Sunday, 7 November 2010

Bolton v Tottenham

Sports Trading Life had an interesting, if not totally accurate, comment on the Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur match yesterday, in regard to the history behind this fixture.

He wrote: 
Also, this match between Spurs and Bolton was a key example of why you should do your research before trading or betting on football. From reading forums on Friday and Saturday morning there were plenty of people lumping on to Spurs following their fantastic win against Inter Milan. However, a quick look at the head to head record between the teams would show you that Spurs have NEVER won at the Reebok stadium before. They also haven’t beaten Bolton away since 1996. So with spurs priced at about 2.50 pre-match it was a no-brain decision to lay them and not back them. A price of 2.50 on something that has never happened before? I will oppose that all day!
Leaving aside for the moment the fact that Spurs HAVE won at the Reebok before (in October 2004, they beat Bolton 4-3 after extra-time in a League Cup third-round tie), just how relevant is it that Spurs had never won a Premier League game at the Reebok, or won a League game at Bolton since March 1996? 

There have been 10 games since that last win, with Bolton winning six, and four draws, but there were also a number of other stats to choose from. Some examples: Spurs have conceded a goal in their last nine Premier League matches. 

Bolton have failed to score just once since opening day in the Premier League. Spurs have not lost consecutive league games in over a year. Bolton have won only one of the last nine meetings with Spurs in all competitions. Kevin Davies has scored four goals in his last three games against Spurs in all competitions at the Reebok Stadium.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but a bet on Kevin Davies to score the first goal now looks good! Not that I have ever in my life bet on first goalscorer, and don't intend to now.

Anyway, as I have written before, it's always interesting to read that a team hasn't won somewhere in x years, but I don't find that statistic particularly relevant. If it was the same players involved each time, then yes, it would be something to consider, but over the past 14 years both teams will have changed completely and the statistic is simply a curiosity for me.

My ratings had Spurs by .13 for this game and thus a strong draw. Form is factored in to that, but unless someone shows me any evidence that history going back 14, or 6, years has any relevance, I have no plans to adjust the spreadsheet.


Unknown said...

Spot on. It's like all that statistical mumbo jumbo that they throw out on Match of the Day such as "Tottenham haven't won at Old Tafford since 1992". It's a nice titbit if you're a general football fan but in regards to trading/punting it's absolutely irrelevant. Basically the last period of games (whatever is your preference) is the only relevant information. Spurs could be playing Utd after winning 10 on the bounce and Utd have lost 10. It isn't really relevant in those circumstances if the last time they won at Old Trafford was in 1992 or not. It's just interesting information rather than anything that can be applied in a relevant statistical sense. I can only imagine if your backing teams based on statistical information going back to 1996 then your not going to find any long term success. Why 1996? Why not go back to 1926 it probably just as relevant!

mouldhouse said...

Have to agree. Its typical of trend followers to struggle to distinguish between really relevant facts (the way football elite does) and the irrelevant ones (no wins on a tuesday afternoon after neighbours has finished since 1991). Bookies even foster the false stats with some of their advertising these days - which should make the cynical ask the question!