Soccer Betting Strategy - Following Trends

Following Soccer Trends

We love betting on sports and soccer is by far one of our favorite sports to bet on. Even when we don't have money riding on the games, we enjoy watching them. Since we follow soccer so closely, and watch so many games, we're always well informed about the teams and players we're betting on. We know what they are capable of and what their limitations are, which obviously helps us make predictions. As we've said many times, however, simply knowing a lot about a sport doesn't mean we are going to be able to bet on it successfully.

For example, let's say Arsenal is playing a home game in the English Premier League. Naturally, we would want to assume that Arsenal is going to win, because our soccer knowledge tells us that they always seem to do exactly that. But do we really want to put our money at risk based on such a simple assumption? Of course not. We need to think about the quality of the opposition, and all the relevant circumstances surrounding the game.

The same considerations need to be made when looking at trends. Many soccer bettors use trends to help them make their predictions. This is a completely respectable approach, as long as you're using trends appropriately. We can't fully rely on trends when making betting decisions in the same way that we can't fully rely on football knowledge. Why? Well, past performances aren't always going to be perfect indicators of future performances, and we can't just assume that a trend is going to continue. We don't want to put our hard earned money at risk until we've considered ALL the relevant factors.

In this article we take a detailed look at using trends for soccer betting. More specifically, we look at how to use them EFFECTIVELY. We start by explaining exactly what constitutes a trend in the context of betting on soccer. Then we offer some advice on how to identify trends, and how to value them. Our hope is that this advice will help you get the most out of using trends to make betting decisions.

What Constitutes a Trend in Soccer?

Before you can use trends to your advantage when making betting decisions, you have to be able to identify what a trend is. This may seem as if it should be easy, but that isn't always the case. One of the biggest mistakes that soccer bettors make when using trends is thinking that a trend exists when it doesn't. This can be a serious problem, as it leads to making decisions based on false information.

So what IS a trend then? Well, the official dictionary definition of the word is "a general direction in which something is developing or changing." That's not an especially helpful definition in the context of soccer betting though. An alternative definition would be "following a general course."

Although this is a little more useful, it's still relatively vague. That's why we prefer to use this definition instead.

An outcome that has happened consistently when the circumstances are the same or similar.

We implied earlier that Arsenal always seems to win their home games. Let's say we investigated this a little further only to find that Arsenal won 85% of their home games over the course of three seasons. Although this is a hypothetical situation, it would definitely constitute a trend. If we weren't sure, we could just see if it fits our definition, which it does. The outcome that consistently happens is Arsenal winning, and the relevant circumstances are Arsenal playing at their home stadium. There's a clear link between the outcome and the circumstances, and that's what we're looking for.

This particular trend would help us when betting on an Arsenal home game. We wouldn't automatically back Arsenal to win just because of the trend, as we'd want to take other factors into consideration too. Still, this will certainly be something we factor into our decision-making process.

Please note that the outcome doesn't have to be the result of a game. The outcomes can be a wide range of different things, and so can the circumstances. For example, a specific player might have a tendency to score goals (the outcome) when playing against a slow defense (the circumstances). Or a specific team might have a tendency to set up defensively when playing away from home against strong opposition. These are both further examples of trends and patterns that can help us with our betting decisions.

There are countless examples of trends and patterns in soccer. Does this mean they're all valuable? Of course not! A key part of using trends effectively lies in identifying the ones that will actually help us make accurate predictions. We'll talk more about this later. Before we get to that though, we want to point out the two qualifications that every trend must have in order for them to be useful.

  • 1It must have been in effect for a significant period of time.
  • 2There must be a good sample size of data to support it.

We mentioned earlier that a lot of soccer bettors think that trends exist when they don't. This is primarily because they don't consider the above two components. A trend is not really a trend unless it's developed over a significant period of time and there's a substantial amount of data to support it. Or, at least, it's not a trend that tells us anything of significance.

