Why you should watch the Eredivisie (2): Goals, goals, goals

The weekend’s nine Eredivisie matches produced 36 goals with four hat-tricks including two by players from the same team. It therefore seems to be the right time to focus on another attractive aspect of Eredivisie football – goals.

Dries Mertens (PSV) v VVV (30 sep 2012)


Over the last 20 seasons, there has been an average of 3.04 goals per Eredivisie match. Recording such a high goalscoring average over such a length of time is extremely unusual in European top flight competitions. Aaron Nielsen at @ENBSports informed me that other than the Eredivisie, only Norway and Switzerland amongst European top flight leagues have averaged more than three goals per match in his database. I looked up the last 20 years of those for comparative purposes and found that Norway averaged 3.20 goals per match over the same period but that the trend of goalscoring there was down with four of the last five seasons – including this one – recording averages under three goals per match. In Switzerland, the average was also over three with a lot of volatility from season to season.

Jozy Altidore(AZ) v RKC (30 sep 2012)

In the Netherlands, goalscoring remains relatively stable as well as keeping the average above three per season. Dutch clubs have scored well over three goals per season over the last two years and this season has begun in similar fashion although the number of matches played to date is clearly too small to make any conclusions. The Eredivisie attracts over 19,000 people per match making it one of the best supported competitions in Europe and a fairer comparison than one with Norway and Switzerland is to look at the other well supported competitions.

Christian Eriksen (Ajax) v Twente (29 sep 2012)

Lex Immers (Feyenoord) v NEC (29 sep 2012)

Of the top six best supported leagues in Europe no other can boast a 20 season average of over three goals per match. In fact, the German Bundesliga is the only one of those leagues to have had even one season during that period in which its matches averaged three goals. That was the 1994/1995 season but the Eredivisie dwarfed it even then with 3.21 goals per match compared to the Bundesliga’s 3.00.


A few notes from the graph
– The Premier League appears to be on an upward trend after spending most of its history with an average of around 2.6 goals per match. The last three seasons have averaged between 2.77 and 2.81 goals per match.
– Something similar is happening in La Liga with the last five seasons averaging between 2.69 and 2.90 goals, figures which were single season outliers in the past.
– The Bundesliga average remains remarkably consistent and has a standard deviation of just 0.09, the smallest amongst these six leagues.
– France’s Ligue 1 has been the lowest scoring league in all but one of the last 20 seasons.

So, the Eredivisie consistently records the most goals per match amongst the biggest competitions and only two European top flight leagues – Norway and Switzerland – also average over three goals per match. A good enough reason to regularly watch?

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