A Probabilistic Model for Predicting Shot Success in Football

01/06/2021 ∙ by Edward Wheatcroft, et al. ∙ 0

Football forecasting models traditionally rate teams on past match results, that is based on the number of goals scored. Goals, however, involve a high element of chance and thus past results often do not reflect the performances of the teams. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that accounting for other match events such as shots at goal can provide a better indication of the relative strengths of two teams than the number of goals scored. Forecast models based on this information have been shown to be successful in outperforming those based purely on match results. A notable weakness, however, is that this approach does not take into account differences in the probability of shot success among teams. A team that is more likely to score from a shot will need fewer shots to win a match, on average. In this paper, we propose a simple parametric model to predict the probability of a team scoring, given it has taken a shot at goal. We show that the resulting forecasts are able to outperform a model assuming an equal probability of shot success among all teams. We then show that the model can be combined with predictions of the number of shots achieved by each team, and can increase the skill of forecasts of both the match outcome and of whether the total number of goals in a match will exceed 2.5. We assess the performance of the forecasts alongside two betting strategies and find mixed evidence for improved performance.

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