burnley have built a reputation for ‘organisation’ and ‘resilience’. But will it last?
No doubt, they should be commended for their achievement last season. Given their resources, pound for pound, I think they achieved the most of any Premier League club in the 2017-18 season.
Yet despite their impressive season, I believe there’s tough times ahead for Burnley. They’re going to need to raise their game, and adapt, if they want to replicate a similar finish again. +13 points over the Expected Points is a significant deviation.
I don’t believe Burnley will continue to overachieve, to this extent, for another season.
The Premier League’s Unluckiest Teams
1. Crystal Palace
It looks as if mid-table Palace were short-changed by the end of the season. Expected Points placed them 7th.
Expect a solid finish for Palace this season, without a serious relegation scare.
Performances suggest Southampton didn’t deserve to be in a relegation battle.
They ought to remain fairly comfortable this season, with a view to finish mid-table.
3. West Bromwich Albion
Relegated West Brom should’ve been well clear of the bottom three according to their Expected Points tally. It placed them 13th.
We can’t use their Premier League performance to estimate West Brom’s chances in the Championship — it’s a different competition.
Will Using Expected Points Improve Your Betting?
It’s Just a Guideline
There’s no guarantee that ‘jammy’ teams will get their comeuppance, or unlucky teams will improve their win ratio in the future. You can’t assume that deviations in (any of your) estimations will always even out over time.
After all, football matches are largely independent of one another. It’s like how spinning black on roulette 10 times in a row doesn’t increase the chances of spinning red on your next turn.
The Expected Points table merely highlights that, in some cases, our perceptions of a team’s performance and ability are inaccurate.
Importantly though, if odds are formed based on results rather than actual performance, then plus EV opportunities will arise in the betting markets.
Football is a game of opinions. A lot of unsubstantiated opinions.
Fans and the media tend to care only about the points on the board — not “who ought to have points on the board”. Football teams are credited, or criticised, on their results — irrespective of what they really deserved.
Here’s an example:
An underdog gets hammered for 90 minutes, and defies all odds by keeping a clean sheet. Then, during injury time, they get a fortunate penalty decision — and score it to win the game.
Just imagine the narrative for that game.
Pundits will almost certainly label this performance as “resilient” and claim the players showed “true character” and “mental strength”. The losing favourite will be condemned — despite doing everything right (apart from winning, of course). Minor imperfections in their game/formation will be highlighted, and dwelled upon, over and over.
But is reducing football down to cliques really the most accurate way to assess teams and make future predictions?
Points come from good performances. Therefore performance is crucial to a team’s long-term success. So you really ought to look beyond historical results when measuring teams against one another.
Expected Goals isn’t all encompassing. It fixates on, and quantifies, the most significant moments in games — the goal scoring opportunities. But it’s a great starting point for football analysis.
You May Also Want to Look into…
The Luck Index. These models incorporate various statistics (not only xG). The ESPN Luck Index (in collaboration with the University of Bath) concurs that Manchester United, followed by Burnley were the most fortune teams in 2017-18 campaign.
Football is complex, and very difficult to predict. This is largely because there’s so many factors that have a significant impact on the game. It’s not a repetitive sport which takes place under near-identical conditions each match — like darts. Every game of Football is entirely unique.
Then outside of the game there’s the rumours, touchline dramas, paper-talk, speculation, injuries, transfers, bust-ups, bans, sackings — and of course the fans — which all play a part in altering our perception of teams and their players. It’s not easy for any football fan to remain rational.
So how can you dismiss the noise surrounding Premier League football and start betting with your head? Here’s some general advice for any Premier League bettor.
The Main Objective Is To Find Value
Always apply rule #1: look for value as opposed to “picking winners”. If you’re unsure on what I mean by that then take a look at the post: What Does Value Betting Mean?
Finding Value is Challenging
I’ve tried many different approaches to modelling Premier League football, looking to identify over-priced odds. Most of my attempts simply weren’t sophisticated enough to earn money.
You have to be consistently smarter and more accurate than the betting exchange to produce long-term profits. But you’re up against the collective wisdom of thousands of other people. How can you find an advantage in such a competitive market?
I believe that the key lies in incorporating alternative factors into your ‘betting system’. I’m referring to market influences that are either completely neglected, or conversely, given too much emphasis. You need to somehow find a way to decipher what really has an impact on football games, and what doesn’t.
And that’s the reason a lot of computer models fail at football betting: they overlook, or aren’t capable of interpreting those less ‘measurable‘ factors. So whether you’re building a football prediction model, or just betting for fun, here’s several obscure Premier League football betting tips which may help you in your pursuit for value.
1. Identify Hype, And Use It To Your Advantage
Football is an entertainment business. It’s all about hyping up matches, signings and the trivial little dramas from the pitch or touchlines. It sells. But I’m a believer that this is one of the reasons why value presents itself in the betting markets.
Examples of Hype (In My Opinion)
Man United During Their “Post Fergie” Transition
Let’s be honest, United weren’t the same after Fergie left. With so many player and manager changes at the club, it eroded the winning mentality he installed for decades. This was a turbulent, transitional period for United; they were re-building.
Yet the betting markets were reluctant to acknowledge that, at first. The odds would so often suggest they were still that ‘same old United’ that would challenge for the title no matter what. This clearly wasn’t the case. They didn’t have a divine right to win.
Is it possible that fans and pundits were still tied to the name “Man United” and not the team itself? I believe so.
West Ham On The Lead Up To The London Stadium Move
Despite what Karen Brady and the tabloids tried to have you believe, you couldn’t simply change your stadium, re-brand your club, demolish a historical ground (and home) in Upton Park, then expect to see results on the pitch at an athletics stadium.
It was unrealistic to think the club could better their 7th place finish prior to the stadium move. Particularly as this position was largely thanks to one man — Dimitri Payet. Yet optimism remained high, and waves of positivity were continually made by the media. That was until West Ham wound up in a relegation battle shortly after the move.
Runs of good form From Over-performing Clubs
Mid-table clubs like Watford, Newcastle, or West Ham often have their moments throughout a season.
It’s easy to get swept away by the positive press. But when it really comes down to it they don’t have the class or squad depth to match the top Premier League teams over a season. This is something that may be temporarily overlooked. So stay rational.
New Signings (in general)
To keep fans excited, football clubs heavily promote any new addition to their roster.
These signings are often so over-hyped that it creates an unachievable expectation level for an entire team. Bare in mind that very few individuals can really turn games on their head (think Bale for Spurs, Suarez for Liverpool).
It’s also hard to predict the impact a new signing will have — especially if they come from another league. Yet the public becomes overly optimistic, every time.
Signings don’t always live up to expectations.
Problem is, it’s hard to measure ‘hype’ because it relies so heavily on one’s interpretation (or ability to quantify) how much something has been exaggerated. So if you’re good at identifying over/underrated teams, players, or managers, then you may also have a knack for finding value in your bets.
2. Remember that Teams Don’t Change Over Night
When a team’s performance drastically improves, or declines, within a short space of time it’s inevitable that they will revert back to where they ‘belong’.
