- Beware those people in football who tell you what to think. They are trying to kid you.
- Everton v Arsenal: why fair play and balance is not what we can expect from the referee
By Bulldog Drummond
With just a handful of games played we are beginning to see some interesting trends in the way clubs are approaching the new season. Here are a few bits and pieces – the relevant data is in the table below using figures from WhoScored.
Newcastle have fractionally increased their tackling but their fouling rate has risen by 31%. This suggests referees have been warned that they were going far too easy on Newcastle. Or maybe PGMO feel threatened in some way.
Wolverhampton have raised their tackling rate by 25% which seems crazy given how much their fans were complaining to us about how the referees were picking on the side last season. But credit to them – either they have had words with PGMO or they have learned how to tackle, because the fouling rate is virtually unchanged.
West Ham on the other hand have increased their tackling rate by 27%, and their fouling rate is up by 26% so at least that makes sense from a PGMO point of view, although quite why they want to increase tackling I don’t know. Maybe it is the loss of Rice that has done it.
Everton – of special interest this weekend obviously – have increased their fouling rate by 13% while their tackling rate remains almost unchanged, which suggests it is either an instruction from Dyce to “get stuck in”, (which given his pedigree and background is to be expected) or PGMO have got it in for them. Sadly, Dyce knows he is pretty much guaranteed to get away with it.
Aston Villa have had a transformation. Tackles are down by a whopping 22%, although fouls remain almost unchanged – showing once again that referees have expectations of clubs, and continue to give fouls based on these expectations rather than what actually happens. It is a scandal, but there are so many scandals, it is one that is easy to forget.
Tottenham have increased their tackling by 11% but managed to cut their fouling by 7% – a nice trick if you can do it. I need help to work out exactly how they have done this – all thoughts welcome.
Chelsea, who were utter basket cases with tackling last season, have finally got around to reading Untold Arsenal, or someone who is re-using our analyses, and cut their tackling by around 30%. Sadly, such is their reputation among the PGMO that their fouling rate is only down by 6%. This is again the problem with PGMO – the referees judge clubs on reputation first and foremost.
So onto the two clubs that have pioneered the approach of cutting tackles to avoid yellow cards: Arsenal have reduced tackling by 3% and fouls by 8% which is a good sign for the future. But Manchester City have fooled us all. They have increased their tackling by 15% while picking up 3% fewer fouls. Now that is amazingly clever. I am sure there is no skulduggery because we would never associate that with Manchester City – it must simply be brilliant play. Here’s the table with “interesting” numbers highlighted in brown.
|Team||Tackles pg 2023/4||Tackles PG 2022/3||Fouls pg 2023/4||Fouls PG 2022/23|
|West Ham United||20.3||16.0||12||9.5|
So let’s move on to the regular tables… the comparison table is a tale of chalk and cheese…
|Team||Tackles pg||Fouls pg||Yellow pg|
And so the comparisons
As we can see the clubs are putting in the same number of tackles before a foul is called, but Arsenal are getting away with 37% more tackles before a card is given and the same level of fouls before a card is waved. This shows the Arteta programme of cutting those annoying yellow cards down is continuing to work.
That leaves one table left to consider: how many times each team is fouled – which is the table that has continued to cause us problems.
Now this is interesting as Arsenal are being fouled 18% less each game than last season, while Manchester City are being fouled slightly more than last campaign. But the big change is with Tottenham Hotspur who are being fouled a lot more. 34% more in fact.
I suspect the Tottenham change is due to the fact that defenders knew that with Harry Kane, anything that looked like half a foul was given as a foul, but now he has gone the defenders are getting stuck in once more. Whether that is true or not we shall see over time, but the fact that Arsenal are being fouled 18% fewer times is a welcome trend. Let’s hope it continues, as it will certainly help our players avoid injuries. The number on the left in the table below is the position in the fouling list for 2023/24.
|Team||Fouled pg 2023/4||Fouled 22/23||Change|
|1. Newcastle United||13.3||10.5||+2.8|
|4. Tottenham Hotspur||12.5||9.3||+3.2|
|5. Aston Villa||12||13.1||-1.1|
|11. Manchester City||10.5||10.1||+0.4|
|16. Manchester United||9.5||7.8||+1.7|
- 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