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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Bet on an early goal going in at Brighton

Wise words from the Soccer Boffin

Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero celebrate after an own goal from Brighton's Lewis Dunk
1 of 1

An early goal between Brighton and West Bromwich is less likely than in the other Premier League games, but it is still possible – and may be more likely than the odds suggest. Bet on a goal within 35 minutes at 6-5 with BoyleSports.

Brighton’s previous three games yielded only four goals while West Bromwich manager Tony Pulis has a long record of preparing teams whose games are low-scoring.

The smaller the score is likely to be, the less likely an early goal becomes. But in every match a goal is possible, and so therefore is an early goal. The only question that matters is whether the odds are bigger than they should be. And here they might be.

Brighton’s games in the Championship during the last two seasons when they were chasing promotion were not unusually low-scoring. Playing at a higher level makes it harder to score but easier to concede. Brighton have yet to score in the Premier League, though they have not conceded often either.

But it is too early to accept that the die has been cast and that Brighton’s games for the rest of the season will generally be low-scoring.

Other Saturday columns

Mark Langdon

Kevin Pullein

Brighton had 58 per cent possession in their last game, a goalless draw at Watford, who played with ten men for more than an hour.

They might have a similar amount. Pulis’s teams spend a lot of time without the ball but they defend well, and when they have possession they tend to score enough goals to get better results than they are sometimes given credit for.

In the Premier League Pulis has managed West Bromwich, Crystal Palace and Stoke. All of his teams have tended to feature in low-scoring games, even more so away from home. On the road their games have averaged just 2.2 goals. But 82 times out of 156 there was a goal in the first 35 minutes. That is, in 53 per cent of them. Odds of 6-5 imply a 45 per cent chance of a bet being successful.

The chance of a goal within 35 minutes at Brighton is not as high as 53 per cent. Even 156 games is still a small sample, and in it there is a suggestion that early goals have occurred more often than we should have expected relative to late goals. But the chance might not be as low as 45 per cent.

Time of first goal 35th minute or before
1pt 6-5 BoyleSports

Thought of the day

Burnley have played away to Chelsea and Tottenham, who were first and second in the Premier League last season, and they got a win and a draw. In between they lost at home to West Bromwich.

Last season things were the other way round. Burnley did much better at home than away. They gained 33 points at home but only seven points away. A whopping 82 per cent of their total came in home games. That was highly unusual, in two respects.

It was unusual for Burnley. In their previous Premier League season 58 per cent of their points came in home games. The seasons before and after they were in the Championship, where 55 per cent of their points came in home games.

It was also unusual for the Premier League as a whole. Over the last 20 seasons 60 per cent of all points were accumulated in home games.

When a team gain an uncommonly large share of their points at home in a period they are called home specialists. But if you study such teams in the next period you will find that overall home specialism does not endure.

People come up with all sorts of plausible explanations for why a team should play dramatically better on their own ground than elsewhere. Nearly always they are plausible but wrong. In the next set of results there is no evidence of home specialism.

At the end of this season Burnley will probably have won more points at home than away, but in all likelihood the surplus will be smaller than it was at the end of last season. On Sunday they play at home to Crystal Palace – the only team they beat away last season. In fact they did the double over them.

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The chance of a goal within 35 minutes at Brighton is not as high as 53 per cent
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