Examples of Reversion
Fighting a relegation battle one season to winning the Premier League title the next, defied all odds. Did we really think Leicester would stay up there?
Michael Owen didn’t. At the time, he was slated for stating that he believed they’d be back in a relegation battle the following season. That estimation proved to be a little too extreme. But Leicester did drift back to mediocrity pretty swiftly. It was inevitable they’d fall.
For whatever reason, Chelsea have ‘off seasons’. They build a title winning team… self-implode… then start over again.
Chelsea had one of their characteristic ‘off’ seasons when Leicester won the league. This time they didn’t only slip outside the top four — they plummeted to 10th. This was disastrous, and yet another freak occurrence in a very peculiar Premier League season.
Importantly, Chelsea didn’t suddenly lose all of their key players in the transfer window. They still had the talent and the resources to achieve much more. So even after a horrendous season it was inevitable Chelsea would recover. Naturally, they slotted back into the top 4/5.
The point is, Premier League teams typically rise or fall at a slow rate, season on season. Teams can certainly deviate from their average league position and experience temporary ‘blips’ or ‘streaks’ — but it tends to revert back. This plays to a bettor’s advantage, particularly if odds are totally irrational.
3. Monitor the Goal Difference
My Grandad once gave me some advice: “goal difference is the best judge of a team”.
Years of watching Spurs fail to win the league due to their poor defence lead him to that conclusion. However, I think there’s a lot of truth in what he said.
Examples of Goal Difference Telling the Real Story
For many years Spurs had a knack for finishing about… 5th. This wasn’t really a bad result when you compare their abysmal goal difference to other teams around them in the table.
This was particularly true of the “AVB era”, when Spurs would marginally beat ‘weaker’ opponents, but were drubbed by the top 4 (in rather embarrassing fashion). Ultimately Spurs were too weak defensively to seriously challenge for the title.
2014-14: Close to Everton in points, but very different in overall performance (GD: +4).
2014-15: same story (GD: +5).
Ironically, Spurs currently have a defence fitting for a title winning team — but have lacked a pacey frontman to support Harry Kane. Could this be Lucas Moura?
By referring to the goal difference throughout the season you might be able identify teams who’s league position is flattering. Very often they will come back down to earth with a thud once their results begin to reflect their performances. This is one of the simplest, most effective tips I can give beginners.
The potential downside to fixating on goal difference is that it’s skewed by big wins or losses e.g. a 5-0 win. However, over the course of a season it paints a clear picture, and gives far more insight than the points tally alone.
4. Assess a Team’s Attacking Prowess
This leads on from the previous tip.
There are attacking teams that do relatively well in the Premier League despite their leaky defence. This is interesting, because it goes against the populist idea that teams must “build from the back”.
Examples of Attacking Teams With a Leaky Defence
They’re on the up under Klopp, but have been plagued by defensive frailties in recent seasons. So the question is, what does this mean for Liverpool?
Look again at the 2013/14 table (above) where Liverpool — despite being defensively inferior to local rivals Everton [who finished 6th] — achieved 2nd place thanks to their exceptionally powerful strike force.
On one hand it’s promising that a strong attack/mediocre defence tends to trump a strong defence/mediocre attack over a season. However, both of these combinations are limited, and prone to shock results. These teams are likely to eventually fall short to their ‘well-balanced’ rivals — with a very strong and defence combination — because they’re more likely to regularly pick up the 3 points.
Consistency, rather than flair, is the key to topping a Premier League season of 38 games. Consistency withflair is the holy grail. And only Manchester City have managed to achieve that in recent years.
5. Recognise the Existence of Psychological Factors
Of all my tips, this is the trickiest to apply.
One of the problems with football is that we can’t measure psychological factors even though they exist, and have an impact. We can read into body language, managers’ comments, the ‘vibe’ that players give off. But it’s speculative.
It’s impossible to pinpoint precisely what psychological factors will have an influence on a game — because they exist inside the minds of other people.
Examples of Psychological Factors
We don’t know precisely why there’s a home advantage. It’s presumably a result of the familiar surroundings, with your own fans (and chants), and the reduced travel time to the match. It’s a factor that has to be considered even if teams are very closely matched ability-wise.
The home advantage doesn’t always remain constant, though:
The London Stadium
An example of a home advantage being lost.
West Ham’s move from the Boleyn Ground was attributed to many poor home performances. Hammers fans believed that their new home environment was so different in atmosphere and pitch size, that it negatively impacted their results.
It has to the be the finest example of a home turf “fortress” since the start of the Premier League era.
Old Trafford is an impressively large stadium, which helps. But for whatever other reason, teams would go to Old Trafford expecting to lose. Only now can we see that this was down to yet another factor — the “Fergie Factor”. Thus teams no longer fear United’s home turf like before.
It’s hard to pinpoint why some teams simply cannot, or very seldom, beat a particular opponent.
I’m very much aware that Spurs struggle against Chelsea. The frustration of this manifested itself in the famed “Battle of Stamford Bridge”, with the record number of 12 yellow cards shown in any one game.
Fun fact: Spurs failed to win at Stamford Bridge from February 1990, right up until April 2018.
Jose Mourinho. Need I say more?
Just about everything he say’s in public is aimed at antagonising an opposition. However, he’s hardly the pioneer of mind games.
Let’s not forget one of the Premier League’s most famous moments — Kevin Keegan (completely and utterly) losing the plot after taking the bait from Alex Ferguson. It didn’t end well.
Keegan’s Newcastle didn’t win the league that season.
Getting wound up (publicly) exposes some sort of fragility. It seemingly ripples throughout the club and onto the pitch. At least it seemed that way for Keegan and Newcastle in 1996.
Negative media attention
It’s rare that negative public attention has a positive impact on the pitch.
Think about Mike Ashley and his various scandals, Harry Redknapp’s dog’s bank account, the several incidents involving Alan Pardew, and so on. Incidents attract more scrutiny and pressure, set the tone at the club, and often result in very poor performances on the pitch.
Experience & Mental Strength
Some clubs have a tendency to crumble under pressure. We refer to those clubs and players as “bottlers”.
For teams like Spurs and Arsenal, their excuse could be a lack of experience. Young, vibrant squads, with a low average age may have the technical ability — but still have a lot to develop in terms of mental strength.
It’s evident that older players are better equipped as leaders. Consider the effectiveness of Christiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid and Portugal. At times it’s felt that he can single-handedly grab his club or country by the scruff of the neck and pull them out of any hole they’d dug themselves into. Love him or hate him, it’s plain to see that he’s majorly influential and mentally strong.
Therefore I believe that experience and strong leadership has a huge affect on the overall team mentality in crucial moments of the season.
Detecting psychological strengths and frailties early on can prove advantageous to your betting. Just bare in mind that some factors are too abstract to accurately measure.
One of the most “general” words of advice I can give punters is to refrain from thinking about who’s going to win a game. Instead focus on what’s pushing the public opinion in one direction and then decide whether you agree with that or not. That should dictate your selections.
