Welcome to the first in a series of articles where we will use real life data and betting odds from providers such as bet365 Sport, to look at some of the most popular types of bets and why despite appearing to the contrary, they can still be difficult to land regularly.

We’re starting this series with a look at one of football (soccer) betting’s most popular betting markets, that for the first goalscorer in any game, although the tips here will also apply to the last goalscorer market too.  

Why is it that this bet, which seems somewhat easier to predict than many others, is still a difficult bet to hit on a regular basis even for the most consistent of teams and players?

As is the case with most of these types of bets, the reason bets appear easier than they actually are to hit are often due to a number of incorrect, or overly optimistic assumptions made by punters about this type of bet.

In each of these guides, we’ll look at what these misguided assumptions are and check them against real life data for these bets, before we draw our own conclusions.

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First Goalscorer Bet – Common Assumptions

There are a number of assumptions punters will commonly make when betting on First Goalscorers in a game which can often be faulty, inaccurate, or just plain illogical.

Here’s a list some of the most common:

  • “If I back a team that scores a lot of goals then that gives me a better chance”
  • “On that team, I should just back the top goalscorer for that team each time I want to place the bet.”
  • “Backing a player from the home team is a better option than backing an away team player.”
  • “This player hasn’t scored for a good number of games, so they are overdue a goal.”
  • “Player X has scored the most goals for Team Y this season, and most of them must have been the first goal in games”
  • “If I back the top goalscorer in Team Y every week, then I will likely win more often than by backing different players and/or different players on different teams.”
  • “I only back strikers in this bet as they tend to score the most goals and therefore the most first goals in a game.”

What Does Real World Data Say About These Assumptions?

At first glance, many of the assumptions we have listed above seem to make at least some kind of logical sense.

But the real issue here is not so much the assumptions themselves, but the amount by which punters will overestimate how these assumptions will increase their chances of landing a win.

Let’s now take a look at some real-world data to illustrate this point and for this we are going to use a player that has taken the Premier League by storm this season when it comes to goalscoring, Manchester City striker Erling Haaland.

Raw Data – Manchester City & Erling Haaland (as of 16th Jan 2023)

  • Manchester City Games Played – 18
  • Manchester City Goals Scored – 46
  • Erling Haaland Games Played – 17
  • Erling Haaland Goals Scored – 21

So we know that Haaland has played in 17 games in those games, so let us say we placed a £10 bet on him to be first goalscorer in each of those games. Given that he has scored 21 goals this season, how many goals do you think would be a reasonable number for him to have scored the opening goal? 10 perhaps? 12? 8?

Additionally, let’s say the average odds you’d get on Haaland to be the first goalscorer in these games would be 2/1 (which is based on the 7/4 price you can get on him being first goalscorer in the Manchester City v Wolves game coming up at the weekend).

That means for every game of the 17 Haaland has played for City this season, each time he was the first goalscorer, you would earn £20 in profit, plus get your £10 stake money back.

Let’s also say that another punter backed him to be the last goalscorer in all those games at the same odds of 2/1 and with the same £10 bet made on each match of the 17 he has played.

So how many games would we have earned a payout from this bet?

Betting Data – Erling Haaland (Man City) First & Last Goalscorer Payouts

Out of all the games Manchester City has played this season, these are the games where one or both of the punters above would have earned a payout.

  • Match 1 – v West Ham (A) – W 2-0 – Haaland scored both first and last goals.
  • Match 4 – v Crystal Palace (H) – W 4-2 – Haaland scored the last goal.
  • Match 5 – v Nottm Forest (H) – W 6-0 – Haaland scored the first goal
  • Match 6 – v Aston Villa (A) – D 1-1 – Haaland scored the first goal
  • Match 10 – v Southampton (H) – W 4-0 – Haaland scored the last goal
  • Match 13 – v Brighton (H) – W 3-1 – Haaland scored the first goal
  • Match 15 – v Fulham (A) – W 2-1 – Haaland scored the last goal
  • Match 18 – v Everton (H) – D 1-1 – Haaland scored the first goal

First Goalscorer Bet – Total Bet Stakes – £170 – Total Returns – £150 (-£20 so far this season)

Last Goalscorer Bet – Total Bet Stakes – £170 – Total Returns – £120 (-£50 so far this season)

Of course, these are not exact and entirely accurate figures. Haaland’s odds of being the first goalscorer will vary from game to game, so we had to use an average, but what this data does show is that even for a player that is setting incredible records for goalscoring in the Premier League this season, backing him regularly in either the first or last goalscorer markets won’t guarantee a profit.

Would Anytime Goalscorer Betting on Haaland be more profitable?

Of course, in addition to betting on the First and Last Goalscorer with bet365 Sport, you can also bet on the Anytime Goalscorer market.

This market offers far more flexibility than the first or last goalscorer markets as any goal at any point in the game counts.

However, the downside of these bets is that the odds are markedly shorter than the first or last goalscorer market odds.

For example, in the coming weekend game against Wolves, Haaland is 4/9 to score at any time against Wolves. That means if you bet £10, you would win £4.44 as well as receiving your £10 stake back for a total return of £14.44.

Let’s assume that the 4/9 odds were the average for the course of the season for this bet on Haaland, would we have fared any better?

Betting Data – Erling Haaland (Man City) – Anytime Goalscorer Payouts

Well, the data reveals that in 18 matches played so far, Haaland has scored in 12 of those games, each of which would generate a return on the Anytime Goalscorer market.

  • V West Ham (2 goals)
  • V Newcastle (1 goal)
  • V Crystal Palace (3 goals)
  • V Nottingham Forest (3 goals)
  • V Aston Villa (1 goal)
  • V Wolves (1 goals)
  • V Man Utd (3 goals)
  • V Southampton (1 goal)
  • V Brighton (2 goals)
  • V Fulham (1 goal)
  • V Leeds (2 goals)
  • V Everton (1 goal)

Anytime Goalscorer – Total Betting Stakes – £170 – Total Returns – £173.28 (£3.28 profit)

So as you can see, while you get shorter odds for the Anytime Goalscorer market, often it may be the better value when it comes to long term betting on goalscorer markets simply because of the flexibility it offers for the player to score any goal at any point in the game.

However, it should be noted that this data is based on a player that has scored 21 goals in 17 games in the Premier League and the returns for Haaland will be considerably greater than for other top strikers in the EPL (such as Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, Marcus Rashford etc) and as such, these values are probably much greater in value than you would get with other players.

What Can We Conclude About First Goalscorer Betting From This?

As we can see, some of the logic behind backing the ‘obvious’ players for the first and last goalscorer market does not pan out well over the course of around half a season. It’s safe to assume that similar results will likely come in the 2nd half of the EPL season too.

So, to conclude, it is fair to say that First or Last Goalscorer betting is much more difficult to hit consistently than you would expect, even if you bet on players and teams that score lots of goals in their games.

Anytime Goalscorer betting offers a better chance of success, but does not seem to be massively more profitable either, however over the longer term, it does appear to be the best market for punters to bet on if they enjoy goalscorer betting.