It has been a question that has been at the forefront of most football punters' minds since the expansion of betting to include diverse and unusual betting markets: How do I gain that little bit of extra value? If you are a regular follower of the Weekly Football Predictor feature on Botev1921's blog, of which I am a part, you will notice that the punters will rarely go for a simple win bet, especially when a large favourite is involved. Bookies will, in general, lower the price of a favourite to such a price so there is little or no value in backing it, despite the general consensus that that team will win. They are content that the vast majority of gamblers out there will still take on the price, with the notion of looking for the winner rather than the value, and many punters try and elongate the prices of various favourites by combining them into long accumulators of 8 or 9 runners, which never, ever come through.
That is not to say that there cannot be value found in backing the favourites for games, though one must be slightly more creative in the majority of cases, and that is the point of this series of blogs, where I will be looking at how to use the various goal markets to add that much sought after value to your bets, hence allowing you to back the team you strongly believe will win without having to take on a price that only suits the bookmaker.

Gaining value by using the HT/FT market

Those who have been on OLBG a while, and use the ‘Hot Tips' feature of the website, will notice that a lot of the time when a very heavy favourite is involved, the HT/FT option on that team is often the bet highlighted as being the most value. It is true, of course, that the win/win variety of this bet is usually the most likely outcome, and can add some vital muscle to your price, but simply going for a team that is for example 1.05 to win overall to win at Half Time and Full Time at a price of, say 1.4, is not necessarily good business, and research needs to be conducted prior to making these bets to ensure that team is actually likely to be leading at half-time. Many regular winners actually tend to score the majority of their goals, and hence winners, in the latter stages of games, making the draw/win HT/FT option far more lucrative.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic PSG There are many examples of teams who do score early and see out games, and so offer more value than most in backing them to win both HT and FT. Examples of some of these teams, which I have found the most useful when looking at games in which I would expect them to win include: Liverpool, Bayer Leverkusen, PSG, and Barcelona. These teams score either a majority of their goals in the first half of games, or are regularly able to bag one or two before going on to score a few more in the second half. Therefore if you are backing any of these teams to win, at pretty much any price, you may want to consider going for the HT/FT market instead.
This isn't just confined to these teams though, and there are likely to be many more examples of teams that are worthwhile backing to win HT/FT. The source I generally use for looking at goals is Soccerway , and in particular by clicking on the ‘H2H comparison' tab at the top of the page, having clicked on a specific match.
Liverpool Crest To give an example, right now I am looking at the Liverpool vs Everton game scheduled for tonight at the time of writing, and by scrolling down I get to the subsection titled ‘TEAM'. Listed in this section are various stats, but I am looking in particular at goals here. I can see immediately that Liverpool, on average, score their first goal when playing at home in the 26th minute of games, and concede their first goal of the game in the 60th minute. I can also see by looking at the ‘Scoring Minutes' graphic that they have scored 60.3% of their goals in the first half of games. Those more familiar with scoring minute statistics will already know this is a strange stat in comparison to most sides, with an average number to expect around the 40-45% mark.
Everton Crest It can also be seen that when Everton play on the road, the majority of the goals come in the second half of games. Surprisingly for a team in such a high position, and with such a decent away record, they, on average, concede earlier than they score, with their first goal conceded coming, on average, in the 50th minute, while the average time they open their own scoring book is on 63 minutes. A remarkable 72.2% of Everton's goals scored have come in the second half of their games.
This game has offered me the perfect example to show how the HT/FT market can be used to your advantage due to the perfect opposition between the two sides' statistics, and so I can now suggest a couple of outcomes which depend on the final outcome which is preferred by the punter.

If you think Liverpool are going to win:

The stats clearly show that Liverpool are most prolific in the first half of games, and are likely to outscore an Everton side who struggle for first half goals, particularly on the road. Therefore the HT outcome of ‘Liverpool win' could be backed (2.37), or when looking at the HT/FT market, it seems straight-forward that if you think that Liverpool will win the game, then they will almost certainly be winning the game by half-time. The HT/FT bet of Liverpool/Liverpool is therefore recommended, which is available at 2.75.

