Slightly confused BT Sprout thinks away teams might be doing better

by Tony Attwood

There is little that is more amusing than a confused commentator – one who spends all the game acting as if he is the arbiter of truth, the interpreter of the game, the know-all of all-things-football, and who then suggests that he thinks maybe away teams have been doing a bit better during the lockdown, than home teams but doesn’t quite know.

No figures of course, no stats, in fact given that this is BT Sprout, no preparation whatsoever.  Just a vague mumbling about maybe something that perhaps he heard.

So let’s help the poor old broadcaster out.

The background to the story is told in  The revelation that has scuppered PGMO once and for all

At the last count that we did (which was taken after 93 Premier League games this season) 35 had been home wins, 18 had been draws and and 40 away wins.

In short it is the reversal of the home and away structure that has been traditional in football for years, with the home sides winning far more than the away sides, is still overthrown.  At that moment the ratio was that 38% of PL games are home wins, 43% are away wins and 19% are draws.

And in case you don’t want to spend time reading the research, there is a lot of it, much carried out by serious academics.  The London School of Economics research is the one that best summarises it all, by showing that referees are influenced by the home crowd – which is where the home advantage comes from.

It is also possible that during this time of no crowd, home teams also feel odd in relation to the setting, because it is unnaturally quiet while they are used to various rituals with their own fans.  It is also possible that the away teams are liberated in their display.  But either way, those are background effects.  The key point is that referees act differently towards home teams when there is a crowd, against where there is not one.

It is interesting research, not just because it explains what is going on, but also because it shows that the ludicrous claim of PGMO that 98% of decisions made by referees in the Premier League before crowds were banned are correct, is arrant nonsense.

Anyway back to home and away.   We measured it before after 93 games.  We’ve now had 98, so has it changed at all?

Now we have 36 home wins which is 36.7%, a decline from the 38% which we measured before.

Draws are now at 20.4%, up slightly from the 19% before.  Away wins sit at 42.9%.  So yes away wins are still the most likely outcome of any match.  Not that I imagine BT tuorps will notice, but there it is.  Away win is the most likely, home win second most likely, draw least likely, so far this season.

Arsenal are within the trend in the league having got two wins, two defeats and a draw away from home (7 points) but two wins and three defeats (six points) at home.  Away does it again.  Still that doesn’t stop the pundits from suggesting Tottenham will win on Sunday.

And yet the media however are in a bit of a tizz when it comes to working out the issues for Sunday’s match.

“Arsenal may have found a new Mesut Ozil to solve Mikel Arteta’s attacking woes” says the Star, and the man they choose is Emile Smith Rowe.

On the other hand ‘He has a chance’: Arteta hints he might start Arsenal youngster in NLD after last night” reports (if that is the word) HITC.  And the “he” on this occasion is Ainsley Maitland Niles.

But of course as soon as we get some positives, the negativists pour in with their bile.  “Arteta ready to clear out Arsenal ‘passengers’ as they face Spurs test” cries The Independent.  Mind you they do give us a laugh with “The Arsenal manager is intent on a “clear-out” in January, as he feels there are two many “passengers” in the club.”

Two many?  Not three?  And clear out in inverted commas, suggesting that Arsenal might call it a clear out but no one else will.  Oh these journos eh?   What else….

Well, “It has recently got dispiritingly bad at the Emirates, both in terms of performance and results. Any sense of progress has entirely stalled – along with so many prescribed attacks.”   “Dispiritingly bad” is a good one.  If it is bad that is a bit dispiriting.  So dispiritingly bad???  Is that worse than bad?

And who pray is giving us these turnips?  Why none other than Miguel Delaney, their Chief Football Writer.  And who are all these passengers or was it two passengers that we are to get rid of?  Well, actually, we are not told.  It is good enough for a headline to drag us into the load of old cobblers but not quite good enough to give us the detail in the story.

Hey ho.  Twas ever thus.   [Twas, archaic, literary, contraction of it was].

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