Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal: the yellow cards for different reasons



By Sir Hardly Anyone

The discipline tables are looking rather interesting at present with Chelsea, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur all knocking up twice as many yellow cards as Arsenal.  Liverpool and Tottenham have also received twice as many red cards as Arsenal – facts that somehow seem not to be noticed by the media at large – or at least not very often.  (The number next to the team name in column 1 in the table below represents where the club stands in the overall yellow card table.   Sheffield United at top with 55).

What is particularly interesting is that many of these figures don’t really have too much to do with where a team is in the league.   However, those mounting totals of yellow cards will be having an impact as players start to get suspended.  (We might also note that in our chart below only Manchester City players hang on to possession more than Arsenal).


Team Yellow Red Possession% Pass%
2. Chelsea 50 3 59.6 87.6
3. Aston Villa 48 1 53.8 85.4
5. Tottenham 46 4 60.4 88.0
8. Newcastle 41 0 54.5 84.7
10. Manchester United 39 1 51.9 83.0
17. Manchester City 31 2 62.3 89.8
18. Liverpool 30 4 59.8 85.6
20. Arsenal 22 2 60.4 87.1


Now the Premier League have started to publish a list of players who are suspended week by week, and indeed we find not just that eight players are suspended for what the Premier League website rather oddly calls “Blank Gameweek 18”, and here we see Dalot of Manchester United, and Udogie and Bissouma of Tottenham, who not so long ago the media were being championing as likely, well, champions.

There is also a list of players on four yellows, who need to avoid getting a fifth in the next two games in order to avoid a suspension.   The only Arsenal player on the list is Havertz, while Aston Villa, much heralded of late by the always readily impressed media, have three players all on four cards, as do Brighton, Chelsea and Newcastle.  Tottenham have two such players.

Which numbers bring us onto the usual tackles, fouls and yellows consideration for the forthcoming Arsenal game


Club Tackles Fouls Yellows
Arsenal 16.3 9.5 1.57
Liverpool 15.5 11.8 1.76
Tottenham 20.2 11.6 2.71


As we can see from the figures above, Arsenal are putting in approximately one more tackle per game than Liverpool, but both clubs have learned the lesson about tackling and what referees do about it.  Tottenham, however, are running at almost four tackles a game more than Arsenal, which is a dangerous policy for a team picking up so many yellow cards.

What is particularly interesting however is that despite putting in more tackles than Liverpool, Arsenal are being called up for fewer fouls than Liverpool.

But the most curious figure of all comes from the fact that although  Liverpool and Tottenham are virtually identical in the number of fouls they are committing, Liverpool have far fewer of their tackles seen as fouls than Tottenham  In fact Tottenham find 54% more of their tackles are seen by referees as fouls, than are Liverpool’s.

However, as we have seen before we have to treat the yellow cards with extreme caution since they are now being given out in greater numbers than ever before for ever greater reasons.

Of course, as we know, some Tottenham fans have occasionally been critical of our analyses of referee behaviour on these issues, but it really is worth looking into to see just why so many of their players’ tackles are being seen as fouls.

Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been given 18 cards for fouls this season – which is 1.06 cards per game.    16.3 Arsenal tackles a game and 15.5 Liverpool tackles a game means that Arsenal are getting one card after 15.38 tackles.   Liverpool are getting one card after 14.62 tackles.


Rank Team Fouls Unprofessional Other
3 Arsenal 18 0 7
4 Liverpool 18 3 14
17 Tottenham 30 3 19


The table above thus shows that Arsenal and Liverpool are running along similar lines keeping the fouls down.  Where Liverpool are losing out is in picking up over twice as many yellow cards as Arsenal for reasons other than fouls – and these are the sort of misdemeanors that, should a manager wish to deal with them can be dealt with readily enough.   Where managers don’t deal with them it would appear that they feel that the misdemeanors are in fact helping them win matches, possibly by intimidating or distracting the opposition.

One Reply to “Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal: the yellow cards for different reasons”

  1. The thing about red and yellow cards is its only relevant if you have a weak squad. Postecoglu will be furious about his players lack of discipline, given his weak squad and injury problems the last thing he needs is losing anyone else. He’s going to have to look at whether he can afford a player like Bissouma no matter how talented he is. I doubt Guardiola worries about red and yellow cards. If a player isn’t available someone else slots in and gets a chance to prove he should be first choice. The player banned gets a rest and comes back eager to prove himself once more. Over the course of the season I doubt suspensions have any effect on a squad as strong as City’s.

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