A football team’s performance changes over the course of a season due to several factors. These factors are very difficult to quantify but you need to do some kind of mathematical analysis of them to enhance your predictions. The most common factors are;
(1) CURRENT FORM: A team that's on a winning run develops much confidence and is therefore prepared to face any team in the league. Meanwhile the team on a losing run lacks the tenacity required to get a positive result. So if a hitherto poor to average side is on a good run then it will be no surprise to see it suddenly turn its fortune around by rapidly shooting up the league table. Due to this reason the league table will not be of much use for betting purposes in this instance as it reflects the team’s overall performance as against the current form. It is also important to note that some teams appear to play better on home ground while some curiously play better away from home.
(2) TEAM SELECTION: Various reasons may make the manager decide to field or drop a particular player. These reasons include, disciplinary action, resting a star player for a forthcoming major tournament like the FA Cup, Europa League, the UEFA Champions’ League or international call-up. For successful football betting, you should be up-to-date with such developments.
(3) PLAYER SUBSTITUTION: Sometimes a manager may make a substitution of a star player if he decides to change tactics. Remember that a substitute is naturally super-motivated when replacing a starter, so it could turn out that the team’s overall performance drastically improves with the substitution. It may sometimes backfire though!
(4) INJURIES: Long-term injuries to star players usually have a big impact on a side’s overall performance. A star player may struggle to find form on his return from injury. Also, experience has shown that players in the defence are more important than others as it is generally believed that in modern football, the defence matters more than the attack. It means that the goalkeeper and central defenders are key to winning any match. If one of these is missing then it's something a betting enthusiast must note. You should assess the importance of an injured player and the quality of his substitute. Also the importance of the team captain cannot be overemphasized. A side with a missing captain is like a ship without a master!
(5) PLAYER TRANSFER/ACQUISITION: The transfer or acquisition of players will definitely affect the overall performance of any team. The new player may be a sharp shooter whose presence might just add to the average number of goals scored by the team. This will improve the team’s position in the league. Likewise, a club might be ‘forced’ to sell a star player for financial reasons. In this case, the absence of such a player might create a vacuum in the attack or defence of the team. The effect will be a drop in the team’s fortunes, at least in the short term.
(6) CHANGE OF MANAGER / MANAGER’S TACTICS: A new manager brings with him new tactics and ideas. If these ideas fit in with the club’s vibes, things will gel. However, if the new style does not click, the team will fail to deliver. It is interesting however to note here that generally, the new manager phenomenon usually comes into play. A football team with a new manager generally performs very well during the manager’s first few games at the club. Different reasons which are beyond the scope of this book have been adduced for this.
(7) CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP: A new owner coming into the club in the course of the season may bring with him a lot of cash. This extra cash will enable the management to buy or take on new players on loan. The players’ bonuses for certain achievements may also be improved as an instant motivation to perform to their best potential.
(8) METEOROLOGY: For inexplicable reasons, some teams seem to handle adverse weather conditions better than others. During the winter months in the UK when many pitches are snow-covered or water-logged, such teams slowly but steadily climb up the league table.
(9) PITCH SURFACE: A team that is used to playing on natural grass pitches but suddenly finds itself playing on an artificial surface might find the experience slightly uncomfortable. Passes may not be as accurate as normal and the boots’ studs may not grab well on the new surface, unless the right boots are used. In other words, ‘things could fall apart with the centre no longer holding’ ...apologies to Chinua Achebe!
(10) END-OF-SEASON PHENOMENON: A team that needs just a few more points to get into a UEFA Champions’ League, Europa League, or a play-off spot may suddenly start performing beyond expectation. Likewise the hitherto very weak team which suddenly finds itself faced with possible relegation to a lower division may start performing ‘miracles’. This is obviously a natural motivation to perform well.
(11) MOTHER LUCK: Yes, some teams (the EPL Top 4?)seem to have all the luck in the world, while some appear to have 50/50 referees' decisions against them.