By Bulldog Drummond
There is a real contrast between Newcastle and Arsenal on the pitch this season. According to Opta Analyst, “Newcastle United fans deserve a lot of credit. Not only do their fans have to endure the lowest amount of ball-in-play time per game (52% of match minutes) but they also spend the majority of their time watching their team drawing.” Which by and large must be rather a pain, and not something to bring absolute joy to the heart as happened when, for example, they knocked Tottenham about in the first half recently.
Now Opta Analyst has to be taken with caution because it is still boasting that it has access to a super-computer (see picture above), and since the annual cost of running a supercomputer is around $100 million, I think that is rather unlikely. And thus since Opta Analyst leads with its claim about having a supercomputer, that rather does put anything else it says in the “dubious” column, despite the media generally accepting their figures as the gospel. (If you would like to know what supercomputers are really used for there is an interesting piece here.)
But taking Opta Analyst with a pinch of sodium chloride, let’s see where they take us. We can read that Newcastle have the “lowest amount of ball-in-play time per game (52% of match minutes)” and also their fans “spend the majority of their time watching their team drawing.”
In fact according to Opta Analyst and their ludicrously claimed “supercomputer,” Newcastle spend 54.4% of their time drawing, compared with Arsenal who spend 38.1% of their time drawing. (Interestingly the link in Opta’s statements about its supercomputer lead here, which isn’t very helpful if one is trying to find out which supercomputer they have actually managed to get their hands on).
However on the basis that Opta’s statistics might be right, and it is simply their claim about using a supercomputer which is mindless twaddle, we can look at a few more figures and see that in terms of the percentage of time spent losing in the league this season we have at the bottom of the list Manchester City on 8.4%, Arsenal on 14.5% and stuck between them Newcastle on 12.4%.
But of course, what we are really interested in is the time spent winning, so here are those figures:
Top of the league in that regard is Manchester City at 52.3%, second is Arsenal at 47.3%, third is Manchester United on 37.9% and fourth are Newcastle on 33.2%.
So having looked at that let’s try the regular tackles, fouls and cards table.
As we can see from the above Newcastle are putting in 11% more tackles than Arsenal and 27% more tackles than Manchester City. As such they are on a par with Tottenham in terms of the number of tackles.
We would expect Arsenal to be called out for fewer fouls, because they put in fewer tackles, but consider the tackles of Newcastle and Tottenham in terms of the fouls they produce. From virtually the same number of tackles, 8% more of the tackles for Tottenham are called as fouls than for Newcastle. As a result Tottenham are getting 42% more yellow cards than Arsenal, and 54% more yellow cards than Manchester City.
And so to the comparisons…
Now coming back to the yellow cards, and considering the clubs near the top of the league
|Pos in league||Pos in yellow table||Club||Yellow cards||% compared to Man C|
|6||18.||Brighton & Hove Albion||44||102%|
The link between the number of yellow cards a club has and its position in the league is of course not exact, but there is a tendency for clubs that get fewer yellow cards to be higher up the league. And certainly, it must raise the thought that if Manchester United ever do manage to stop their players from tackling so much and thus getting so many yellow cards, they could be higher than fourth in the league. Fortunately however they, like Opta, are probably too busy pretending they have got a supercomputer.
One Reply to “Newcastle v Arsenal: tackles, fouls, yellows and the impact on league position”
Lewis Winter’s latest work of fiction in the Express is a gem – “Leandro Trossard rightly points blame at Arsenal team-mates as startling trend emerges”.
Nowhere in the article is there any evidence that Trossard has apportioned any blame to anyone.