WHY have there been fewer goals in the top division this season? Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) investigates.
WLB Analysis | The Decline Of Goals In 2014/15
Last week I was looking at goals in the final gameweek of the season and in the process I came across a really interesting trend. The goal tallies of the past 10 seasons in La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League have followed a very similar path that I hadn’t been aware of until now. Let me explain.
The 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons in La Liga and the Premier League never broke through the 1,000 goal mark and therefore produced low Goals Per Game (GPG) ratios. This was also the case in the 18 team German top flight and in Ligue 1.
Average goals per game (GPG) from the 2004/5 season through to 2006/7:
- Premier League – 2.50 GPG
- Spanish La Liga – 2.51 GPG
- French Ligue 1 – 2.18 GPG
- German Bundesliga – 2.82 GPG
While these first three years of my case study had considerably low goal tallies, over the next seven years the tally increased and the 1,000 goals mark was smashed on numerous occasions.
La Liga breached that target in all of these seven seasons, there were even a mammoth 1101 goals in 2008/9. The Premier League has followed suit, breaking the 1,000 mark in six out of these seven seasons.
The Bundesliga has also experienced a substantial increase in GPG over the last seven years, making it one of Europe’s most exciting divisions and even Ligue 1 has seen a huge increase in goals.
Average goals per game (GPG) from the 2007/8 season through to 2013/14:
- Premier League – 2.72 GPG
- Spanish La Liga – 2.77 GPG
- French Ligue 1 – 2.40 GPG
- German Bundesliga – 2.91 GPG
This season has seen a big change in the goals pattern. The Premier League had just 975 goals; a pretty abrupt end to the flourish of goals. Not since 2008/9 has the GPG average dropped below 2.77.
Average goals per game (GPG) in the 2014/15 season:
- Premier League – 2.57 GPG
- Spanish La Liga – 2.66 GPG
- French Ligue 1 – 2.49 GPG
- German Bundesliga – 2.75 GPG
Strangely the same thing has happened in La Liga and the Bundesliga. Only 1,009 goals have been scored in La Liga this season, a GPG average of 2.66 which is the lowest since 2006/7.
The Bundesliga also dropped off with just 843 goals this season, last year it hit an all-time high of 967 (3.16 GPG) so why has the average dropped so significantly to just 2.75 goals per game?
Either this is quite an odd coincidence or there’s been a significant change in the approach to games across the board and I expect it’s the latter.
I think it’s been a change in management’s approach to games and perhaps the increased focus on the Champions League has seen sides focus their attentions elsewhere.
We’re all aware of Jose Mourinho’s ‘Boring Chelsea’ tag but other sides have also scored considerably less this year. Most notably Liverpool who scored a massive 49 goals less than last season as well as Man City who finished 19 goals down on last year.
Another explanation could be the increased competitiveness of these divisions. The likes of Southampton, Stoke and Swansea all amounting their highest points tallies ever has limited the points going to the top sides and thus kept plenty of games much tighter.
As well as this some of the bottom sides like Burnley have not been thrashed all season and that’s certainly helped keep the goals down. The same competitiveness is true for teams like Rayo Vallecano and Eibar in La Liga and Paderborn and Augsburg in the Bundesliga.
France is the exception to the rule. Ligue 1 returned a GPG of 2.49 this season after 16 more goals were scored than last year; that’s the third highest tally of the last 11 years, however, 2011/12 and 2012/13 had GPGs of 2.52 and 2.54 so the division isn’t on a perfect upward trajectory of goals.
It will be interesting to see how the 2015/16 season starts but if we find ourselves at a similar GPG after three or four gameweeks of next season then I would suggest that avoiding BTTS and Overs bets would be a good strategy because the bookmakers are unlikely to alter their odds so quickly to reflect this reduction in goals.
It’s a well-known fact that punters are positive beings; the majority would rather back goals than oppose them. I mean who really wants to root for a low-scoring ‘boring’ game? Nobody. But, if that is indeed the trend then we should alter our betting strategies to reflect it and Unders bets may well be worth looking at.
Bookies will keep their prices where they are until the majority of football bettors change their habits and as the average Joe is unlikely to have clocked on to this goals trend I would not expect a change in prices so markets like Under 2.5 and BTTS ‘No’ may well become more and more lucrative.