The world’s most popular sport, what Pele once called The Beautiful Game, sure can be dull at times. While we all remember the 9-0s and the 7-2s and the 4-4s (and that’s just been Liverpool in the last few years), we learned in our look at the Correct Score market that most games only see a few goals at most.
One of Paddy Power’s popular markets – which also features in Bet Builders – is ‘Over/Under Goals’. You can select whether you think will be over or under a certain number of goals, starting at 0.5 and moving up through each number from there (although the Under option disappears once you hit 5.5 or 6.5 as fewer goals are almost inevitable).
A Premier League match features an average of 2.77 goals, which is why for most games the Over/Under market hinges around 2.5 goals. In extreme cases, both options at that mark will have identical odds, but usually there will be a favourite. Here’s some things you should bear in mind before making your selection.
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Premier League averages
As you would expect from the above facts about the goals-per-game average and odds, the 2.5 goal line is the most difficult to call.
In the last five seasons of Premier League action, 52 per cent of the 1,900 matches featured at least three goals. For a lot of games, you might as well flip a coin to decide on whether to pick Over or Under 2.5 goals.
The good news is that bore-draws are thankfully a rarity, with 94 per cent of top flight English fixtures seeing at least one goal over the previous half decade. As 77% of matches saw at least two goals, the averages are easy to remember in very broad terms – if you think that all games see Over 0.5 goals, three quarters feature Over 1.5 and half of them pay out on Over 2.5, you’re not far wrong.
And before you start wagering your hard-earned funds on a goal-fest, consider that only 30% of matches contain Over 3.5 goals, while just 15% go Over 4.5. No matter how tempting the odds look, you’re up against history if betting that there’ll be at least four goals.
There are some important numbers to commit to memory if you’re betting in-play too. If the deadlock is broken in the first 20 minutes of a Premier League game, history shows there will be over 2.5 goals in the match 72% of the time. That figure only drops to 64% for opening goals between minutes 21 to 40 but it falls to 39% for the next 20 and just nine per cent once the hour mark has passed.
If you think about which teams might have strong records for games with Over 2.5 goals, there’s an obvious characteristic – be very good, or very bad. Manchester City saw 63% of their league matches pay out on Over 2.5 goals over the last five seasons – the joint-most in the Premier League in this period – as they routinely battered their much less lavishly funded opponents.
The other side with that proportion was Leeds United, who often found themselves on the receiving end of pastings. Similarly, the next two sides at the top end of the standings, with 59% of their matches featuring three-or-more goals, were Liverpool and Leicester.
It’s also worth looking at home and away splits. A convincing 73% of City’s matches at the Etihad featured Over 2.5 goals, but only 53% did so on the road, where they’re happier to get ahead then strangle the life out of the opposition. By contrast, Chelsea and Crystal Palace have proven 14% more likely to see at least three goals in their away games rather than in front of their own fans.
At the opposite end of the ‘Over 2.5’ scale in all matches, among the ever-present sides, are Wolves (38%), Palace (43%) and Everton (47%). With those sides employing Julen Lopetegui, Roy Hodgson and Sean Dyche respectively at the start of 2023/24, don’t expect those percentages to shift much any time soon.
A final pointer for those of you who enjoy betting in-play. There are teams that excel at turning a game featuring three goals into one with four, with this happening around two-thirds of the time for Arsenal, West Ham and both Manchester clubs. If a game featuring one of them sees its third goal with plenty of time left to play, it’s reasonable to expect a fourth.
And as ever, make use of the freely available data which the internet has to offer. It can make even the dullest game interesting from a betting perspective.
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