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
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
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
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
It must have been in effect for a significant period of time.
There 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
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
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
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.
There was a well established rivarly between Wenger and Mournho, stemming from Mourinho’s time as Chelsea manager.
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
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.
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
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