Pre-season games are crucial for clubs. Before the start of a new intense season, players need to get into peak physical condition. Managers can strategize and test team lineups in matches where the results don’t matter. But what information can bettors extract from such games? To find out the answer, read on.
The Importance of Pre-Season Games
During pre-season matches, new players can integrate into the team and adapt to their teammates’ style of play. It is a critical period where teams try to gather all their resources to better prepare for the upcoming season.
Additionally, clubs often embark on lucrative tours abroad during this time, hoping to attract new fans, and the more prestigious their opponents, the better. Of course, this was impossible during the shortened pre-season period in the summer of 2020. Over the past two years, each Premier League team has averaged six pre-season games, with only three teams playing fewer than five matches.
While it’s possible to bet on the outcomes of friendly matches, predicting the course of play, considering all the factors mentioned above (and the fact that players consciously try to avoid injuries), seems impossible. So, can bettors glean any helpful information from summer friendly matches and understand how a particular team will perform in the upcoming nine-month season? To discover more about how pre-season games shape team dynamics and strategies, read more on The Punters Page about sports betting apps for Android & iOS.
The Impact of Pre-Season Games on the Start of the Season
Of the 34 Premier League teams playing pre-season matches in 2018 and 2019, 19 teams (56%) saw a change in their physical form, which they maintained throughout the subsequent season.
Let’s examine the past two summer periods and see what they can tell us about the following Premier League seasons. As three teams leave the league each year, it’s evident that 17 teams remain in the league and transition from the previous season to the next.
Thus, for the pre-season games of 2018 and 2019, we can evaluate the performance of 34 teams. First, let’s see if the average points per game (PPG) increased during the summer games compared to the previous season. For 23 teams, this figure improved, while for 11, it worsened.
First and foremost, we’re interested in the first six matches of the new season. Experience shows that this is crucial for determining each team’s likelihood of staying in the league after all 380 games have been played.
Out of the 23 teams that improved their performance during the summer compared to the previous season, 12 also had higher results in the first six matches of the new season. The correlation is stronger for teams whose performance worsened during pre-season games: in the first six matches, 7 out of 11 teams also performed worse.
By combining these two examples, we’ll see that changes in form during summer games impacted the new season for 56% of teams (19 out of 34). But what about the other 15 teams? For these teams, events unfolded in two different ways. For 11 teams, the improvement in form during summer games was a “false signal,” as their average points per game (PPG) in the first six matches of the new season were worse than the previous season.
For the remaining four teams, form worsened in pre-season games but improved at the start of the new season compared to the previous season. Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea are among these teams, which is quite logical. The most weighty teams often participate in friendly matches but allow their top stars to rest from summer tournaments in which they represent their countries. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they don’t have outstanding results in pre-season games.
The Influence of Pre-Season Games on the Entire Season
If we look at how many teams maintained the form achieved in pre-season games throughout the subsequent season, we’ll find that 21 teams maintained the same level of play, while 19 teams maintained the improved record in the first six games of the season.
The breakdown is even less uniform: 14 teams increased their points per game in both summer games and the subsequent season compared to the previous season, while seven clubs saw this figure worsen in both summer matches and the new season. Overall, in the past two seasons, 15 clubs improved or worsened their performance in pre-season games compared to the previous season and maintained this state in both the first six matches and all 38 matches.
Whether bettors should take pre-season game results into account is debatable, but club presidents seem to take note of them.