Of course, these are merely my observations and ideas. Do you have any tips? Share in the comments section!
Originally posted 8th December 2016. Updated for the 2018/19 season.
The vast majority of England fans, including myself, were cynical about our chances in Russia 2018. We entered the tournament wounded by a series of huge disappointments. We just knew, we were so sure, that England were going to throw it away, blow it away.
It wasn’t always this bleak, though. We had high hopes once. We even rationalised our optimism by assessing the undeniable quality of our players at club level — branding them our ‘golden generation’. But placing the players upon a pedestal turned out to be a naive mistake that, realistically, only ever stood to dampen our spirits.
This time it was different. We fielded a young, fresh, fairly inexperienced team, guided by an unproven manager. Nobody expected much from England.
Yet for once we surpassed expectations.
Reminiscing About The “Good Old Days”
It’s no secret: throughout the year, fans can’t wait for international breaks to end so that the Premier League can resume.
We’ve learnt the hard way: take our major tournaments too seriously and it’ll only end in disappointment and frustration. It’s felt that way for years.
But watching England felt different this time round. Russia 2018 marked a change in English football. Or rather a reversion — back to the way we preferred it.
We played more attacking football than usual; it was far better to watch. The older fans were likening the performances to our “nearly” team in Italia 1990 — which featured the likes of Gary Linekar, Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle, John Barnes, and Stuart Pearce. This was the last time we reached the semi final of a World Cup.
Likewise, people in their late 20s and early 30s — not old enough to remember 1990 — were likening the current squad and their expressive playing style to our Euro 96 campaign. Ex-players frequently remarked how the tournament had that same ‘feel-good’ vibe about it. Gareth Southgate is, of course, the common denominator of both eras.
People around my age realised the significance of this tournament to Southgate, in particular. It was the prospect of redemption for a man who’s entire career up until now has been defined by one moment: a semi-final penalty miss which sent England out to Germany 22 years ago in same tournament that football came home. After decades of being ridiculed, Southgate couldn’t have foreseen that the remainder of his career would be redefined by a snazzy waistcoat… oh, and a great tournament for England, too.
This World Cup undoubtedly brought a strong feeling of nostalgia to England. But it wasn’t just the reminiscing about our past near-misses. It also caught the imagination of the younger generations — particularly teens and early 20’s that are, coincidentally, already obsessed with 90’s music, clothing and culture. Adding the Three Lions song (released in 1996) to their Spotify playlist, and throwing on a baggy, retro Umbro England shirt felt all-too natural. The fan experience was somehow more inclusive than usual.
Up and down the country, games were publicly televised — with hot weather and 90’s classics booming out. It was quite possibly the first time i’d seen both 18 year olds, and 50 year olds, singing and dancing to the same tune — both literally and metaphorically. People were re-connected by some of the very basic elements of British culture — football, drink, and music.
And there’s numerous other reasons why this World Cup struck the right chord for our fans.
Why Our Fans Went Absolutely Crazy
“Why are England fans going crazy?”, the rest of the world asked, as beer was splattered everywhere.
Well, apart from the nostalgic aspect…
1. England, Surprisingly, Weren’t Poor
There was a time where we looked to our players — Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney, Ferdinand — in expectation. This was our ‘golden generation’. This was our time to shine.
But they didn’t. Then they didn’t again.
So what we had going into this tournament was zero expectation. If England were knocked out early on, displaced by Tunisia in 2nd place at the group stage — then we wouldn’t have been surprised. After all, we went out to Iceland at the Euros two years back.
Not everyone believes that England fans think this way. The lyrics to Three Lions, and the fact we were singing it throughout the tournament, should be sufficient enough evidence to convince anyone of our mindset when it comes to international football: we expect our team to let us down.
But if you’re still in doubt, then try to find the official VW adverts for the World Cup from the ITV coverage. Our very own television network mocked our chances of success with a series of shorts featuring an comically overly-hopeful fan. As did everyone and everything on British TV on the lead up to the World Cup. It got to the point where I honestly thought “I really hope the players don’t see all this. It’ll put too much doubt in their minds before they’ve even played a single match”.
So reaching the semi final, unsurprisingly, caused an eruption on an enormous scale — consisting of beer, mainly.
2. Young Fans Discovered England for the First Time
This was really the first time many young fans witnessed a decent show from an England team.
Yes, it was often a perilously fine line between winning and losing (think last minute headers against Tunisia, penalty shootouts, etc). But the fact remains — our underdogs showed more heart and resilience than we’d seen in decades.
Young fans were able to feel something that they’d only felt for club teams up until now: passion and pride. They heard and sung “football’s coming home” for the first time. It was a whole new song, and the birth of a new era for England.
3. We Took to the Players and Manager
Let’s face it — previous England teams were made up of key players that we didn’t like all that much. John Terry and Wayne Rooney are two examples of guys who, put lightly, couldn’t connect with the majority of fans. They weren’t the reflection we wanted to see in ourselves as a nation. They’re certainly weren’t who we wanted to see when we looked for a hero.
Compare them to their 2018 counterparts.
Defensively we had the likes of Harry Maguire and Kieron Trippier — relative unknowns at the start of the tournament. They played their hearts out, deserved all the credit they received, and left the tournament with far more dignity than many of their predecessors with a pedigree. They were inspirational.
Harry Kane, our model professional & poster boy, lead the way. He ignored the barrage of criticism he’s faced since the Euros — the various jokes about free kick and corner taking — and surpassed any of Rooney’s previous World Cup efforts. He collected the Golden Boot to prove it.
This group of players proved they deserved to wear the shirt.
Then there was our conduct. Gareth Southgate and his players were humble throughout the tournament. He maintained that England were simply doing their best with what they had, and were working hard in training. No promises, no hype, no trash talk — just sincerity. After the tournament he reiterated that we’re still off the top teams. England fans responded to the politeness; the very reflection of British culture we really wanted to see all along.
To our surprise, this group of young players and (modest) manager clearly had more belief than they let on to the media. They played with real confidence.
The World Cup That Rekindled The Spirits Of A Nation
Indeed the England fans became increasingly loud & proud as the tournament progressed — mistaken by some opposition fans as “arrogance” or “complacency”.
Those in England at the time know that our cheers had nothing to do with thinking we’re in any way superior to other teams, or entitled to the World Cup. We were simply done with placing faith in prima-donnas, that we previously believed might be capable of rekindling the delights of winning the tournament in 1966.
This time it was more modest. Not 1966, but more 1996 — back when we damn well knew we were let downs and we’d chant about it with self-deprecating pride. The ‘England way’, as I knew it growing up, was restored.
It was great to see us go far in the tournament after starting out with such low expectations. It was a miracle that we drew such ‘easy’ teams in the knock-outs, which then made it a possibility we could win it. It was an amazing feeling that we finally won a penalty shootout and overcame blatant cheating tactics during the Colombia game. We eased past Sweden — which was unlike any significant England match I recall.
We did dream for a moment.
