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Chelsea on track to get 23 red cards this season and Arsenal to get 53 yellows.

By Tony Attwood

And so the world spins, and the statistics are chosen to back up a point and fairy stories continue.

On the fairy story front we have “A number of Real Madrid stars are reportedly not keen on the idea of a January move for Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez,” from the ever fanciful CaughtOffside blogetta, while most of the nationals are still going on about the number of years since Arsenal won at Stamford Bridge.

Not very many are doing the other, equally valid statistic which shows that of the last five games between Arsenal and Chelsea, Arsenal have won three (one of which was on penalties), Chelsea have won one, and there has been one draw.

The fact is that both sets of statistics are completely valid, but each needs to be considered in full and in context.   For example, we have just lost our top goalscorer for a number of games, and that is a shame since he is also just two goals behind the league’s top goalscorer for the season (Romelu Lukaku with five).   But is that a fair assessment, given that Lacazette is still learning about the PL and Alexis is still not fit?

You can also say we are weak because we don’t have a player like Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has delivered five assists this season, or you can say we ok as we have two players with two assists each Sead Kolasinac and Granit Xhaka.

Speaking of Granit, he is still the second most successful passer of the ball in the league with 428 passes.   Jan Vertonghen is top with 450.   But that still doesn’t stop a lot of people saying he is terrible and ought to be removed from the squad.

Here’s another one – we are fifth highest scorers in the league, despite all the talk about how poor our centre forward was yesterday.

Arsenal are the third highest passing team in the league (behind Tottenham and Man City) but in terms of crosses only one club has fewer crosses than we do: Watford.  Tottenham have put in twice as many crosses this season as Arsenal.  Obviously we need to sack the wingers and spend January buying replacements.  Oh, except one of them is destined to be Alexis once fully fit.

So I argue always stats are useful but they need to be treated with caution.   Here’s another.

Last season the top seven clubs for red cards were Hull, Watford and West Ham with five each.  Now this number has been descending for a few years: here are the figures

Season Worst offender No of red cards
2017/18 Chelsea 3 (after 5 games)
2016/17 Arsenal 5
2015/16 Southampton 6
2014/15 A Villa; Newcastle 7 each
2013/14 Sunderland 7
2012/13 Arsenal 5
2011/12 QPR 9
2010/11 WBA 7
2009/10 Sunderland 9

So this season Chelsea have got three reds already, and behind them is Manchester City with two.  Now we ask what does that suggest will happen if they carry on like this through the rest of the season?

Here are the top two red card clubs this season so far, and what that would mean if they do indeed carry on in the same way to the end of the season.

Pos Club Red Season equivalent 2016/17 total 2016/17 pos
1.
Chelsea
3 23 0 15
2.
Man City
2 15 4 4

Will Chelsea  get that many red cards?  I doubt it very much, for four possible reasons:

a) These cards in the first five games happened by chance – the decisions might have been yellow or might have been red, the games might have been different. On another day another ref might not have given a card at all.

b) Their manager will tell them that the reds are harming their progress and thus they must calm down and stop getting red cards.

c) The club’s senior staff have a few “words” with PGMO and suddenly the cards stop happening.

d) Cards are given fairly randomly by refs and come in clusters.

e) Their manager will say, “in recent years we were getting away with this, even getting the player who was innocent, sent off while our man stayed on.  Once we even got the wrong players sent off.  But now things have changed.  Stop the obvious fouling.”

Having got this far I thought it might be interesting to see what is happening with the yellow cards.

The third column in the table below (“yellows”) shows how many the club has this season after five games, and the “season equivalent” column looks to see what this would mean by the end of the season if this rate of carding continued.   Then we look to see what they got last season, and finally where they were in the card league table.

Some clubs are looking to get many more cards than before, but by and large the number is likely to be down, if these opening five games shows any indication of where things are going.

Rank Club Yellows Season equivalent yellows Last season cards Last season card position
1.
 Crystal Pal
14 114 77 6
2.
 Newcastle U
12 91
3.
 Chelsea
10 76 72 8
4.
 Everton
9 68 72 8
5.
 Huddersfield 
9 68
6.
 Liverpool
9 68 54 19
7.
 Man C
9 68 71 11
8.
West Ham U
9 68 78 3
9.
Bournemouth
8 61 52 20
10.
Swansea City
8 61 56 18
11.
Tottenham H
8 61 62 16
12.
Arsenal
7 53 68 13
13.
Burnley
7 53 65 15
14.
West Brom
7 53 80 2
15.
Leicester City
6 46 72 8
16.
Man U
5 38 78 3
17.
Southampton
5 38 59 17
18.
Watford
5 38 84 1
19.
Stoke City
4 30 70 12
20.
Brighton
3 23

In fact overall this little exercise suggests to me that you can’t really draw too many conclusions from what has been happening in terms of cards just from the first five games.  I don’t think Chelsea will reach 23 reds and I don’t think Palace will get 114 yellows.

