How To Assess Football Form
Published on 10/11/15
A statistical assessment of football form is easier and more valid than a statistical assessment of a dog or horse race. This is because there is a long historic wealth of data available from different leagues and countries that support the stats.
If a team has won, drawn or lost its last 3 games, then this is more significant than you would expect. It is not like tossing a coin getting three heads and expecting the next toss to be a head, when it has a 50% chance of being a tail. Regardless of who they played against 3 wins means that the team has the strikers to score goals; 3 draws indicates a defence that has come together; and 3 losses show a slide. It is hard to argue that this confidence in attack or defence, or general lack of faith will not be carried into the next game.
Home and Away
Broadly 50% of football matches result in a home win; 25% in drawn games; and 25% in away wins. This is attributed to referee bias; crowd hostility; and the fact that if a team doesn’t win its home games it isn’t going anywhere. The logical extension is to analyse the home team’s form at home, and the away team’s form away from home.
Head to Heads
Information on how the teams have fared in recent head to head matches against each other can give useful clues on how they might perform against each other in their next match. More relevance should be given to meetings between the two teams in the last 12 months.
Derby matches particularly between two teams from the same city, tend to involve exaggerated player emotion and crowd hostility and previous head to head form counts for less.
Player and Management Changes
The effect of new signings or players returning from injury can significantly affect team spirit and likely performance. New management usually means that the recent historical records can be thrown out of the window, as completely different playing styles are adopted.
European matches and International Breaks.
Whilst the best teams in the premiership have large squads to cope with playing European matches, two competitive matches in one week is difficult for any team. Tiredness and long distance travel affects players both physically and psychologically.
Most players give more for their country than their clubs, so generally returnees from international matches will show a dip in form reflecting tiredness. Non-European players leaving for international tournaments can seriously weaken sides.
Playing Styles and Goals
Two defensive teams with a low number of goals scored in recent matches and more likely to draw than two cavalier teams with high goal scoring records.
Relegation / Promotion Matches
Such is the monetary value of promotion to or survival in the premiership these days, to the club the players and the management, that towards the end of the season any assessment of football form must take serious account of the comparative “worth” of the match to both teams.
The elements of football form listed above lend themselves to simple analysis on a spreadsheet, and by concentrating on just a few matches you can steal a health march on your fellow football bettors.