Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool lost three games in a row at Anfield. Anfield has long been a fortress, going 68 games without defeat at home. But with the Kop still quiet, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to call for games without fans, and after defeats against Burnley, Brighton and Manchester City, the fear factor is at an all-time low.

Before Sunday’s game against City, Klopp told Pep Guardiola: We don’t talk about partisans because we know how much they can help. We have always known this and have been able to ignore it for a long time, at least as far as the results are concerned. The last few weeks, you can’t do that.

Liverpool lost that match 4-1. For years we could not win here, and we hope we can win next time with people, Mr Guardiola said. Anfield is so scary. Anfield is always impressive, but with people it is even more so.

Liverpool have been anything but unique in the Premier League this season. Of the 17 teams that played in Ligue 1 last season, only five (Chelsea, Aston Villa, Southampton, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur) have improved their form playing in front of empty stands compared to their form in front of Coronavir surrounded by warm supporters.

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It is understandable that without fans in the stadium and with fans behind them, the hosts have no advantage, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said when asked by ESPN. It’s simple, teams had more problems at home than outside – that’s the only reason.

But the impact is different for every team and every player. This led to a conversation about testosterone levels, behavioral changes, and motivational deficiencies. It could also cost managers their jobs. While fans are still blocked, we spoke to managers, players, psychologists and statisticians to find out if playing at home gives you an advantage.

Additional features by Lewis Holman, Mark Ogden, James Ollie, Rob Dawson, Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal and Sam Porscamp.

What the statistics say

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest developments and discuss the biggest stories. Streaming on ESPN+ (United States only).

In short, the data suggest both an equalization of return home benefits and a fluctuation in disciplinary trends. ESPN’s statistics and data team analyzed 288 Premier League games before the start of the 2019-20 season and 317 games after the restart (the rest of the 2019-20 and 20-21 seasons so far). The statistics showed that the number of goals scored at home decreased (from 1.5 to 1.4 before and after the ban) and the number of goals scored away increased by 18% after the ban.

Teams abroad also performed better: Home wins were down 2%, but away wins were up 26% compared to the pre and post lockout periods. Yellow cards for away teams also fell from an average of 1.9 per game to 1.5 per game in front of an empty stand, although the number of fouls remained about the same. It also reflects the pressure from the judges we analyzed in June.

Effect of empty shelves

Liverpool Anfield have long been their not-so-secret weapons. But without fans, the record of invincibility is gone, as is the feeling of invincibility that surrounds them at home. Paul Ellis – Pool/Getty Images

There is a difference between home and away games, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said in December. The other feeling is playing without the fans behind the goal at Stretford End – they usually score the goals for us. The same goes for other intimidating stands, such as the Liverpool Cop End or the Crystal Palace stand at Holmesdale Road.

The intimidation factor is taken away from the opponent, Michael Caulfield, one of Britain’s leading sports psychologists, told ESPN. In a way, it’s almost a friendly preseason with no one around.

When the Premier League on the 17th. June came back after the first pitch, the bleachers remained empty. Some fans were allowed to return in December for various reasons – the number depended on government regulations related to the severity of the COWID-19 outbreak in that part of the country – but the number was limited to 2,000 per game. Even though there were still many empty seats, the players felt the advantage.

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Unfortunately, these are difficult times for everyone and we want the fans to come back because we know they will help us a lot, especially at Anfield, Liverpool’s Fabinho said. If they had been there at the games against [Manchester] United and Burnley, I’m sure the results would have been different with that kind of support. Even when we had 2,000 fans at the games against Wolves and Tottenham, we felt the big difference.

Liverpool suffered the most from the effect of the empty stands, but Brighton, Newcastle and Sheffield United also had to make do without fans. Liverpool’s form has also been linked to an injury crisis, with three central defenders missing with long-term injuries and the team struggling with mental fatigue, according to Klopp. They have won 10 of their 16 home games since the lockout – an average of two points per game at Anfield – compared to last season’s remarkable 100% record until half-time.

Anfield without fans is just Anfield; Anfield with 60,000 Liverpool fans chasing a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona is literally noise and support, Caulfield said.

If you get the public out, it’s a huge drain on productivity, it doesn’t deter opponents, and it’s become very entrenched. The data proves it. The elimination of the latter helped smooth out the difficulties beyond belief.

Sean Dyche’s Burnley broke Liverpool’s unbeaten record at Anfield by winning on 21. January won by 1:0. When asked by ESPN what he thought was causing the growing trend of teams winning fewer home games, Dihe also pointed to the stark reality of empty seats.

