Bournemouth v Arsenal and Tottenham’s yellow card bonanza



By Bulldog Drummond

If you were with us for the last post you’ll know we have been contemplating yellow cards in terms of the various factors that they are given for.  A relevant point now that the majority are delivered for things other than fouls, such as time-wasting.  Also different sources (Who Scored and the Premier League) are citing different totals for the number of naughty doings on the pitch.

We have decided to continue with our regular analysis of tackles, fouls, and yellow cards, by using the “yellow cards for fouls” totals kindly provided by WhoScored in their “card situation” table.  But we are also including an “all yellows” column just to see what that tells us.

What we do know is that Tottenham Hotspur is the most yellow carded team in the league, so we thought we might as well do the figures for them as well.

So using our traditional approach with this new breakdown from WhoScored we see this – figures are of course per game.  We have added an extra column reflecting the total number of yellows given per game to each club.   That is interesting because it reveals just how many yellows Tottenham have picked up already.


Club Tackles Fouls Yellow for fouls All yellows
Arsenal 15.2 9.7 1.0 1.3
AFC Bournemouth 17.8 14.2 1.2 1.8
Tottenham Hots 19.5 12.3 1.7 3.5


And now the ratios as we have been doing them for a few seasons…


Club Tackles/foul Tackles/yellow Fouls/yellow
Arsenal 1.57 15.2 9.7
AFC Bournemouth 1.25 14.83 11.83
Tottenham Hots 1.59 11.47 7.23


Thus Arsenal and Tottenham are able to deliver just on the same number of tackles before a foul is called, but Bournemouth players obviously have less skill in avoiding the ref’s whistle for a tackle – they can undertake 25% fewer tackles than Arsenal before a foul is called.

But when we come to yellow cards for tackles the numbers change.   Tottenham who are the most carded club in the Premier League as we have noted, are really getting penalised for their tackling.  Arsenal can undertake 33% more tackles before a yellow card is called than Tottenham, but only 2.5% more than Bournemouth.   Once again Tottenham are outstanding as a team either that referees don’t like or which genuinely is being really nasty in its tackling.

So Tottenham can commit fewer fouls before getting a whistle while Bournemouth are able to commit more fouls than Arsenal before the card comes out.  This is because they are committing almost 50% more tackles than Arsenal, and many of them are really simply innocuous.   The type of tackle Arsenal by and large avoids by being more adept at interceptions, and by keeping the ball longer.   Bournemouth’s possession rate is 42% this season.  Arsenal’s is 63.3%.  

Moving on from our normal flow at this point it is interesting to reflect on the yellow card table for all offences – I won’t include all the teams but just the big seven and Bournemouth as we are about to play them.  This table really does show just where Tottenham have gone to, in order to achieve their position in the league table.   Data again from WhoScored.


Position Team Yellow Cards Estimated End of Season  Yellow cards Last season Difference
1 Tottenham Hotspur 21 133 75 58
4 Chelsea 18 114 77 37
6 Newcastle United 17 108 62 46
8 Manchester United 16 101 78 23
13 Bournemouth 11 70 69 1
16 Arsenal 9 57 52 5
17 Liverpool 9 57 57 0
20 Manchester City 8 51 44 7


What we can see is that four teams have adjusted to the new referee regime: Bournemouth, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.   But four others have not changed their approach at all in the light of the new refereeing approach invented this year by PGMO.   As a result if Tottenham carry on at this rate they will get 133 cards.

Now the point is that any player who picks up five yellow cards in the first 19 matches of the season  of the Premier League season is suspended for a match.  If we take it that most yellow cards go to the five main defenders Tottenham will get 66 cards in the first half of the season divided among five players.  Of course occasionally other players get cards so we will say divided by six.

That is 11 cards for six players, meaning that they will all miss a game each. But also there is a rule that says that  If they pick up 10 yellow cards in a season, they’ll miss two matches regardless of when they receive their 10th caution.   So Tottenham will also get all five players suspended for two games at some time.

That of course is in addition to such matters as injury and loss of form.  In fact it means that at various times 16 players out of the 25 man squad will be suspended.  That is a lot of players off the books for a game – and of course comes on top of players missing through injury

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