In this article, the analysts from the excellent Form Lab Black software help us preview the big Derby games this weekend.
Many supporters see derby matches as the biggest games of the season, which are often wrought with competitiveness and intensity. Unsurprisingly, spread betting firms and bookmakers will raise their usual buy-sell prices by anything up to 20 points, but should they?
The Premier League has the lowest number of bookings per game than any of the other top divisions in Europe. Over the past eight seasons the average game has seen 3.10 yellow cards and 0.16 red cards (or 35.1 booking points). In contrast La Liga games have averaged a whopping 61.0 booking points since the start of the 2003/04 season, with 5.2 yellow and 0.35 red cards per game.
[NB: Bookmakers and spread betting firms have different rules on what counts as a booking point. For this article we’ve used 10 points for a yellow card and 25 points for a red.]
In a sample of 146 Premier League derby matches over the last eight seasons, we see that although bookings are more likely, on the whole games aren’t greatly affected by the teams being rivals. The average derby game has seen 42.7 booking points – less than one extra caution compared to a regular Premier League game. As previously stated spread firms will often quote higher than this, offering great value to sellers.
In addition, some derbies are affected more than others. Everton v Liverpool has long been regarded as the biggest rivalry in English football and the stats back this up. Over the past eight seasons there have been an average of 59.4 booking points when they meet at Anfield and a league-leading (min 5 derby matches) 60.6 when they play at Goodison Park. Furthermore, there have been 10 red cards shown in these 16 derby games.
Completing the top-five booking points list for current Premier League derbies are Blackburn v Bolton at Ewood Park (53.8 pts), Bolton v Blackburn at the Reebok (46.3 pts) and Wigan v Blackburn at the DW Stadium (45.8 pts). However, the three Newcastle v Sunderland games at St James’ in this time have had an average of 68.3 points.
Some teams refuse to adhere to the lack of discipline trend. Fulham, who have one of the best records in the division, are unaffected when they play local rivals Chelsea. When the two meet there has been an average of 30.6 booking points at Craven Cottage and just 28.8 at Stamford Bridge — lower than the league average.
This weekend sees two big derby matches with Everton hosting Liverpool and Spurs at home against Arsenal (average 40.6 booking points in past eight years).
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