Manchester United derive
no greater advantage from playing at Old Trafford, the ground with the largest
capacity in the Premier League, than Accrington Stanley derive from playing at
the Fraser Eagle, the ground with the smallest capacity in the Football League.
In England, at least, ground advantage is a constant but that is not always how
the bookmakers see it.
In some markets there is an assumption that home
advantage is less significant when the very best teams play each other, such as
on occasions like this weekend's big match between Liverpool and Arsenal at
Anfield. It is a mistaken assumption. In games played during the last 10
seasons between the "big four" of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester
United, the home team won 46% of the time - which is as often as in other
fixtures between closely matched opponents.
The statistics show that in the Premier
and Football Leagues during the past 10 seasons 57-58% of goals were scored by
home teams. Of all the goals scored by those teams who finished top of the
Premier League 58% were scored during their home games. And of all the goals
scored by those teams who finished bottom of the lowest division in the
Football League 57% were scored during their home games.
In the Premier
League during those 10 seasons 47% of games were won by the home team, 26% were
drawn and 27% were won by the away team. We can use these percentages as
reference points. For instance, if two teams of similar ability play each
other, the home team is more likely to score goals and there will be around a
47% chance of a home win, a 26% chance of a draw and a 27% chance of an away
Obviously, if the home team are better than the away team, they
will have a greater chance of winning and a smaller chance of losing. When
teams who finished in the top four hosted teams who finished in the bottom
four, they won 82% of their games, drew 14% and lost 4%. But when teams are of
a similar ability the odds can sometimes be exploited.