The most obvious is the local public, Dyche said. A certain crowd, of course, the Liverpool crowd, who stay with their team a little longer when things aren’t going well – there was an old saying that the crowd would suck the ball into the paddock.

Dyche also listed some clubs that could benefit from the absence of fans. Of course, there are a handful of clubs where the public can be effective for opponents because the public can demand more from players than others who sometimes have to play against the home team – depending on the season and form, Dyche said. In fact, the local audience makes a big difference.



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West Ham, sixth in the league, took full advantage of the empty stands – they scored 29.73% more points than before the ban. Aston Villa, Chelsea and Southampton also saw an increase in points in game time due to home injuries. Of course, other factors also play a role: Villa improved their form considerably last season and Southampton have also improved under Ralph Hasenhuttle.

They are unbeaten at home since Thomas Tuchel arrived at Chelsea, where they played 0-0 against Wolves and then beat Burnley 2-0. At Frank Lampard’s former manager’s last game against Luton Town at the Shed End, there was a banner reading In Frank We Trust: So… Right away. Forever. Absent fans still wanted to show their support for Lampard. Sources close to Lampard told ESPN that he believes he would have more time if Stamford Bridge were full every week, although Stamford Bridge’s record without fans has actually improved and Chelsea have scored 20 percent more points at home in the post-break period than before the break.

Arsenal’s record with and without fans: They scored 2.23% fewer points in their home games after the defeat compared to last season. But sources told ESPN that Mikel Arteta feels his job at Arsenal is being hampered by the lack of fans. The rift between the team and fans has widened under former coach Unai Emery, and Arteta feels he has largely been denied the chance to rebuild that relationship. Sources close to the club also said that the team is mentally fragile and would have benefited from the fans’ support in overcoming difficult moments during tight games.

We know that home form will be crucial to our success and we need to change that immediately, Arteta said in December after collecting 13 points in the first 10 league games. If we want to do something important and relevant this season, we need to win at home.

Mourinho spoke of immersion, performance and the experience without fans in the stands. JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho also saw a difference in the FA Cup experience. His Spurs went to the bottom of the Marine standings in the third round, and although fans watched over the garden fences during the game, he feels the empty stands robbed opponents of their uniqueness.

The FA Cup is a special competition where, even with a full stadium, the generally weak teams bring many more fans than in the Premier League, Mourinho said when asked by ESPN about the different trends in home advantage.

I must admit that in the Premier League it is one thing to play in front of full stadiums and another thing to play in front of empty ones.

I think it affects some outcomes. Let’s give you an example. We lost 1-0 to Chelsea, we played much better in the second half than in the first. In the last 20 minutes, the team started to press hard and get closer. I think an entire stadium can have an impact on a team, and I think that happens in every stadium. So the audience makes the difference, I think.

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Dyche believes that home fans generally have an impact on their team’s performance, and that this season will affect home and away games the most. But he also pointed out the effects of empty stands on his players, as psychologists and statisticians have found that testosterone levels are affected, concentration decreases and players cannot use fear as motivation when the seat is empty.

Effect on actor

Klopp Liverpool have had several uneven results this season. They were beaten 7-0 at Crystal Palace, but also suffered a 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa in October. The heavy defeat came in a series of high-profile Premier League games (Manchester United lost 6-1 at home to Tottenham and Leicester beat Man City 5-2), and Klopp attributed the defeat to the players’ poor concentration at the time.

The audience, or the crowd, they sharpen your focus, which is good. And you still have to do it yourself, but that’s no excuse, Ms Klopp said.

The experience was not easy for Klopp’s players and the silent Kop.

It’s hard because people don’t realize how much influence fans have on game plans, for example. B. the dynamics and sounds you hear …. I miss the fans so much, Trent Alexander-Arnold told Ian Wright in December. A player from another major club told ESPN that he struggled to find his usual late-game drive when chasing a big goal. The final throws of the game saw them slip to side passes, while before that they were scolded by the fans for playing conservatively and choosing the first way.

Dr. Dyche also discussed previous scientific research on varying levels of testosterone in gamers as another factor contributing to the widespread use of home gaming.

Years ago there was a test – football and rugby – for testosterone levels, and home players have higher testosterone levels because of the support, the feeling of the home crowd, Dyche said. If it’s small fields, small fields between 11 players and fewer players, it adds up.

