Why are supercomputers getting their predictions wrong and how to outsmart them

By Bulldog Drumond

There have been 30 Premier League games so far this season.   But only 10 of them have been home wins.  That is, rather obviously, 33% of matches that have ended in home wins.   Last season it was 48%.

And what makes this quite interesting is that this is a sudden change after years of statistical stability.

Last season there were 181 home wins in 380  games.  The season before it was 173.   (46%).  The season before that (which is to say 2016/17) it was 187 (49%).  So last season was not an aberration – it was a fairly typical season.  This season is the oddball.

In short what we have seen so far this season has been the absolute turn around in terms of the percentage of home wins in Premier League games.

Of course these figures could correct themselves over time, with a real flurry of home wins coming all in a rush to even up the numbers… But maybe we are seeing something else – maybe clubs are starting to realise how to play against teams away from their own patch.  Maybe it really is a tactical change.  If so, you are reading about it here first.

We’ve known for years of course that home wins are easier to predict than away wins simply because there are so many more home wins than away wins.  Also it has long been established that draws are the hardest of all to predict – although curiously over time the 1-1 draw has been the most common score of all in the Football League over the years.

But no more, for somehow teams are slipping up at home.  In fact although half of the teams in the Premier League have played two matches at home, only one such team (ie 10%) has won both games – Liverpool.

Likewise only one team has won both of its away games (Manchester City).  So 10% again.

But surprisingly the number of draws (home or away) is also up.  So far 11 teams have drawn one of their games, Leicester have drawn twice and Wolverhampton have drawn all three.

So overall what we have thus far are 10 homes wins, 8 home draws, and 12 home defeats.  Completely different from recent seasons, and I suspect different from almost all the seasons of the PL – although I’ve not had the time to analyse them all.

Of course this might change over time this year, but it shows why the plethora of super computers that have sprung up (everyone seems to have got one now from Talk Sport to the Daily Star) are making such a pigs ear of their predictions.  For they are based primarily on the notion that what happened last season will happen again this season.  It is, of course, a fairly standard approach for people who can’t be arsed to do any proper research – as is the use of the term super computer.  Real super computers aren’t called super computers.  They have names.

So by way of comparison last season 235 games out of 380 through the season ended in a home win.  That is 62%.  Compared to this season with 10 out of 30 being home wins – which is of course 33%.

Obviously I am just dealing with the Premier League here, and you might want to go further, or indeed have a flutter in which case you might want to have a look at https://www.mightytips.com/

If you do want to do a spot of gambling, then you have to decide – is this a start of season abberation, is it just affecting the Premier League only, and will it continue.  But if you do consider this issue of home and away here is one other aspect that will help you: it seems virtually no one else is talking about this topic and instead they are jabbering on and on about the super computers predicting football as it was in the past – and as a result getting it totally wrong.

So if you get in quick you could be onto a good thing, although I am not guaranteeing anything – any more than I did when I got a few results right in advance of world cup matches last summer.

But here is the word of warning if you are looking at the issue of home and away.  Just because it is happening in the Premier League that does not mean it is happening in other leagues, and just because it is happening now, it does not mean it is going to continue.

And my point overall is that if one wants to do any sort of predicting – for gambling or just to let everyone know what a smart person you are, you need to spot a trend early on before anyone else jumps in.

Plus there is one other advantage you have: the media rarely takes any notice of anything here, because most of the time we are attacking the media, PGMO, the FA, and the like, so I suspect it will be quite a while before anyone reprograms all these super computers – if they even exist.

But just in case you wondered, I’m still going for a home win for the Arsenal this weekend.   Just like most of the media.

7 Replies to “Why are supercomputers getting their predictions wrong and how to outsmart them”

  1. The officials for our match are –
    Referee: Martin Atkinson. Assistants: Lee Betts, Constantine Hatzidakis. Fourth official: Andre Marriner.

    VAR: Paul Tierney. Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.

    This gives us a good chance of a less biased officiated game so we should win pretty comfortably assuming we take our chances. It is critical that we play the ball forward quickly from goal kicks and do not give Spuds an opportunity to steal the ball with a high press.


  2. OT: Do Referees Still Follow Rules and Regulations?

    This is an article out of Zimbabwe. It is not in depth, but it is at least trying to find some answers to bias (or tilting the field).


