Football Cliche: Nil-nil written all over it

Football Cliche: Nil-nil written all over it

In this football language post we explain the football cliche, ‘nil-nil written all over it‘ which is used after a scoreless draw. Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary and we also have a page full of football cliches. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

Football Cliche: Nil-nil written all over it

Even though football is an unpredictable sport, every now and then fans have a feeling that certain games will end in a draw, a scoreless nil-nil draw in fact. It’s hard to explain why this is so because, as we know, football is a funny old game, but football fans can sometimes sense or feel that there will be no goals in a game.The phrase, ‘to have something written all over’ means to show a strong characteristic and this is the meaning here – there is a strong sense that the game will finish in a draw.

This happened in the opening match from the Premier League after the restart between Aston Villa and Sheffield United. Neither side have scored many goals this season, in fact, Sheffield United have only managed 30 in their 28 games before today’s game and they are in 6th place, while Aston Villa have only managed four more. Added to this lack of fire power, was the fact that it was the first game back after a three-month lay off with only three weeks of training so both sides were clearly not as sharp as they could be – they were rusty. I just thought that this game had 0-0 written all over it and sure enough, despite some controversy over technology, that’s how the game ended: 0-0 a scoreless draw.

Draw written all over it

You can also use this phrase with any kind of draw – it doesn’t have to be a scoreless one – so if two teams are well matched then sometimes we say (especially in the predictions section of the show) that the match has draw written all over it – we think it will finish as a draw, that the teams will share the points or the spoils. We talked about this phrase back in 2018 – you can read it here.

Example: After five minutes we knew that the game would end wthout a goal – it had nil-nil written all over it

Example: It had 0-0 written all over it – McCall (BBC 17 September 2008)

Related Vocabulary

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