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HT/ FT betting: let the hunting commence...

Thursday 19th November 2020

In Across the Leagues today:

  • Ever-reliable England…
  • Consistency of randomness…
  • 20/1 and 33/1 opportunities await…

HT/ FT betting: let the hunting commence…

England remain a reliable team to follow at home in the Corners markets.

Last night’s 4-0 Nations League win against Iceland was a dead rubber, but Gareth Southgate’s young team still racked up a dominant corner-winning score of 8-2.

That tally was enough to cover any Corner Handicap from -1 up to -5 corners. The industry line yesterday was -4, with a couple of firms at -5. On the night, England covered all those options.

Updating my favourite Wembley stat, for the last time this calendar year:

  • England have now won the Most Corners in 36 of their last 42 games at Wembley Stadium (86%)

When International football returns in the New Year, you can rest assured I’ll be keenly wheeling out that statistic once again.

Digging for nuggets…

Scrolling through years’ worth of team results and match stats might not be everyone’s idea of a fun task, but that’s how I find things like that England Most Corners trend.

The end goal, of course, of putting in that work, is to land upon some winning match-days.

If you’re an Across the Leagues member that chooses to follow my picks (some people do, some don’t), then in the case of England and their Wembley corners form, that’s given two winning bets out of three this season, at odds of 7/5 (2.4) and 10/11 (1.91).

No-one will be retiring on that, but England for the Most Corners at Wembley is a trend that it certainly pays to be aware of.

The consistency of randomness…

Type the phrase ‘consistency of randomness’ into an internet search engine and you’ll find articles in the fields of science, maths, and psychology.

I’m interested in this term in regards to events in football matches and outcomes in the betting markets.

Whereas the ‘law of averages’ can be taken as something of a throwaway phrase, suggesting a casual bound-to-happen-sooner-or-later verdict. Consistency of randomness is more grounded in evidence…

The numbers can help us anticipate things. There is no crystal ball, of course. But with a weight of data to inform us, we can say with some confidence that particular events in football matches can be expected to occur a certain number of times throughout any given season…

What we don’t and can’t know, is precisely which games said events will occur in. Or what teams will produce them, and when. (As I say: no crystal ball.)

As Chris Anderson and David Sally put it when discussing the topic in their excellent football book, The Numbers Game:

“We can predict the overall frequency and the distribution of random events – how often they occur and how likely they are to do so – as long as we are trying to analyse an event that happens infrequently but also consistently and independently enough to establish a base rate.”

Here’s what I’ve been working on this week…

Half Time/ Full Time turnarounds…

Ten years of Premier League results say that we can expect a half time/ full time turnaround in at least 10 matches per season.

In the Half Time/ Full Time (HT/ FT) betting markets, the two options I’m referring to when I say ‘turnaround’ are those that pay out on Team A winning at half time but losing the game at full time, and vice versa. Options that typically tend to pay out in the region of 20/1 for a home team to stage a comeback, and 33/1 for the away team.

So far in 2020/21, we haven’t seen a single one of those HT/ FT flip-flops in the Premier League. Which I find a tad surprising, considering some of the high-scoring games and whacky score-lines that we’ve witnessed…

For example, Aston Villa beat Liverpool 7-2. Leeds Utd have had a couple of 4-3 results. Villa went 0-4 down v Southampton, and managed to pull it back to 3-4. Southampton have also been involved in 5-2 and 3-3 score-lines, coming from 3-1 down in the latter. And that’s just a handful of results that come to mind.

It's even more interesting that we haven’t seen a HT/ FT reverse yet, when we take stock of the totals and averages over the last 10 Premier League seasons. I’ve gone through the results, and here are my findings:

2019/20:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 22
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 8
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 14

2018/19:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 17
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 4
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 13

2017/18:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 18
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 9
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 9

2016/17:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 12
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 5
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 7

2015/16:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 17
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 9
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 8

2014/15:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 11
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 6
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 5

2013/14:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 14
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 5
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 9

2012/13:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 21
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 8
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 13

2011/12:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 10
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 5
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 5

2010/11:
HT/ FT turnarounds = 16
With distribution of:
Home team/ Away team – HT/ FT = 5
Away team/ Home team – HT/ FT = 11

Totals and averages – last 10 seasons:

  • HT/ FT turnarounds = 158
  • Average of 15.8 games per season (4.16% of games)

With 380 games per season, the above figures take in a total of 3,800 Premier League games. Showing that 158 of them have produced a HT/ FT scoreboard reversal, at an average of 15.8 per season (4.16%). With at least 10 in any given season over the past decade.

What we can expect this season…

So far in 2020/21, there have been 78 games played in the Premier League (eight rounds of 10 games, with two games postponed).