To demonstrate this, let's take things to the extreme. If a soccer team wins one home game, is that a trend? Obviously not, because it's just one single game. What about if they win two home games in a row, or three? Does THAT constitute a trend?

The answer is still no. We can't really take anything meaningful from such a small set of results. The team might have been playing against weaker opposition that they were expected to beat, or they might have just been in good form. Good form is a useful indicator of future performances in its own right, but it's not the same as a trend.

Now, there are no fixed rules about how much time and how much data is required for a trend to be meaningful. We have to use our own judgement and common sense to determine when a trend exists and when it doesn't. This is where having enough data to examine becomes especially important. There's no point in trying to identify trends based on a small sample size over a short period of time.

So, how do we identify trends in soccer?

How to Identify Soccer Trends

Identifying soccer trends ultimately comes down to research. We have to study past results and performances in detail, to see if we can uncover any circumstances in which those results and performances follow a consistent pattern.

Let's go back to our earlier example of a trend, based on Arsenal's home game results. This is a relatively straightforward trend. To identify it we'd simply have to look at Arsenal's home results over a significant period of time to see if we can spot any patterns. This wouldn't take very long, and it wouldn't require any in-depth analysis.

Not all trends are so easy to identify though.

We gave two other examples of trends, both of which were much less straightforward. Identifying those would require more extensive research, as we'd have to look at far more than just the results for a specific cross-section of games. We'd need to analyze a large number of games, looking at the various aspects of those games and the associated performances.

In our opinion, the work required to identify a trend is directly related to how useful it is. Trends that  are more difficult to identify are almost always more useful than trends that are easy to spot.

This makes sense if you really think about it. The more obvious a trend, the more likely it is that the bookmakers and other bettors will be aware of it. It's probably going to be factored into the odds for the relevant betting markets as a result. For example, you'd expect bookmakers to offer very low odds for Arsenal to win their home games, as everyone would know about their exceptional home record. The other trends we discussed might not be factored into the odds, so they would give us a distinct advantage when it comes to finding value in the markets.

It's for this reason that we recommend looking for more unusual trends.

Unusual trends are far more likely to give you an edge, and help you to find genuinely good betting opportunities. Identifying them does require a greater commitment of time and effort, but this should pay off in the long run.

Of course, this is not to say that obvious trends offer no value at all. Although they're not as valuable as the unusual trends, they can still be useful when making predictions. There are actually several factors you need to take into consideration when assessing the value of trends.

Assessing the Value of Trends

In order to assess the true value of trends, we must be willing to answer the following two questions.

  • Is there a valid reason for this trend to exist?
  • Is this trend relevant to what we're trying to predict?

Realize that the answers to these questions won't always just jump out at you. Chances are they will probably be subjective too. That means there's no "correct" way to answer them. Since there are no fixed rules for deciding how much time and data are required for trends to be meaningful or for deciding whether they're valid and relevant, the only way to assess their value is to apply our own judgment.

When it comes to the first question listed above, we're basically attempting to determine whether a trend actually tells us anything about the way teams or players perform in certain circumstances. If it does, then it probably is valuable. On the other hand, it might simply be a statistical anomaly that tells us nothing at all.

Let's go back once again to the hypothetical trend of Arsenal winning at home. There are valid reasons for assuming that this trend exists AND there are valid reasons why a soccer team might consistently perform well at their home stadium. Two reasons that come to mind are that the players are in their familiar surroundings and they have the majority of the crowd's support.

Now let's say we identified a trend where a team consistently performed well when playing in televised games. Is there a valid reason for this trend to exist? Possibly, but it's not so clear cut. Although a team may raise its performance when they're live on TV, it's equally likely that the two things are not connected at all. It could be nothing more than a coincidence.

This is where we have to use our judgement.

In this type of scenario, we'd have to decide for ourselves whether or not we think there are valid reasons for this trend to exist. Some people would decide that there are, while others would decide that they aren't. There's no right or wrong here.