The emotional behavior of gamblers also changes when they play privately, according to a study by Michael Leitner and Fabio Rihlan, published in the journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications.

The study examined the effect of ghost matches on players, staff and officials using a proprietary system for analyzing emotional behavior in football. Using their own criteria and scoring system, they analysed 20 matches of RB Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga and concluded that the absence of fans has a significant influence on the perception and behaviour of players, staff and officials.

Studies have shown that fair play (good sportsmanship) has increased and that referees are less involved in emotional situations (arguments, fights, disagreements) on the field. They noted that stakeholders are less likely to engage in longer and more extensive verbal exchanges and discussions. Instead, there was an increase in self-criticism, with players blaming themselves rather than others after a missed opportunity and protesting when players shook their heads or gestured about decisions rather than responding verbally.



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According to Caulfield, the impact of empty stands on players is subjective. Some can thrive without the threat or fear of the crowd, but for many players it’s a challenge because they’re competitive animals who want to behave well in front of the field, he told ESPN. The audience is their reaction – think of the greatest comedians of the moment, their reaction is the laughter or silence of the audience. Football is always the same: Fun, roar and excitement.

How many times did you hear the crowd pushing us, and scoring in front of them was the best feeling. Here we go. Don’t be surprised if the level drops from time to time because nothing comes back.

Does the same thing happen in other European countries?

Business professors (Carl Singleton, James Reed of the University of Reading and Dominique Schreyer of Washington State University, Otto Beisheim School of Management) have analyzed the benefits of home ownership across Europe. In their paper Eliminating Supportive Crowds, they found that the home advantage decreased by 3% for games without a crowd, including in their analysis of the 2002 games.

In the Eredivisie in the Netherlands, the difference is greatest in favour of the away team. Before the lockout the hosts won an average of 55 per cent of their home games, 38 per cent after that, Feyenoord manager Dick Advocaat told ESPN ahead of the trip to Ajax in January: As a footballer you want to play in a full stadium and feel the passion and emotion that brings. But the fact that there are no spectators in the Johan Cruyff Arena is to our advantage: We have to be honest.

Teams further down the league, such as Emmen – last in the Eredivisie with no wins in 21 games – mourn the loss of their twelfth place. We miss the crowd 100 percent, Dick Lucchien, manager of FC Emmen, told ESPN. If you look at the last few years, it’s been a perfect partnership. We’re his victims now. I think that cost us a lot of points. The lack of audience is very important to us.

In the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund’s home record is poor compared to last season’s pre-season. Before last season’s break, Dortmund were still unbeaten at home. After the lockout, they lost 6 of 14 home games in the league. The players miss their legendary yellow retaining wall in Sudtribune. said interim boss Edin Terzic after the win in Leipzig on 9. January in the air: Of course we miss our fans. Every time we go on the pitch, they sing Let’s go to Dortmund, fight and win – that’s the slogan we work hard for.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorz spoke to Bild on the 16th. of January about the draw in Mainz: We miss the south stand. Having the fans behind us helps a lot.



Steve Nicol feels that Man City have shown a lot of confidence in their defence during their record period.

In La Liga, Real Madrid have lost a total of eight games in all competitions this season, four of them at home, all against supposedly weaker teams (defeats to Cadiz, Alaves and Levante in La Liga and a 3-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League). According to ESPN sources, the club realized the big difference between playing in front of a full house at the Santiago Bernabeu and an empty Alfredo Di Stefano stadium at a training ground on the outskirts of Madrid.

The order of play of the players has also changed. Take the big European games at the Bernabeu: Upon arrival at the stadium, there were usually thousands of fans on the bus with the team. Now when the team plays in Valdebas, she doesn’t even get on the bus, she just walks from the neighboring hometown after the team meeting. I don’t like playing without fans, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said last June.

In Barcelona, a source told ESPN that playing in stadiums like Osasuna, traditionally considered very heavy and claustrophobic, is much less stressful without the fans. (Six La Liga teams have more home wins than draws and defeats this season, and three of them – Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid – have as many away wins as Sevilla). But the players miss the fans.

It’s terrible to play without fans, it’s a very bad first, Leo Messi said in December. Seeing no one [in the stands] is a little bit like working out, and it’s very hard to really get into the swing of things at the beginning of the game.

The truth is that it’s very ugly and that’s why we see games like this. It’s very hard to win no matter who you play against, the pandemic has changed football a lot, and for the worse. You can see it in the games, and I hope this all comes to an end soon and we can get the fans back in the stadiums and allow them to get back to their normal lives.

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