- Just how well are Arsenal doing when it comes to tackles, fouls and yellow cards?
- Mirror and Guardian attack on Arteta takes war against Arsenal to new unedifying level
By Tony Attwood
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We rarely do predictions about teams other than Arsenal, but we have been doing a fair number about Tottenham and Chelsea in terms of yellow cards. Indeed they each seem to love yellow cards so much that it has almost become a fetish.
And yes we seem to have been right. Last night, Chelsea got five yellow cards, Tottenham two yellows and two reds. Put another way, Chelsea got as many yellow cards in one match as Arsenal get in 3.6 matches. As for Tottenham, we can’t really compare their number with Arsenal because Arsenal have only had one red all season. Tottenham had two reds in one night.
Now you may recall our pre-match commentary which said, “Indeed the game between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea tonight should be one of the dirtiest games of the season and could see a record number of yellow cards in one game. And that would be something because Tottenham Hotspur already hold that record for being in the match with the most yellow cards. That was 12 yellow cards in their match against the mighty Sheffield United.”
Certainly for Tottenham it seems that the notion of having double the number of cards of Arsenal after just 29% of the season was a target to be achieved, rather than pulled back from.
Chelsea and Newcastle United each have double the number of yellow cards that Arsenal have, and Tottenham are on 1.94 times the number of yellows Arsenal have. Is that a tactic, or carelessness, or are we now going to hear that the referees are biased against Tottenham?
Here’s the latest table for the big seven clubs…
Now Tottenham are not being affected very much as yet because they are managing to spread their cards around. Indeed 17 Tottenham (and in fact 17 Chelsea players) have had a yellow card this season, although this high number does mean that so far Tottenham are avoiding the suspensions we have been expecting, simply by spreading the dirty foul duty around quite a lot.
Of course we do know that a lot of yellow cards are not given for fouls any more, so here is the table showing that separation.
|Team||Games||Yellow Total||Yellow for fouls||Red|
On this basis we might expect that Chelsea will end up with 121 yellow cards this season, Tottenham with 107 and Newcastle United with 111.
No club has got to such levels before. In fact only one club has ever got over 100 in one season in the entire history of the Premier League, and that was Leeds United with 101 in 2021/22.
Arsenal’s worst season was 86 yellows in 2019/20. The following season with Arteta transforming the side Arsenal got 47 cards, cutting the number of cards by almost half.
But there is an interesting dilemma setting itself up here, for we know that PGMO employees are also working for the state-funded Saudi Arabian league and that the Saudi Arabian government’s state finance department has bought Newcastle United. Indeed no secret has been made of either event.
So will we see Saudi Arabia telling their English referee employees to lay off Newcastle United? It is possible, so we’ll be keeping an eye on their numbers. But to be quite clear, there is no sign of that yet. The top clubs in the dirty league this season are Chelsea and Wolverhampton on 35 yellows, Newcastle on 32, Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur on 31.
So what happens now? There is a danger that some of these clubs might get together and make representation to the PGMO and Premier League to the effect that they are going to run out of players, and that the current approach to carding is harming the game.
And if that happens at the same time as representation from Saudi Arabia to the FA, or the Premier League that could have an impact. Although of course, if the PGMO stopped its referees working in Saudi Arabia that would help, but there is no sign of that as yet.
Meanwhile the FA won’t do anything because this is not their fight. But we might wonder what the raving, raging Daily Mirror will do. The lead story on their website this morning is Gary Neville reminds Mikel Arteta of new Premier League rules and slams “dangerous” Arsenal. Their second story is “Inside Tottenham vs Chelsea chaos as Premier League’s maddest match leaves fans stunned,” but then for their third they are back with Arsenal with “Angry Arsenal ‘compile list of decisions’ in bid to prove referees are against them.”
So on the morning after the most extraordinary PL match ever in terms of yellow cards, two of their top three stories in the Mirror are negative pieces about Arsenal, who were not even playing. That tells us something about the raging fanaticism of the Mirror’s anti-Arsenal campaign – although I think we already knew it.
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