5 Factors To Keep in Mind When Betting On Football

The Premier League is one of the United Kingdom’s most popular sporting competitions and is, unsurprisingly, a huge focal point for the best gambling sites UK. Premier League football is watched all around the globe, and is home to many of the world’s most talented players and sought-after managers.

In the Premier League, a total of 20 teams compete for the title over 38 matches during a nine month period. The top four teams at the end of a season are rewarded with entry to an additional mid-week competition the following season — the EUFA Champions League — made up of Europe’s most elite clubs. The bottom three teams at the end of a season are relegated to the second tier of English Football: the EFL Championship.


1. Starting Lineup

A team’s starting line-up is crucial for predicting how they might perform during the first 45 minutes of a game. Hence why a significant or unexpected change to the starting lineup often causes a major shift in the odds.

Most managers do not make any changes to the starting lineup until the second half — unless a player is injured, or a red card alters the game plan. This means that the team will rely on the performance of the first 11 men to carry out instructions, and deliver the desired result by half time.

Your assessment of the initial lineup might include identifying:

Key players that are missing due to injuries or suspensions.

A missing player can negatively impact the performance of the team, especially if that person is highly influential on games – whether it’s in defence or attack.

Unexpected changes in the positions played by individuals.

This is most obvious when a regular goalkeeper or striker is replaced with a player who doesn’t get much first team action. It’s common to find that substitute players are nervous during their rare appearances — which increases the chance of them making a significant mistake during the game.

Alterations to regular positions (which often signals the absence of a key player).

A change in the position assumed by key players could mean that the manager is testing out a different strategy (or if forced to adapt). Such situations require players to become accustomed to the new setup, and this could create teething problems.

Changes to the team’s captain .

A change in the team’s captain could indicate a leadership struggle within the team.

Being quick to identify a potential strength or weakness from the starting lineup is a common, but potentially rewarding approach to football betting.


2. Home or Visitor?

In the Premier League, teams play every opponent twice: at home and as visitors.

Being the home team means a great deal in football. Around 90% of an average Premier League stadium is filled with home supporters to back up the host team during the match. This is thought to be a huge motivator, encouraging players to perform more positively at home than they would typically do on the road.

Other positive factors include reduced travel time, familiarity with the pitch and ground, and being able to rest at home before the game (as opposed to in a hotel). Stadiums equipped with an artificial surface enormously favour the home team, as few clubs (none in the Premier League) play official games on a non-grass surface.

Overall, being the home team increases a team’s chance of winning a game, while playing as a visitor acts as a negative factor. Therefore playing away can reduce the advantage of superior teams, and conversely, boost the chances of the underdog. On the other hand, playing at home adds to a strong favourite’s superiority.

Not all ‘homes’ are equal, though. Some stadiums, for whatever reason, have a bigger home advantage than others. Anfield and Old Trafford are two examples — so look out for that!

As a sports bettor, you’ve got to asses whether or not the home advantage has been incorporated into the odds, and whether that contributes towards an opportunity to bet on value.


3. Past Performance

The past performance of the team is an important quantitative variable that bettors can use to assess the potential outcome of a match. One way to evaluate past performance is to check previous statistics for both the home and visiting teams — while being cautious not to look too far back into insignificant history.

If you use head to head data, it’s important to keep an eye on the number of goals scored & conceded, the summary of the outcomes (number of wins, draws, and losses), and the specific competition in which they were participating. Keep in mind that stats from other cup competitions (e.g. the League Cup, FA Cup, pre-season friendlies) often have less consistent/meaningful results than standard Premier League games, and are unlikely to reveal a great deal of insight.

You could broaden your approach by measuring the past performance of specific teams against opponents of a similar standard. For this it would be useful to refer to the previous season’s league table to achieve a better understanding of where clubs lie in the pecking order. You may, for instance, determine that when a team plays Tottenham, they’ll have around the same chance of winning as when they play a similarly raked team, such as Arsenal.

Even though past performance does not guarantee future results, an overwhelming number of wins or losses under certain conditions can be a powerful indicator of what bettors should expect for the upcoming match.


4. Psychological Factors

Football is a team discipline. It requires a great deal of talent, coupled with a strategic approach from the manager. The team’s motivation to win the match must also not be overlooked, and can depend on how the team are feeling at any given time.

To determine how a team might be feeling, bettors could evaluate the results of recent matches. Multiple losses may weigh on the team’s sentiment and add pressure, while a winning streak is likely give players the courage to play to their best ability to keep the streak alive. Yet, at the same time, complacency shouldn’t be neglected: is a team becoming over-confident from a series of lucky results?

Moreover, the coach’s relationship with the player is another important variable. Reports that indicate that there have been heated discussions with top players during training could indicate an unhappy camp. This might be a warning signal for bettors, if players are likely to lose enthusiasm or veer from a solid game plan.

On top of coach-player relationships, it’s also worth considering the interactions between players on the pitch, and any personal issues which may also weigh on their performance. For example, tensions between players competing for the same role may have a detrimental impact on the togetherness of the squad. And players that have suffered a recent tragedy or personal problem could become distracted, and under-perform.


5. Weather Conditions

While weather conditions wouldn’t be your first major consideration as a bettor, there are reasons to keep it in the back of your mind.

Indeed football can be played in almost all weather conditions, and there is an expectation that Premier League players are able to cope with all types. But there are certainly individuals that are better equipped to deal with extremes.

The top strikers, for example, relish the ability to skim the ball from a wet surface to catch out the more accident-prone goalkeepers of the league. Weaker players, however, will become more exposed for their poor first touch, clumsiness, or lack of passing accuracy due to the change in pace and grip of the the ball.

Wet match days are most likely to impact an international team from a very dry climate, with several players lacking experience in rainy conditions. Equally, players from colder, wetter climates would naturally struggle to adapt to extreme heat — often leading to an increase of cramping, heat exhaustion, and problems with endurance.

Assessing the impact of weather means deciding whether key individuals stand to benefit from the conditions in which the game is forecasted to be played under.


Bottom line

Even though there are many other more intricate factors you could be assessing when placing bets on a football game, this list should give you an idea of where to start out as a beginner.

The first big step is getting to grips with the sport by identifying the most obvious factors that are likely to impact games. Then as you delve deeper, ask yourself the most important question for any bettor: are the strength/weakness I’ve found factored into the odds, or have they been neglected?

Many obvious factors will already be considered in the price available. Successful bettors, however, find ways to consistently reduce the bookmaker’s margin through making intelligent, informed choices as to where the odds are lacking in accuracy. It’s all about finding where the value lies; rather than merely guessing the winner.

Also see my Guide to Premier League Betting.

Toby @ Punter2Pro
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