The final weeks of the EPL season inevitably make life interesting for bettors, but do commonly held beliefs about teams at each end of the table hold true?
Even the most casual English Premier League (EPL) fan knows that each club’s season comprises 38 games. But from a punter’s perspective, that number simply marks the finish line. Think of it like a journey to the top of Mount Everest – you can’t get there without passing through the numerous camps en route to the summit.
At the time of writing, there were seven games remaining to decide the 2017-18 EPL champion, along with which three teams will be relegated. These final weeks are a “season within a season” and provide an insight into the way the overall EPL campaign should be viewed. Indeed, my EPL betting model separates the season into five distinct sections.
So much changes over the course of a nine-month crusade – injuries, personnel changes (both on and offfield), momentum, ambition and bankroll are just a few examples. The teams that run out for opening day often bear little resemblance to the 11 that start the final game of the season. Despite these obvious considerations, many punters fail to alter their betting approach.
Teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham entered 2017-18 with high hopes of a potential title run but Manchester City have smashed those dreams into oblivion. With eight to play, City are a massive 16 points clear of their crosstown rivals in the league and have also reached the final eight in the UEFA Champions League – their preferred target, by far.
So is it reasonable to expect a drop-off in City’s League form? History suggests the answer is no. A statistical look at the performance of Premier League teams in post- European games revealed that, over the past decade, 60 per cent of them achieved better or similar results after a European fixture. Manchester City also have the added incentive of chasing the 100-point barrier in the League, so don’t expect any drop-off.
The real value at this point of the season is the battle at the other end of the table. It’s unlikely that West Bromwich Albion will avoid the drop but as many as eight teams will battle to stay out of the two remaining relegation spots. The traditional benchmark of 40 points equating to EPL survival looks likely to hold sway so those teams at least have a target at which to aim, right?
It might feel that way, making the “need to win” argument one of the most prominent myths among bettors. The theory behind this widely held belief is based on two presumptions. The first is that the team that needs a win will be trying harder. This, however, assumes that they haven’t already been trying hard.
The second is that pressure will produce better results, but that same pressure also hinders players from performing at their optimum.
Statistics confirm that these top-flight strugglers actually perform worse in late-April and May than at any other time of the season. Bookmakers are well-aware of this fact and use the opportunity to price up teams that need to secure a win much shorter than they would normally during the season in anticipation of those punters who adhere to the myth of pressure equalling points.
*As with all forms of sports betting, ensure you have appropriate bankroll strategies in place, always chase the best possible price and understand the concept of value when making football wagers.