Official tackles and yellow card stats shown to have major flaw. Arsenal v Sheffield U




By Bulldog Drummond

In the past we have gathered a lot of information by analysing tackles, fouls and yellow card figures from key clubs in the League.   However, the move by PGMO to intensify the number of yellows being given for non-fouling offences has made the figures less meaningful since yellows were being waved for all sorts of reasons.

But a new set of stats from WhoScored looked like it could help, as they list yellow cards by fouls, “unprofessional”, dives and “Other”.   Dives can be discounted for now since all clubs are showing zero, so we can look at clubs according to the remaining three stats.

And yet again the figures make no sense.  Which is surely worrying.  The most famous league in the world, and the match stats make no sense?????  Really – what is going on?  We have a vast growth in the number of analyses about how clubs are playing this season, and yet the very basic statistics are screwed!!!

Here is the data from the official tables as provided by Who Scored


Yellow/fouls Yellow/unprof Yellow other
Arsenal 11 0 6
Manchester City 9 4 7
Shefflield United 19 0 9
Tottenham Hots 16 2 13


Immediately we can see that there are huge differences appearing here.   Arsenal have got two more yellow cards for fouls than Manchester City, but Sheffield United are running at 72% more yellow cards for fouls than Arsenal.  We can expect Arsenal to be fouled a lot.

Neither Arsenal nor Sheffield United have been carded for unprofessional conduct – so we don’t have to deal with it here, but it raises the question, what is unprofessional conduct worthy of a yellow card?  Kicking the ball away? Time wasting?   Talking aggressively to a member of the opposition?

I can’t find any definitions anywhere.  If you can, please write in with a source.  But we can see that the final column is again nonsense.  Arsenal have 11 yellows for fouls, having committed 10 fouls.  In fact all four clubs have more yellows for fouls than they have committed fouls.  And WhoScored and PGMO haven’t noticed!!


Tackles Fouls Yellow for fouls
Arsenal 17.6 10.0 11
Manchester City 14.1 8.8 9
Sheffield United 17.8 11.8 19
Tottenham Hots 19.9 11.3 16


OK, maybe we have made a mistake somewhere – we’ll take it as that, although at the moment we are not finding it.   Certainly, these figures look like nonsense when it comes to yellow cards.

And the tackle figures look curious too.  We would agree that Arsenal are tackling more than Manchester City; that we can observe.  But Arsenal are putting in the same number of tackles as Sheffield United – that is curious.   Tottenham as we have observed from games are more reliant on tackles for their defending than other clubs   In fact only Crystal Palace put in more tackles than Tottenham and that is only at the rate of 0.1 tackle more per game – to all intents and purposes Tottenham and Palace are playing the same high level tackling game.

So it looks reasonable that Tottenham are getting picked up for more fouls in a game than Arsenal and Manchester City but not as many as Sheffield United.

However, we can make something out of these curious figures, for when we come to the column “Yellow for fouls” which is kindly supplied now by WhoScored we can see that Arsenal and Manchester City are at the low end and Sheffield United and Tottenham at what we might call the dirty end.  They are in fact fifth in the “yellow for fouls” chart; in fact Tottenham and Chelsea are the only two of the big seven engaging in fouls at this level.  They are getting their success by multiple fouling, and that normally leads to trouble as a) they run out of players because of the yellow cards and b) PGMO have one of their infamous chats with the club.

And of course, there could be the explanation that Arsenal are getting yellows for things like pushing a player rather than tackling.  Maybe that’s the answer.  If so, it is a shame that they don’t tell us.  Perhaps they think we might not understand.

To see if we could spot where the problems in the stats are arising we had a look at a different set of stats: Tackles home v away.


Tackles home Tackles away Difference
Arsenal 17.6 17.5 0.1
Manchester City 12.5 15.4 -2.9
Sheffield United 16.4 19.5 -3.1
Tottenham Hots 18.5 21.0 -2.5


Arsenal are actually making fractionally more tackles at home than away, but the difference is tiny.  The other three are all tackling more away than at home, which is what we would expect.

We also tried one other approach: yellow cards and goals conceded.  Arsenal come out on this one ok, and Tottenham’s figure is ludicrously high – that looks as if they are tackling like mad in desperate attempts to keep the ball out.


Yellows Goals conceded Yellow per goal conceded
Arsenal 15 8 1.88
Manchester City 17 7 2.42
Sheffield United 26 24 1.08
Tottenham Hots 29 8 3.65


If these figures are right, Sheffield United are letting in goals because of breakaways rather than through a crowded penalty area.  We shall see tomorrow.

But overall the stats are hard to reconcile with reality – although perhaps that is just for us, since none of these highly paid newspaper people seem to have noticed.

4 Replies to “Official tackles and yellow card stats shown to have major flaw. Arsenal v Sheffield U”

  1. Odd that all clubs are on 0 Yellows for dives?
    Pretty sure Bissouma got sent off for diving whilst already on a yellow a few weeks ago?!
    Is a 2nd yellow counted as a red, perhaps?

  2. I expect tomorrow’s game to be very difficult. First our opponents are probably better than their league position suggests – they seemed to outplay Man Utd for large periods of last week’s match and were unlucky not to get at least a point. Also, nobody expects them to do well against us, so they will be under far less pressure than in a fixture against another relegation candidate.

    We can expect a solidly parked bus, committed defending (to give it a polite term) and a referee who will make allowances about rough tactics on their part, so as to even things up.

    Media and pundits will no doubt forecast a big Arsenal win, so that they can derive additional satisfaction if this does not happen – expect “Arsenal bottle it / get bullied” etc. type of headlines.

    Complacency and PGMOL are the biggest threats.

  3. The 10 fouls you say Arsenal have committed for 11 cards is slightly out of kilter. Looking at Whoscored, both tackles and fouls are “per game”!

    On the point of cards for diving, I think the last time I saw this on Whoscored was at least three years ago so I think it’s worth ignoring altogether.

  4. Do the official figures include when a foul is waved off for ‘advantage’ And…the elephant in the room is all the fouls that are not called on opposing teams or the niggly ones that are called..for some reall reason or anaother.

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