As long as betting on football has been around, there have been dominant, more popular forms of betting. Aside from simple results-based accumulators, “goals galore” has always been one of the most popular methods of betting. The beauty is in its simplicity, almost bingo-like as you watch goals flash up in your betting app of choice, or in a more old-fashioned way, ticking them each team as the results come through from Soccer Saturday or Final Score in your living room or local pub.
But is this where the value is? Bookmakers are well aware of how much money is staked every weekend on these types of bets and are completely diligent in their analysis of results and statistical data to ensure that the odds offered are appropriate, such is the potential loss if they miscalculate. As such, real value is often found in forms of betting that are under-utilised and not quite as popular. A Goal in Both Halves is one such market.
Another part of the appeal of goals galore is the accessibility of recent results, the myriad of tipsters who offer analysis, and the ease and lack of effort in which you act the analyst yourself by giving a quick skim read over both side’s recent results. Timing of goals, namely the halves they are scored in, takes a little more effort and time, but can be worth it - and this analysis will do half the job for you, explaining the leagues and teams to look out for.
Statistically, the level of a goal being scored in both halves this season and is broadly consistent across the top four leagues of English football and usually about 50%.
Of the total 509 games played across the top four divisions this season, 262 have featured a goal in each half: 51.47%. So far this season we can deduce that roughly half the games in the Premier League and Football League will finish with a goal in each half.
But how do we use this data to our advantage? It doesn’t mean that any random game has a 50% probability of finishing with a goal in each half, just as the overall metrics for goals galore wouldn’t apply to any one game. You need to look into specific teams to find the value.
The Premier League average is a little higher than the Football League divisions, but it will likely drop to a similar 50% soon enough, and has been decreasing since the early gameweek's of the season. In the first two weeks of the season, 8 out of 10 and then 9 out of 10 games featured a goal in both halves, but this was probably due to a World Cup hangover, defences not properly drilled and organised yet, and sides getting to grips with the season. The last three weeks have seen six, five and six games out of ten seeing both teams score.
There’s a logic to this market: more attacking, or defensively vulnerable team’s games are likely to see goals in each half, because more goals are likely full-stop. For example, of Manchester City’s first seven games, a goal was scored in both halves in six. This is partly because they often score lots of goals, making it likely there will be a spread across the 90 minutes, while the manager expects his team to attack throughout and not let up. The most recent match against Liverpool was an anomaly, with both sides unusually conservative and happy to take a point.
On the flipside to Man City, Fulham are always defensively open from the first whistle while possessing attacking potency: only one of their eight games so far has failed to yield a goal in both halves. Manchester United are uncharacteristically open too, with just one of eight Premier League games seeing a goalless half (the first half against Tottenham).
With Skybet for example, Fulham and Manchester United both have odds of 8/11 to have goals in both halves of their upcoming games with Cardiff and Chelsea respectively.
Because it’s such a diverse division, bets in this division in this market can seem unyielding and unpredictable, and it’s the only league to fall under the 50% rate. But there is value to be found and teams more reliable than others.
West Brom are goal machines and susceptible at the back. While almost all of their games have been high-scoring, some have seen goalless halves - for example, their recent 3-2 away win at Preston was 0-0 at the break. With the odd exception, they’re still worth backing, and often concede first in the first half, before always finishing strong: Reading took a 6th minute lead against them last weekend before they hit back with four second-half goals. They were 2-0 down to Sheffield Wednesday at half-time, but they got it back to 2-2. Seven of their twelve games have seen goals in both halves.
Stoke are the most consistent team, with ten of their twelve games qualifying to win this bet. Aston Villa are good for goals at both ends, with seven of twelve games so far qualifying. Brentford, as a side who struggle to keep leads in the second half, are also worth investing in: Saturday was goalless at half-time against Leeds, but seven of their first ten games seeing at least one goal in each half.
While it doesn’t always translate to a full 90 minutes of goalmouth action, it’s a good rule of thumb to consider that sides that play more open, either attacking or defensively suspect football, are usually more reliable in this market. After all, any game that finishes 0-0 or 1-0 inherently can’t match it - while 4-3s and 3-2s are far more likely to fit.
Sunderland, who consistently score yet fail to keep clean sheets, are no exception. Eight of their twelve League One games have seen a goal in both halves. Often they will concede first before half-time, as they did against Charlton, Gillingham and Wimbledon, before coming back well in the second half. Steve Evans’ Peterborough are another side seemingly incapable of playing tight and cagey halves of football, with their last four games matching this market. Ten of their twelve league games in total match it.
Rochdale, on the other end of the scale, have the worst defensive record in the division. Often, as they did recently to Sunderland and Portsmouth, they will concede in both halves, but with an ability to score goals as well it makes them extra likely to match this market. Ten of their twelve games this season have featured a goal in each half. Scunthorpe are a similar side, with a similarly poor defensive record but midtable by virtue of scoring goals themselves: though only half of their 12 league games have seen a goal in both halves, and they can often keep it goalless until half-time.
This division has a remarkably similar record in this market, to the two divisions above it. Again, some teams are worth looking out for more than others.
Eighth-placed Colchester United are the division’s highest goalscorers. Their last seven league games have seen a goal in each half, with nine of 12 in total qualifying. It’s also looking at the more defensively suspect teams: Notts County have the same record, with 75% of their games featuring a goal in both halves.
Only half of Morecambe’s games would qualify, but each of their last three would as they’re becoming increasingly unable to keep clean sheets.