No football like Saturday at 3pm - A Matt-istician Update


Hello football fans, now I know this article goes against the requests for further positional analysis, but I just couldn’t resist. So hold back your boos, after all I’m not wearing black and I haven’t pointed to the spot. Further positions will be available in the near future!

Now if your love for football comes from the same place as mine, you most probably have someone else to blame, I can most definitely lay this blame at my Dad’s door! He like every man from his generation loves flares, wore shorts 3 times too small for him, but most of all he likes football to be played at 3pm on a Saturday (hear, hear). Hence this article is dedicated to picking apart ‘Game Day Trends.’ That being Saturday’s, Sunday’s, midweek gaming, and the mighty Champions League.

Premier League

After forcing my missus to watch Gameweek 8’s Super Sunday 1-a-piece bore draws, between both Sunderland and Newcastle, and QPR and Everton, I was thoroughly depressed at the thought of grueling ‘X-factor / Strictly’ combo sessions to be thrust upon me in future weeks, what a waste! But did this horrible lesson teach me anything? Reluctantly I started to mull over the relating stats and surprisingly the numbers started to speak to me.

Game Days Games Home Wins Away Wins Draws
All Games 79 44.3% 24.1% 31.6%
Saturday’s 56 51.8% 21.4% 26.8%
Non-Saturday’s 23 26.1% 30.4% 43.5%
Sunday’s 16 21.1% 31.6% 47.4%

Firstly if we consider all games so far this season, most people would guess that on average more teams win at home than away and there should also probably be more draws than away wins.

From the first 8 Gameweeks they’d be spot on, and these stats seem reasonable to common logic. If we break this down, the stats start to skew: Saturday games have resulted in almost a coin flip for home wins (just over 50% for home wins vs an away win or a draw). Although an away win drops from roughly just under 1 in 4, to just over 1 in 5 games depending if played on a Saturday or not.

So from this we see that if teams play on a Saturday there is more likelihood of a home win, in fact by over 50%! But why… as I sit here scratching my head, I think this must be down to more fans attending Saturday games, getting behind their teams and driving them on to a win, as well as the general crowd’s sway and its effects on the ref.

Moving away from the classic Saturday game, and considering non-Saturday games, the stats go haywire. A home win’s likelihood is almost halved and is also the least expected of the three out comes! Draws jump up by just under 17% and an away win looks like a good punt at 30.4%. Justification? I think this may be as simple as the opposing reasons provided previously, not as many home fans attending, teams going flat without the support. When the opposition scores perhaps the opposite effect takes place, where away players are driven on by the smaller support going crazy, without the home fans to drown them out.

Looking at the fixtures, Sky Sports and ESPN might also have to take some blame here. The games that are not on Saturday are usually between competitive teams, to make good television. Let’s have a look at the next few non-Saturday games….

Non Saturday Dates Home Away
GW 09 – 28 Oct 13:30 Everton Liverpool
GW 09 – 28 Oct 15:00 Newcastle West Brom
GW 09 – 28 Oct 15:00 Southampton Tottenham
GW 09 – 28 Oct 16:00 Chelsea Man Utd
GW 10 – 04 Nov 13:30 QPR Reading
GW 10 – 04 Nov 16:00 Liverpool Newcastle
GW 10 – 05 Nov 20:00 West Brom Southampton
GW 11 – 11 Nov 13:30 Man City Tottenham
GW 11 – 11 Nov 15:00 Newcastle West Ham
GW 11 – 11 Nov 16:00 Chelsea Liverpool
GW 12 – 18 Nov 16:00 Fulham Sunderland
GW 12 – 19 Nov 20:00 West Ham Stoke

All of these games are ideal for TV; they all seem to be at least competitive games, from teams that are closely matched (except for the Southampton-Spurs game. Good luck Saints fans! I have Lambert in my team so haters beware). Hence it is no wonder a draw is worth 43.5% of the previous Gameweek data.

If we look at just Sunday games, we see a massive 47.4% for draws (followed by an increase in away wins). This win percentage is the most likely of outcomes for all the away ‘Game Day’ types. Looking at this weekend’s games, the stats show there’s about 50% chance of at least 2 draws, this will no doubt be interesting to compare over the next 8 games: Gameweek 9 – 16.

