- Chelsea v Arsenal: the augurs all look good for Arsenal
- Chelsea v Arsenal: the referee, his team, and what’s happening with yellow cards this season
By Bulldog Drummond
For some years we have been looking at the variance between the way referees handle different clubs in regard to the relationship between tackles, fouls and yellow cards.
However this season, because of the vast increase in the number of yellow cards given out for non-tackling offences the relationship between fouls and yellows has become harder to measure. For a short while, one of the sources of data that we regularly use did oblige us with a list of yellow cards that were for tackling offences – but for the moment that seems to have gone. We hope it returns soon!
If you are of a suspicious mind you might imagine that the PGMO asked for that data not to be reported, but of course we could not possibly comment. (Well, actually we could, but to continue)…
We are still publishing the yellow card data however, and here’s the data drawn as usual from figures within WhoScored.
|Team||Tackles pg||Fouls pg||Tackles per foul||Yellows|
So what do we know?
Tackles: Everton at 20.3 tackles per game are the top tackling team in the league while Manchester City are the lowest tackling team: Everton are putting in 44% more tackles than Manchester City. If this continues by the end of the season Everton will have put in 771 tackles while Manchester City will have delivered around 235 fewer!!
Tottenham as we can see are the other high-tackling team. But Everton have only had 13 yellows while Tottenham have had 27! We can imagine from this that a) some of the Tottenham tackles are pretty wild, and b) Tottenham are picking up yellows for time-wasting, kicking the ball away, not retreating for a free kick, saying something naughty to the referee, and goodness knows what else.
Fouls: Manchester City are again the lowest team in this group. Wolverhampton at the other end of the table are out on their own with 14.3 fouls per game – they are running at over 62% more fouls per game than Manchester City.
Tackles per foul. And this is where it gets interesting for when we look at tackles per foul we see something else. Arsenal can put in 1.83 tackles before giving away a foul. With Liverpool at the other extreme, it is 1.40. Which suggests either all the refs are biased against Liverpool and in favour of Arsenal (stop laughing), or Arsenal are 31% better at tackling than Liverpool (which is of course the project Arteta started when he first joined the club as manager: cutting the yellow cards by half, by cutting the rate of tackling).
Last season Arsenal were putting in 1.52 tackles per foul, which means that the change of personnel and the change in the tactics have together allowed Arsenal to use tackles more effectively. Last season Liverpool were on 1.44 tackles per foul. So Liverpool’s ability to tackle without fouling has declined slightly, while Arsenal’s has increased considerably.
Yellow cards. But it is the yellow card data that is the most intriguing, and a shame that at the moment we can’t separate yellows for fouls and yellows for other things. But we can still consider the numbers. Tottenham have two and a quarter times more yellows than Arsenal this season. Last season it was only 44% more.
If they carry on like this Tottenham will end up with 128 yellow cards this season. Assuming that five of their team are particularly responsible for these that means an awful lot of missed games through suspensions.
There is one other statistical point that is worth noting before the game against Chelsea, and that is the issue of possession.
At the moment, prior to the Chelsea v Arsenal game, Chelsea are averaging 63.5% possession per match. Which is very curious given that they are 11th in the league.
This is strange not just on a simple logical basis [if they have all this possession how come they are not higher up the table], but also from the fact that the top five clubs in terms of possession are…
|1. Manchester City||17||64.5||3|
|3. Tottenham Hots||18||61.4||1|
|5. Brighton and Hove Albion||21||60.4||6|
Possession is of course not a guarantee of a high league position, but the two stats are normally closely aligned. The next three teams in the possession table are Newcastle, Manchester United and Liverpool. At the foot of the possession league are clubs that we might feel could be in line for relegation: Sheffield United, West Ham United, Luton Town and Nottingham Forest.
So what are Chelsea doing? We can only imagine that they are holding on to the ball and passing it around at the back or in midfield, but not using it to build attacks. In other words, they play around with the ball and the opposition just let them get on with it, before suddenly nicking the ball.
Backing this premise up is the fact that Chelsea have only conceded seven goals this season. Only Arsenal and Manchester City have conceded fewer.
It would be too silly to say one can get the blues by watching the Blues, but I wrote it anyway.
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