Manchester City go fouling
- Where can I buy a bottle of shampoo before the match? (Plus the team and its value))
- Yesterday we stood on the terraces of Arsenal’s first stadium
By Tony Attwood
I am not sure it made many headlines elsewhere, but the fouling figures from yesterday’s game were rather unexpected, although none of the mainstream reporters seem to have noticed. Or if they did, maybe they didn’t mention it as it doesn’t quite fit their agenda.
And given the unusual nature of the fouling figures, it is a shame that the figures for the number of tackles has not been released from the normal sources at all, for yesterday’s game. Indeed even the normally very reliable WhoScored has on its reporting page for the match a space for “tackles,” but no information is filled in.
However the one bit of data we have got is fouls in the game, and very interesting reading it makes indeed. Data for the game can be found here, and last season’s data here. And here is what happened yesterday, compared with last season…
|Team||Fouls per game last season||Fouls in Community Shield game||Difference|
The differences are remarkable. Last season Arsenal and Manchester City were both at the low end of the list in terms of fouls per game, Manchester City being the least fouling team in the league and Arsenal just three places below them. But while Arsenal seemed either to treat the game as a friendly (by not fouling) or have a new tactical plan when it comes to wrestling control of the match away from the referee, Manchester City traveled in the opposite direction – fouling at 121% of last season’s average rate.
Now to be fair if we had only seen the Manchester City figure it would have not caused much comment – we are comparing the average across 38 games last season with one match at the start of this season. So this doesn’t mean that suddenly Manchester City have decided to kick the opposition of the park. But Arsenal, despite having this increased number of fouls from Manchester City took their fouling rate down to under two thirds of last season’s average.
These are both unexpected figures, and it will be fascinating to see what happens with next weekend’s opening league fixtures. Not only to measure what happens in terms of Arsenal and Manchester City, but also to see if the tackle total then turns up. If not, that would be highly suspicious, given the amount we have written about tackles in the past 12 months.
But we do have a hint for Who Scored has published a tackles table for players who committed most tackles. The problem is we don’t know if that is complete or not, so we can’t really draw conclusions, but the top tackler from this snippet of data was Bernado Silva with four, and Rodri with three. The top tackling Arsenal players each made two tackles (Saliba, Rice and Partey).
What we do know is that referees are acting differently this season. Apart from the Arteta card near the start of the game, Gabriel was booked for getting in the way of Ortega when the City keeper was trying to take a goal kick while Partey was booked on five minutes. These cards however are not carried forward into the rest of the season so everyone starts again with the blank sheet next week.
Elsewhere there is talk of taking the Community Shield to the United States next season. The legal case against Fifa’s ruling that league matches can only be played in the country of the league (which is to say Arsenal v Tottenham could not at the moment be played in the United States) is still ongoing, but that does only include league games.
The Athletic has reported however that the clubs fear too much of a backlash at the moment if any league matches were to be moved to the United States, which again would make the Community Shield a prospect for moving. Especially as it is the FA that arranges the game not the League, and they have shown that they will do anything for money.
The Athletic is also quoting Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin as saying that it is “possible” that Champions League fixtures “could be staged in the United States from 2026 onwards.” With Cerferin in charge we know already that anything is possible, and certainly the big clubs like Arsenal, now spending ever greater sums on transfers, are looking for every source of income they can find.
Ceferin is also talking about “two single-leg semi-finals and a final into a Champions League “final four” week,” again according to the Athletic. A further possibility is that the Europa semi-finals and final could also be taken to America to give a bumper week of “soccer” in the United States.
And there is a further worry. For if the United States don’t get such matches soon, there is every chance that Saudi Arabia will bid double the price to have the Finals Week staged in their country – in the heat of May. Just part of the fun that is to come with this bunch of people in control.
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