So, from this what are the Matt-istician Game Day Stats to remember?

i) Saturday, on average, means roughly a coin flip between a home win and any other result…

ii) Sunday is your next best chance to guess a result: a draw is on the cards…

iii) The swap in fortunes: A Saturday game means a home win is most likely. A non-Saturday, well the stars have re-aligned and now a home win is least likely!

Champions League

We’re having a laugh… but what effect does the Champions League have on the 4 English teams. I do not doubt that most readers will have at least one, if not two players from the Champions League in their fantasy side.

With the endless perils of squad rotations, especially apparent in the Manchester clubs, the Champions League forces managers to look at their players and question their ability or stamina to play 3 games in week or so.

If your players manage to avoid the Champions League axe and actually start after the Champions League games, then you’re doing well, reward yourself with a 250 calorie ‘Apple Pie’ next time you visit McDonald’s, you’ve earned it.

Right so where were we…. after the Champions League games this season so far, all teams have won their next games except for Man City vs Arsenal which ended up a draw. So instead of looking at results, which may prove less than useful, let’s look at the players who were involved.

It’s a little too early in the season to draw any solid conclusions, but we can begin to see which players the Champions League teams like to use either side of their Champions League exploits, hence this is good for fantasy points and gives us all an insight into manager’s minds.

Below I have only considered games around the Champions League i.e. Champions League games excluded. It’s Monday the 22nd as I write this, prior to this week’s Champions League games.

There have only been 2 Champions League games for each team hence there is a maximum of 4 games in which players could have appeared in either side of a Champions League game.

I have listed specifically the players that appeared in the Premier League either side of the Champions League games (the before and after games). I have also noted the number of Champions League games inside the brackets for reference. If a player is on the pitch for less than 25 minutes, i.e. a sub appearance, I have not counted this as an appearance, hence the super-sub Dzeko misses out.

Man City
Played in 4 Premier League games – Hart (2), Yaya Toure (2), Silva (2), Tevez (1)

Played in 3 Premier League games – Kompany (2), Lescott (0), Clichy (2), Garcia (2), Barry (1), Aguero (1), Balotelli (0)

Man United
Played in 4 Premier League games – Rafael (2), Van Persie (2), Ferdinand (1), Carrick (1)

Played in 3 Premier League games – Evans (2), Evra (2), Lindegaard (0)

Arsenal
Played in 4 Premier League games – Jenkinson (2), Gibbs (2), Arteta (2), Podolski (2), Cazorla (2), Gervinho (2)

Played in 3 Premier League games – Vermaelen (2), Mertesacker (2), Mannone (2), Ramsey (1)

Chelsea
Played in 4 Premier League games – Cech (2), Ivanovic (2), Luiz (2), Cole (1), Hazard (1)

Played in 3 Premier League games – Terry (1), Mata (1), Oscar (1)

So what does this show? Although this is early on in the Champions League, we are looking at players that managers are willing to play 3 times in one week (or only has one player for a particular position due to other injuries).

So either these players are dead certs i.e. Arteta, Yaya Toure, Van Persie, Cech etc, or the manager recognises them as players who are not quite certs but are good for Premier League games when the squad is tired i.e. Balotelli, Lescott, Oscar, Lindegaard, Ramsey, Barry. It’s also useful to consider who’s not there, think about your own team, and your Champions League FPL players should be listed within the above or it may be time to get your thinking cap on and find out why they are not.

Looking at the appearances, Arsenal have the most number of players who appear in 4 games, hence Wenger is being more consistent with his players compared to the other 3 managers. Man United have the least consistency overall, indicating Fergy is dabbling with the most rotation.

Obviously the key here is to stick to players that will get good Premier League game time rather than the Champions League time. However this data shows players who the managers think are key to the team, or literally there isn’t anyone else in that position to play, i.e. Rafael and Jenkinson.

Now, Tevez, Luiz and Silva are the biggest surprises for me. Although there is true fantasy pedigree within this group, lately player rotation is a topic that has been associated with each of these. The stats show that the managers don’t have a problem playing these guys 3 times in a week, so in theory these players should get good Premier League game time in games to come.

I haven’t picked out any Man United or Gooner players here, as even though the stats are on Carrick, Ferdinand, Ramsey and Mertesacker’s side, my better logic tells me to question this! Players like Gervinho, Hazard and Van Persie etc seem more than obvious picks to me, so I haven’t bothered to go into detail here. But overall I will be definitely keeping an eye on Tevez, Luiz and Silva over the next few weeks.