When it comes to the second question on our list, we're trying to decide whether a trend should actually influence our betting decisions. For example, let's say we were considering backing Arsenal to win an upcoming home game. If we were aware of the trend for them to win at home, this would probably encourage us to go ahead and back them. We would only come to this conclusion after taking other factors into account, however.

Knowing whether or not a trend is relevant will not always be easy. Let's take a look at a previous betting decision we had to make. Once again, it involves Arsenal. It was during the 2016/7 Premier League season, and Arsenal were travelling to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Arsenal had their long-serving manager Arsene Wenger in charge, while Manchester United were in their first season under new manager Jose Mourinho.

Insert Image A: There was a well-established rivalry between Wenger and Mourinho, stemming from Mourinho's time as Chelsea manager.

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have a bitter rivalry.

Rivalries between soccer managers aren't uncommon. This particular rivalry was more intense than most, but it wasn't something we really considered when trying to predict the outcome of the game. We knew both teams were doing to be determined to win regardless. Arsenal were in a strong position in the league, and looking to maintain their good form, while Manchester United had been struggling to find their rhythm and needed a result to get some momentum going.

Something that we did have to consider, however, was Wenger's shocking head to head record against Mourinho. In the 15 games that Wenger had faced Chelsea with Mourinho in charge, Wenger had won just one game. And that was in the Community Shield, which is really nothing more than a glorified friendly. So we'd identified a clear trend that suggested Mourinho knew how to get a result when coming up against Wenger.

This trend allowed us to check most of the items off our list. 15 games is a big enough sample size to be meaningful, those 15 games were spread across several seasons, and there are valid reasons why one manager might consistently do well against another manager. Now here's where the big question comes in. Is this trend relevant to the outcome of this upcoming game between Arsenal and Manchester United? There are good points on either side of this argument.

On the one hand, those 15 games had all taken place when Mourinho was in charge at Chelsea. He had a team there that was set up just the way he wanted, for the most part, and his players knew and understood what was expected of them. He was now at Manchester United, and he hadn't yet imposed his style of play and coaching methods on his current squad. We see why many would choose to believe that this trend is irrelevant.

On the other hand, however, Mourinho had clearly proven that he would almost always get the upper hand when up against Wenger. Although Arsenal looked like the stronger team at the time of this game, Mourinho had previously beaten Arsenal when they were in better form than his Chelsea team. Did it really matter that he was now at Manchester United and not Chelsea? It could definitely be argued that it didn't matter at all, and that this trend was likely to continue.

In the end, we decided that the trend WAS relevant to this game. We felt that, if nothing else, it would give Mourinho a psychological edge over Wenger. We considered many other factors too, and finally settled on backing Manchester United to win.

It just so happens that we lost that wager, as Arsenal scored a late equalizer and the game finished as a draw. Even though we lost, we still feel like we made a good decision. Or that we made our decision for the right reasons at least. Wenger had approached the game with a fairly negative approach, seemingly happy to play for the draw. Would he have done the same if it were not for his appalling record against Mourinho? We doubt it, but we'll never know for sure.

Our decision and the actual outcome of this game doesn't really matter. We just wanted to make it clear that assessing the value of trends is NOT a straightforward process. If you're going to use trends to help with your betting decisions, you're going to have to make some difficult decisions at times. And you need to be prepared for the fact that those decisions won't always work out for you. Don't worry. As long as you make your decisions for the right reasons, and apply reasoned judgement, you should see a benefit in the long run.

Summary

Following trends can obviously be a useful soccer betting strategy. However, it's not something that we can recommend using on its own. It works best when used in conjunction with other strategies. DON'T rely solely on trends when making betting decisions. Instead, use trends to either support or challenge the views you formed based on a variety of different factors.

It's best if you can identify unusual trends. The less people who have identified them, the better.

Obvious trends and patterns have some value too, and can still be useful, but it's the hard to find trends that will benefit you the most. Just make sure that you assess them properly, and try to accurately judge their validity and relevancy.

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