But why not? Nobody in the latter stages of the tournament was unbeatable. This was the best chance England ever had to win the World Cup.
Sadly, we fell short. Worse is that we’ll have to watch replays — perhaps for the next 28 years — of that one attempt Kane didn’t convert. Or that time Stones was caught slightly napping. It’s yet another another oh-so-near.
The rest of the world seemed pretty pleased to see England fall. But they obviously missed what this tournament stood for — here in England.
In the new age of hipster culture and social media pretentiousness — post London riots, and Brexit — this was the summer where people in England let their hair down and came together. A disunited country was in unison for a change. It connected the past and the present, the young and old. It helped baron pubs temporarily thrive again. It made everyone equal, as a fan in the same shirt.
People saw a reflection of themselves in this revived England team, in some way or another. And at the end of it all we were left with pride, hope, and a summer to remember.
We lost that semi-final. But trust me, football still came home.
Three Lions (Football's Coming Home) (Official Video) - YouTube
To find the best local bars showing your game, check out SportSesh.
No doubt many of you have been avidly watching World Cup 2018. So now is the perfect time to unveil a concept I’ve been working on for the past two months.
It’s called SportSesh — a fan network aimed at making televised sport more sociable.
Where’s The Nearest Bar Showing The Game?
I’m sure, right now more than ever, you’re fully aware of a problem:
finding a suitable nearby bar that’s showing the game you want to watch.
But followers of club teams already know that this (very serious) problem isn’t unique to World Cup football. It applies to all sports and leagues.
It’s actually pretty difficult to find a suitable bar, with the right game, a sporting atmosphere, enough TV’s (with the sound on), and well priced drinks. But it shouldn’t be.
I’ve Experienced the Problem First Hand
Around 18 months ago I visited Lincoln City for a weekend away. This particular weekend just so happened to clash with the Man United v Spurs fixture. Poor planning on my part.
I didn’t have access to Sky Go to watch the game, so naturally I sought a public venue. The hotel staff were kind enough to phone the local pubs to check if they were showing the game. Unfortunately, nothing nearby had it on.
So I Googled bars in the centre of town and identified a couple of potential options. I took a chance on one which had 10 screens. It seemed hopeful — and sure enough, it was showing the game I wanted.
But there was a catch:
9/10 of the screens were showing Rugby, not football.
The one screen showing football was tucked away behind the bar, with the sound switched off.
So I watched what I considered to be one of the biggest games in the football calendar, on what was possibly the smallest screen in Lincoln City. I was clearly in the wrong venue.
The bar itself was great. But the experience as a football fan was a bit awkward, alienating, pointless — not worth the effort of going into town. And to add insult to injury — Spurs lost that game.
If i were a Rugby fan, however, it would have worked out great.
SportSesh — The Solution To The Problem
I was approached a few months back with an invitation to collaborate on a project that could change how UK sports fans watch televised games — by making it more sociable.
The idea was to work together, to develop an app which would pin-point fully-researched, local venues showing televised games, wherever you are. Better yet, it would also unite fan groups of the same clubs, for every televised fixture.
I reflected once more on that wasted afternoon in Lincoln. Then got to work on creating a solution to the problem. That solution is now SportSesh.com.
What’s So Great About SportSesh?
The Unique Concept
SportSesh does something which other apps don’t do. It unites fans of the same team.
We endeavour to list every fixture, across all major sports, at locations spread across the largest cities of the UK. Our aim is to provide a central point for common fans to meet up on every televised game.
All you need to do is visit the Gamessection of the SportSesh site to find your fixture by team, and/or postcode. Alternatively, just Browse by Sport.
SportSesh currently covers central locations in several major UK cities.
So even if you’re in a new or unfamiliar location, we’ll tell you the local pub you can go to — with the right vibe and the right fans. No more awkwardly walking into a dodgy boozer. Or in my case, one showing the wrong sport.
Comprehensive Pub/Bar Database
Use SportSesh to find several bars in your area. Just visit the Discover Venues page and filter by sports channel and city.
We’re currently building one of the UK’s most comprehensive lists of televised sports bars. So even if you don’t care much for our social aspect, we’ll have you covered.
Chat Sport Online & Offline
We’re primarily about connecting sports fans in person. So you’re welcome to attend televised games at local venues allocated to your team.
But we realise that socialising doesn’t have to start, or stop, at the pub. So we offer all the functionality of a social network — including a newsfeed, instant messaging, the ability to write wallposts and comments, as well as ‘like’ other content.
You can also use our Fan Finder to search for fellow fans — no matter how obscure the team/location combination. Southampton fan based in Newcastle? No problem!
What’s In Store For SportSesh?
In the near future we’ll be looking to establish partnerships with public venues, where we can offer our members exclusive drinks deals and promotions.
We envisage that bars will use SportSesh to connect with fans, to keep them up-to-date with exactly what they’re offering, and what events they have going on.
Our site is poised to become the UK’s most comprehensive pub finder by the close of the 2018/19 Premier League football season, as well as an active forum for fans all over the country.
We’re aiming to roll out an exciting new feature over the coming months. Think couch surfing for televised sport… But I’ll say no more on that until we have the first version ready.
The World Cup has once again reminded us of just how sociable it can be to watch the games with a like-minded crowd who, at the very least, share an interest in the same sport.
Accurately calculating your own football odds to identify profitable (value) bets is challenging. It requires skill, experience and a sound data collection technique. Not everyone will succeed at earning long-term from their own betting model.
Your chances of success are however drastically improved if you’re willing to invest time and money into educating yourself. That’s where the Orio Sports football betting course comes in.
Creating A Successful Football Betting Strategy Doesn’t Come Easy
I previously wrote a post on the basics of creating a football prediction model. But I purposely didn’t delve into the specifics of the techniques I outlined. It wouldn’t have made for fun reading (or writing for me). Then I couldn’t possibly guarantee anyone would make a profit.
Truth is, there isn’t really any kind of short-cut when it comes to developing a profitable betting strategy. You either apply yourself, and dig deep to find an edge, or explore easier ways to earn — such as:
But Most Bettors Dream of Creating their Own Sustainable Selection Method.
To achieve this you need to acquire knowledge that the majority of other punters don’t have.
Don’t fall into the trap of convincing yourself that high level analyses such as “Burnley are hard to break down” or “Man City are unstoppable” will make your bets pay. You need to know more. I’ve demonstrated that from my Mug Betting experiment here.
The problem in trying to outsmart the football betting markets is that your own betting model needs a little more “under the bonnet” than core statistics — such as previous scorelines, goals, recent form, shots, and so on. Analysing the basic stats alone isn’t enough to consistently tip the odds in your favour.
So if you’re up for the challenge, and want to learn practical techniques for identifying profitable value bets from various leagues and markets, then a football betting course is a good way to go.
The Orio Sports Football Betting Course
Orio Sports extends several of the concepts I’ve covered on this site, and packages it into a practical football betting course. It teaches you exactly how to create a betting strategy. The logic and methodology is explained, the statistics are provided, and members are able to ask staff for assistance at any point.
