The degree to which playing at home influences a side’s performance in the Premier League is one that is continually contested. Are there sufficiently clear trends to assist the football punter when it comes to having a bet on a match, or does a Club’s success home and away depend more on individual team performance rather than any discernible pattern in the league overall? Is home ground advantage in the Premier League really that significant, and should it be something that punters take into consideration on a regular basis?
Ultimately, the evidence would seem to suggest that in the Premier League it is more important for punters to look at the individual side rather than expect any general patterns. For instance, if you look at the odds offered by the sites featured on ‘’5 Best Online Betting Sites in 2018 – Playright Selection’’, on any round of Premier League matches, these reflect current form rather than any overall or universal trend. The evidence would seem to suggest that betting purely on the basis of whether a side is home or away is certainly not a strategy that can be relied up to produce winning outcomes.
However, if you’re making full season bets on who will win the Premier League, one thing is certain — to win the league, you have to perform well at your home ground and on the road, and any significant difference in these results will mean a team simply won’t clinch the title. Therefore, the difference between how a side performs at home and away should definitely be taken into consideration when having a punt on who will win the title.
For instance, when Leicester City shocked the football world by winning the Premier League in 2015/16 with a record of P38 W23 D12 L3, they also led the league in both the home and away standings, with records that were almost identical — P19 W12 D6 L1 at home and P19 W11 D6 L2 playing away. In that same year, it could reasonably be argued that the away form of Manchester United, who finished 5th (P38 W19 D9 L10), ultimately cost them a serious crack at title, as the difference between their two form lines was so significant — they were second in the home table (P19 W12 D5 L2) but finished up only 9th on away form (P19 W7 D4 L8).
The home advantage could therefore be seen to have had little or no impact on Leicester’s triumph, as they were just as good on the road, but at the same time it would seem that the advantage of playing at Old Trafford in front of 70,000+ spectators every second week did seem to have a positive effect on where United ended up at the end of the season, as their home form was so superior to how they performed away.
Similarly, a marked difference in performance home and away can still mean a team has a relatively good season — or at least, that it averts disaster. A side who can capitalise on a home ground advantage can save a season which might otherwise lead to relegation.
In the first Premier League season in 1992/93, Leeds United finished 17th out of 22 teams and only avoided relegation by 2 points (P42 W12 D15 L15). However, they turned Elland Road into a fortress that year and it was clearly their home form that saved them from the drop — they finished 3rd in the home standings (P21 W12 D8 L1), but 22nd on the away from ladder with a dismal record of P21 W0 D7 L14. This was a clear case of a team having a distinct home advantage throughout the season and it making the difference between staying up and going down.
However, it has often proved to be the case that playing at home is a distinct disadvantage for a team, and its only superior away form that has helped them to beat the drop. For instance, in 2014/15 Crystal Palace finished the season in 10th place with an overall record of P38 W13 D9 L16. But their form home and away was markedly different — P19 W6 D3 L10 at home (16th overall), but P19 W7 D6 L6 when playing away (5th overall). Clearly, Selhurst Park was proving to be no advantage whatsoever, and Palace only stayed in the Premier League on the strength of their performances when they were away from south London.
Just as strong form both home and away is crucial to winning the title, what is equally as certain is that wretched form at home and on the road in the Premier League is the recipe for relegation. In 2015/16 when Aston Villa finished bottom of the league and went down to the Championship with only 17 points (P38 W3 L8 D27), they were equally poor wherever they played — they finished bottom of both the home (P19 W2 L5 D12) and away (P19 W1 L3 D15) ladders. There was clearly nothing to be gained from playing at Villa Park, and so home advantage was non-existent over the course of the entire season for Villa.
It would, however, seem to be the case that many close observers and football writers are no longer convinced that home ground advantage is ‘a thing’ anymore. There are growing calls, for instance, that the away goals rule be dropped from European competitions, including the Champions’ League and Europa League. The rule, where in a two-legged tie any goals scored away from home are doubled in value if the aggregate score after both legs is tied, is also used in England in the Football League play-offs and League Cup.
The central argument is that the rule, first introduced in the 1965/66 Cup Winners’ Cup, is no longer necessary or relevant. When it first appeared, the rationale for the away goals rule was two-fold; firstly, an away team who was required to travel often very long distances in relative discomfort (especially when compared to air travel today) was automatically at a disadvantage and therefore the rule would go some way to redressing the balance; secondly, it was introduced to encourage visiting teams to be more attacking, rather than adopting a purely defensive mindset when playing as the visitors.
However, the argument is that football today is a very different game to that in the 1960s and that the natural approach of top flight sides is inherently more attacking than it was fifty years ago. Alongside of this, the case is also being made that now the away goals rule is actually too heavily weighted in favor of away teams, and that as a result home sides are playing in a counterintuitively negative fashion as they adopt a safety-first approach in a bid not to concede.
Whatever the outcome of this debate, what remains clear is that for the football punter, playing at home should never be the sole factor you consider when betting on a match. There may well be trends and patterns, but these will be likely the case only for individual teams rather than applicable across the whole of the Premier League.
Therefore, when it comes to the home ground advantage in football betting, it’s always best to resort to that tried and trusted manager’s cliché, and simply take it one game at a time.