When is the first goal scored in the Premier League?
When is the first goal scored in the Premier League? As time decays, what is the probability of the half ending in a scoreless draw? Are home clubs liklier to score first? Today on the blog, Andrew takes a look at the last 3 seasons of Premier League action to find out.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on halftime draws in the Premier League. I looked into how often matches end the half tied, and how often of those drawn halves are scoreless and how many see goals.
In this article I will take a deeper look into drawn halves. In particular I will be looking at the probability of a half ending in a scoreless draw as time expires. Further, I will be looking at the probability of either the home club or the away club being the team to score first and break the 0-0 tie in the first half.
To do this I will be looking back at the time of first goal for each of the 1140 Premier League matches played between 2008-2009 and 2010-2011.
Chance of the first half ending scoreless
So let's begin looking at the liklihood of the first half ending tied without a goal being scored. The chart below shows the chance of the match ending 0-0 at halftime over the last 3 seasons as time expires.
We can see that over the last 3 seasons of Premier League matches, the chance of a match ending at the half without a goal being scored is just over 29%.
As time expires in a goalless match, we see a fairly steady rise in the probability of the half going scoreless until the 32nd minute concludes, at which point we see a rapid increase in a scoreless half as each minute passes. Over the past 3 Premier League seasons, just over 22% of all first goals scored in the opening half are scored from the 33rd minute onwards. If we give an average first half added time of 2 minutes, this means that the 78% of first goals scored were scored in roughly 68% of first half time played, the first 32 minutes.
Home and away scoring first
Now let's look at the chances of both the home and away club scoring the first goal as time expires.
We can see the probability of a first goal being scored in the first half over the last 3 Premier League seasons was just under 71%, with the probability of the home club scoring the first goal being just over 42% while the away club scoring the first goal at a probability of just under 29%.
As time expires we see the overall probability of a goal being scored in the first half diminish, as we did with the probability of the first half ending as a scoreless draw. We can also see the probability of both the home club scoring the first goal in the opening half diminish as well as the probability of the away club.
The first thing we can see is that the opening minutes are in general vulernable ones for the home club relative to later minutes. Up to the conclusion of the 7th minute, the probability of the home club scoring first drops just 1% from 42% to 41%, while at the same time, the liklihood of the away club scoring first drops 3% from 29% to 26%, meaning that as the 7th minute concludes, the proportional likelihood of the home club scoring first has risen from 1.49 to 1.61. Through these opening 7 minutes, home clubs scored the opening goal of the match 74 times, while away clubs scored 71.
We can also see that as the 8th minute concludes, the probability of the away club scoring the first goal stabalise as the probability of the home club scoring first begins to diminish at a more rapid rate. It's a period of quick scoring for the home club. From the conclusion of the 8th minute to the conclusion of the 18th minute, the probability of the away club scoring first drops 2% while the probability of the home club scoring first drops from 9%. Proportionally, over this time span the home club probability against away club probability of scoring the first goal diminishes from 1.57 to 1.34. Through this time span, home clubs scored 172 first match goals, while away clubs scored the opening goal of the match 77 times.
The away clubs counter once the 27h minute concludes up until the end of the 36th minute. Over this span, the home club probability of scoring first drops 8% while the away club probability drops 9%. So while this drop is almost equal in simple numbers, proportionally, the probability of the home club scoring first rises from 1.40 at the end of the 27th minute to 1.79 as the 36th minute concludes. Through this time span, home clubs scored the opening match of the game 82 times, while away clubs scored the first goal 73 times.
So what did we learn?
While it should be noted that we are looking at overall numbers without taking into account any perceived disparity between club form or ability, we can identify a few trends in the potential for home and away clubs to score the opening goal in the first half of play.
One is that the opening minutes, up to the end of the 7th minute have been good for away clubs relative to overall expectations.
Two is that home clubs score well relative overall expectations from end of the 8th to end of 18th minute.
And three, away clubs score well relative to overall expecations from end of the 27th to end of 36th minute.