Football’s most exciting stadiums
Football’s most exciting stadiums

Football’s most exciting stadiums

Easter Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Arsenal saw Anfield once again live up to its name as one of the most intimidating places to visit in world football.

After the game, pundits were quick to cite Granit Xhaka’s clash with Trent Alexander-Arnold – when Arsenal led 2-0 – as the turning point, purely because of the effect it had on the terraces.

Sure enough, Liverpool scored 90 seconds later and went on to equalise in the second half at one of football’s most exciting stadiums.

To identify the best places to watch a game as a home fan, an away supporter or a neutral, we have analysed every match played in the big five European leagues so far this season.

Who has the best and worst home records?

Somewhat surprisingly, Lens have the strongest home record of any team in Europe’s top leagues in 2022-23, ahead of Manchester City, Dortmund, Barcelona and Arsenal.

The Ligue 1 side are enjoying a superb campaign and sit second in the table behind PSG, having won 13 of their 15 games at Stade Bollaert-Delelis. Lens’ fortress holds a capacity crowd of 38,000, which is more than the city’s estimated population.

Stadi Giovanni Zini and Luigi Ferraris have been the easiest places for away teams to visit this term, with hosts Cremonese and Sampdoria managing a solitary win apiece in 29 games combined.

Both teams appear destined for relegation as a result, with Cremonese currently 19th and Sampdoria 20th in Serie A.

Who is most reliant on their home form?

Spanish clubs Almeria and Valencia are both flirting with the drop but their home supporters are hell-bent on keeping them out of trouble.

Almeria have won eight of their 15 matches at the Power Horse Stadium compared with none of 13 away, while Valencia have managed six victories at the Mestalla and just one on their travels.

In the Premier League, Nottingham Forest have been a different proposition at the City Ground compared with elsewhere, with 21 of their 27 points coming from home matches so far.

Liverpool and West Ham are the only other English top-flight clubs to have won at least 70 per cent of their points on home turf.

Which stadiums see the most goals?

Manchester City fans have received the most bang for their buck in terms of goal action, with 61 goals in 14 league games at the Etihad Stadium.

City have scored four goals or more at home on seven separate occasions this season, the most of any team in Europe’s big five leagues.

Meanwhile, a neutral supporter looking for a high-scoring game should head to Germany – five of the top 10 grounds for goals in 2022-23 are home to Bundesliga clubs.

Despite Sampdoria’s struggles at home in the latest campaign, anyone attending at Stadio Luigi Ferraris should stay until the very end of the game, with more than a third of goals going in after the 80th minute.

That said, only two of these 11 late strikes have been scored by the home side.

Everton’s Goodison Park is the best place to see late drama in the Premier League, with eight out of 30 goals – including Michael Keane’s stunning equaliser against Tottenham – having come in the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time.

Where does the referee take centre stage?

Anyone who likes to see cards being dished out should make their way to a La Liga game.

Referees in Spain’s top flight have averaged more than five bookings per match in 2022-23, with their combined total of 113 red cards way ahead of the other top leagues (the Premier League is on 28).

Six of the seven grounds with the highest rate of dismissals are home to Spanish clubs, with Montpellier’s Stade de la Mosson – which has seen 14 red cards in 16 games so far this season – being the only exception.

Premier League officials appear to be more lenient when it comes to reprimanding players, with none of the top 30 venues for minutes per dismissal being home to English clubs.

Wolves’ Molineux is top of the list with four red cards at a rate of one in every 338 minutes, all of which have been awarded to the home side.

Where does VAR intervene most often?

VAR decisions remain a major talking point in the Premier League, with the failure to award Brighton a penalty in their recent 2-1 defeat at Tottenham prompting an apology from England’s refereeing body.

ESPN has been tracking VAR interventions throughout the season to see which clubs get the best and the worst of them. This covers instances where VAR overturned a decision or the referee was asked to go to the screen but stuck with their original decision.

According to the analysis, Brentford’s Community Stadium, Nottingham Forest’s City Ground and West Ham’s London Stadium have seen the most VAR interventions among Premier League grounds, with eight apiece.

Thomas Frank’s Brentford have had six of the eight go in their favour, compared with five for Forest and just three for West Ham.

Overall, roughly half of VAR decisions have favoured the home side in 2022-23 (50 out of 97).

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