Heart Beats Brain – Is Accurate Forecasting of Specific Results in Football Matches Possible?

The English Premier League results of 5.2.2011 were simply amazing, at least in the eyes of an enthusiastic football fan like my husband. A record number of goals and not many games finishing with the expected result. The following table shows some particularly ‘freak’ results affecting the top teams:

English Premier League Betting - Surprise Results 5.2.2011

Bizarre EPL Results 5.2.2011

Of the four leading teams in the English Premier League before this round of matches only Manchester City won last weekend.

My husband just cannot understand how Manchester United, who hadn’t lost a single league game since the beginning of the season (as long ago as August 2010), could suddenly serve up such an insipid performance and lose to bottom of the table Wolves? Likewise, how Arsenal with a seemingly impregnable 0-4 lead at half time, could self-destruct so badly and concede four second-half goals to mid-table Newcastle? Or how Chelsea, who normally never lose at home, could succumb to Liverpool who have struggled to win away this season?

The ‘football fan’ in my life is now proffering various excuses for these unexpected results: one of Manchester United’s most important defenders injured himself in the warm-up and had to be replaced minutes before kick-off, which unsettled the formation of the team; Arsenal were rattled at the start of the second-half when they had a man sent off, which subsequently weakened their midfield and altered their formation drastically; Liverpool’s former star striker transferred to Chelsea only a week prior to the game and immediately stated he was fated to score against his previous employers, of course providing them with a big incentive to stuff those words back down his throat.

My husband’s heartfelt opinion prior to these matches was that they were ‘nailed on’ victories for the three favourites.

A ‘sure win’ possibility would mean to me odds of around 1.1 (90%) up to a maximum of 1.2 (83%). However, looking at the odds for the three games in question Manchester United were 1.4 (71%), Arsenal 1.67 (60%), and Chelsea 1.62 (62%).

Putting this into perspective, Manchester United, despite not losing a single league game for almost six months, had only a 71% chance of victory against the league’s weakest team, Arsenal had a 40% chance of not beating a perceived weaker team in Newcastle, and Chelsea, who have made Stamford Bridge a fortress in recent years, had as high as a 38% chance of not beating Liverpool. None of these odds reflected ‘sure win’ prospects to me and the final results showed that the bookmakers’ calculations were quite correct.

How were the bookmakers able to forecast such an ‘unusual’ weekend with such accuracy and indeed, did they actually forecast it?

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3 Responses to “Heart Beats Brain – Is Accurate Forecasting of Specific Results in Football Matches Possible?”

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