Away form has improved in the absence of home fans in the Premier League
In a season where Burnley have enjoyed wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton, it perhaps comes as little surprise to find that performances of away teams have improved by 20% without crowds attending Premier League matches.
New research shows that since games moved behind closed doors as a result of the pandemic, the notion of home advantage has become less of an issue, with fans unable to play a part on matchdays.
Research from sports data providers Sportmonks has analysed all Premier League games played without fans from March 2020 to January 2021, and compared the results against every game from the previous five seasons, going back to the start of the 2014/15 season.
Every goal scored, card shown and shot attempted has been analysed to show how these numbers have changed in the last year, and determine whether away teams and referees really have performed better without crowd pressure.
The results show that on average, teams had an away from home win rate of 0.36 - a 20% increase from the previous average figure of 0.30 - while home teams have seen their success rate drop from 0.45 to 0.40.
This suggests that while home teams still have an advantage without fans in the ground, it is much less evident than prior to the pandemic.
There has also been a significant increase in goals scored by away teams, up 13.56% from 1.18 goals scored per game to 1.34, while home teams score just 1.44 per game without fans compared to 1.52 previously.
This means the average score in each Premier League match is now 1.44 - 1.34 (home - away), whereas it used to be 1.52 - 1.18.
Interestingly, referees have also been affected by the absence of crowds and the pressure that is placed upon them.
The data provided by Sportmonks proves that fans can have an influence on the performance of referees, with fewer yellow cards handed out on average across the board.
However there is a significant drop in the number of yellows shown to away teams without the influence of home crowds, with 1.51 yellows shown to away teams behind closed doors compared to 1.81 when fans were allowed in.
The number of yellows shown to home teams has also dropped, but from 1.59 per game to 1.54. This means that roughly the same number of yellow cards are shown to home and away teams without fans in the ground (1.54 - 1.51), whereas previously there was a significant advantage in favour of home teams (1.59 - 1.81).
The number of red cards has also levelled out, with 0.06 reds shown per game to both home and away sides without fans, compared to 0.05 previously for home teams and 0.07 for away sides.
Sportmonks have also analysed the individual data of each team in the league, to show which sides have particularly benefited without crowds.
Research shows that away goals have been at a greater rate from the start of the 2020/21 season to January than ever before, with bottom half teams scoring 1.1 goals per away game, mid-table sides scoring 1.3 and top six sides 1.84 - all the highest figures from the last five years of data.
To access the full dataset and breakdown of Premier League figures, visit https://www.sportmonks.com/blogs/home-alone-football-crowd-data/.