    It is slightly simplistic in that it assumes that a referee can have allegiance to a single team, and no animosity to any teams. When I was following ice hockey, my two favorite teams were Edmonton and whoever was playing Calgary. I can easily imagine a fan for ManU disliking Man$ity, Liverpool and Everton (in roughly that order).

    A recent case in point involved Hwange and FC Platinum at the Colliery Stadium where Pure Platinum Play left the coal mining town feeling hard done by the match officials of the day. Two of them are long serving employees of Hwange Colliery Company, the principal sponsors of Chipangano.

    Further down the article, we see these 2 paragraphs:

    Many decisions left to the discretion of a referee and his association might influence his decisions during a match.

    “It’s not really bias but perceived bias,” noted one observer.

    I don’t think perceived bias is an issue, I don’t think it is even important. I think a better description is conscious (or deliberate) bias as compared to unconscious bias.

    —A comment of mine—

    In circumstances where a referee might extend some help to team A by making it more difficult for Team B (who typically finishes close to Team A in the final standings); you might find a referee that tilts the field to make things difficult for Team B in the beginning of the season, but if Team A has a big lead in the standings over Team B at the end of the season, not tilt a game involving Team B.

  3. @Gord just watched Berlin against Dortmund – nice 3rd party fix. Berlin had about 4 bookable tackles and one against an Achilles tendon – NO yellow cards.

    Referee Brych is based in Munich – need I say more

    The same ref who denied Roma clear penalties against Liverpool a couple of seasons ago..

    So No I do not believe they follow rules and regulations – they interpret them to fit their bias.

    It was quite noticeable that the Dortmund players didn’t try too hard – I am sure they know what was going on and didn’t tackle for fear of a red card.

    The question I ask is how do these refs get big games when they are so incompetent.

    Football really is becoming so rigged.

    I watched Rugby last night – France Italy – what a difference in officiating, Clear, fair and objective.

  4. @Les Williams – Rugby officiating is transparent to the point where radios are available to listen in to the referees conversation.

    The PGMOL will not allow any transparency as they have a lucrative arrangement with the FA that probably allows millions to disappear from the game. The whole setup in English football stinks and has done since just before the PGMOL were given the contract.

  5. Menace

    I would think that a SDR could probably pick up the PGMOL conversations. It is entirely possible that the conversations are encrypted. It might be possible to break said encryption.

    The thing to do, would be to record (at least) one season of conversation, decode it as quickly as possible and then go looking for corroborating evidence. And then once a season (or more) has passed; publish the lot all at one time.

  6. The other problem with not hearing communications is that refs can ignore when VAR tell them to look at something.

    In the world cup last year Brych was sent home when he ignored a VAR call to look at a stonewall penalty in Serbia vs Switzerland. To add insult to injury he then booked the Serbian player for speaking to him.

    The PIGMOB referees were so bad they didn’t even make it top the world cup. They still do UEFA matches but when Hugh Dallas is on the referees executive committee one has to ask about whether there is any integrity left in UEFA when they pick an obviously corrupt referee to police others.

    In rugby because we hear what is being said they have to look or listen to the explanation. In all other sports the officials tend to work as a team, not like football where the referee thinks he is a god like figure to be obeyed.

    I am finding it harder and harder to watch football matches from anywhere without wondering how the game has been tilted for another teams benefit – and then being told that the ref is being fair when he is nothing of the sort. The result of the game is becoming less and less significant and it is more about how far they can corrupt the game. VAR does NOT appear to changing this sadly, the only way it will is if we have an open transparent system where we hear what is being said – yes I know that is a pipe dream.

    I also find it strange that there appears to different rules for different games in the same country. I always thought that the rules of sport were adhered to universally (stupid me). As i said in a previous post I watched a couple of premier league games recently and was amazed at how little of the rules of the sport appeared to be followed.

  7. Luiz shirt pull penalty card.

    Yesterday in the Man United match there was a pull on a United player. Free kick. Card.

    I think it was in our first home match there were at least 3 shirt pulls on our players and I’m pretty sure not all were given and they certainly weren’t booked.

    Referees pick and choose when and how they apply the rules, on what seems a completely indiscriminate basis, depending I have no doubt at all on their bias.

    I just hope our game is refereed better than last year because that was beyond a joke.

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