Arsenal v West Ham: Different styles, different approaches, different refereeing



By Bulldog Drummond

We have for a long time been looking at the relationship between tackles, fouls and yellow cards, and this season trying to make sense of the extraordinary escalation in the number of yellow cards that have been given out by PGMO officials.

In the table below the figures are all per league match, and here we can see that Arsenal continue to be restrained in their approach to tackling, although they are certainly not the most restrained club in the league when it comes to this part of the game.

But where Arsenal really get things right is that although their tackling level is only a little below other clubs, the number of fouls awarded against Arsenal is much smaller than for other clubs.

Not surprisingly therefore the number of yellow cards that Arsenal get for fouls is on the low side, although, for reasons we cannot understand, Liverpool still seem to get fewer yellow cards for fouls, despite being adjudged to foul more than Arsenal, game after game.  Data in the tables below come from WhoScored.

Figures in the table below are per game


Club Tackle Fouls Yellow for fouls All yellows
Arsenal 16.5 9.8 1.22 1.22
West Ham 17.1 11.2 1.72 2.44
Liverpool 16.4 11.8 1.05 1.65
Tottenham H 20.4 11.3 1.67 2.61


So for tonight’s Arsenal v West Ham game, WHAM tackle more, foul more, get more yellows for foulings, and get more yellows overall.

But what of the relationships?


Club Tackle per foul
Tackles per yellow* Yellow for fouls
Arsenal 1.68 13.52 8.03
West Ham 1.53 9,94 4.59
Liverpool 1.39 15.62 7.15
Tottenham H 1.81 12.22 4.33


*Here the “yellow for fouls” number is used, not the number of yellows for all offences.

So what does all this show?   Tottenham and Arsenal are putting in more tackles before a foul is given, than Liverpool.   Indeed Tottenham can put in almost a third more tackles before a foul is called, than Liverpool.

Arsenal and Liverpool are above the others in terms of the number of tackles they can put in before a yellow card is waved at them, and here as generally elsewhere we can see how Arsenal have progressed from those dim and distant days in the past when Arsenal were top of the yellow card table.

Now in terms of yellow cards for all types, Arsenal have 27 cards – the lowest number in the league. Chelsea are on 59 and it is interesting that Aston Villa are third with 51.  That propensity for picking up cards at the drop of a whatnot could come back and haunt them by the end of the season as they start to run out of players.

Arsenal are now right down the bottom of the fouling league table, with only Manchester City picking up fewer fouls in each match.

And while we are at it, let us have a look at one other metric – the number of times a club is fouled per game.   I’ve mentioned this figure before but it is still bugging me – for what it is that some clubs do to get themselves fouled so much – unless of course the players are simulating being fouled and the referees are letting  them get away with it?

It really would be good to know what makes Tottenham players get fouled so much more than players of other clubs.  30% more than Arsenal players for example.  60% more than Everton.  Indeed if I were an Everton fan I’d be screaming about this figure all day and night, but I’m not so I don’t.  Although unlike most bloggers I do at least mention it.

And I’ll ask again.  Why do Tottenham players get fouled 60% more than Everton players?

Team Fouled pg
1. Tottenham 14.2
2. Aston Villa 12.8
4. Newcastle 12.6
6. Chelsea 12
7. Manchester City 11.4
9. Arsenal 10.9
11. West Ham 10.4
13. Liverpool 10.2
15. Manchester United 9.7
20. Everton 8.9


Final bit for now: Arsenal have beaten West Ham United 72 times in League, FA Cup and League Cup matches, while West Ham have done the opposite just 36 times.  41 games have been draws.

So Arsenal have beaten West Ham twice as many times as West Ham have beaten Arsenal.  The current run is particularly promising.  In the past eight games Arsenal have won eight, and drawn two. scoring 18 and conceding 10.   Which gives us a most likely score of Arsenal 2 West Ham 1 but  I think it could be more enjoyable than that.

