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There is no such thing as a home or away specialist

Streaky runs are likely to even out over time

Burnley manager Sean Dyche
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Burnley have 14 Premier League points. They won 13 at home and one away. That is a striking difference even if they have played three more games at home than away. It is the sort of thing that gets noticed and commented on.

Manager Sean Dyche thinks his team played with less belief away than at home. Others might wonder whether Burnley have done something different tactically at Turf Moor than on other grounds in the Premier League.

I think I know what has happened. I have not heard it mentioned by anyone else so I will say it here. Why have Burnley won so many points at home and so few away? There is no reason.

In fact, I would go so far as to say there is no such thing generally as a home specialist or away specialist – which may come as a surprise because you will often have heard those terms.

There are teams for whom the difference between home and away results over some period is abnormal. Watch them afterwards, however, and you will see that the abnormality disappears. It appears for no reason and disappears for no reason.

I looked at the difference between home and away points for Premier League teams at the start and end of the last 20 seasons, 1996-97 to 2015-16.

As teams played 38 games it seemed convenient to divide each season into two parts – the first nine home games and first nine away games, then the last nine home games and last nine away games. This left the tenth, or middle, home and away games, which I ignored simply for the sake of balance.

What I found was interesting.

The average difference between home and away points in each half of a season was five. If the difference between home and away points for a team in the first half of a season was greater than five, the difference in the second half tended to be less than five. And vice versa: if the difference between home and away points for a team in the first half of a season was less than five, the difference in the second half tended to be greater than five.

Let the implication of those statements sink in. Teams did not return to normal. They passed normal and kept on going in the opposite direction.

Take, for example, teams for whom the difference between home and away points in the first nine home and away games was between +8 and +12, the sort of teams who might have been dubbed home specialists. For them, the average difference between home and away points over the last nine home and away games was +4.

Or teams for whom the difference between home and away points in the first nine home and away games was between -8 and -12. These are the sort of teams who might have been called away specialists.

And for them the average difference between home and away points over the last nine home and away games was +8.

When Burnley were last in the Premier League, in 2014-15, they won 19 points at home and 14 away, a difference of only five over a whole season. Perhaps then people asked why Burnley won so few points at home or so many away. Now they ask the opposite. Such questions are understandable, but futile. There is no reason.

During the rest of this season, in all probability, Burnley will accumulate points more slowly at home, more quickly away, or both.

Manager Sean Dyche thinks his team played with less belief away than at home. Others might wonder whether Burnley have done something different tactically at Turf Moor than on other grounds in the Premier League
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