Premier League Home & Away Form: A Five Season Club By Club Analysis
Which Premier League clubs have performed best away from home in recent seasons? Which have displayed the greatest gulf in home and away form? Today on the blog Abhisar Gupta shares his analysis of the last 5 seasons of Premier League results and fixtures, assessing each club in terms of home and away performance.
In a previous article I looked at the difference in the home and away form of various Premier League sides and the spooky patterns which seem to invisibly govern the macro-level numbers for the League itself.
A kind suggestion to look at similar numbers and ratios over a longer period has inspired this post and here I'll be looking at home and away stats for the last five Premier League seasons, i.e. starting from 2008-09 till the games completed earlier this month, on 4th March 2013.
Home and Away Premier League Form Last 5 Seasons
First up, let's look at the win, draw, and loss ratios for all the teams that have played in the Premiership during this period.
There is virtually no end to the amount of information you can dig out from this table.
Some standout observations are:
- Only five teams have managed more than 2 points per game at home, while no team has managed to cross that threshold away from home.
- Eight teams out of twenty-nine managed to win at least half their home games. Only one - Manchester United - has achieved that away from home.
- Only nine teams have an away PPG ratio greater than or equal to 1. Out of those, Blackpool seem like an aberration as they only lasted one season in the top flight. Aston Villa have had a tough couple of seasons but were closer to the European spots in seasons previous. The other seven teams with an away PPG > 1 generally compete for the Champions League or Europa League places.
- In contrast, every single team managed 1 or more point per game at home. Thirteen teams have picked up more than half the points available to them at home (PPGH > 1.5)
- Just three teams win more than two-thirds of their home games. You could say that it takes all the guile and experience of Sir Alex or hundreds of millions of pounds of oil-money to achieve that!
- Eight teams have won less than a third of their home games. Of these only Wigan have been ever-present over the last five seasons, often barely surviving.
- Portsmouth lost half their home games, which is the worst loss ratio among the teams in consideration over the last five seasons. Hull (49.1), Blackpool (47.4), and Wolves (47.4) are others who've struggled to get points at home. Not surprising then that these teams have four of the five lowest PPG ratios at home.
- Away from home nineteen of the twenty-nine teams lose more than half their games. Another two (Fulham and Norwich) are very close to a fifty percent loss percentage. Only three teams lose less than a third of their away games, viz. Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Manchester City were right on the cusp of that divide but their loss against Everton (not included in the stats above) will knock them back a bit.
- Twenty teams have won less than a quarter of their away games, with fourteen of them winning less than one in five.
- Draws do no separate teams as clearly. 20 teams draw between 20 and 30 percent of their away games. These are fairly well spread throughout the table. Everton and Fulham have higher rates of drawing away games (38.9 percent) than any other side.
- At home, as would be expected, the top teams have a low percentage of drawn games. The top 3 in the list are all below 20 percent, while the Gunners draw one in five. Interestingly, West Brom and Portsmouth had low draw ratios at home but it seems as much down to a tendency of losing games as it was to winning.
We can also learn a lot about the performances of individual teams based on their numbers. For instance, the figures show Manchester United have been by far and away the most consistent side. They have the best win rates, both home and away. Ferguson's side also lose the least proportion of games whether they play hosts or visit opponents.
While this might have been obvious to most regular followers of the League, it's worth noting that their win percentage at home (86.7) and away (56.7) varies by a margin of 30. This is among the highest in the League. Of course, this is largely down to the astonishing success rate they have at home, which dwarfs everyone else's efforts.
Manchester City too have had noticeably high success at home when compared to their away form, which in itself is respectable. In fact, their 66 home wins are exactly twice the number of away wins (33) in the same number of games.
Fulham and Stoke also have significantly more home wins than they manage on the road. As you'd expect, no team has more wins on their travels than they have when hosting games. Blackpool - although they just played one season - had the same number of wins at home and away. Among the regulars, Aston Villa have the closest ratio with 33 wins at Villa Park and 31 away.
Points Per Game At Home per Points Per Game Away
In this regard, the PPGH/PPGA ratio is a very interesting stat. It basically gives us a measure of a team's home form vis-a-vis it's away form. A ratio of 1.37 for Manchester United means that they're getting 37 percent more points at Old Trafford than they are getting on their travels.
Blackpool, as already discussed, are an aberration and have the lowest PPGA/PPGH ratio. Three teams at the bottom of the table - Middlesbrough, Reading, and Burnley - have a very high number highlighting their plight on the road.
Among the other teams, only Stoke and Fulham have a ratio greater than 2, which means they've accumulated more than twice as many points at home than they've in away games. This is worth noting because other teams with a ratio greater than 1.6 have either been relegated at some stage or involved in the relegation battles.
Manchester City's ratio of 1.67 is very odd in light of the other dwellers in this zone but we have to remember these numbers have been compiled over five seasons and the Sheikh's wealth did not start making a major impact till the 2010-11 season. For instance, City only had 2 away wins in all of 2008-09 as against 13 at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Just like the blues from Manchester, many sides have had vastly differing fortunes over the course of the last five years. Liverpool, for instance, went from title challengers to a mid-table team and are now slowly working their way back towards the top four. Aston Villa were in contention for a Champions League spot for much of the 08-09 season but have been scrapping at the wrong end of the table in the last two years.
In order to measure the consistency of a team's performance over the period under consideration, I've compiled the following table which lists their PPGH, PPGA, and the PPGH/PPGA ratios for each year they were in the Premier League.