I’m pleased to find that the Orio Sports football course aligns so well with almost everything I believe (and preach) about football betting. Particularly concepts like the Wisdom of Crowds Theory. So if you enjoy the content on this site, their course might interest you.
The first big question on my mind about Orio Sports was: do I trust them to provide a football betting course?
If you research Orio Sports you’ll find information about it’s owner and founder, Rob Okell, who was a Professional Poker player for over 10 years. Other members of his team also have a breadth of relevant experience — such as running Betfair trading courses, identifying value in sports betting, and trading in the financial markets. On paper, they’re the right people to be giving out advice on a football betting course.
I find Rob’s story, found on the nice-looking Orio website, very relatable:
During Rob’s search for tuition & mentoring, he repeatedly came up against the same brick wall. The training available was too fragmented or of poor quality. Lacking the structure & depth to effectively explain the technical aspects of successful Trading.
This resonates with me, as it was the lack of good quality information on sports betting that compelled me on to write this website in the first place.
Well, I’ve spoken with staff at Orio and worked through the course myself. There’s no doubt that their team are knowledgeable, experienced — and importantly — qualified to offer a football betting course. Amongst the countless scams i’ve encountered in the sports betting world, Orio certainly isn’t one of them. No worries there.
Course Accessibility & Ease Of Use
Another question I had about the Orio Sports football betting course was: who is it really aimed at?
After completing the course, I concluded that whilst the Orio Sports football betting course does offer excellent information & resources — it’s not ideal for everyone.
Let’s start with the positive: the user interface. It’s simple and clean, incorporating a collection of videos accompanied by well-written explanations. At any point in the course a subscriber can see how far they’ve worked through the course and how much is left to complete. I can’t imagine anyone experiencing major difficulties navigating the site.
The simple user interface makes it easy to revisit sections of the course.
However, whilst working through the course I tried to imagine that I had very little knowledge on football betting, statistics, or working with Microsoft Excel. I couldn’t help but think that the course might be difficult for the complete beginner to get to grips with.
The football betting course from Orio Sports isn’t like Matched Betting, where absolutely no understanding of odds is required to earn yourself a profit. Even with the well-produced materials (spreadsheets, statistics, videos etc.), you still need to grasp what the calculations are actually doing in order to stand the best chance of adjusting the model to your benefit. Thus, a basic understanding of sports betting and statistics is recommended.
In my opinion, people with the following occupations/backgrounds are most suited to taking the Orio Sports football betting course:
Betfair Traders / Frequent Bettors
Finance / Banking / Accounting
Computer Science / Programming / IT
Mathematics / Statistics
It’s worth reiterating that you’re free to contact the Orio Sports staff for ongoing assistance at any point. They should be able to help you resolve difficulties you have, which is great.
Most importantly, does the course guide its subscribers towards earning a profit?
It’s possible, but not guaranteed.
The course packs everything you need to start creating your own football odds. It includes video tutorials, written explanations, and past & ongoing statistics that enable you to continue adapting and improving your own betting model. It encourages subscribers to forget about tipping sites and instead focus on creating their own selections using hard-to-find data items.
Tip: In general, the more difficult the data collection technique, the better. Rare data means less competition (like this for horse racing).
Orio Sports teaches proven football modelling concepts — such as the Poisson distribution — and takes them one step further. In particular, it focuses on incorporating Expected Goals (xG) statistics, which I’m a big fan of.
Why I Rate Expected Goals (xG)
It’s the most transparent way to analyse football (at the moment).
Expected Goal (xG) stats quantify attempts on goal. This cuts through the sentiment and evaluates performances from a scientific standpoint. Using it in your betting strategy improves your accuracy and maximises your expected value (EV).
Just bare in mind that the Orio Sports football betting course doesn’t spoon-feed profitable selections…
The course is there to educate you on how to create your own sustainable betting strategy. It takes work. But it’s potentially more rewarding than relying on existing, popular (and often completely flawed) systems. Identifying little-known value is what gives longevity to your profits.
For short-term gains with no additional work, look no further than the Trademate Sports value betting service. Just be aware that Bookmakers will eventually cap your stakes and/or close your accounts for value betting. Thus, Orio Sports might help some of you reach a new milestone in your betting career: developing your own football strategy for Betfair (or Brokers).
The Price Of The Course
How much is the Orio Sports football betting course? Is it worth the cost?
Orio Sports offers 2 courses:
Introduction to Football Odds (£99)
The Complete Football Odds Compilation Course (£499)
To obtain valuable information about football modelling and benefit from hard-to-find statistics, the Complete Football Odds Compilation Course is the option you want. But is it really worth the £499 price tag?
It largely depends on your point of view.
In Favour of the Price:
The price is in-line with industry standards for sports trading courses.
It’s developed by experts and provides little-known information. Thus it commands a relatively high price tag.
Expected Goals, known as “big chance data”, is the single most effective way of predicting future performance. I believe the data has value in itself.
Employing someone (e.g. a statistician, or programmer) to develop a comparable model would cost a lot more than £499. Furthermore, he/she might not be accustomed to football betting to begin with.
The data and tools provided by Orio Sports are both difficult and time consuming to collect and reproduce.
Ongoing data updates enable bettors to create a sustainable, long-term betting model.
The seemingly expensive price tag deters the masses. The less saturated the market, the more opportunity there is to pick off value.
On-going support is available to subscribers. Any problems you have are addressed on a personal basis.
Against the Price:
You need to have an understanding of sports betting odds and using spreadsheets to make the most from the course. It might be a little too advanced for beginners.
The £499 price tag is an expensive upfront cost for a course that doesn’t guarantee profits.
Seasoned bettors may already be aware of some of the techniques taught on the course.
Some basic information provided on the course is available on sites such as this one. This slightly lowers its overall value.
Completing the course requires time and effort. If you don’t apply yourself, you’re unlikely succeed.
Some topics on the course could do with expanding. The content currently focuses on past data analysis. But it would be useful to present more studies on live market movements and other methods for identifying value bets.
The Real Value of the Orio Sports Football Betting Course
It could save you months of research. It could even save you hundreds, or thousands of pounds in employing someone to assist in developing advanced data collection techniques and betting strategies.
For the price, the course teaches the foundations required for a career in football betting. It sets aspiring professional bettors off on the right track, equipped with new knowledge and tools.
…But if you’re looking for a quick-money scheme, this investment isn’t for you.
Collecting a large data set and creating a Microsoft Excel betting strategy is a huge task in itself. This course streamlines the entire process.
Still, the Course Could be Slightly Cheaper, Right?
Well, now it is.
I’ve spoken with Orio Sports and i’m able to offer an exclusive 20% discount if you follow the links on this page and use code “PUNTER20” when signing up. This brings the football betting course down to £400, and for some of you, a relatively small investment for the advanced methods you’ll be able to use going forward.
Whilst all goals in football are worth an equal amount, the likelihood of a shot being scored varies. That’s where Expected Goals (xG) comes in. It’s a metric used in football analysis to assign a “quality” value to every attempt based on what we’ve learnt about similar past cases.
