There is something very strange going on with yellow cards this season



By Tony Attwood

The level of yellow cards this season is more varied than I can ever recall.  In the table below we look at the eight teams that we have selected for this venture, looking at how their possession levels vary, along with fouls, the number of cards, how many of these cards were for fouls, and as a result the number of fouls committed per foul.

Figures are from Who Scored and the Premier League


Team Yellows Possession% Fouls cards for fouls Fouls per card
Tottenham Hotspur 27 61.4% 92 15 6.13
Chelsea 26 63.5% 88 16 5.5
Brighton & Hove 23 60.4% 100 11 9.1
Newcastle United 21 53.5% 97 12 8.1
Manchester United 19 53.3% 83 11 7.5
Liverpool 15 52.9% 99 8 12.4
Manchester City 15 64.5% 70 7 10.0
Arsenal 12 60.7% 76 8 9.5


The first thing we note is the staggering difference between these clubs in terms of the number of yellow cards.

Last season the top team in terms of yellow cards got 91% more yellow cards than the team with the least.   This season the difference is 145%.   That is the team with the most yellow cards (Tottenham) has 145% more yellows than the team with the least (Crystal Palace).  And we are still only eight games into the season!

Tottenham have 27 cards so far and Arsenal 12 – that is Tottenham have 125% more cards than Arsenal so far this season – again obviously after just eight games.

Then we had a look to see if possession made any difference, in that we thought the clubs with the lowest possession would commit the most fouls in order to try and get the ball back – but no.  Tottenham have 0.7% more possession than Arsenal but 15 more yellow cards so far this season.

There is however some relationship between the number of fouls committed and the number of yellow cards, but it is far from a perfect match, so we added in a count of the number of cards given for fouls and then looked at the number fouls per card – and the range here again is astonishing.

Chelsea can commit 5.5 fouls before getting a card, with Liverpool it is 12.4 fouls before a yellow card!!!    In other words Liverpool can commit 125% more fouls before than Chelsea before they get a card.   Are we really to believe that Chelsea players are two and a quarter times dirtier than Liverpool?   Maybe Chelsea players are dirtier than Liverpool’s but this much dirtier?  It does seem hard to take.

But all we have is the data, and that shows us that Tottenham have already not only committed 16 more fouls than Arsenal this season, (two a game, obviously) but also some of these fouls seem to be rather nasty, since Brighton and Hove can commit 9.1 fouls before getting a card, with Tottenham it is 6.13.  In short many more Tottenham fouls and worthy of a card than Brighton fouls.

There is another new factor creeping in here – yellow cards for situations other than fouls.   Arsenal have had four of these.  Liverpool have had seven, Manchester City have had eight.   But Tottenham have had 12 such cards as have Brighton.  Chelsea have had 10.  Presumably these are for time wasting and arguing… we’ll try and get that data, but if you know please do write in.

So we can see the teams separating into groups.   Not just those clubs that are getting yellow cards at the rate of double or more than double of Arsenal (Tottenham, Chelsea, Brighton), but also clubs like Liverpool and Manchester City that can seemingly commit many more fouls without getting yellow cards, than other clubs.

It really is all looking a bit strange, but more than that, it is looking very dangerous for Tottenham, which of course from our perspective is rather amusing, in that their manager and his team don’t seem to be aware.  Or at least if they are aware they are not sure how to stop it, while continuing to pick up the points.


5 Replies to “There is something very strange going on with yellow cards this season”

  1. mick shelly

    Thanks for that.

    I just wish Webb, and some of his media apologists, were made to sit it front of that on National TV, then answer some of the questions posed in the video and in the comments.

    Like, how can Martinelli be sent off for 2 small infringements within 10 seconds, but Kovacic cant because it would spoil the game.

    Like, how Tomi can be sent off for an innocuous challenge and hanging on to the ball for 8 seconds, but Kovacic cant.

    I’ve said for years, including a few times over the last few days, that the referees are refereeing to an agenda as specified by the media, and everything I’ve heard these last couple of weeks confirms exactly that. They are hand in glove.

    I don’t know what’s worse, watching Webb squirming or Owen fawning. Absolutely pathetic the pair of them.

    It makes me sick to the core.

  2. Tony, I wanted to highlight one confusing aspect of the way that the Premier League compiles Player stats for Yellow Cards. Yves Bissouma is considered to be on 4 YCs right now, even though he has technically received 6 YC. Here’s the explanation from the PL website:

    “Yves Bissouma (£5.0m) started Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 win at Luton Town on four bookings and received a fifth, followed by a sixth in the same match, resulting in a red card.

    That dismissal means he will serve a one-match ban in Gameweek 9, missing the encounter with Fulham. But because his two yellows resulted in a red, he remains on four bookings for the season. Another yellow card when he returns to action would trigger another one-match ban.”

    As a result, the table on the PL website lists Bissouma as on 4 YCs, while his official stats and the Spurs total aggregate YCs should include a total of 6 YCs for him.

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