How do player international obligations affect football betting?


Frequently during the regular football season, there are interruptions in which players join their national teams and are required to compete in qualifying and final international events. There is a general feeling in the world that the largest football clubs are the ones who suffer most from such intervals. So there is also a feeling that more surprises follow these games in the national leagues. For example both Manchester United and Arsenal lost away at Norwich in 2013 and Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have all lost matches more recently from Crystal Palace.

Are these results random or not? Fortunately, it is very easy to take a look at statistics that are widely available over the internet. We can analyze info in the past 5 years, regarding what exactly is happening after international breaks.

The great “six” of the Premier League played 20 or 21 league games after international breaks between August 2012 and May 2017. These are the average points-per-game:

Team Total PPG PPG post-international break PPG in other matches PPG differential
Manchester United 1.88 2.14 1.85 0.29
Arsenal 1.96 2.15 1.94 0.21
Chelsea 2.04 2.10 2.03 0.07
Manchester City 2.04 2.05 2.04 0.01
Tottenham Hotspur 1.90 1.81 1.91 -0.10
Liverpool 1.81 1.45 1.85 -0.40


Especially for Chelsea and Manchester City, the difference is negligible. Liverpool, however, had the biggest change and unfortunately for the team, this change was negative.

The difference in goals after the international break is also +4. It is better than Tottenham +2, but the other 4 teams have scored at least +26 goals in their games.

This research offers us some important information. We also have 16 cases in which the teams of the top six faced each other in a game. Therefore, in order to make a safe conclusion on how international breaks affect the performance of the big teams, we should remove these matches from the sample. So the table is somewhat different now:

Team Total PPG PPG post-international break PPG in other matches PPG differential
Tottenham Hotspur 2.17 2.57 2.13 0.44
Manchester United 2.06 2.31 2.03 0.28
Arsenal 2.29 2.43 2.28 0.15
Manchester City 2.28 2.14 2.29 -0.15
Chelsea 2.16 2.00 2.19 -0.19
Liverpool 1.94 1.64 1.98 -0.34


The big 6 teams in total have an average of 2.15 points per match against the rest when they do not have an international break and 2.18 points when they do. In fact, the difference is negligible, but again it is interesting that numbers seem to increase and not decrease.

The above table shows that half of the teams did worse and the other half did better. The substantial change in relation to the first table concerns Tottenham. This is because the team’s performance against the rest of the 6 grand was not good after an international break.
In the 7 matches that the team gave, it won 2 times lost 5 times. In all defeats Tottenham conceded at least 4 goals, although all were before 2015 and things changed later.

Since November 2013, every time the Premier League has commenced again after an international break, we have had at least a great derby amongst the top 6.

Regarding the goals scored by the teams and the ones they received, there is no noticeable difference. The difference in goals per game in the big 6 teams increased by 0.17 after international breaks. This change is not what most would expect, something to keep in mind when betting on Over / Under.
The figures for the overall goals seem to be fairly stable. They did not rise when the league started again (from 2.91 to 3.04 per game) but regarding betting, it is always over 2.5 goals on average.

The phrase “on average” is important here. There is very little difference regarding in the rest of the championship, but there is always the possibility of something unexpected happening.
With only 6 losses from weaker clubs for the top 6 of the English Premier League, after international breaks, in the last three seasons, the results show that the big 6 can cope with the whole situation successfully. So do not expect any big surprises in these games, it’s not something that really appears in statistics.




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