It is a given in all sports that playing at home is a positive for a team. Doesn’t matter if you are the New York Yankees playing baseball at Yankees Stadium or Grimsby Town playing at Blundell Park, being on home turf is considered an advantage. This is evident in statistics. However, it is only in the broadest sense, and there are always exceptions to the rule. By and large, we might see home advantage is slightly overrated by fans, certainly in terms of statistics.
To explain, let’s consider the 2022/23 Premier League season as an example, as well as relating it to past seasons. Overall, 19 of the 20 teams in the Premier League took more points at home than away in the 2022/23 season. That’s certainly on the higher level, not typical of most seasons. If you were wondering, the only team that did not get more points at home than away was Southampton, with performances at St Mary’s underscoring what was an abject season.
The information is useful, of course. Those backing home teams in Premier League football betting would have had a statistical advantage in the 2022/23 season. Teams like Wolves and Nottingham Forest consistently overachieved at home (compared to their overall points accumulation), alongside the usual suspects like Liverpool and the two Manchester clubs.
Only minor gains at home
And yet, as mentioned, the advantage may be exaggerated. Arsenal, Fulham, Bournemouth, Everton, and Newcastle were among the clubs who saw only minor gains overall at home. Sure, they still picked up more home points, but only marginally so. Indeed, consider that only nine teams in the 2022/23 season won more than half of their home games. They were: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle, Brentford, Brighton, Tottenham, and Aston Villa. All others, including overachievers like Nottingham Forest, won less than half of their home games.
Some of this will seem like common sense. After all, teams like Liverpool and Manchester City have stadiums that are traditionally very tough for away teams. And even in a poor (by their standards) season for Liverpool, Anfield remained one of the most formidable trips for Premier League teams. But it is Manchester United that reaped the benefits of home comforts among the top teams, gaining an extra 1.11 points per game at Old Trafford compared to their travels. So were United great at home or terrible away? Probably a bit of both.
We mentioned that 2022/23 was atypical of most seasons, and that seems to come through in the comparisons. In the 2021/22 season, five teams – Chelsea, Brighton, Wolves, Watford and Leeds had a worse record at home than away. As an aside, we should mention that Chelsea have played three consecutive seasons with a worse record at home than away – what’s going on at Stamford Bridge?
2020/21 saw more teams flourish away
If 2022/23 was an outlier, then so was the 2020/21 season – but for different reasons. The 2020/21 season saw no fewer than 11 teams win more points away than at home. Now, we must remember that many of the games were played behind closed doors that season, so the lack of fans in the stadiums will likely have led to that statistic. Nonetheless, it is amazing to note that every one of the top five that season – City, United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester – gained more points on the road.
So, overall then, it is right to make assumptions about home advantage, but there are many caveats. There are nearly always a handful of teams that will post better records on the road. Importantly, there is no set identity for a team that can do this. It could be a struggling team or a top team. So if you are backing a team with home advantage you should have confidence, but it should be tempered with the knowledge that the advantage (overall) is only marginal.