Expected Goals stats could have a huge impact on how we approach sports betting.
Expected Goals (xG) Explained
On average, 9.7% of shots in the Premier League were converted into goals over the last five seasons.
Some were long-range, some were headers, and others were straight forward ‘tap-ins’. Importantly, not all shots have an equal chance of hitting the back of the net. Expected Goals accounts for this, and determines how many goals a team ought to have scored in a match. The accuracy of the model largely depends on what factors are used to calculate the xG rating for individual chances.
You might have heard of “expected goals” or seen it used on Match Of The Day. Here’s an example.
Man United v Stoke Expected Goals Stats (Opta)
Man United’s chances are shown in red/pink, and Stoke’s in dark grey. The bigger the square, the better the chance was. It shows that Man United created more clear-cut chances than Stoke — some of which were inside the six yard box. In this case, the final score of 3-0 isn’t too far away from the xG estimation of 2.2-0.4.
The Logic Behind Expected Goals. How Does It Work?
Expected Goals (xG) is calculated by assessing the aspect which influences the scoreline of any football match: goal scoring chances.
The higher the Expected Goals (xG) — up to a value of 1.0 — the better the chance was. If a chance is rated at 0.7 xG, then you expect it to be scored 70% of the time. Goal scoring opportunities are individually assessed, and totalled out for both teams over a match to create an xG final score, as shown in the example above.
For example, if a team created four chances in a game, each of exactly 0.25 xG (25%), then their xG would be 4×0.25 = 1 goal.
The logic is simple — and it makes sense. If a team fails to create any real chances, they won’t be expected to score. More clear-cut chances means more expected goals.
So how is the xG Metric Useful for Football Match Analysis?
Firstly it gives fans and pundits a great way of justifying who was superior in a game — regardless of the actual score.
Previously we might have relied on basic stats, like shots on goal. But with Expected Goals we have the ability to delve deeper, and account for the quality of those shots. Now we can say “that game should have been 3-0″, with enough detail to justify the statement we’re making.
I’ve spoken before on this site about the limitations of using basic statistics for football analysis. It’s important to recognise that some results simply don’t tell the full story. The scoreline isn’t the only stat that matters for your betting analysis. It’s important to have some sort of context to a past fixture, and even better to be able to answer questions, such as:
What was the most likely final score?
Were [Team X] fortunate to have won?
In total, how many “clear-cut” chances did [Team X] have in the match?
Should [Player A] have scored from his opportunities?
This season, how much below or above average has [Player A] or [Team X] performed?
Now, thanks to Expected Goals, we can mathematically, without bias, answer these questions and make better judgements on football matches going forward. From a betting perspective, it has the potential to vastly improve on the basic football prediction models I detailed in my post: The Basics Of Creating a Football Prediction Betting Model.
Mid-table clubs like Watford, West Brom or Southampton often have their moments throughout a season. It’s easy to get swept away by the positive press, but when it really comes down to it they don’t have the class or squad depth to match the top Premier League teams over a season. This is something that may be temporarily overlooked.
Little did I realise, there was Expected Goals there all along. It helps to prevent bettors from being “swept away” in the hype. It encourages us to remain realistic.
So if your team is performing well above or below expectations at the start of the new season, a look at the expected goals difference could tell you whether that run is likely to last.
I’ll show you how “expected goal difference” works in the next section…
Expected Goals for Individual Players
The Expected Goals (xG) figure has a lot more meaning for individual strikers than it does for other players who aren’t necessarily expected to score (e.g. defenders).
I was intrigued by something:
Are the top scoring strikers in the Premier League flattered by the fact their team creates more chances for them?
I looked into it and found that during the 2016/17 season, the player who outperformed the number of goals he was expected to score by the biggest margin was in fact… top goalscorer Harry Kane.
Harry Kane is deservedly regarded as the best, most prolific striker in the Premier League last season (not that i’m biased or anything). He was expected to have scored 18.59 goals, but managed to score an extra 10.41.
I’ve taken these stats from the bbc. They owe me one anyway.
Expected Goals Difference
Only includes players with 50+ shots
This table also sheds light on why the top Premier League clubs were interested in Swansea’s Llorente (#3) at the end of last season. He performed well despite playing for a struggling team.
Provided the level of detail is high enough, Expected Goals could be used to compare and even value strikers, based solely on their ability to convert chances.
Precisely How Detailed is Expected Goals?
xG can include as many or as few factors as your like in order to calculate the average likelihood of each shot being scored. The more your model knows about past cases, the more accurate it is. Granted, this isn’t an easy system for most of us to replicate!
Football data experts Opta create their own Goal Expectation figures. They’ve analysed over 300,000 shots (a large sample) to calculate the likelihood of an attempt being scored, given a specific position on the pitch, during a particular phase of play.
Opta’s model accounts for factors such as:
Distance from goal
Angle of the shot
Header or at feet
Quality of the assist (the type of ball put in)
Passage of play (e.g. open play, direct free-kick, corner kick)
Player’s energy (has he just beaten an opponent to create the chance)
To obtain an accurate Goal Expectation figure, advanced data gathering and statistical analysis skills are required. However, it is still possible to gain an insight into football matches using fairly simple expected goals systems.
Understat is a great site for monitoring the expected goals from past fixtures. But I haven’t yet found a free source that enables you to download xG figures for all historical fixtures.
The best paid source of xG data is Orio Sports. They run an online Football Betting Course that packs everything you need to start creating your own Expected Goals football strategy. This includes video tutorials, written explanations, spreadsheets, and past & ongoing xG statistics.
Expected Goals — The Future Of Football Betting?
To summarise xG, it’s worth reiterating that the scoreline isn’t the only stat that matters.
OK — in terms of points, it is. But the Expected Goals value reveals a number of things about a game, series of games, and individual players. It enables us to analyse:
Whether a chance really is as good as we think.
What the scorelines should have been, given the chances.
A team’s goal-scoring record in comparison the chances they’ve created.
How many goals individual players should have scored from the chances they’ve had.
Whether ‘runs of form’ are likely to continue (using the xG difference).
Expected goals enables punters to better judge teams and players, reduces bias, and helps to more accurately predict future results. The applications to betting are certainly there — and it doesn’t need to stop at football. In fact, the logic behind xG can be applied to any sport.
For now it’s being used for football — a complex game that’s very difficult to predict, and requires equally complex stats to derive something meaningful. Expected Goals isn’t an all-knowing metric that’ll instantly turn your betting model into a money-making machine, mind you. In fact, in the future it could just help make the markets more accurate. But for now it is a step in the right direction for football prediction and value hunting.
I’ve had plenty of time over the summer to reflect on last season and form my predictions for the new 2017/18 Premier League season.
In this post i’ll firstly recap on ways you can improve your approach to football betting, and then give my views, as a mere football fan, on who I think is most likely to win the Premier League this season.
