- Is VAR favouring certain clubs? Do players need more of a rest between seasons?
- How yellow cards are earned, and which clubs avoid them, and which ones don’t
By Tony Attwood
In this article we are looking at three clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool and comparing the three over a range of attributes to see if we can explain through this data, why Arsenal and Liverpool are doing rather well (being 2nd and 4th in the league respectively) but Chelsea are not, still languishing in 11th.
The first table below shows that the tackles put in by the three clubs are about the same – the difference between them is under one tackle per game.
In terms of fouls – there is roughly one foul a game difference between each team – but perhaps a little surprisingly it is Liverpool who commit the most fouls per game.
It is also interesting that Chelsea have the highest possession of the three, suggesting that on its own possession of the ball is not a key attribute. We then wondered if possession without the ability to pass accurately was of no value – but it seems Chelsea has the highest pass accuracy.
In terms of aerial battles, Chelsea and Liverpool come out equally, Arsenal languish behind. So in fact none of these attributes seem to explain Chelsea’s lowly position.
|Team||Tackles pg||Fouls pg||Possession%||Pass%||AerialS Won|
We therefore turned to the attacking side of things and it is obvious here that the problem is that for all their possession (the highest of the three clubs) Chelsea have the lowest number of goals – ten fewer than Arsenal and Liverpool. But here is a strange thing – Arsenal and Liverpool put in more shots per goal. So now we have one step forward for Chelsea: shoot more.
|Team||Goals Per Game||Shots per Game||Shots per goal|
But Chelsea also have a problem in defence as we can see. Overall they have twice as many yellows as Arsenal, and if we just look at yellow cards from fouls the situation is almost the same.
|Team||Yellows in total||Yellows from fouls|
But then pulling all this together we reached this rather alarming table…
- Liverpool 11.7 fouls per yellow card
- Manchester City 9.3 fouls per yellow card
- Arsenal 9.0 fouls per yellow card
- Chelsea 5.35 fouls per yellow card
Which raises the question: how are Liverpool achieving that year by year, when no other team can come near to that figure? To put it at its simplest, you might have thought that if there is a legitimate way of achieving such a high number of fouls as Liverpool’s before getting a yellow card, everyone else would be copying it, or buying the players that allow them to copy it.
This is interesting because when Arteta took over at Arsenal he inherited a club that was the most yellow-carded club in the league – and it remained that way through his first (incomplete) season at the club,
Indeed looking at these figures it is hard to escape the notion that referees see clubs in particular ways. That is not to say a referee gives a yellow card for a perfectly harmless tackle, but it would appear that with a tackle that is perhaps 50/50 as to being a cardable tackle or not, if it is Chelsea doing it, the card comes out, if it is Liverpool, it doesn’t.
Now seeing these figures, which of course the clubs have available all the time, what should one do? Appealing to the PGMO is, as we all know, completely pointless because they are the people overseeing this state of affairs in the first place.
As surely everyone knows, an appeals system only works properly when it is utterly independent of those who made the original judgement. Otherwise, it is a bit like going to court, being found guilty and then having an appeal trial with the same judge running the case.
But Arsenal did manage to get themselves from being the most carded team in 2020, to 17th in the card table the following season. In 2022 Arsenal were 13th, in 2023 18th, and this season they are currently the least carded team.
That move from being the most carded in 2020 to the least carded this season so far, shows it can be done, but other clubs don’t seem to want to do this. Why not?
Chelsea and Tottenham are equal second this season on yellow cards. Last season Chelsea were ninth and Tottenham tenth. In 2021/2 they were tenth and eighth respectively. In 2020/21 they were 14th and tenth.
As for Liverpool, they are on easy street. This season, as with all the previous seasons we have analysed, they deliver a pretty average number of tackles, but those tackles don’t become fouls and those that do become fouls don’t become yellow card offences. But how do they manage that season after season? Is it that referees simply feel that Liverpool are not a team that fouls and therefore in all 50/50 situations they get the benefit of the doubt? Or is there another reason?
That is a question we have yet to answer.
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption