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We have been noting how crazy the yellow card situation has been this season in the Premier League with clubs ranging from 31 yellow cards (Wolverhampton) and 29 yellows (Chelsea and Tottenham), down to Arsenal on 15 and Palace on 14. At this rate Arsenal will end up with 63 yellows and Tottenham with 122. Last season Tottenham had 75 and Arsenal 52.
But we might also take a look at Spain’s cards ahead of Arsenal’s match tonight.
Getafe have 44 yellow cards at the top of the list in Spain and Sevilla have 29. In short Sevilla are the Tottenham Hotspur of Spain. What Getafe is up to, is simply a case of developing their own approach to football. Indeed in the quarter-final of the Copa del Rey at Valencia the referee handed out 10 yellow cards and three reds.
So, it is fortunate that we are not playing them, but it is likely that the referee in tonight’s game is going to have to be on top of things. For just as in England there is a big gap between the most and least carded clubs.
But we can expect some aggressive playing, time-wasting and other activities liable to get a yellow card – in the style of Chelea and Tottenham in fact. The only difference indeed might be that the media could notice and mention it with Sevilla, on the grounds that they are foreign, while they remain remarkably quiet about what is happening card-wise at White Hart Lane.
Meanwhile those travelling to tonight’s game will be wondering what awaits after the experience in the last away game.
A report in the Telegraph said that at the last away game Arsenal fans “were told to ignore all signs towards the away end because they were wrong. They were also initially told, after a wait of more than an hour to leave the stadium, they all had to take buses to Lille, a different city, around 30 miles away.”
Such stories are commonplace, but why it is happening is not clear – for it certainly is not just an anti-Arsenal thing. Certainly the European authorities believe that England is a source of most football trouble, so they start out with the premise that there will be difficulties. And because of that they create situations which are more likely to cause problems.
There is also a feeling that some hard core fans in Europe are just waiting for a chance to take on English supporters in order to show who is the toughest of them all. This can then lead to the local authorities ensuring that all the home supporters are well out of the way before they let English supporters out of the ground. Which sounds reasonable, but doesn’t feel it when one is locked in a ground or holding area.
But there is also some disconnect in some of the comments made. A spokesman for Arsenal Supporters’ Trust noted that, “When we got to Lille there were armed police everywhere, but there was nobody on the streets. I did not see one Lens fan, or any members of the public. It was so unnecessary.” Well, yes maybe. But also maybe it was because the Lens fans knew what the local police were like and so got out of the way.
There is perhaps also a general trend in Europe to see away support as a problem, and therefore attempt to close it down, making away support a less and less enjoyable experience, and so reducing the numbers. And it is a fact that after covid, in English grounds there have been more incidents than across the previous decade.
We certainly have seen problems at Arsenal with away fans at Europa League games in recent years, and we have been critical of the way some fans were allowed to bring flares into the ground. Seemingly no one fancied frisking all of them as they entered and the police were worried about a build-up of away fans close to kick off time, so they were simply allowed in unchecked.
But it is a fact that there were problems in Seville when West Ham played there in the Europa League last year in the Round of 16. But what was odd about that situation was that West Ham fans were not engaged with Seville fans but with Eintracht Frankfurt supporters, as their side played against Real Betis in the same city the day before. Real Betis are in the Europa League this season but are playing away on Thursday in Cyprus. No one seems to be sure what the Betis fans have planned for tonight.
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