Every bettor in the world, regardless of experience, looks for some kind of edge that they can have over the bookies. Be it from their own back catalogue of sports knowledge, different betting strategies, or through doing some proper research beforehand. We’ll be delving into that latter part here, giving you a form of checklist of areas to research before placing a bet.

Caution In Live Betting

Before delving into the pregame research, it’s important to cover the quick research that should be performed before getting on a live bet. Now and then, when scrolling through the in-play betting section, you’ll see a team that’s both winning and over evens. It’s really important to quickly go to the game page to see if it is really worth betting on.

While live odds are constantly changing, meaning that you may miss out on great odds, you should always do three quick checks: league standing, number of players on the field, time remaining. If they’re all favourable, or just favourable enough, then go ahead and take advantage of those great live odds.

Form Can Be Telling

There are many recordings of form in almost all sports, with each section deserving of your attention. The first is the standard last five form, which will show you the team’s results over the last five games. If they’re in good form and favoured to win the game, then they probably look like a safe option, but the more intricate form records will be more telling.

Home and away form is a huge factor in almost all team sports, and in horse racing, each horse will have raced more at certain venues than others. If second in the league is playing a mid-table club away but haven’t been great away from home in recent times, their odds may not indicate this, but they may still be prone to slipping up on their travels.

Take, for example, Watford vs Manchester United on October 28. Manchester United were 13/25 to win and sat much higher in the league with far more points than Watford, but the Red Devils have lost three of their last four away games, all by one goal, succumbing to the likes of Basel and Huddersfield Town.

Then it’s also important to consider the flip side, which in this case would be Watford, winning two and losing two of their previous four home games, beating Arsenal and West Ham United but losing to Stoke City and Manchester City.

Form in football is huge

Next is head-to-head historical form. In the ever-changing football landscape, you don’t want to look too far back into the historical head-to-head results between two teams, but the most recent results from the last few seasons can be quite telling.

On December 1, Malaga vs Levante will be battled out in La Liga, with the home and away odds to win the game at 9/10 and 16/5, respectively. Their head-to-head history sees Malaga win the most recent two games, Levante win the two before that, and Malaga win one at the start of 2015. But, if you look at their head-to-head with regards to home and away, Malaga have won four of the last five matchups when at La Rosaleda, thus giving them an edge here.

Form in each competition can also be important as the manager may focus on one over the others, as can history at certain big venues, such as those used for finals. Last season, Jose Mourinho prioritised the Europa League over the Premier League to gain passage to the Champions League, thus making his Manchester United side less favoured in league matches around games in Europe.

Then, to prove venue form, just look at how Tottenham Hotspur continued their historical struggles at Wembley last season.

Away from football to look at the sports which play games with far more frequency – such as the major USA sports leagues of ice hockey, basketball, and baseball – form is even more important as momentum drives the teams through their crowded fixtures lists. Winning streaks and losing streaks become even more important when games are coming in quick succession.

Injuries, Suspension And Managerial Changes

In all sports, injuries and suspensions have a major impact on games. As every player on the field, rink, or court will have an influence on the game and play a role, losing one to injury will change the dynamic of the team. But it’s not just that a team is going to be without a player, it’s who the team are going to replace the player with and the mismatches that the change can create.

So, are there any major injuries or suspensions in the team? If so, how important was that player to scoring or defending, and how apt is their replacement going to be? Take, for example, Kevin De Bruyne at Manchester City. The guy is a wizard on the ball both when it comes to creating goals and scoring them.

At 41/20 to score anytime against Southampton on November 29, he’s a key part of the team and would be sorely missed if he couldn’t play. However, City are stacked with creative players that can change position or come into the starting XI, with the likes of Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, and David Silva all in their ranks.

Also, if a player is coming back from a recent injury, possibly sooner than expected, it might be a wise to consider them as not being 100 percent. Being out of action for a couple of months can result in a player needing time to get back into the swing of things, or even those nursing niggling injuries can play below par if they’re not fully fit again.

Jose Mourinho

Managerial changes are always tricky to gauge. Sometimes when a team has been in a slump, as soon as their manager gets sacked, the team suddenly begins to play well – possibly to impress their next boss. Then, when a new manager comes in, it can sometimes take a few games for the team to adjust to the new systems put in place.

It’s always good to be aware of how a new manager likes their team to play and is sometimes just worth leaving teams with new managers off of your bet slip for a week or two so that you can see how they perform.

Surrounding Fixtures

This is quite a similar point to one made in the Form section, but if a team are on the cusp of progressing to the next stage or being annihilated in other competitions, such as the Champions League – which Paris Saint-Germain are currently the 13/4 favourites to win – the manager may rotate their team to give them a better chance of winning in the other competition.

So, it’s always a good idea to check the fixtures list and the team’s standing and upcoming opponent in other competitions.

Players Do The Work

Be it for betting on goal scorers or the winner of the game, the form of key players is important, as well as their history against certain clubs. Take, for example, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku.

The big Belgian went on a seven-goal scoring spree in as many games to kick off this Premier League season but then went ice cold and on a four-game goalless streak. But, perhaps predictably, he returned to scoring against Newcastle United, who were his joint-seventh favourite team to score against historically with five goals in eight matchups.

Betting advice

Much like teams having preferred opponents, players do as well. Knowing which clubs certain players, particularly goal scorers, like to prey upon can be very helpful when betting. Lukaku has 11/4 odds to score last in the game against Watford -  as he has done with half of his league goals through 12 games this season –  who he has two goals in four games against historically.

Keep Informed

One of the best tools that a bettor can use is their own knowledge of the game. Watching games in the league, or even just the weekly or nightly highlight shows and flicking through sports news will keep you in-tune with the recent occurrences in the sport which gives you an edge.

Then, if you start to get a gut feeling – which will just be the culmination of your knowledge – about a certain outcome, do some research to shore up your thinking, and then place the bet. Afterall, you’ll be able to see the trends that odds calculators can’t; once again giving you an edge. 

About the Author
By
888sport

The 888sport blog, based at 888 Towers in the heart of London, employs an army of betting and tipping experts for your daily punting pleasure, as well as an irreverent, and occasionally opinionated, look at the absolute madness that is the world of sport.

Related Content
Premier League: Five Things We Learned This Weekend

Premier League: Five Things We Learned This Weekend

Premier League: Five Things We Learned This Weekend

Premier League: Five Things We Learned This Weekend

European Football: Lille Top Best Bets On The Continent

Lille Head 15/2 European Four-Fold

European Football: Lille Top Best Bets On The Continent

Lille Head 15/2 European Four-Fold

Eden Hazard's Chelsea Top Premier League Super Sunday Double

Premier League: Hazard's Chelsea Top 5/1 Double