Improve Your Approach To Football Betting
Before I get started with my (rather speculative) predictions, I’ll point you in the direction of some other, more technical posts i’ve written about football betting.
So where do you go if you want to check head-to-head data items such as ‘shot accuracy’, ‘total forward passes’ or ‘errors leading to a goal’? The answer is Squawka. Check out this post to learn how you can make more informed bets by using simple data analysis tools.
It’s not too difficult to create a betting system that breaks even over a lot of fixtures. But it is difficult to generate a longterm profit. Most football betting models are completely blind to a whole bunch of ‘alternative’ key factors. Find out what these key factors are from my post here.
Football has more interference, more hype, and more noise than probably any other sport. With so many variables to account for, football markets sometimes neglect what really has an impact on the game. And this is precisely why stats-based models have the potential to thrive. Take a look at the basic approaches you can apply.
I placed an equal £5 stake on 270 Premier League fixtures and monitored my results. I didn’t analyse the games for a mathematical edge, and I didn’t use any trading techniques. I simply backed at the best possible odds on selections I believed were good value. The result was a break-even 0.00% ROI (which is exactly what I predicted). Learn more about what your expectations should be from casual betting.
And now for my predictions…
Who’s The Strongest Team In The Premier League?
Based on last season alone, Chelsea were strongest team statistically (see Squawka), and this was reflected by their points tally. They won the title by 7 clear points, remember?
I’m inclined to say that Chelsea are still the strongest team in the Premier League. I fully expect them to compete again this season.
I realise that they’re not without issues at the moment (e.g. Costa, players bans, injuries). But they have squad depth, quality, and an undoubtedly passionate manager that makes them my #1 pick.
However, to decide the ordering of the remaining Champions League spots is incredibly difficult with so many variables to account for at this early stage of the season.
What do the majority think? Let’s check the Betfair market.
how the Betfair Exchange prices the Premier League Outright market
Man City are hot favourites, with Man United the strong 2nd favourites.
Chelsea and Spurs (the 2 top teams last season, I might add) are priced somewhat higher, implying much less chance of winning the league.
Chelsea are believed to be almost twice as likely to win the league than Spurs.
Arsenal and Liverpool share an equal outside chance of 20.0 odds to win the league.
It’s early days. But I think the top four will include Chelsea, Man City, Man United, and Tottenham. I agree with the Betfair market on the teams, at least — just not the ordering.
I also agree that Arsenal and Liverpool will fall outside of the top 4, and in my mind should be priced around the same value as one another.
What I find most unconvincing about the odds is that the two Manchester clubs are such strong favourites already. Are they really that far ahead?
New Seasons are an Unknown
I noted in my Mug Betting Experiment that inflated/deflated odds seemingly evaporated as the season progressed. With increasingly more data points to work with, the public naturally discovered the correct prices over more fixtures. So i’m certainly thinking that value exists in the betting markets at this early stage.
Right now, with hardly any performance data on the new team lineups (or even the newly promoted contenders in the Premier League), we can’t accurately judge the upcoming season. It’s still unpredictable.
Therefore the market’s views surrounding the new season’s top 4 are largely formed on fan speculation. Pub-chat, YouTube compilations of new signings, and whatever other gossip is being spouted by the news plays a part in this. Learn more on how odds are formed here.
With all this in mind, I’m trying to block out the hype, and be realistic. With everything considered, I’m personally still not convinced that both Man City and Man United ought to be such hot favourites for the 2017/18 season. They’ve got a lot of ground to make up on last season. In fact I think that the top 6 will be tighter — which is one of the great things about the Premier League right now.
But I understand the bias: there’s such high levels of expectation and excitement surrounding United and City. Just be aware that the market could change drastically over the coming months. I’ll elaborate on these 2 teams in particular.
How Much of an Impact Will New Transfers Have?
It’s been a manic window so far, with many ridiculous transfer fees involved. Man United and City are the 2 major players in this. So is it surprising that they’re the most highly rated by the public?
For the record, I rate the transfer business Man United have done this window. I can’t envisage how they won’t improve on last seasons 6th place finish. I also believe that Man City have the added the quality needed to improve on last season’s 4th place finish.
But I’ve said it before: the hype of new signings is in the interest of the sport as entertainment business. It sells papers, Sky Sports subscriptions, shirts and season tickets. You don’t get a record transfer player joining a club with the media writing “this guys going to be a complete flop!” across the board. The narrative is of high optimism — not pessimism.
And that’s precisely this reason that I think the likes of Spurs — who have made just one signing this summer window — have experienced far less public optimism than the two Manchester teams. This is shown by the Betfair market pricing them at 13.0 for the league. For me, there’s more potential value in backing Spurs than there is in Man City. Even if you’re just looking to trade out.
After all, a squad can look great on paper and still lack the cohesiveness needed to win games. We simply won’t know how City and United’s new individuals will impact their team’s performances this season until they’ve played through more fixtures. For now, I still think it’ll be tighter at the top between the more established (and proven) London line-ups put out by Spurs and Chelsea, and the Manchester clubs, than the current odds suggest.
Something I pointed out at the start of last season was that the more balanced teams — with both strong attacking and defensive qualities — tend to beat unbalanced teams over the course of a season. Top-heavy line-ups like Liverpool and Man City couldn’t maintain consistency last season, and lost points as a result.
United were an abnormality in that they had the statistical performance of a well-balanced team, without the points tally to back it up. They failed to convert enough goals, essentially. See my full analysis here.
As a Spurs fan, I must admit that I fear the Man City and Liverpool attacks the most. However, are either of them steady enough at the back to win the league? It’s not only about scoring. Even now, with City’s new signings, i’m not totally convinced they’ll walk this. Actually, I doubt they’ll outperform rivals United over the course of the season.
Top Four — My Speculative Verdict
In general, as I’ve mentioned, I’m speculating that the odds will shorten on Spurs and Chelsea as the season goes on, with Man City likely to drift. Arsenal, and particularly Liverpool are likely to dip in and out of the top 4.
Here’s how I predict all 6 teams, in order…
They characteristically have ‘off’ seasons. I don’t think that’ll happen yet, though.
They’ve had a few upsets early on this season, but their quality will still shine through later on. In particular, Hazard will return and make an impact. When fit, he’s the strongest player in the league.
Recall that Chelsea made a slow start to last season, so now isn’t the worst time to back them.
2. Man United
United, I feel, are destined for top 4. It’s expected of the club and of Mourinho.
They’ve made safe, proven signings and built on the foundations of a very strong defensive team last season. They’re looking as if they’re finally shaking off that hangover from the ‘Fergie era’ and moving forward with a good line up.
I expect bigger and better things from them. Ironically, I don’t feel like they’re quite as poorly priced (overrated) as they have been in previous years. Yet I still don’t see much value in their odds. United prices are often pushed by volume/hype at this stage of the season.
Spurs benefit from continuity. They’ve got pretty much the same team that’s outperformed everyone else over 2 seasons joint together — yet they’re barely mentioned as serious title contenders.
Granted, there are some things to consider about Spurs:
They haven’t won the League title since 1961.
