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12/09/2008 No.50
Kevin Pullein
Thurs Sep 12, 2008
In games featuring a seemingly forlorn outsider, bookmakers sometimes underestimate the prospect of the supposed no-hopers winning at least one half. This happens most often when Celtic or Rangers play away to anyone else in the Scottish Premier League. Over the next two weekends Celtic travel to Motherwell and Kilmarnock; the following weekend, Rangers visit Hibernian.

As the season unfolds, it will be worth keeping an eye on the markets for teams to win either half. It is comparatively rare for Celtic or Rangers to lose away to opponents from outside the Old Firm. Over the past 10 seasons, it has happened in one game out of every eight. It is much more common, though, for Rangers or Celtic to concede the most goals in at least one of the halves in those matches. Over the past 10 seasons, that has happened in almost one game out of every three - 30% of the time, to be precise.

At the beginning of this season, you could get odds of around 4-1 or 7-2 about Celtic or Rangers conceding the most goals in either half away to opponents from outside the Old Firm, and any repeat of those offers would seem to represent value for money. If past experience is any guide - and there is no obvious reason it should not be - we can expect Celtic and Rangers to lose at least one half in five of the 17 matches in a season in which they play away to "other" opponents.

A similar pattern is discernible in similar-sized mismatches in the Premier and Football Leagues. The following figures are also from the past 10 seasons: in Football League games involving a home team that finished at least 20 places below the away team, the home team won 13% of the time - roughly once in every eight attempts.

But they scored most goals in at least one half in 30% of those games - almost once in every three attempts. The prospect of rank outsiders winning at least one half are better than punters and, more importantly, bookmakers sometimes think.
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