Date Game Res
09 Dec 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal W 1-3
07 Mar 2020 Arsenal v West Ham United W 1-0
19 Sep 2020 Arsenal v West Ham United W 2-1
21 Mar 2021 West Ham United v Arsenal D 3-3
15 Dec 2021 Arsenal v West Ham United W 2-0
01 May 2022 West Ham United v Arsenal W 1-2
26 Dec 2022 Arsenal v West Ham United W 3-1
16 Apr 2023 West Ham United v Arsenal D 2-2
28 Dec 2023 Arsenal v West Ham United

7 Replies to “Arsenal v West Ham: Different styles, different approaches, different refereeing”

  1. Another day, another VAR shambles… oh well… apart from that we didn’t perform up to the standard required. Too many wrong passes, too many technical errors and we didn’t take our chances when we should have taken them and payed the price.

  2. That was just one of those games where nothing at all went for us. Our players made some poor decisions, I think Martinelli needs a lot more help on that side, likeXhaka gave him, and missed Kai who I believe is becoming a pivotal player
    Sometimes , everything possible goes against , including the decisions, just have to move on and try and put a few things right.
    50 50 decisions will usually now go against Arsenal, yes, I know MO got away with one at Pool, but that is a collectors item.
    Poor performance, poor decisions, West Ham freakishly clinical for such a limited team with such an approach, I suspect some of those we played aren’t fully fit either. Trossard and White don’t look right to me .
    But we had enough chances to put that one away several times over.

  3. Since the controversial “goal” 57 years ago in the ’66 World Cup football hasn’t advanced one iota in deciding if a ball has crossed the line. It seems, unlike the poorer sports of cricket, rugby & tennis , mega rich football has chosen the wrong technology. Don’t tell me those other sports have their problems. They are minuscule compared to the constant VAR controversies in nearly every PL game. That they are still unable to say with certainty if a ball has crossed the line or not in the 21st century because of a lack of cameras I find pathetic. Either get more cameras or use a better technology

  4. PS We all know FIFA & UEFA are as straight as corkscrews, with the FA not far behind, So we must ask, as has happened on other occasions with these organisations if brown envelopes were slid under the table when the technology for football was being chosen.

  5. Regardless of bad luck and less than perfect performance, we were f…… cheated by Oliver and Co. today.

  6. It looked like we were lacking any ideas of opening them up . Frequently took the ball into cul de sacs , and it did not appear where or how a goal was being shaped. A very poor day at the office . Our forwards were blunted time and again , and it did not seem that they could fashion a chance for an attempt at their goal.

    Up the Gunners !

  7. 74% Possession

    30 shots to 6

    8 on target to 3 (one of those being the goal that should not of been and one the penalty) Other than that Raya had to make ONE save)

    171 attacks to 58

    140 dangerous to 21

    Also territorially and touches in the opposition box were dramatically in our favour.

    2.87 xG to 1.51 (which again includes the goal that should not of been and includes the penalty)

    Yes, despite not being at our best, that still suggests a team in complete and utter control, both offensively and defensively. I’m not sure where this idea we didn’t create any chances comes from. We had 30 attempts on their goal. Hit the inside of the post. Missed an open goal from the rebound. Their keeper pulled of 2 or 3 top saves. Okay, I agree given that dominance we should of scored, and that was our undoing. From the positions we achieved and the chances we created we should of put at least 2 away, but we didn’t. It was, as Mandy said, one of those games where nothing went right.

    But let’s not beat ourselves up too much about this, we are not the only ones that this happens to. In recent memory Man City have lost similarly at home to Brentford, and arguably worse, at home to Notts Forest. If you look at the stats they are very similar. Total and utter dominance from City with attempts up around the 30 mark, but they just failed to score (enough at least), and their opponents scored with their very limited opportunities.

    This sort of thing happens to the best. We are still one of, if not the best.

    No need to panic. No need to start this ‘he’s not up to it’ ‘He’s not good enough’ stuff again the minute a game doesn’t go to plan.

    Whilst not at our best we played well. And tacking nothing away from West Hams Herculean defensive efforts, we should of won.

    My West ham supporting mate, who is never anything other than completely honest and fair summed it up well when he said to me:

    “I think we got lucky with the first goal, but defensively we were amazing, AND NEEDED TO BE”

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