If we take that 4.16% average as a justifiable guide, and treat 2020/21 pro-rata (as a mini-season on its own, if you like). Then we can say that we would’ve expected to see 3.24 games deliver a half time/ full time turnaround by now.

Going into this weekend’s games, we are yet to see any…

By this stage of last season, that 3.24 number proves accurate, as we’d seen three HT/ FT comebacks before the start of round nine of the Premier League in 2019/20. Those games being:

Tottenham 3 Aston Villa 1 (HT: 0-1)
Leicester 2 Tottenham 1 (HT: 0-1)
Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2 (HT: 0-1)

Going back to Messrs Anderson & Sally, they go on to say in their book that, using a body of form, as above, using the numbers alone we can predict how many times an event is likely to happen. And, crucially:

“We do not need to know anything about formations, tactics, line-ups, injuries, the manager, or the crowd – none of it – to find that there is a structure …  football might be random, but it is also predictable.”

The half time/ full time figures that I’ve produced illustrate that point nicely. They tell us to expect a certain amount of HT/ FT turnarounds in a Premier League season…

Of course, the future is unwritten. But that ‘consistency of randomness’ shows that over the last 10 seasons, there have been at least 10 half time/ full time turnarounds in every campaign, at an average of 15.8.

There’s no reason to suggest this season won’t conform to those numbers.

That being the case, to hit the average of 15.8, for example, then the remaining 302 Premier League fixtures in 2020/21 would need to produce a HT/ FT flip-flop result at a rate of one every 19 games. That’s basically one per every two rounds of matches (10 matches per round on a standard Premier League weekend).

And that means we should look out for them. Because at odds in the region of 20/1 and 33/1 a pop, they are very enticing betting prospects…

Time to start hunting for these 33/1 shots…

The consistency of randomness tells us to expect 15.8 games per Premier League season to end up with a team winning at half time but losing at half time. Regardless of the line-ups, players, tactics, managers, or conditions. That a strength in terms of giving us an average to work with.

But it’s of little help in finding which games or teams to target for a particular foray into the Half Time/ Full Time markets…

We also have to attempt to leave the randomness behind, as betting blind and backing a HT/ FT turnaround for each team in all 380 games every season at average odds of between 20/1 & 33/1 wouldn’t have made you any money.

What we can do, is attempt to use recent form and our own knowledge to identify potential games to produce rollercoaster score-lines…

  • For example, Italian side Atalanta have been on my radar in that department this year; a high-scoring, attack-minded team with a we’ll-score-more-than-you mindset. From a total of 8 bets on HT/ FT reversals in 4 targeted Atalanta games in 2020, I’ve landed upon one winner, at 25/1 (PSG 2 Atalanta 1 in the Champions League). So, by being selective, it is possible to make money here 

Notable contenders in the Premier League right now…

  • So far this season, Liverpool have recovered the most points from losing positions. Conceding the first goal in 4 out of 8 games, but only going on to lose one of those matches – and managing to come back and win the other 3

In all four of those games, Liverpool were a goal down within the first 25 minutes (v Arsenal, Sheff Utd, and West Ham at Anfield – and away at Aston Villa). In the three home games, the Reds came back to win, scoring the equaliser after the 40th min but before half time in two of them (beat Arsenal 3-1, Sheff Utd 2-1, West Ham 2-1).

While the Win From Behind and Draw From Behind markets generally tend to give you between 5/1 and 10/1, a HT/ FT turnaround will have you dealing in the exciting realm of the 20/1 & 33/1 price range. That fledgling 2020/21 form suggests Liverpool might be one to look out for in particular in the Half Time/ Full Time market this season.

  • Tottenham have also come from behind to win in 2 of the 3 Premier League games in which they’ve conceded first
  • Man Utd have conceded first in an eye-catching 5 of their 8 games so far – and come back to win 3 of them (all on the road, too, each time after going a goal down within the first half)
  • Leicester have gone a goal down in 4 of their 8 league games so far, and come back to win on 2 occasions – beating Burnley 4-2, and winning 5-2 at Man City

Leicester visit Anfield to take on an injury-depleted Liverpool side this Sunday evening…

Could that be the game to produce the first half time/ full time switcheroo of the season?

Recent history for that fixture shows that five of the last six meetings between Liverpool and Leicester have seen both teams get on the scoresheet. And one of those saw a HT/ FT turnaround.

In the Half Time/ Full Time market for Sunday’s game, a HT Liverpool/ FT Leicester turnaround is 28/1. With the opposite scenario, a HT Leicester/ FT Liverpool flip-flop at 20/1.

One thing we do know is this: 10 seasons of Premier League results tell us to expect at least 10 games with a HT/ FT turnaround this season. And with none registered so far in 2020/21, it could pay to start looking out for them from now on.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my weekend preview.

Enjoy the football…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Oliver Upstone

Across the Leagues