Sport

Keys to EPL betting

Written by Sean Callander

WGM takes a look at some of the main contenders for the top and bottom of the table this English Premier League season and what to be aware of when putting your money on the line.

 

In a recent column, we discussed the World Cup finals while lamenting the tiny sample size from which to derive information. In stark contrast, the English Premier League is a veritable treasure trove of information and a gold mine for astute punters. It’s also a great sport and league for betting newcomers as a wealth of information is available and the competition is well known across the globe.

Remembering our five pillars of sports betting (research, value, bankroll management, best price and ignoring mainstream media coverage), most keen football fans will comfortably tick the first and last boxes.

It’s that research element that we’ll be focusing on here. In the World Cup finals, we had just 64 games from which to eke out a profit. The EPL comprises 380 games across 38 weeks.

In the history of the league (dating to 1992), there have been just four multiple champions – Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. Only two other clubs have lifted the trophy – Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95 and Leicester City in 2015-16. The latter’s title win is ranked among the greatest upsets in sporting history, underlining the difficulty in upsetting the accepted order.

Reigning champion Manchester City started the new campaign as prohibitively-priced favorites ($1.60 on most markets). We rank City a 49 percent chance ($2.05) of becoming the first repeat champions since 2009. They deserve top billing after shattering a stack of EPL records last season, including most points (100), most wins (32), most road wins (16) and most goals scored (106).

The other clubs we rate a chance of taking the title are Liverpool (24 percent), Tottenham (11 percent), Chelsea (8 percent), Manchester United (4 percent) and Arsenal (3 percent).

At the other end of the table, we also know that there’s a significant yo-yo factor, where clubs are regularly relegated after being promoted from the second-tier Championship. Only twice in the Premier League era have all three promoted clubs survived their first season in the top flight (2000- 01 and 2011-12). Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Leicester City, Middlesbrough and Watford have all experienced promotion/relegation in the EPL era. The three clubs promoted for 2018-19 – Wolverhampton Wanderers, Fulham and Cardiff City – are also no strangers to the top flight.

So taking these most basic of facts, already a picture of the scenario for 2018-19 is emerging. Just three clubs account for an 84 percent chance of becoming EPL champions while the three promoted clubs justifiably sit among the five clubs most likely to be sent back to the Championship (along with Brighton and Huddersfield).

We’re confident that Fulham won’t be among the relegated clubs. Newcomers mostly struggle for goals but the Cottagers scored 1.57 goals per 90 minutes last season, second most in the Championship, with Ryan Sessegnon, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle all capable of finding the back of the net.

There’s another asset that even the most casual of EPL bettors should seek out – expected goals. We discussed this concept at length in the World Cup finals preview and it’s far more effective and accurate across a full league campaign than a shorter-format tournament. To remind, expected goals is a statistic used to calculate how many goals should be scored in a match, with every shot taken given an “expected goal” value based on the difficulty of the attempt, distance from goal, type of shot and number of defenders. The “expected goal” value of every shot in a game is used to calculate the “expected goals” (xG) of a match.

The table below shows the difference between expected points (based on the xG model) and actual points accrued last season.

Team Actual points Expected points
Manchester City 100 91
Manchester Utd 81 63
Tottenham 77 76.02
Liverpool 75 79.38
Chelsea 70 68.46
Arsenal 63 65.9
Burnley 54 41
Everton 49 47
Leicester City 47 55.85
Newcastle Utd 44 46.24
C.Palace 44 58.03
Bournemouth 44 37.64
West Ham 42 39.26
Watford 41 46.69
Brighton 40 40.85
Huddersfield 37 36.84
Southampton 36 48.72
Stoke City 33 36.17
Swansea 33 32.31
WBA 31 42.96

As a resource, understat.com/league/EPL is one of the most valuable we can recommend. It provides updated xG data for all EPL matches and is a great starting point for those attempting to create their own markets for windraw- win, game totals and overall league standings. And always remember 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 EPL wagers.

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