We’ve written at length on this very site about the increasing prevalence of football ‘player prop’ style bets being offered by UK bookmakers.
Here, you’re wagering on an individual player satisfying the outcome you have bet upon. For example, you can have a flutter on the overs or unders side of player’s shots on target, tackles, fouls, completed passes and more besides.
One of the more recent additions on the part of the bookies is goalkeeper saves, which while not available for every football game you bet on, will typically be allowed for Premier League, Champions League and other major competitions that the bookmaker caters for.
Can You Bet On Goalkeeper Saves?
Yes you can.
While the number of betting sites offering goalkeeper saves is limited, you will still find books taking these bets.
And the good news is that, often but not always, the name of the goalkeeper is not specified – meaning that your bet stands no matter who dons the gloves.
With many player prop bets, your wager will be void and your stake returned if your pick doesn’t start or play a specific number of minutes.
That’s not always the case with goalkeeper saves.
What is a Goalkeeper Save?
Okay, so even the most casual of football followers knows what a goalkeeper save is: it’s the art of stopping the ball from crossing the goal-line.
But when it comes to football betting, it really is worth knowing the OPTA definition of a goalkeeper save: UK bookmakers turn to this statistics agency when they settle their markets.
So, as far as OPTA are concerned, a goalkeeper save is thus:
‘a goalkeeper preventing the ball from entering the goal with any part of their body when facing an intentional attempt from an opposition player.’
There’s no set rules on which body part constitutes a save – so it could be a purposeful palming of the ball away or even an accidental shot to the crown jewels, while each of the various save types described by commentators (catches, parries, punches etc) count.
There are some other scenarios that also add an extra save to the goalkeeper’s ledger. If a defending player inadvertently deflects the ball towards their own goal, the keeper is given the save if they prevent it from crossing the line – as long as, in OPTA’s words, the save is not considered to be a ‘routine collection’ of the ball.
OPTA also give precedence to the most prominent of actions that keeps the ball out of the back of the net. So, if a goalkeeper handles the ball but it still requires a defender to prevent it from entering the goal, this will be classed as a defensive block and not a save.
And if the goalkeeper’s save pushes the ball behind, it will only be counted as a save for betting purposes if the match officials award the corner thereafter.
It’s also worth noting that sometimes a save doesn’t actually get added to a goalkeeper’s tally, which can confuse some punters watching the game at home. For example, if a goalkeeper makes a save but the play is halted due to an earlier offside or infringement, the ‘save’ is unlikely to be counted.
Goalkeeper Saves Betting Strategy
One of the great things about betting on goalkeeper saves is that you don’t need to take a deep dive into the stats, or undertake any comprehensive analysis at all, to conclude which goalkeepers should be very busy during a game – and thus have an opportunity to make plenty of saves.
So when we’re considering the ‘overs’ part of the bet, clearly we want to be wagering on games where a team will face plenty of shots. This can be during contests where there’s a heavy favourite, who therefore should enjoy the bulk of possession and lay siege to their opposition’s goal.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that a goalkeeper will make lots of saves in this scenario – the opponent may be wayward in their shooting or, on the flipside, they may be super accurate; the keeper may not have a chance to save the ball due to the quality of the opposition’s finishing.
But the goalkeeper saves market is one where we must play the percentages; clearly, the best bets to be had are where a team is expected to face stacks of shots.
It doesn’t have to be a completely one-sided affair either: some games between two evenly-matched teams can enjoy plenty of goalmouth action if they are both attack-minded sides who play an open and expansive style of football. In this case, it is worth perusing the stats to see which teams operate in this fashion: metrics like shots for and against, plus xG for and against, fit the bill when a side registers large numbers in these areas.
With many over/under bet types in football and sport in general, punters can become fixated on the ‘overs’ side of the equation – we love to see goals and action as fans of the beautiful game, which then can bleed into our betting as well. But it’s true that the ‘unders’ can also provide plenty of value betting opportunities too.
Let’s consider the alternatives to the scenarios outlined above: when a team dominates possession and is decamped in their opposition’s half of the pitch, their goalkeeper can play with the proverbial ‘pipe and slippers’ – it’s unlikely in this type of football match that he or she will have much to do in the way of saves (remember, a routine collection of a ball heading towards the goal is not classed as a save by OPTA).
Some football games are humdrum affairs too, pitting two timid teams against one another that lack creativity and quality in the final third of the pitch. When these outfits are defence minded too, they generally keep plenty of players behind the ball – resorting to pot-shots from long range. These may be on target and force a save, but the further the shooter is from goal the more likely they are to balloon their shot high and wide, or have it blocked by a defender in their path.