Arsenal v Manchester United, and the wild ways of referees and yellow cards




By Bulldog Drummond

One bit of transfer news to start: Nuno Tavares will play the season at Nottingham Forest on loan is the only transfer news for Arsenal that I have seen confirmed this morning.  So let’s start by contemplating Manchester United.

Their three results so far have been


Date Match Result Score
14 Aug 2023 Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 1-0
19 Aug 2023 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United L 2-0
26 Aug 2023 Manchester United v Nottingham Forest W 3-2


In their defeat to Tottenham, the Tottenham goals were scored by a defender and an own goal. leaving the league table reading:


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 3 3 0 0 6 1 5 9
2 West Ham United 3 2 1 0 7 3 4 7
3 Tottenham Hotspur 3 2 1 0 6 2 4 7
4 Liverpool 3 2 1 0 6 3 3 7
5 Arsenal 3 2 1 0 5 3 2 7
6 Brighton and Hove Albion 3 2 0 1 9 5 4 6
7 Aston Villa 3 2 0 1 8 6 2 6
8 Manchester United 3 2 0 1 4 4 0 6


This is very different from last season after three games wherein Leeds United were third, Nottingham Forest 10th, Chelsea 12th and Manchester United 14th.

Looking at the positions after three games one can imagine Southampton supporters thinking that things had started ok what with being 11th,  and they could possibly look forward to a mid-table season.  Manchester United fans on the other hand were probably calling for their manager to go, which is what they (along with some section of the Arsenal fan base) do.  Their results were a home defeat to Brighton, and away defeat to Brentford by 4-0 (that was quite something) and then a home win over Liverpool.

Anyway, now we have Arsenal fifth and Manchester United eighth.  Both teams have played two at home; Arsenal have scored more and conceded fewer – but only just.

What we are seeing this season however is a huge difference in the way teams are playing in relation to picking up yellow cards.  The yellow table runs from Newcastle and Wolverhampton Wanderers with ten, West Ham, Manchester United and Brighton with nine and then onwards down to Arsenal with three, Brentford, Palace and Burnley with two and Manchester City with one.

So already six teams have three times as many yellow cards as Arsenal which is extraordinary.  Last season Arsenal were 18th in the yellow card league (something all the media somehow managed not to mention) with 52 cards.  Top were Leeds, Wolverhampton and Nottingham Forest each with 84.   So Arsenal got around 62% of the cards those high-fouling teams got.   But now Arsenal are on three yellows against 10 for the big foulers: 30% of their rate, and 33% of the rate of Manchester United who are on nine yellows.

And when we come to think what Arsenal’s yellows were for we can see that the notion of not tackling is really being carried forward.  The aim, indeed, must be to get Arsenal to the Manchester City position.  Last season Manchester City had 44 yellow and one red, to Arsenal’s 52 yellows and no reds.  So far this season they have had just one yellow.

So we can expect Manchester United to be picking up finger waggings and yellow cards through the game, if they carry on playing as they have been so far.  Arsenal merely have to avoid taking eight seconds to complete a throw-in and I am sure they would have been practicing that.

But to get a broader perspective let us consider last season with Arsenal at home and Manchester United away.


Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
Arsenal home 19 14 3 2 53 25 28 45
Manchester United away 19 8 3 8 22 33 -11 27


Arsenal at home last season, as we can see, were much more effective than Manchester United away, getting almost double the number of home wins as Manchester United got away from home.  While at the same time scoring well over double the number of goals at home as Manchester United did away.

Indeed last season Manchester United were a force to be reckoned with at Old Trafford outdoing Arsenal at the Ems, but away from home they didn’t have that same punch.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
2 Manchester United home 19 15 3 1 36 10 26 48
5 Manchester United away 19 8 3 8 22 33 -11 27


So unless they have really transformed themselves they should be there for the taking.  Indeed it is interesting to reflect upon their away games at the end of last season…  Here are those from March onward to the end of the season…  All were in the league.

The lost to Liverpool 7-0, Newcastle 2-0, Brighton 1-0, and West Ham 1-0.  There was a draw with Tottenham and victories over Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth.

Four defeats, one draw and two wins.  Goals scored five, goals conceded 13.  More of the same would be rather jolly.

2 Replies to “Arsenal v Manchester United, and the wild ways of referees and yellow cards”

  1. They will not be there for the taking because a) our form is mediocre b) they have shown in pre season how to nullify us c) they don’t care about the cards. d) Arteta is fannying about with formation. I would
    Not be surprised to lose

  2. Silentstan makes some good points. I would hope Arteta uses his best 11 from the off. Especially at the back; White Saliba Gabriel Zinchenko. If any of them need to come off later, ok. But they can’t concede early again. Or let Rashford get between defenders, FFS. Midfield and wingers seem set. The way Arteta plays I’m fine with Eddie, Jesus or Trossard upfront. Nice to have choices isn’t it. Arsenal are the better side, they just need to show it Sunday. From the off. COYG!!!

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