Goals. We all love ‘em. It’s the whole point of the exercise, after all. What makes them so special is that they are relatively rare, with each match seeing fewer than three on average. It’s why the Over/Under Goals Markets normally hinge on 2.5 – might be under, might be over. Place your bets!
You occasionally see a team run riot, like when Liverpool plays rubbish teams like Bournemouth, Leeds or Manchester United, but only roughly one in seven matches sees over four goals in the Premier League. And we wouldn’t get any goals at all without shots on target, which are obviously far more common.
Paddy Power offers numerous markets which revolve around them. In a Bet Builder, you’ll usually see odds for a particular player to have at least one, two, three or four shots on target in total, or maybe one or more in each half. There are similar markets for teams, albeit normally starting at three or more.
Away from Bet Builders there are far more options: shots on target with feet or head, from outside the box, how many each team will have (up to 15 or more) and how many there will be in total in the match. There are possibilities galore, but what are the best markets to consider?
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After match week 35 in the 2022/23 Premier League season, there are a number of players with a decent sample of pitch time who average over two shots on target for every 90 minutes played. The leading man falls just short, at 1.9 per 90.
But who is it? Go on, have a guess. It must be Erling Haaland, right? Maybe Harry Kane? Ooh, how about Marcus Rashford?
All wrong. The man in question is Darwin Nunez, the Liverpool forward whom you probably consider to be a lesser version of Andy Carroll. He’s just ahead of teammate Roberto Firmino, another player who probably didn’t figure on your guess list. Neither of Jurgen Klopp’s boys have more than nine league goals, meaning 20 players are ahead of them in the Golden Boot standings.
And there’s lesson number one. While the top scorers inevitably have healthy shots on target rates, it doesn’t mean they’re automatic winning selections in the markets. Equally, we’re not betting on shots on target per 90 minutes, are we? But what we can’t do is simply look at total shots on target by players either, as some will be up and down while others will be more consistent.
Let’s take future Man United striker Harry Kane, for starters. He is second in the league for shots on target with 48 and has had at least one in 30 of his 35 appearances (86%). Even with that good rate, it’s not easy to predict when he’ll draw a blank – he did so against Manchester City, but also versus Everton, West Ham, Wolves and Aston Villa. Kane has gone on to have two attempts on target in 15 matches, 43% of the time.
Contrast this with City’s Nordic goal machine, who has scored a ridiculous 35 goals, nine more strikes than the Tottenham man. As impressive as that is, Haaland really loves it when the going is good – he has had at least one effort on target in 72% of his matches, a worse rate than Kane, and more than that in 44% of them, basically the same as the England captain.
At the extreme end of the scale you get someone like Gabriel Martinelli or Bryan Mbeumo; often good for one shot on target but rarely more. The Brentford forward has tested an opposition goalkeeper in 23 of his 35 league matches – approaching Haaland’s proportion – but has had two shots on target just twice.
The main thing to remember here is that this data is freely available on the internet, including on our weekly Stat Sheets on PP News. Do your research and gamble responsibly.
With team bets there is more room for variance. The most frequent total a side has in a Premier League match is three, just ahead of four and two. But thanks to the uneven nature of English football, a team has nine as often as they have none (just not the same teams, obviously).
Remember to take account of home and away differences too. Hosting teams fire off 4.7 shots on target on average and have more than their visitors 53% of the time, with away sides winning the battle in 38% of matches, averaging 4.0 per game.
Once again there is room for surprises. For instance, Brighton average more shots on target per game than any other side this season despite the Seagulls having a warranted reputation for often failing to hit a cow’s behind with a banjo. As a rough guide, shots on target broadly track with the league table but there are exceptions.
And as with players, we need to focus on betting options, not averages. Newcastle have only had three-or-more shots on target in two more matches than Leeds or Southampton, even though they’ve had at least six in more games than those two struggling clubs combined. Some teams are steady in their output, others blow hot and cold.
Data is your friend here, and can help you outsmart Paddy. Use it.
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