Arsenal v Forest: tackles, fouls and yellow cards



By Bulldog Drummond

Sometimes with statistics one has to go exploring to find out if there is a relationship between x and y.  Sometimes yes there is, but other times it is all a bit tenuous.

So this season I have looked not just at tackles, fouls, and yellow cards as we have done for several years, but also as an exploration I have added “Fouls received” – which of course means the number of times each team was fouled. 

As an experiment I’m breaking these down by home and away (but can’t do this for yellow cards as for the moment I can’t find data on yellow cards broken down in this way – I rather suspect this might be too sensitive, showing perhaps just how many more yellow cards are given to away than to home teams.  But if you have a source please do write in letting me know where it is.

So here we go with tackles, fouls dished out and fouls received.  Figures are per game dervied from WhoScored.


Club Tackles Fouls Fouls received
Arsenal home 15.7 9.6 11.4
Forest away 17.3 11.4 9.7
Highest home 20.8 12.4 13.1
Lowest home 11.4 8.7 7.6
Highest away 23.4 12.5 14.1
Lowest away 13.4 9.2 7.2


So as we might expect, looking at last season’s league table, Arsenal at home tackle less than Forest tackle away, and commit fouls fewer times at home than Forest do away.  However, Arsenal are fouled by the opposition more time at home than Forest are away.  It is the standard pattern for teams at the bottom (tackling more, fouling more) as opposed to teams at the top (the opposite).

Arsenal at home, on average, got one fewer yellow card per game than Forest did.  So in summary – Forest will foul more than Arsenal and get rewarded by one or more yellow cards than Arsenal.   But neither team last season was at the extreme of tackling or fouling.

So what happens when we look at the relationship between tackles, fouls and yellow cards – and here I’ll combine the home and away figures for ease of reading, as we have done in previous campaigns.  Totals are “per game”.


Club Tackles Fouls Yellows
Arsenal 14.9 9.8 1.37
Nottingham Forest 17.3 11.7 2.21


Forest, Leeds United and Wolverhampton all got 84 yellow cards last season, and as we saw when we highlighted this, the Wolverhampton fans wrote in en masse criticising referees – but it turns out they were simply part of the mix at the high end of the table, and not especially being singled out.

So now, as in past years, the relationship.


Club Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.52 10.72 7.15
Nottingham Forest 1.48 7.82 5.29


So Arsenal could put in more tackles before a foul is called, and put in more tackles before a yellow was waved, and could commit more fouls before having a yellow card shown, than Forest.   Which is exactly what we would hope for.  Arteta’s early work in his first season at Arsenal, of taking Arsenal down from being the most yellow carded club in the league to one of the least carded clubs in the league, has obviously been seen through, and now with a team of his own making, we would expect this to continue.

If we look at the result of these approaches from the two teams, and take into account home and away form, we see quite a difference.  (Data from 11v11).


Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal home 19 14 3 2 53 25 28 45
20 Nottingham Forest away 19 1 5 13 11 44 -33 8


As can be immediately seen, Forest were fairly awful away from home last season, winning just one away game and drawing five.  Their goal difference away was -33, so the differeence in goal difference was 61: an astonishing gap.  In fact, Forest’s one away win last season was a 1-0 victory over Southampton.  And if Forest have taken up their full allocation of tickets this season for the Arsenal game then we really do have to congratulate their away support for sticking with their club.

Last season we focussed on how clubs went through bad patches – particularly of course looking at Arsenal.   But Forest did this big time – for example going on a run through August to October of playing eight league games, losing six and drawing two.

But they did get to the semi-final of the league cup, including knocking out the mighty (or so they like to think) Tottenham Hotspur, 2-0.  They went out in the semi-final to Manchester United.  In the FA Cup they lost to Blackpool in the third round.

Next time we will have a look at their last six and last ten games last season, to see just how well the club recovered.  It is quite surprising.

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