Not only can you bet on particular players hitting X number of tackles, shots, offsides and more in a game but you can also do the same for a team as a whole, perhaps more reliable than pitting all your hopes on one individual to do as expected. This guide will hopefully help you in determining the key factors at play when gambling in these markets.
When it comes to betting on tackles, it’s important to note the definition – set-out by Opta, the data collectors - that the bookmakers will settle on: “where a player connects with the ball in a ground challenge where he successfully takes the ball away from the player in possession. The tackled player must clearly be in possession of the ball before the tackle is made. It is not a tackle, when a player cuts out a pass by any means”. This often leads to contention, and it can be incredibly frustrating when, what appears to be a clear tackle, gets awarded by Opta and then taken away quickly afterwards once the footage is reviewed. Whilst this can put people off the market as a whole, it shouldn’t deter those who are looking to make long-term profit on the props front, which is the aim of the game here.
In relation to team tackles, game context is key. The data is vitally important and should be a guiding principle in this and any other area of props betting, but you need to think outside the box at times to help find an edge over the bookies. If you think a team will be exhibiting plenty of emotion in a match and/or it’s likely to come from the stands and spill over on to the pitch, then backing that side to rack up the tackles could be the way to go but be wary that extra aggression can spill over to ill-discipline and increase the card count rather than the tackle numbers – see Leeds at the end of the 21/22 season as a prime example of this.
A change in manager, like we saw at Elland Road in 2022, can bring about a tweak in style and an increase in the tackle averages, simultaneously it could also go the other way so it’s worth gaining an understanding of how a team is likely to set-up before putting any money down. Caretaker managers being installed can boost the tackle numbers of a team but it is not always a blanket case. When it has worked, the jump in the figures is stark. When Duncan Ferguson took control of Everton in December 2019 v Chelsea, the Toffees won an astronomical 36 tackles on the day, over double their season average of 17.6 and in the 2021/22 season we saw a repeat when playing Aston Villa, the Blues winning 24 against the backdrop of their 18.6 average for the campaign.
Of course, the opposition are key. If you’re backing a team to hit a certain tackle line, you want them to be facing an opponent with plenty of players who like to attempt dribbles – Crystal Palace for example. The bookies will be clued up to this though and adjust their lines to suit the statistics and the value could be very hard to find. PlayerStats shows the for and against tackles figures on the team totals page (second line) which is a decent starting point.
A more unique market but one that can bare fruit if you know what you’re looking for.
The starting line-ups, usually announced one hour before kick-off, are key here (as they are in truth in all the markets covered in this guide) to give you an idea of the way a team is set-up to approach a match. The personnel/formation deployed can be a good indicator as to how a manager wants him side to approach the match. For example, if an away side are playing a pacy wide man through the middle rather than out wide, they may well be looking to play him on the shoulder of the last defender for those (perhaps) rare moments that they have possession of the ball on the transition, so figuring out the game plan is key. That wide man might appeal in the player offside markets too by playing more central, though that isn’t always a blanket rule. This can typically occur for bottom-half teams away at the top six, but we’ve seen ‘traditional’ top sides try it too (see Rashford at Anfield in 2021 for example, ending the game with 5 offsides).
Speaking of Anfield, that is where you tend to find a high number of offside numbers for visiting teams due to the high defensive line adopted by Jurgen Klopp’s men. Liverpool’s opponents across the 2021/22 season recorded an incredible 144 offsides, 50 more than against any other team and an increase of the same figure from the previous campaign which just goes to show how adventurous the Reds are, even if that high-risk approach can result in some goals conceded over time, particularly if they are without Virgil Van Dijk who orchestrates the back line superbly.
PlayerStats holds data on offsides, where you can see the team for/against totals for each recent match in the screenshot below (‘for’ the bigger number on the offsides row, ‘against’ the smaller number in the corner). Again, this can be found on the ‘team total stats’ page.
Shots/Shots on Target/Goal-Kicks
When looking at team shots, game context is key.
