If you want to win a football match, you’d better put the ball in the back of the net. And if you want to put the ball in the net then you’d better be shooting on target. Teams that fire more shots on target should, theoretically and in the long term, win more matches than they lose.
This gave birth to our Shots on Target Ratio (SOTR) model, which delivers a ranking of shots on target for/against. The beauty of the model is that while it can’t tell you how a specific match will end up, it can identify insights that will help your long-term punting.
For instance, and *spoiler alert* here, Southampton top the Premier League as far as the SOTR data is concerned. Now, the Saints are unlikely to win the title, that’s no secret to anybody, but the data confirms that they will probably finish higher than their current eight place – highlighted by their poor start but current four-game unbeaten run.
What can we do with this information? Well, Southampton are 5/1 to finish in the top six with Coral and other bookmakers. Just a thought, anyway.
So, without further ado, here is a complete set of SOTR data for English football’s top four divisions. Let’s see if we can identify any long-term betting tips from this.
English Premier League
The SOTR numbers are fairly representative of the current league table, although they suggest that Manchester City and Arsenal have been rather lax defensively so far this term. Will that come back to haunt them?
At the other end of the table, the stats suggest that Swansea will be absolutely fine and avoid relegation with ease (they are as short as 2/5 with the bookies to stay up), while Hull and Burnley make for a rather appetising relegation double at 2/1.
The data here is fairly illuminating, and we can predict that Newcastle will romp away with the title and Rotherham will finish rock bottom: at the time of writing, those were available at 10/11 and 8/13 respectively.
But look at how close the rest of the division is grouped together according to their SOTR rating. We remarked earlier in the campaign that Sheffield Wednesday were better than their league position suggested, and that Huddersfield were ‘lucky’ to some extent. There is a certain amount of value in taking the Owls at 9/2 to get promoted, and more so in the 8/11 on them to finish top six.
Elsewhere, if Derby could score more goals they would be fantastically well-placed; but at 8/13 to finish top half, they are still worth a flutter.
Like the Championship, there is one side exerting their dominance over the rest of the division, and unlike the Championship it is an unexpected source: Peterborough United are destined for glory this term if our SOTR data is accurate. This one will be particularly interesting to watch; especially at a price of 6/1 (promotion) and 9/4 (top six finish).
Otherwise, there isn’t much to offer as yet, and even Oldham and Walsall, at the foot of our rating, are not far behind most of the other teams in the division. There could be bad news for Sheffield United fans as they seek promotion, however.
Just two teams have an SOTR of 1.50 or greater in League Two – Portsmouth and Plymouth – which shows just how close the promotion shake-up could be here.
At the other end of the table, the stats suggest that Barnet and Leyton Orient’s woes are temporary rather than a sign of something more sinister, although the prognosis isn’t quite as happy for Cambridge: a huge 10/1 for the drop with Betfair!