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The Science Behind Why Arsenal Keep Dropping Points Late At Night

How does kick-off time affect the Gunners this season? A look at the data

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Unfortunately, Villa Park wasn’t a happy hunting ground for the Gunners this year. While I’m never happy to see Arsenal lose, I found it interesting that there was a similarity between this match and all the other matches Arsenal have lost this season; it was an away fixture played late at night.

So far this season Arsenal have only lost 4 matches in all competitions. These were away at night to Villa, Newcastle, West Ham, and Lens.

Home advantage is one of the most widely recognised phenomena in sports science. Teams, by in large, tend to win more of their home games than their away games. While doing my PhD at University College Cork in Ireland I performed a statistical analysis on the effect which kick-off time has on home advantage in the Premier League.

I found that even if you control for fixture difficulty, attendance, red cards, relative age of teams, distance between teams and the time of the season, home advantage seems to be stronger during later kick-offs and weaker during earlier kick-offs.

I call this the night owl effect.

The reason for this finding could be because later kick-off times facilitate greater alcohol consumption among fans which could create a more hostile atmosphere for away teams to play in. Alternatively, it could also be a result of late away games reducing the number of travelling supporters and thus, reducing the support for away players.

My research in this area was what made me less than surprised to see that Arsenal struggled away to Newcastle and Aston Villa. If you look at the number of points Arsenal have dropped this season, the vast majority of them come from late away games.

Arsenal have so far dropped 12 points in the Premier League. 8 of these points came from late away games (lost at Newcastle, lost at Villa, and drew at Chelsea). The remaining 4 points which Arsenal dropped came from early or afternoon kick-offs (draws to Spurs and Fulham).

This pattern doesn’t make for a hopeful outlook for Arsenal’s away trip to Anfield which kicks off at 17:30.

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