OUR resident boffin Will Dyer (@W2Dyer) is back with another brilliant analysis piece. Will concentrates on late goals.
Another Premier League weekend full of late drama. Six of the 29 goals scored were after the 80th minute and many of them could be pivotal to the destinies of the sides on either end.
Each year there are a few teams who become incredibly adept at finding that last minute equaliser or winner. Spurs proved the masters again in the Premier League, fighting backing from two goals down to take a point thanks to a 96th minute equaliser against West Ham at the Lane.
Elsewhere in the country Sheffield United did the same. The Blades were even down to 10 men when they also fought back from 2-0 down to take a point at Bramall Lane against Coventry City with two goals in the space of two minutes.
United have a strange knack of scoring in the second half this season, in fact a frankly ridiculous 35 of their 43 goals in League One have been scored in the second period; with a standout 19 of those coming after the 75th minute, the most in the league.
Whilst 74.2% of sides in League One see the first goal of their games scored in the first half, the Blades buck that trend with an astonishing 61.5% of the first goals in their games being scored in the second half. Don’t worry if you need the loo before half-time lads, you’re unlucky to miss a goal!
A Victor Moses penalty in the 93rd minute doused the enthusiasm at Villa Park on Saturday, but in truth Aston Villa have been on the receiving end of such goals all season. They have scored zero and conceded 11 goals in the last 15 minutes of play in this season’s Premier League and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to recognise that this could be the Achilles heel that ultimately relegates them.
As mentioned, Tottenham Hotspur have cleaned up with late goals all season. Christian Eriksen has won the most points in the Premier League with his impact and Spurs have an aggregate of 11-4 on goals scored and conceded between the 76th and 90th minutes. Aside from Man City (13-5) no one else gets close.
A Championship Case Study
Norwich and Watford are the heartbreakers in the Championship. Both have scored 40 goals in the second half this season and you just knew that the 0-0 half-time score in their meeting at Vicarage Road last Saturday was not going to come close to the final score.
Derby, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Brentford have all scored 15 or more in the last 15 minutes – there’s a trend building here. The sides that score the late goals seem to be some of the most successful in their divisions.
Of course these teams have scored more goals in general so that’s to be expected but a higher percentage of their goals are scored late in the game.
238 of the 1021 goals in the Championship this season were scored after the 75th minute. So for a time period that represents 16.7% of the game, 23.3% of goals scored are in that period. Proof then that tiredness and the frantic nature of the last 15 minutes provide an inordinate amount of goals. Let's look at late heroes of the Championship in more detail:
16 of Middlesbrough’s 49 goals have been scored after the 75th minute – 32.7%
15 of Brentford’s 49 goals have been scored after the 75th minute – 30.6%
17 of Derby’s 64 goals have been scored after the 75th minute – 26.5%
15 of Norwich’s 62 goals have been scored after the 75th minute – 24.2%
All of these sides have scored a higher percentage of their goals in the final 15 minutes than the league average. One of the biggest keys to success in football is being able to really turn on your performance in the final period. No wonder fitness coaches work on stamina and impact substitutes are so sought after.
They Think It’s All Over
Even when West Ham were 2-0 up in the 62nd minute at White Hart Lane you just felt that wasn’t going to be enough. Something seems to happen at Spurs games whereby the players believe that they can get a result from a losing position. The crowd begins to roar and the pressure is all on the opposition.
West Ham subbed Mark Noble for Carlton Cole who was then injured and had to be replaced by James Collins. This meant the Hammers were camped in their own half; and with Diafra Sakho stranded up top they couldn’t prevent the Tottenham pressure. That belief rang true and Spurs got their goal.
At Goodison Park, Leicester City fought back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 until the 88th minute when Matthew Upson could only head the ball into his own net while trying to stop Lukaku getting on the end of the cross. It’s a horrible situation for Leicester; they have to see that as two points dropped not one point gained.
Any game in which they have a chance to get a result is huge for the Foxes from now on. It saddens me to say this because I like the club, they have a great following and are a welcome addition to the Premier League, but that Upson own goal could be the difference in staying up and relegation. One momentary lapse could cost them £100 million in TV revenue under the new TV deal. Crazy.
Never Say Die
Where does this ‘never say die’ attitude come from? I think teams get a reputation for scoring late goals and the nature of the media means that sometimes our perception of teams superiority in the latter stages of games becomes skewed. ‘Fergie Time’ was a phrase developed to reflect Manchester United’s incredible ability to score in stoppage time.
None more so than that incredible night in Barcelona in May 1999 when the Red Devils scored two in the last three minutes to win the Champions League final against Bayern Munich. Both of United’s subs, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, scored from corners to break Munich hearts.
There’s definitely a case to be made that some teams get nervous when playing against certain opposition that have a reputation for scoring late goals. After all, in most instances, it’s a level playing field and not much is stopping that team being successful themselves in the latter period.
A lot of it has to do with psychology and belief and perhaps that’s why the best managers in the game are the best motivators, men that can instil belief in their players.
To Come From Behind And Win
So how do we exploit these late goals to make profits in football betting? Well, the ‘To Come From Behind And Win’ and ‘To Come From Behind And Draw’ markets are particular intriguing.
Tottenham Hotspur have conceded first in 12 of their 16 games this season; they have W5 D1 L6 of those games. Winning 16 points from losing positions is two more than any other side.
Crystal Palace are also good at this and much less praised for it too. The Eagles have won 14 points from losing positions; they have W4, D2 and L10 of the 16 games in which they have conceded first.
The odds on a team to win from behind you ask? Spurs are 19/2 to win from behind against Swansea on the 4th March. The bookies are on to this one but Palace can be backed at 18/1 to win from behind against West Ham at Upton Park this weekend. Assuming those odds were the same for all Palace games, you would have made 46 points profit if you had backed the market in all their matches.
Most selections are between 10 and 20/1 to come from behind and win. Many will remember in Fergie’s final season in charge at Man United (2012/13) they won nine games from losing positions. Some punters made a killing backing them at 12/1 to win from behind week in week out so it's something to keep an eye on.
To Come From Behind And Draw
Such is the precariousness of the draw many people simply never back games to finish as a stalemate. I believe it has to play a part in a successful betting strategy and the ‘To Come From Behind And Draw’ market is even more lucrative. Most selections are around the 8/1 mark.
Two teams stand out in the statistics of fighting for a point in the Premier League. Manchester United and Burnley have both drawn five games from losing positions. Outside of the Premier League, Blackburn are the Championship’s top draw battlers with six games ending all square in which they conceded first.
No other side in the Football League has as many, but plenty have drawn five after their opponent took the lead. I'll be keeping an eye on Rovers games over the next few weeks to see if this trend continues.