There’s been 2 consecutive seasons where they failed to capitalise. First Leicester, then Chelsea.
They’ve had very little activity in the transfer market this summer.
Their home fixtures throughout 2017/18 are to be played at Wembley, away from White Hart Lane, where they were unbeaten last season.
All said and done, I still think they’re a good bet. You can count on Kane, Alli and Son to destroy teams. And if you’ve watched the team’s overall performance at Wembley, you’d see that results can only improve at the stadium for Spurs (but i’m biased).
4. Man City
They’re cited as the most likely champions. Given their quality that’s understandable. They need to perform a lot better than last season, though.
Benjamin Mendy looks like a good prospect, but I wonder…
Will the new goalkeeper, Ederson Moraes prove competent in the Premier League? There’s no time for an adjustment period, which many overseas Keepers require.
Can £50m Kyle Walker significantly improve their defence? Before Spurs broke into the top 4 he wasn’t so highly rated…
I think there’s too many unknowns with City to make them such a strong favourite. Their short price of 2.4 isn’t attractive.
And now for the other 2…
I think they’ll be hit and miss throughout the season. They’ll annihilate some teams through the likes of Salah and Mané — with or without Courtinho. But whilst pacey and exciting in style, is there still a feeling that Liverpool are destined to repeat last seasons performance?
Without another central defender i’m inclined to think yes. They’ll beat anyone on their day. Still, I don’t think Liverpool will have enough to compete for the title. United are likely to displace them in the top 4 this season.
Sanchez will come as a loss to them (if he finally leaves). He’s one of the Premier League’s standout players. Arsenal can’t realistically replace him, especially with only Europa league European football. Thursday nights loom.
That said, I like the look of Lacazette, and I would’ve loved Spurs to sign someone of that standard to back Kane up. I expect him to hit the score sheet frequently, and to plug the ‘gap’ at Arsenal. If Wellbeck stays fit then there’s potential for Arsenal to exceed expectations.
They will grind out a decent points tally and be in the top 4 running. I just don’t see them seriously competing for the title by the latter stages of the season. One glance at their competition reaffirms my views on this.
These are, of course, just my opinions. I’m one of millions of football fans. I could be wrong. Maybe Stoke will win the league.
If you’re thinking of analysing past data to predict football, then note that delving back further than one season has obvious limitations — particularly in non-static leagues like the Premier League. Think about it, if you used a 2 year window to make predictions for this season then Leicester might make it into your top 4 over Chelsea!
It’s worth analysing the previous season as it gives an indication as to how the current one is likely to play out.
Let’s focus on the top end of the table from the 2016/17 season, and look for points of interest.
Analysing The 2016-17 Season Using Squawka
Here’s Squawka’s performance rankings for the top 7 teams.
Does Anything Surprise You There?
What this table suggests that United were good enough to make the top 4 of the Premier League (they didn’t). It even ranks them 3rd, above rivals City who (pretty) comfortably earned a Champions League spot.
Chelsea, Spurs and Everton don’t overly interest me, because their ranking positions are precisely where I expected them to be. I am more intrigued as to what could’ve determined the ordering of the other rankings — for Arsenal, City, United and Liverpool.
Intuitively, I’d have thought the stats would’ve supported the notion that Liverpool and Arsenal are a stronger outfit than Man United. But that’s not what I found. Why?
Let’s take a closer look at these 4 teams and find out…
Team Comparison Between Arsenal, Man City, Man United & Liverpool
The squawka comparison matrix for four selected teams
From this matrix, you can very quickly you can deduce that City and Liverpool aren’t as well balanced as Arsenal, who are good ‘all-rounders’. It seems that Arsenal fell flat in the League because they failed to excel in any department. Even in attack — their main strength — they didn’t quite match Liverpool or City.
With regards to Man United there’s something that’s made very apparent:
They were superior defensively to both Liverpool and Man City, and were rated significantly higher than Arsenal for this stat, too.
They were inferior to all three of their rivals in attack. Arsenal, Liverpool and City all shared a similar, superior attacking strength stat.
I wrote at the start of the season that having a good attack/weak defence combination is preferable to having a weak attack/strong defence. I also stated my belief that teams with either of these combinations won’t win the Premier League. This is backed up by the fact that:
Chelsea and Spurs finished at the top — they were the only 2 teams with both attacking & defensive strength.
Man United lost out to both City and Liverpool despite having a much better defensive record.
Delving a little deeper into the football stats revealed more about Man United’s attacking performance:
Their total shots stat suggests that they created a lot of chances.
Their shot accuracy stat confirms they were just as accurate with their chances as their 3 rivals. But…
They scored less goals from penalties than their rivals, and significantly less goals from set pieces (percentage wise, that is).
So in summary, United appear to have played well in general. They were defensively solid, but failed to convert their high number of shots (24 more than Arsenal, in fact) into goals. Hence why their goal tally was much lower. In particular, converting from set pieces seems to have been a notable weak point compared to their rivals.
Arguably, United may still need to create slightly more chances inside the area. The stats allude to the fact they had less close-range (dangerous) goal scoring opportunities than their 3 rivals. Expected Goal stats provide more insight into the likelihood of converting those chances — check it out.
So What Do I Predict for the Top Teams In 2017/18?
After looking at the data, I’m going into the new season expecting to see an improvement in Man United. But I don’t think they’re anywhere near winning the league. Here’s what else I predict:
Man City and Liverpool will have to sort their defences out if they want to seriously compete for the title.
They will struggle to beat Chelsea or Spurs over the course of a season if they don’t. Both City and Liverpool could benefit from buying steadier Goalkeepers; for evidence use Squawka to compare their GK’s to the first team choice at Spurs, United, and Arsenal.
Of the two teams, i’d fancy City to step it up a notch — partly due to their inevitable big money signings this summer.
Spurs will adjust to playing at Wembley. It’ll be challenging, but I don’t see them missing top 4 because of some “hoodoo”.
In fact, everything points towards the fact they’ll compete for the title again. Could they win it? It’s possible, but it largely depends on Chelsea’s consistency and Man City’s level of improvement.
Arsenal will struggle.
Granted they shouldn’t be written off for top 4 as they only need to slightly raise their overall stats across the board. After all, there’s no standout weaknesses in their game.
But their problem is that their success is partly hinged on whether their most influential player, Alexis Sanchez, stays at the club. He’s Squawka’s #2 rated Premier League player for the 2016/17 season. If he leaves, they’ll struggle in attack.
I don’t see Everton breaking into the top 4 this season.
There’ll be hype about their new signings, but losing Lukaku will come as a blow.
Chelsea are likely to retain the title; there’s no doubt about that.
This puts Chelsea, Spurs, United and City as my predicted Top 4 (in no given order).
It’s interesting to play around with football stats. Just remember that they’re only a guideline for what to expect in the future. To analyse football in more depth, i recommend reading my post on Expected Goals (xG) statistics. It enables punters to better judge teams and players, reduces bias, and helps to more accurately predict future results.