- Arsenal v Manchester United, and the wild ways of referees and yellow cards
- It’s not Arsenal that needs to calm down, it’s everyone else
By Bulldog Drummond
Here is a table that we have not used before, with figures dervied from those provided in a slightly different form by Who Scored
|Team||Games||Goals||Shots PG||Yellow pG||Possession||Pass success %|
|Manchester U away||1||0||22||3||44.3%||82.8|
Obviously we are only measuring a tiny number of games but it does show Manchester United shooting away from home a lot more than Arsenal shoot at home, despite having a much lower level of possession. To get a broader picture we can look back a bit further and take in the whole of last season, taking in both home and away matches.,
|Team||Goals||Shots pg||Yellow PG||Possession||Pass success %|
Thus we can see Arsenal being much more effective at goalscoring as we knew, but doing it from the same number of shots per game as Manchester United. However Manchester United’s system shows that they were getting on for double the number of yellow cards per game as Arsenal last season which obviously distracted from events at the other end of the pitch.
So let’s move on and have a good look at the defence situation as we normally do. Here are the tackles, fouls and yellow card figures for last season
|Team||Tackles pg||Fouls pg||Yellows PG|
|Manchester United 2022/3||17.3||11.2||2.05|
|Manchester United 2023/4||18.3||12.0||3.0|
So Arsenal have increased their level of tackling this season but decreased the number of fouls and number of yellow cards per game. That is a very clever result and something that comes as the culmination of the whole defence project that Arteta implemented when he took over, at a time when Arsenal had got more yellow cards than any other club.
Manchester United however are not managing such an approach. Their tackles are up, their fouls are up and their yellow cards are up. That is not the way in the modern game to get more and more success in the league.
Let’s look at the comparison tables…
|Team||Tackles per foul||Tackles per yellow||Fouls per yellow|
|Manchester United 2022/3||1.54||8.44||5.45|
|Manchester United 2023/4||1.53||6.10||4.00|
The implications of what is happening here are enormous. Let’s consider Arsenal first. This season, and yes I know it is only three games old, and might change, but we can only deal with what we have … this season Arsenal can put in more tackles before they get called out for a foul. At the same time Manchester United who used to be able to put in more tackles before being called out have slipped backward. Last season Manchester United could put in 0.2 more tackles than Arsenal before a foul was called. So far this season, Arsenal are putting in 0.16 more tackles before a foul is called.
This season Arsenal are amazingly putting in almost five more tackles before a yellow card is given. They were already putting in 2.44 more tackles before a yellow was given than Manchester United. Now it is an incredible 9.6 more!!!
Finally, the number of fouls before a tackle is called… Arsenal are so far this season (and again I repeat, I know this is only three games) … Arsenal are putting in 2.15 more fouls before a yellow is waved. Manchester United however have gone in the opposite direction and are receiving a yellow card after four fouls. Last season it was after 5.45 fouls.
So in summary Arsenal can tackle more than Manchester United before getting a foul or a yellow card, and when they do foul they can get away with more fouls than Manchester United before being penalised. Arsenal in fact are edging ever closer to Manchester City’s ability to cut the number of yellow cards down and down through reducing the number of tackles and being ever better at tackling.
Last season you may recall Arsenal notched up 52 cards to Manchester City’s 44. Things started badly this season with the nonsense of the throw-in affair with a yellow being given for taking eight seconds to take a throw-in, but Arsenal are learning the foibles of the PGMO staff all the time. I am not sure Manchester United are.
When Arteta came to Arsenal we spent a lot of time analysing the way he turned the team around in moving from being the most carded club to one of the least. That journey is continuing. If you are interested in the subject you might also enjoy Tackles fouls and yellow cards the complete 2022/3 review
- Arsenal continue to make more progress than the rest of the big seven
- Arsenal v Tottenham; the team and some rather jolly recent history
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t
- Arsenal v Tottenham: different clubs, different managers, different successes