5 betting rules you should always remember this season
When it comes to having a flutter on the Premier League, last year taught us some valuable lessons that you'd be foolish not to learn this time around.
Earlier this year, we used in-depth betting data to determine which Premier League clubs were the biggest over and under-achievers of last season.
The lessons we learned should prove invaluable when it comes to having a flutter on the forthcoming campaign…
Avoid Arsenal when they’re underdogs
If you ranked every team’s most unlikely win of last season, it is Arsenal who would be bottom of the pile.
Of course, bigger clubs are rarely available at larger prices, but don’t let that fool you.
Twenty of the Gunners’ 23 league wins last season were odds-on, while two – at home to Manchester United’s kids and away to Southampton – were just over even money at 11/10.
That makes their victory over Chelsea, achieved all the way back in September, before the Blues had discovered their title-winning blueprint, their most impressive of the season.
And even then they were 7/5 favourites to win the game.
Clearly, that is about their limit, given they lost on all eight occasions when their price was higher.
In fact, Arsene Wenger’s side didn’t win a single game last season when they went in as underdogs.
So the lesson is simple: don’t back Arsenal to cause an upset. They never do.
Don’t back Liverpool against the smaller sides
When it did come to upsetting the odds, it was normally Liverpool who were on the receiving end.
Five teams enjoyed their biggest win of the season against the Reds, including three of the eventual bottom six.
And when you take draws into account, Jurgen Klopp’s side were the fall guys for eight of the season’s 25 most surprising results.
The prices for those shocks ranged from a whopping 12/1 for their home defeat to Swansea to a sizeable 9/2 when capitulating away to Bournemouth.
All in all, they failed to win 10 matches when priced at 4/6 or lower – compared to twice for Arsenal, three times for Chelsea and Spurs and six for Manchester City.
It stands to reason that, as the only side to record profit whether you’d bet on them to win, lose or draw every single one of their games, Liverpool were officially the Premier League’s most unpredictable team.
Best to always leave them out of your coupon, then, since they’ll only ruin it eventually.
But bank on the Reds when they’re playing the big guns
There’s a reason why Liverpool still managed to finish in the top four despite such inconsistency against the lesser teams.
When it came to top-of-the-table clashes, nobody could get the better of them.
The Reds didn’t lose a single match against their top-six rivals last season, taking six points from Arsenal, four off Chelsea and Spurs and two from Manchester United.
Those results were all at healthy prices of between 11/10 and 11/4, though there was no discernible pattern between the wins and the draws.
Still, at an average double-chance price of 4/9, always backing the Reds not to lose against the top dogs would have guaranteed a profit.
Such games are famously hard to call, but you can be confident that there’s one way they won’t be going this time.
At least when Liverpool are involved.
Stoke isn’t a tough place to go
Now this might be hard to take for some of most vocal supporters of the Premier League, but it turns out that Stoke are actually a bit of a pushover.
So often heralded as a symbol of the top flight’s ferocious competitiveness, the Potters have now lost that fabled ability to punch above their weight.
Ten of their 11 wins last season came against the seven teams to finish below them in the table, including all seven at the Britannia.
Incredibly, their biggest scalp at home was a measly 11/10 win over Crystal Palace when they were still in severe danger of relegation.
So, while a trip to the Britannia has long triggered a warning light when assessing the weekend fixtures, it’s time to ignore your instincts.
Forget what you know. Stoke is no longer a scary place to go.
Turns out the league table does lie
Last season’s standings were more congested than ever before, with just six points separating eighth and 17th place.
And with so little to separate those 10 teams between the European places and the bottom three, the league table can therefore be deceptive.
Southampton, for example, were in theory the best of the rest. But from a betting point of view, the Saints were actually the second-biggest let-downs behind Middlesbrough.
Crystal Palace, Swansea, Burnley and Watford, meanwhile, ranked as the biggest over-achievers out of the also-rans, despite their lowly league finishes.
That is mirrored by the fact that Swansea and Burnley took the most points off teams in that mini-league with 19, while Southampton and Leicester – both comfortably above them – took the joint-fewest with 11.
So, when picking your weekend winners, don't be fooled by a cursory glance at the league table.
When it comes to choosing between teams in the middle of the pack, you're actually better off backing the more profitable options lower down the pecking order.