The vertical colour coded zones visually separate the years under consideration. Green backgrounds highlight the teams that finished in the top four in that year while the yellow ones mark the relegated sides.
Even with a quick glance you should be able to see the variations in many clubs' performances over the last five seasons.
Manchester City's away performance has varied from a measly 0.58 PPG in 08-09 to the 1.86 they've managed this season (their recent loss against Everton will have brought that down a notch but it's a small detail given the broad scope of this analysis).
Similarly, Liverpool's fall from the heights of 08-09, when they almost won the Premier League title, is succinctly captured in their ratios. Their away ratio of 2.26 that year has only been bettered twice in the last five seasons. From there things went horribly wrong as they fell down to 1.11 and 0.95 over the next two years!
When we see that even a team as consistently dominant as Manchester United fell from 2.11 PPGA in 08-09 to 1.89 and then 1.32 over the same period as Liverpool's drop, along with Chelsea who went from 2.32 to 1.79 and 1.37, there seems sufficient reason to propose that the League got tougher in that period and many of the relatively smaller teams competed well against the big sides making away games significantly harder.
Certain trends in the ratios for teams that have finished in the top four or have been relegated also offer some assistance in predicting this season's final positions.
In the past four seasons, every team finishing in the top four has had a PPG ratio of 2 or more at home barring Arsenal in 2010-11 when they managed 1.95. The Gunners made up for it with the League's best away record that year.
This season, at the time this data was compiled, United, Chelsea, City, and Spurs were the only teams with a home PPG ratio of 2 or more. At the time of writing this article, Everton have also joined them with an impressive win over City.
The two lowest away PPG ratios for teams finishing in the top four belong to Spurs. They clocked 1.37 in 10-11 and 1.42 last season. Tottenham compensated for poor away form by racking up points at home as they managed 2.32 and 2.21 PPG respectively.
With that in mind, it's difficult to see Everton finishing in the top four with an away PPG ratio of 1.29. Arsenal too have their work cut out as they measure in at 1.43 on the road (gone up to 1.53 after a win over Swansea) and 1.93 at the Emirates. Both these sides will need sustained improvements in both their home and away form if they want to crack the Champions League spots, but you already knew that didn't you!
It'll be interesting to see how these stats and the corresponding positions in the table look for these clubs come the end of the season.
Premier League Relegation
The ratios are understandably lower for the relegated sides. Only two of the 12 teams that went down in the last four years managed 1 PPG or more away from home. Unfortunately for them, both these sides (Bolton in 11-12 and Blackpool in 10-11) had poor home form.
Incredibly, Bolton had 6 away wins when they went down and Blackpool had 5. Those are impressive numbers when you consider the fact that only 5 Premier League teams have recorded 5 or more away wins thus far this season. There's still a long way to go but I'll be very surprised if even half the League sides manage those kind of away wins.
This season Wigan seem to be in the same boat. They have 4 away wins - as many as Everton, Liverpool, West Brom, and Swansea at the time of writing - but the Latics just haven't clicked at the DW stadium.
In contrast, there have been some relegated sides that were hard to beat in their own backyard. Alex McLeish's Birmingham, Phil Brown's Hull City, and Owen Coyle's Burnley are names that immediately come to mind. These sides really struggled on the road and their PPGH/PPGA ratios were very high. Every team that has been relegated despite managing 1.26 PPG or more at home have had a PPGH/PPGA ratio of 2 or more. In fact, except Birmingham who were relegated with a respectable 39 points, all other teams in that category scored three times as many points at home as they did away.
Reading fall into that category this season with a respectable 1.29 PPG at home but a PPGH/PPGA ratio of 3.60 with just 5 points on the road.
Some teams tend to struggle no matter where the game is played. Wolves in 11-12 and Portsmouth in 09-10 are examples of teams that could not manage 1 point per game either at home or away. Table-propping QPR face the same predicament this season.
Aston Villa would have been in a similar situation but the win over QPR has taken them, at least for the time being, to some degree of safety. Above them, the likes of Southampton and Sunderland are flirting with danger. Even a small drop in their already modest away form can drag them back into the relegation zone.
The PPGH/PPGA ratio is also an interesting measure to compare a team's form against itself when they play in the comfort of their familiar surroundings vis-a-vis the more challenging task of hitting the road.
Stoke, for instance, have been consistently modest on the their travels. Except 09-10 when they just hit 1.05 PPGA, Tony Pulis' side have never managed even 1 point per game outside the confines of the Britannia. A cold night at Stoke proves to be a stumbling block for many a visiting side, but you could easily say most of their trips are too hot for Stoke to handle.
Fulham are another side that has not managed more than one point per game away from home. In each of the past five seasons they managed at least 72 percent more points at the Cottage than they have accumulated during their visits around the country.
For most other teams there is a bit of an ebb and flow to this ratio which means their home and away form has varied across seasons. Arsenal are the most consistent side in this regard as their PPGH/PPGA ratio hasn't gone beyond the 1.68 that they hit in 09-10. All other teams - if we leave out Blackpool - have gone beyond that ratio at least once. Arsene Wenger's side has been most closely able to match their home form in away games, which has played no small part in their consistent stay in the top four, it must be said.
The stats in the two figures above and the observations discussed in this article should be a good starting point or supporting data for some betting related modelling, any analysis of the competitiveness of the League, tactical trends, club form, or the impact of transfers either at the League level or individual club level. Needless to say though, any such attempt is beyond the scope of this article.
Follow Abhisar on Twitter: @goonerdesi
And read more of his work on his blog Desigunner.wordpress