We’ve all seen the stats flying around this week about Crystal Palace’s 2016 performances, 22 points equating to 0.71 points per game. One thing I will say however, is that Crystal Palace’s aim last season was to stay up and have a cup run, that was achieved. Palace are an excellent example of regression to the mean, on December 19th 2015 they’d just beaten Stoke away from home. Everything was looking rosey, sitting 6th in the league, level on points with 4th placed Spurs and 5th placed Manchester United after 17 games. There was talk about European qualification and this being the greatest time in the history of the club. However, a closer look at the numbers suggested that Crystal Palace were massively overachieving and their league position wasn’t sustainable.
At this time Alan Pardew’s side had conceded the most (281) shots in the league, yet only 25.27% of these, a league low, had been on target. That 25.27% is generally unsustainable. These numbers led to Palace only conceding from 5.69% of the shots they faced. The only side to go through a season and concede from a lower % than that, was the Chelsea side of 2004-05, with 5.17%. That Chelsea side won the league with a record 95 points, were 12 points clear of 2nd placed Arsenal and only conceded 304 shots in the entire season. The Palace side of 2015-16, were nowhere near the best side in the history of the league. It was safe to assume, on December 19th 2015, that it was long odds-on for Palace to start conceding from a lot more of the shots they faced in the second half of the season, as the league average is around 10.3%. After that victory at Stoke, Crystal Palace went on to win two of their remaining 21 games, in which they conceded 288 shots, but instead of 5.69% finding the back of the net, this number rose to 12.15%. They had gone from conceding 16 goals in their first 17 games, to conceding 35 in their final 21. The media and fans were shocked by this, but a look at the underlying statistics showed that it was coming. Shot difference tables had Crystal Palace sitting between 15th and 18th position for the majority of last season, they finished 15th.
Fast forward to this season and Crystal Palace sit 9th in the shot difference table with +11 and 9th in the Shot on Target difference table, with -3. However, Palace currently sit in 16th in the league. On closer inspection at the data available, Crystal Palace are conceding from 13.13% of the shots they face, which is 38.18% of the SOTs against them, these numbers are generally unsustainable over a 38 game season and therefore naturally I expect to see them come down. The way this needs to come down is very simple; they’re conceding way too many goals from corners/set pieces. On average around 5% of corners result in a goal being scored, so far this season Crystal Palace have conceded 72 corners, resulting in 6 goals scored. That 8.33% Corner:Goal ratio is too high and is down to bad luck and/or poor coaching. Either way it should be something that will sort itself out naturally or easily coached. Remember this is almost the same defence that didn’t concede from a corner in over half a season under Tony Pulis. Palace fans should be a lot more worried if they were conceding more goals from open play or posting shots for/against numbers, which were way outside the normal boundaries. As it stands, I don’t believe they can actually get any worse, so the only way is up.
Looking at this weekend’s match, I have the Goal Expectancies as Swansea 1.21 v 1.43 Crystal Palace. These numbers mean that I make Crystal Palace favourites to come away with the three points. However 1-1 is the most likely score, which I’ve priced up at 8.12. The most likely away win is 0-1; I’ve priced this at 9.84, followed by 1-2 at 11.30. The most likely correct home win is 1-0; I’ve priced it at 11.66, whilst 2-1 is 13.39.
From an Asian Handicapping point of view, I believe that backing Crystal Palace on a 0 line is the best bet. That means stakes are returned in the event of a draw. My numbers suggest that Palace will have more shots (8.70) than Swansea (8.16) and are therefore more likely to score. This belief is also strengthened by the fact that Crystal Palace have scored the 6th highest number of goals in the league, whilst posting sustainable attacking numbers.
Another beneficial factor for Palace this weekend, is that Swansea are a below average side when it comes to winning corners. The average number of corners a side is winning per game this season is 5.17; Swansea are currently winning 3.92 per game. Although, it’s worth noting that Palace are conceding above the average with 6 per game.
As I’ve said above, Crystal Palace are posting solid and consistent shots for numbers, so there’s no reason to believe the goals will dry up. However, regression to the mean should see them start to concede less, especially from corners, in the coming months.
BACK CRYSTAL PALACE 0 ASIAN HANDICAP at 2.07 (Bet Victor)