It’s every punter's dream to correctly predict when an upset may occur, and effectively beat the bookies who had the odds skewed in the favour of the stronger team. But, frequently, the underdogs do manage to grab a win in football and, in these circumstances, the bettors who backed them get paid off handsomely.
Bristol City are a prime example of a team who have recently upset the markets with their win over Manchester United in the EFL Cup. Prior to the quarter-final tie at Ashton Gate, they could be backed at 100/1 with 888sport to win the competition.
Leicester City also defied the odds in the 2015-16 campaign when they pulled off their unbelievable title win. But how do you know when upsets like this are going to happen?
Learn From History
In football, history has a tendency to repeat itself. Looking at the Premier League, in particular, clubs frequently look to arrest a poor run of form by sacking the manager around the midpoint of the season.
In these circumstances, relegation battles that looked locked up before Christmas can often change. Installing a new manager can often revitalise a tired-looking squad and bring about an instant upturn in form.
Prior to West Ham hiring David Moyes this season, the London club were languishing around the relegation zone under Slaven Bilic.
But the Scotsman’s appointment has seen a drastic turnaround in form, and the Irons have picked up vital wins against Chelsea and Stoke City in recent weeks and fought for a draw against Arsenal.
Their relegation odds have also eased, from 15/8 with 888sport after Moyes’ first game in charge to 6/1 at the time of writing.
It’s easy to see that Moyes has worked to tighten up the Hammers’ porous defence in recent weeks and, after the 2-1 defeat to high-flying Manchester City, West Ham went three games without being breached.
Remember To Keep An Eye On Recent Trends
Shrewd bettors may have noticed in the fixture at the Etihad that the tides were shifting at West Ham under Moyes. City, who have averaged 3.1 goals per game this season, only managed to score twice.
More tellingly, Pep Guardiola’s side have had a whopping 79 big chances after 18 games but Moyes managed to limit them to two in the meeting between the two sides. Unfortunately for West Ham, Nicolas Otamendi and David Silva managed to put those chances beyond Adrian.
After this promising performance, West Ham met with Chelsea and the odds were stacked in Antonio Conte’s favour. The Irons could be backed at exceedingly long odds to beat the title holders, who were odds-on to take three points away from the London Stadium.
But Moyes managed to keep defensively solid and shut out the Blues, with Marko Arnautovic scoring for the home side. Those who backed the underdogs in this scrap will have made a nice return on their investment.
Sam Allardyce’s takeover at Everton has seen a similar change in fortunes for the Merseyside outfit. Prior to the former England boss’s arrival, the Toffees had conceded an astonishing 28 goals in fourteen games under Ronald Koeman and interim manager David Unsworth.
But, in the new manager’s first five games in charge across all competitions, the team only let in two goals. Allardyce is known for enforcing defensive rigidity and his coaching skills have had an instant impact at Goodison Park.
His tactics were plain to see in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool but many wise bettors saw it coming. Although the Reds could have easily steamrollered Everton earlier in the campaign, Allardyce managed to go to Anfield and take home a well-fought point
This was seen as an upset by many, who are used to the free-flowing, goal-hungry Liverpool attackers providing the goods, but others, who knew Allardyce’s history, saw it coming and bet accordingly.
Will History Repeat Itself?
Now bettors will be looking eagerly at the situation at Swansea City. The Welsh club have just sacked manager Paul Clement after a poor start to the season that has seen them claim only three wins from 18 games.
At the point of the former Derby County manager’s dismissal, Swansea were at rock bottom in the Premier League and 2/9 with 888sport to be relegated at the end of the term.
Now, the Liberty Stadium side can be backed at around 11/2 to avoid the drop and, depending on which manager comes in, some bettors may be tempted to back a Welsh revival.
Former West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis is reportedly not in contention for the role but, hypothetically, if the defensively-minded manager, who has never been relegated from the top flight, came in, many would be punting on the Swans to stay up.
After all, the 59-year-old has pulled off some great escapes in the past, most notably with Crystal Palace in the 2013-14 campaign. At the same time, it’s worth monitoring the situation at Stoke City.
Mark Hughes appears to be bereft of ideas at the club and could easily be the next manager to bite the dust. But the Potters do have some top quality players who, under the right management, could turn things around.
Analyse The Stats
When placing bets nowadays, there is a wealth of information available to guide you through your decisions. Looking at in-depth stats can give an indication of when a team may be about to improve or decline.
As noted before, both West Ham and Everton have conceded far fewer goals since appointing new managers. While bettors could have made an educated guess that Allardyce would have been able to stop the rot, Moyes’ recent success has been slightly more surprising due to his failed appointments since leaving the Everton hot seat.
In the Scotsman’s case, looking at the stats since his takeover at West Ham would have been key to predicting the surge in form a few games into his tenure.
In the last six matches, West Ham have only conceded twenty shots on target, which is the sixth-best record in the league behind Burnley, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool, all of whom are residing in the top six. They are also second highest for clean sheets in that timeframe with three.
Using stats, it’s easy to see which teams are in decline as well. Bournemouth are currently outside of the relegation zone and at odds of 5/2 with 888sport to go down.
But judging by recent form, Eddie Howe’s men are at serious risk of being plunged into a battle against the drop. In the last six matches, they have topped the charts for shots in the box conceded with 64 and they have also allowed 25 shots on target.
The Cherries are particularly weak down the left flank and have conceded 67 crosses from this area. For this reason, it may be shrewd to have a punt on Leroy Sane scoring his first goal since October when Bournemouth visit the Etihad.
Using stats and knowledge of the history of certain teams and managers doubtlessly helps when predicting an outcome or an upset - but there are also some freak anomalies.
Some teams have “bogey teams” and always struggle when they face them; other times, weaker sides just come out guns blazing and catch the bigger teams off guard. When betting on football, a combination of watching as many minutes as possible, along with analysing the stats, is the best approach for bettors.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*