Are there any differences in performance between home and away in the Premier League, and how should you approach any such effect from a betting perspective?
It has long been thought that sports teams perform better when playing at home than they do on the road.
This belief lies behind the organisation of fixtures – since over the course of a season, every EPL team plays each other both home and away, to ensure fairness.
It also influences the odds set by bookmakers, as away teams nearly always receive higher odds of winning when away than when they play at home (as a side note, this doesn’t always play in the bookies favour, as in the case of Celtic and Rangers, whose home and away records are much the same – but that’s a story for a later article).
But does the home and away effect exist in the English Premier League? To test this out, we decided to examine last season’s EPL games (2022-23).
Normally, we would prefer to take the last five season’s performances, however the last few years have seen major issues with making a fair study of home and away performances, due largely to the COVID pandemic.
So for the purposes of our study, we will focus solely on the 2022-23 season.
Not that last season could be considered a ‘normal’ season, as the break for the Qatar World Cup, as well as the death of Queen Elizabeth II caused huge disruption to the fixture list.
A whole month of autumn football was taken from the calendar, and shifted into spring, as was Matchday 7.
For fixture planners, clearly 2022-23 was the season from hell – but how did teams perform home and away last year?
Q: Was there a home and away effect in the EPL in season 2022-23?
A: Yes – data shows that home teams won 48.42% of their games, while just 28.68% of games were won by the away team. The remaining 22.89% of games ended as draws.
Q: Why would a home and away effect exist in the EPL?
A: Travelling times, unfamiliar environments, and hostile away crowds may all play a role in creating a home-and-away effect in the EPL. The weakening of the home and away effect during the COVID lockdown-era ban on fans in stadiums suggests that hostile home crowds do affect the performance of away players to a significant degree.
Q: Did the Qatar World Cup have a significant before-and-after effect on home-and-away performance?
A: Not really. The end of season numbers are very similar to the state of play after Week 6, with 48.75% of pre-World Cup games being won by the home team and 28.13% by the away team. 23.13% of games were draws. So there was very little material difference between before the World Cup and afterwards.
Q: How about the Queen’s Death and Funeral?
A: The Queen’s death and funeral caused much disruption to the fixture list, since police were not as able to monitor games in London, and those games had to be cancelled. But much like the World Cup, this event didn’t have any obvious before-and-after effect. Matchday 7 (September 2022) was shifted into 2023. When these games were finally played, 50% of those games ended as home wins, and 40% as away wins, with just one game finishing as a draw. BOTTOM LINE: The disruptions of the World Cup and the Queen’s death had zero measurable impact on the EPL’s home-and-away effect.
Q: Who had the best home record in last season’s EPL?
A: Champions Manchester City had the best home record in 2022-23, winning 17 of their 19 home games, drawing one of them (1-1 with Everton, on New Year’s Eve) and losing just once to Brentford (1-2 to Brentford in the final weekend before the World Cup break). In contrast, Man City had a significantly worse record on the road, drawing four times and losing four times (including another defeat to Brentford).
Q: Who had the best away record in last season’s EPL?
A: This record was held by second-placed Arsenal. The Gunners won 12 on the road, drawing three and losing just four times over the course of last season. Further backing up the point that home advantage is a real phenomenon, Arsenal’s 12 away wins was a lower number than the fourth highest-placed team for home wins (Liverpool, who won 13 of their home games).
Q: Aside from hostile crowds, can home teams create an unwelcoming atmosphere?
Some EPL clubs go out of their way to intimidate away teams. The case of Liverpool is a great example. Visitors to Anfield must make do with a significantly worse dressing room. It is smaller and more cramped, with basic seating. The ceiling even has holes in it – allowing the intimidating chants from the Kop to fill the room. Is it any wonder that Liverpool’s home record is so much superior to their away form?
Q: How can bettors try to make some money betting on these stats?
A: There are a few ways we can try to be successful betting on the EPL armed with these stats. Most obviously, we now know that we should bet on the home team, most of the time, as almost 50% of games are won by the home side. Certainly, we should avoid backing away wins, unless the odds are significantly in our favour,
However, some teams who enjoyed a seemingly fortress-like status at home drew some of those games, and betting on the win would still lose you money in those circumstances. A good example of this would be Newcastle United last year, as they won 11 and drew six of their home games. The wisest selection here would be the double chance home win bet which payed out in the event of a Newcastle win or draw.
Q: But aren’t these stats merely useful after the event? Don’t we need to predict things before they happen, in order to beat the bookies?
A: This is a fair point. If I could bet on results after they have happened, I would own a bookmaker, not bet against them. However, a pragmatic approach would be to bet only on home wins of teams already in the top five of the table, after a small sample of games. Many successful sports bettors wait for five games of the season to pass so that the table has some shape, before choosing which teams to bet on for home wins. Then they regularly check who is in the top five before committing – this means that they never lose out on betting on teams who may have started poorly and improved (such as Liverpool) or the inverse (Chelsea).
Q: Can keeping an eye on the best value odds help increase chances of profitability?
A: Absolutely! Sports betting is not about winning or losing, but about tipping the balance between winning AND losing. Nobody gets things right all the time, so the best sports bettors know the importance of maximising returns on their wins. Losing bets can’t be controlled (they result in the loss of 100% of the stake). But what can be controlled is the returns on the wins, and picking the wrong sportsbook (especially in a market like the UK) can mean you receive 5% less on winning bets than if you had chosen a different betting site. There are plenty of odds comparison sites out there, so there’s no excuse in not finding the best price for your bet.
So that wraps it up. We hope this statistical overview of the home-and-away phenomenon, and how it relates to the Premier League, is useful in your sports betting.
Good luck for the Premier League season and remember to gamble responsibly!