Arsenal v Wolverhampton. Mind-numbing hardly seems the word



Wolverhampton: the mind-numbing club

By Bulldog Drummond

As we saw in our opening article on the final game of the season, Wolverhampton are a club in the lower reaches of the league, but not a club in danger of descent into the darkness.  So we can take a look at their tackling and fouling record knowing that they perhaps won’t approach the game with any sense of desperation (which can lead to more and more fouling as a match progresses).  If they do it will be just force of habit.

And I will add in a couple of other teams for comparison – although after this weekend we’ll take a look at the whole league in terms of tackling etc, to see if any other clubs have started to produce the weird and bizarre figures of the type that we spotted at Leicester a few years ago.   We’ll also be looking to see if any club has followed Arsenal’s obviously successful (but in terms of journalistic comment, non-existent) approach to cutting yellow cards in half.

All figures are “per game”.


Club Tackles Fouls Yellows
Arsenal 14.9 (19th) 9.9 (17th) 1.41 (17th)
Wolverhampton Wand 17.6 (7th) 12.2 (2nd) 2.71 (1st)
Manchester City 12.4 (20th) 9.2 (20th) 1.19 (19th)
Leeds United 22.1 (1st) 12.4 (1st) 2.19 (3rd)


So Arsenal and Manchester City tackle less than any other teams in the league – exactly as we predicted would happen when we first started tracking Arteta’s revolution in his early days – a revolution which in terms of yellow cards took Arsenal from being the most carded club in the league down to the 17th.

Wolverhampton Kickemout as they might be better named have the most yellow cards in the league – a total of 84 in fact, just a couple of cards under double the amount West Ham got.  They might well get those in this final game.

Comparing Arsenal and Wolverhampton we find as expected Arsenal tackle less, foul less and get fewer yellow cards than Wolverhampton.

And we really should notice that now Arsenal have only Manchester City below them in terms of the number of tackles being put in.  Indeed it seems tackling is changing.

So we can do the regular cross-reference table…


Club Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.51 10.57 7.02
Wolverhampton Wand 1.44 6.49 4.50
Manchester City 1.35 10.42 7.73
Leeds United 1.78 10.09 5.66


And as often happens with this table it shows us where a team has a problem.  In terms of fouling Wolverhampton are not that far off from everyone else in the table in terms of the number of tackles that they can dish out before a foul is called.  But when it comes to the next stage, that level of tackling leads to yellow cards.

Then where they go spectacularly wrong is that while the notable tackling team of Leeds United can put in 10.09 tackles before a yellow is waved around, with Wolverhampton it is only 6.49 tackles before one of them gets rewarded by waving ref.

Which is why they are top of the yellow card table after coming second in the fouling table.  It may seem obvious that the two should be linked but it is not always the case.  Some of those fouls must be truly awful for the referees to be so vigilant on this score.

You would think that the club might have realised this by now.  But it was probably the fact that on 14 October the foot of the league table read…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
17 Southampton 9 2 1 6 8 17 -9 7
18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 9 1 3 5 3 12 -9 6
19 Nottingham Forest 9 1 2 6 7 22 -15 5
20 Leicester City 9 1 1 7 15 24 -9 4


that the club decided the only way forward was the kick its way up the table.  After all, after nine games they had only scored three goals.

And sadly we must note that with them now 13th, as a tactic it has worked.  For once we can say PGMO are, at least to some degree doing their bit, although whether that bit was enough is a matter for debate.

But where we have a club that has played 37 and scored just 31 goals and yet is only slightly under halfway down the table – and has the highest number of yellow cards in the league – it is obvious what is going on.

They score fewer goals than anyone else, so they have, more than anything, to make sure that the opposition are not going to score against them.  They have played four goalless draws in the league this season, and an utterly staggering 13 (yes thirteen) games in which only one goal has been scored.  So just under half of all their games had one goal or none at all!!!

Mind-numbing hardly seems the word.  OK two words.  But it still hardly seems it.

5 Replies to “Arsenal v Wolverhampton. Mind-numbing hardly seems the word”

  1. Possibly the most purile and pathetic masquerade of analysis I’ve ever read, totally lacking in any context or genuine insight, I’ll stop there in case this was actually pulled together by a small child, truly remarkable….

  2. A Rogers: that is a very interesting commentary. One would imagine that you read the whole article in order to reach your conclusion, and yet then, having done that you were not so numbed in your mind that you were unable to write a comment. And yet you were so numbed that you couldn’t actually explain in terms of any point what was wrong. Very odd that.

  3. A bizarre article commenting on someone else’s stats, without having observed how those stats came about. As a Wolves fan the amount of yellows we’ve had is shocking – but unlike yourself, I’ve seen most of the games, and we are just not a dirty team. Some of the yellows have been ridiculous – Lemina’s at Southampton where he got a second yellow for being the third player to run up to the ref (WTF). I’ve taken a look back at some recent matches between our two clubs and added up yellows – Wolves 3 Arsenal 2, Wolves 1 Arsenal 1, and Wolves 0 Arsenal 1Yellow + 1Red. Fairly even.

    We’ve had our problems this season. Discipline isn’t one of them. Crazy to say as it’s all there in black and white – the stats don’t lie. If you want to go back a little further I could mention in detail the disgraceful attack on our No 9 which nearly killed him. Of all the clubs to be criticizing our discipline – Arsenal are not one of them.

  4. Tom, I appreciate the measured language you have used to make your point, but then although it is true that we have not in this article looked at how the stats came about, we have done this at enormous length in other articles, which consider the whole issue of tackles, fouls and yellow cards. Although I fully admit, not taking Wolverhampton specifically as the centrepiece.
    Now I only mention this because you are criticising me for not having observed how those stats came about, without yourself considering all our work on the issues of those three topics (tackles, fouls, yellows) and the enormous amount we have discovered.

    But of course, if one went back in every article and referred to all the previous points and analyses and reviews then we would never get to the final point. For example there is nothing in the piece about how the variation in results during the pandemic gave further insights, nor how Arsenal changed themselves from being the team with the most yellow cards to almost the fewest in a couple of seasons. I’ve referred back to all that work many times in other articles, but there is a limit.

    The point is that no article can contain every back reference to previous work and analysis – although what would have helped would have been a reference for me to follow up on what has been happening with Wolverhampton and referees. However just as in the past we have taken Leicester City’s stats on such matters and dug deep through the summer break and discovered some quite extraordinary issues, the comments here are an opportunity to do that with Wolverhampton, and so once today’s matters are out of the way, that’s what I’ll do.
    So, again thank you for being measured in your way of writing, and yes I will start digging into the data next week, and will publish it here.

  5. Lol. 30 seconds into the game and Xhaka fouls Nunes. Couldn’t script it could you?

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