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11/04/2008 No.41
Kevin Pullein
Friday April 11, 2008
It is not an area that receives much publicity but bettors can often find value in the "how goals are scored" market by putting money on left-footed players hitting the net first.

On most televised matches, Ladbrokes offer prices on the first goal being scored by a right foot, a left foot, with a header or no goals at all. They usually quote 4-6 about a right foot, 7-2 about a left foot, 7-2 about a header and 7-1 about no goals - own goals are ignored. If the opener is an own goal, the next is treated as the first, and so on.

The publicly available figures on how goals are scored in the Premier League suggest that in 49% of games the first goal will be scored with a right foot, in 23% with a left foot and in 19% with a header. In the remaining 9% of games there will be either no goals or only own goals. In a typical fixture, therefore, a fair set of odds would be: 21-20 right foot, 10-3 left foot, 9-2 header and 10-1 no goals or only own goals.

Ladbrokes normally quote 7-2 about a left-footed first goal, and that is slightly bigger than it should be. In games featuring a higher than usual number of left-footed attackers or midfielders the true odds about a left-footed opening goal would be even shorter than 10-3, and Ladbrokes' 7-2, if available, would represent good value for money.

Overall, twice as many goals are scored with a right foot as a left. It is not because the ball drops twice as often to a player's right as to his left. It is because nearly all players are more talented with one foot than the other, and for most players the more skilful foot is the right. This means it is a left-footed first goal that can represent value for money.

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