If you think the game will be drawn:

With Everton scoring so few goals in the first half of games, and in particular when playing away from home, and Liverpool a very powerful goalscoring team, especially in the first half of games, it would seem unlikely that we will see the most common ‘Draw/Draw' HT/FT result unless we see a nil-nil scoreline. If we are going to see a draw in this game, it seems unusually probable that this will be on the back of an Everton comeback, and with Liverpool on average scoring first in the 26th and conceding their first in the 60th minute, a ‘Liverpool/Draw' selection looks to hold excellent value, and is available at the long price that is expected at 17

If you think Everton will win:

If Everton are going to win this game it seems likely they will have to hold Liverpool until half time. If they can get to the second half on level terms, then according to the stats they will have as good a chance of taking the win as their hosts. It seems unlikely considering the goalscoring exploits across the season of both sides that Everton will be taking a lead into the half-time break, and so for those more daring and who believe in the away win, the value is definitely likely to lie within the ‘Draw/Everton' selection, which can be backed at 11

The above example is one of the better games out there in terms of finding extra value in using the HT/FT markets in order to find extra value, and by applying knowledge of scoring minutes and trends we are able to add considerable bulk to the odds we take on the 1X2 market, often at least doubling the potential profitability of the selection.

Finding value in backing strong favourites to win via ‘Draw/Win' route

As mentioned many teams are prime examples of where using the ‘Win/Win' HT/FT can add great value to very low prices that are available when simply backing them to win. However a more profitable approach in my past has been in finding the kind of teams who are regularly made heavy favourites to win games, but often wait until the second half to strike that crucial blow. With prices often between 4 and 5 for the ‘Draw/Win' selections in these kinds of games, there is certainly good value to be found when selecting the right teams to fulfil this bet.
A couple of decent examples of these kind of teams comes from London, and in particular the two London teams seeking the title this season: Arsenal and Chelsea. An interesting table can be found at which shows that 37.5% of Arsenal's wins have come via the Draw/Win route, and 1/3 of Chelsea's in the same way. The stats are more heavily weighted when looking away from home though, with half of Arsenal's away wins coming via a drawn first half, and 40% of Chelsea's win coming in the same manner. With this knowledge, and by combining it with the stats of their opponents, we can often find good examples of games where a Draw/Win outcome is more likely for the favourite, and so much better value can be found.
Andre Villas-Boas Tottenham Hotspur Tottenham were the perfect example of a team to back in this manner when under AVB, as the majority of their wins were gained by late shows in the second half. This can be seen in the same table, where 61.5% of Spurs' wins came after a drawn first half, however, unfortunately for us punters (although, not, apparently, for Spurs fans) with the appointment of Sherwood, this trend is unlikely to continue.
Another example of a team that could be worth backing Draw/Win comes slightly lower down in the table in the form of my team, Southampton, who have won 8 games this season, with half of those after a first half draw. Also when looking down the table we can see the two sides with the least value in backing a Draw/Win HT/FT outcome: Liverpool (as previously mentioned) and Man City.
Some other examples of regular favourites worth backing on the Draw/Win HT/FT market include:

Team % Wins via ‘HT Draw'
Eskisehirspor, Trabzonspor 75
QPR 66.7
Dinamo Moscow, Lokomotic Moscow, Olympiakos, Roma, Zulte-Waregem 50
Fenerbahce 46.2
Juventus, Sivasspor 44.4
Aberdeen 42.9
Benfica 41.7
Bayern Munich, Dortmund 40
Atletico Madrid, Galatasaray, Real Madrid 37.5

Hopefully this information will help with finding that extra bit of value which makes a bet really worthwhile. Look out for the next blog in the series, which will look into the ‘Highest Scoring Half' market, as well as some more specific and unusual markets based around scoring minutes.

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