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By Bulldog Drummond
Now this might come as a bit of a surprise unless you follow these things carefully, but this season Fulham are the most yellow-carded team in the Premier League, on 64 yellow cards. This is more than double the number of cards shown to Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion, and exactly double the number of cards shown to West Ham United.
Apart from any impact such a liberal distribution of cards will have during a match with two or three players in each match taking it easier near the end for fear of getting a second, it will also be affecting players who find themselves being totted up towards a ban.
The rule states that any player picking up 10 yellow cards in a season, then automatically misses two matches regardless of when they receive their 10th caution.
This is a problem for Fulham, and in particular, it is in the midfield that Fulham have a very particular card problem.
Bobby Reid and Andreas Pereira have knocked up seven already, while the wonderfully named João Maria Lobo Alves Palhinha Gonçalves has incredibly got ten cards. Only one other player has got ten so far and that is Joelinton of Newcastle. This compares with Arsenal’s figures of six for Saka, four for Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Magalhaes, William Saliba, Ben White and the supposed naughty boy, Granit Xhaka. And overall that difference tells us quite a bit about the two teams.
Only Saka is in any danger of that two match ban for ten yellows, whereas João Maria Lobo Alves Palhinha Gonçalves is already there.
Here is the table of tackles, fouls and yellow cards for four teams, each having played 26 games. We have included Manchester City (who rarely get penalised for anything), Everton who represent the other end of the scale and of course Arsenal and Fulham.
|Team||Tackles pg||Fouls pg||Yellows PG|
|1. Manchester City||13.1||9||1.19|
So now we can do the usual comparison between the clubs to see how referees are treating them.
|Team||Tackles / Foul||Tackles / Yellow||Fouls / Yellow|
What we can see is that although Everton foul more than Fulham (who are in fact only mid-table for the number of fouls in the Premier League) Fulham are really being seen in a negative light by referees. Indeed we might compare Fulham and Manchester City here. They are not far apart in the number of tackles per game that are called as fouls (0.06 in fact) but while Manchester City can deliver 11.01 tackles before a yellow card is shown, with Fulham it is only 6.50.
As we have seen all season Manchester City can get away with many more fouls than other clubs before a yellow card is shown.
But although Manchester City only create 3% more tackles than Fulham before a foul is shown, they can put in 59% more tackles than Fulham before a yellow card is pulled out. Is that a reasonable reflection of what goes on, on the pitch? It seems very unlikely indeed.
But to return to Arsenal and Fulham, the two clubs are likely to put in the same number of tackles in the course of the game. But because Arsenal can put in 9.57 tackles before a foul is called, as opposed to Fulham’s 6.50 tackles, Arsenal will create fewer fouls than Fulham, and Arsenal will get fewer yellows than Fulham.
How much protection are Arsenal getting?
This is a question we have only just started asking, but it seems an important one. Indeed, the range in the number of fouls each team suffers against them per game is huge. Crystal Palace for example get 62% more fouls called against them than Manchester United. Is Palace really that much more dirty a team than Manchester United. Indeed is Manchester United such a pure and law-abiding team? Or is it that referees remember how Patrick Vieira was demonised by them, and so they have the feeling that his teams are obviously foulers and need punishing?
Arsenal are fourth in the league for the number of times they are fouled in a game at a rate of 11.5 fouls against them per game. Fulham get fewer fouls against them at 10.1.
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