There are quite a few games in football that are completely, or relatively, anomalous and which do not run anything like according to form. These games are well-worth finding for value-seeking punters for very obvious reasons.
In particular, the games right at the start and right at the end of seasons are good examples. The same can be said of games immediately following the departure of a manager and/or the appointment of a new man at the helm. This is particularly the case for one who comes into a club with an excellent reputation. Just look at the run of results from West Brom since Tony Pulis came on board or at Crystal Palace since the appointment of Alan Pardew.
In these circumstances, though, the market is often well aware of the changes and adjusts accordingly. However, this is not always the case with the early and late season games.
International football betting is perhaps a better example for anomalous outcomes, particularly in friendly games, and with games which are effectively “dead rubbers” in any international competition. In these situations, the market does not seem to quite know what to make of the potential outcomes but the odds reflect this fully enough.
If you cast your mind back to 2003 when a Sven Goran Eriksson-managed England lost 3-1 at home to Australia at Upton Park, for example, you will see what we mean. Eriksson was well-known for experimenting on a massively wide-scale with his England side in friendly internationals, but punters could still have the Australians at a huge price. Eriksson has subsequently admitted that, as an outsider, he just didn’t really understand the fierce rivalry between England and Australia at any sport. It seems he would have taken the game far more seriously if he had understood this.
Nevertheless, the point is well made. There are many instances in football when the outcomes are simply unknown but when the market takes a far more conventional view – and these are the opportunities to seek out.
The same principle holds true for really big games, where the pressure is huge and the underdogs seem to have an even chance. With games like the FA Cup final, the Champions League final or the final play-off game at Wembley for the last Premier League place each season, which is reputedly the single most valuable game in football, the pressure is enormous and the underdogs have an excellent record.
This levels the playing field to a large extent. If we look back to last year’s FA Cup final, for example, when Hull came heart-breakingly close to beating Arsenal, or the season before when Wigan beat hot favourites Manchester City, you will see what we mean. Similarly, Atletico Madrid were within moments of beating their city neighbours Real Madrid in normal time in the Champions League final, whilst the Derby versus QPR Premier League play-off game was just too close to call.
The trick is in finding these games and only these games – and following your value instincts accordingly.