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STATS: Here’s every Premier League game ever on a pretty graph and what it means for your betting

by Aidan Elder | August 12, 2014

The Premier League. Thrilling. Exhilarating. Always unpredictable. Pant-wettingly exciting.

These are just some of the phrases likely to be thrown around by hyperbolic commentators being paid to whip you into a frenzy and convince you to renew your satellite TV subscriptions. And one phrase that probably won’t. Gary Neville scoregams all round.

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The Premier League is definitely exciting. Just how exiting may depend on how often you’re exposed to the football of Sam Allardyce or Tony Pulis, but it’s certainly exciting. If you ignore the fact that only five different teams have won the 22 editions of the Premier League, it’s got a reputation as a very competitive league in which on any given day, in a game of two halves, it can be a funny old game and the underdog can chomp down on some prize-winning fillet.

Is that reputation warranted? The Paddy Power Blog has cracked open the history books and feasted on the information juice inside to get some answers.

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For easy digestibility, we’ve broken down every single game played into one of four types:

  • Draw: self-explanatory
  • One Goal Win: used to represent a tight match (although some one goal wins are clearly more comfortable than others)
  • Two Goal Win: a more comfortable but potentially still close match (depends on how the game pans out)
  • A Win By Three Or More Goals: a hammering basically, (although there probably are games in which the scoreline does not do justice to the competitiveness of the match)

The stats suggest that since the beginning of the Premier League, there hasn’t been much change in the distribution of types of result down through the years. Looking at all the games via these categories, we don’t see much by way of change, even over the sizeable 22 years and 8606 matches since the Premier League rocked into our lives, shouting ‘I’m the best league in the world!’ loudly in our faces.

Around 25% of all games end in a draw, 35% to 40% are one goal wins and with about a third of all games ending in more comfortable victories. There’s generally only a difference of a couple of percentage points season on season, but nothing radical. It’s also important to remember that this says nothing of goals scored in the matches, referring exclusively to winning margins – for example, a snoozefest of a 1-0 win is considered as close as a 4-3 end to end rip-roarer

In summary:

  • Around 65% of Premier League games are draws or narrow one goal wins
  • Approximately one in seven (around 15%) of Premier League matches could be classified as hammerings
  • At a touch over 20%, last season provided fewer draws than normally expected

It does suggest that despite all the excitement, there is an underlying predictability to how the matches pan out. From a betting point of view, it gentle nudges us to the conclusion that there’s a degree of consistency about the type of games we’re seeing over the course of a season.

The opportunity arises if and when there seems to be an abnormally high or low frequency of one type of result in relation to the others. If for example there were a very low number of draws in the opening weeks of the season, there’s a high likelihood of a regression to the mean effect whereby the number of draws increases later in the season to counter-balance the lack of stalemates early on.

Also, depending on how lemming-like you are in response to the Sky Sports hype-machine, it may somewhat counteract the belief that the big teams always hockey the smaller teams. The majority of Premier League games are incredibly closely contested. Last season saw the combined draw and one goal win rates drop below the 60% mark, but that still tells us that three in every five matches ends in a tie or a win by the smallest of margin. That’s definitely worth bearing in mind as you put together a punting strategy for the season ahead.

After getting your dose of stats, now tackle the opening weekend of Premier League matches:
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