What is riding on the game for both sides? There can especially be plenty of value come the end of the season, with teams getting into desperate territory in the search for title wins/promotion/survival. If a side need a result, you may see them recording higher shot numbers than their average suggests and the lines put up by bookies could represent value. Similarly, I like to look to two-legged affairs for opportunities to back shots as well. If one team is trailing after the first leg, the return game could be an opportunity to back them to rack up the efforts on goal in a route to get back in to the tie as they throw more caution to the wind.
A manager change can bring about more freedom and an adventurous approach that may not have been seen under the previous man in charge, so I would suggest keeping a close eye on those during the season in an effort to find a potential angle.
As for the remaining factors, the underlying data, which can be seen on the PlayerStats team totals dashboard (below), should form a key part of your determination as to whether you’ve found a value play or not. Furthermore, the state of the opposition and their shots conceded averages should be considered as, if the team you are looking to back are facing a stingy opponent, then it might be one where you want to avoid or lower your stakes.
Be aware though – an early red card or goal scored for the team you are backing can kill your bet but sometimes it goes in your favour if the sending off falls the other way or your team concedes early and is chasing the game for most of the 90 minutes. Some books will offer odds on team shots/shots on target in-play too so if you’re quick off the mark, you might be able to take advantage of a market that is linked to shots is goal-kicks, where you can bet on the number that a team will take in a given match, usually televised Premier League matches. Only kicks taken will count towards the total, as per the rules of Bet365, the single mainstream bookmaker to offer odds of this kind.
If you think a team is going to have plenty of shots on goal but are not that confident about too many of them hitting the target, you may find more value in backing their opponents to take X amount of goal kicks over and above the more conventional ‘team shots’ markets. Again, PlayerStats hold this data towards the bottom of their team total stats pages, which can be seen for Manchester City (as an example) below, both for and against.
I won’t go in to too much detail here as much of it I covered in the pre-match and in-play cards guide (links) but in summary, the referee appointment is key as well as any history between the two teams (rivalry), as well as the overall game context. Fouls are much more prominent in Spain, Portugal, Italy than they are in France, England and Germany and the odds on offer will reflect that, but you can still cash in if you pick and choose your games right.
The free-kicks market is only available on Bet365’s bet builder, typically in selected, televised English top-flight games. It’s important to note that this market counts free-kicks as a result of offsides on top of fouls, but the odds will often reflect this as they will generally be less generous than other bookmakers offering prices in the fouls market. Free-kicks must be taken for them to count towards the total, with those awarded but not taken on the stroke of half-time/full-time not included for settlement purposes.
PlayerStats data comes in to it’s own again here, with fouls and free-kicks conceded/earned are both displayed on the team total stats pages.
The final market I want to cover on the team props front is throw-ins. The only featured bookmaker that you can placed bets on throw-ins is Bet365, with their rules stating (you’ll be sensing a theme here) must be taken to count towards the settlement total rather than just awarded – it has caught people out before for those given just before half-time/full-time but not taken before the referee blows their whistle!
When considering value with regards to throw-ins, the starting point should be the trend in the numbers which will help you establish a baseline to measure value against. PlayerStats displays throw-in data for recent fixtures both for and against.
From a tactical point of view, I always like to look to teams that attack with a lot of width as favourable to win plenty of throw-ins. For example, in the 2021/22 Premier League, Crystal Palace and Watford featured in the top four sides with the lowest percentage of attacks down the middle of the pitch and also were the top two teams for throw-ins taken in the entire league.
Another leaning is to back unders/avoid backing high numbers in games involving teams that keep good possession of the ball, the likes of Manchester City as a good case in point. A vast majority of their passes within a match will be short ones and the ball is therefore in play much more than lower down the football pyramid. However, Bet365 will usually only offer throw-in odds in the Football League in play-off games and the starting lines represent little to no value at all!
Whilst the gain from single throw-in bets can sometimes be minimal, they are good selections to form part of a bet builder so should not be ignored by any sensible props punter.