So, what was the point?

The point is that this sort of extrapolation from a few games (often just one or two) is what pundits do all the time.  Arsenal are useless because of a defeat to Liverpool – based on one game.

Arsenal are still way down in the table, but looking at the trend of the games I see us on an upwards curve as the new formation and new players settle down.   Judging Arsenal after five games is like saying Chelsea will get 23 reds and Palace 114 yellows.  It doesn’t work like that.

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3 comments to Chelsea on track to get 23 red cards this season and Arsenal to get 53 yellows.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Yes, Oga(master) Tony, I agree with the point you’ve made.

    Aresnal shouldn’t be judged as to whether they’ll have a good or poor Premier League campaign this season. For, this season’s PL campaign is still in the early stage of the campaign with only 5 games played out of the maximum 38 games that will be played. And Arsenal are so far on 7 points out of the maximum 15 after playing 5 games. By exams marking, that just a pass mark result they’ve got in the first game playing test of the season. The 2nd test of the season will be conducted in week 10 of the season which will be a little past the quarter way mark into the season’s campaign. And by then Arsenal who have improved on their early season poor form but have now appeared to be in form in their recent playing in the PL could make significant progress in the table by then if they win all their next 5 PL games that includes a visit to the Goodison park to play a bogey away game against Everton.

    I do look at the League table to see where Arsenal are in it and also to see the gap between them and the clubs that are above them. And after 5 games played, both the 2 Manchester clubs who are joint leaders on the table now with 13 points each have a lead of 6 points on Arsenal. These 2 games lead on Arsenal by them is not comfortable for me. Therefore, Arsenal must try by all means in their next 5 games to close the 6 points gap between them and these 2 Manchester clubs by collecting all the 15 maximum points that will be on offer for collection in their next 5 games before things get out of hand.

  • Oliver, simply looked at the fixture and said, whatever happens don’t do anything contentious, pray I don’t have to make a penalty shout and pray nothing like a straight red that could define the game.

    So equally biased, he chose to allow the game to flow even with a number of tackles coming in that ought to have drawn a cautionary yellow. For the most part these were coming from Chelsea players early on, looking to stifle Arsenal counter, as we chose to play by and large without the ball, reversing the roles of the teams, given the pattern of recent games, the FA Cup final and last years Community Shield aside.

    However he didn’t fancy the Bridge delusional on his back so didn’t flag these up. Also it afforded him some relaxation, because I do believe the challenge by Moses on Lacazette, warranted a yellow, he was late and mistimed and miscued his challenge, resulting int he injury. Had this been flagged in turn it would have had Moses, the weak lionk, on a tightrope. Luiz should have gone for 2 yellows before he: endangered a player, whilst evidentially from the miscue, being oput of control and with his boot raised.

    I like the overhead, but this was not the time for one. By the letter of the law, this is a straight red, he see’s it, so can give a red and only a red, what is the interpretation of the yellow? The second is a straight red and thus allows Oliver to address the mistake from earlier, appear unbiased in his officiating and give the game it’s talking point. Whilst the player is still dismissed for a straight red and the context of the first challenge is not detrimental, unless you consider it within the result as a whole, due to the fact that Arsenal could and should have been a man up for 40+ mins.

    You can also suggest that this type of stance by the officials leads to more injuries and reckless endangerement as players match the tacitcs, as we chose to late on.

    Bellerin disguising the odd professional well enough (for the referee) until late on as with Kolasanic, but what this does is stem the tide, preventing Arsenal from capitalising on the red, as the shape and importance of the full backs in both attacking phases and defensive ones is inhibited, and we don’t have replacements.

    Mr Oliver has been clever here, but cunning is the lesser mimic of wisdom, it is quite obvious what he has done. He’s taken a step back.

    He first used to officiate, actually giving the bias to Arsenal, seeing the oppositions attempts at breaking up play as just that, then he went to the draws and then the defeats. He’s back at stage 2 of his career. Changes are afoot.

  • John L

    Because of our experience of referees over the last 8 or so years, our expectations are generally fairly low for the majority of the PGMOL. This means that when we have a referee performance that stops short of the blatant anti-Arsenal bias to which we are accustomed, we are inclined to judge it favourably, as it is so much better than was feared.

    Mr. Oliver’s performance at Chelsea was a case in point. Nowhere near as bad as it might have been.

    Still, a number of questionable decisions, such as awarding free-kicks whenever a Chelsea player feel over (or dived), giving a yellow card to Elneny for his first challenge after coming on, which was barely even a foul, and, most notably, not giving Luiz a red for kicking Koscielny’s head. Also, why did he feel the need to indulge the Chelsea manager and Co with an explanation for his red card decision, for which the justification was obvious), instead of just dismissing him for open dissent?

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