Liverpool: why do the referees give so few fouls against them when they tackle?



By Bulldog Drummond

In the last article, we noted what we called the “astounding support Liverpool get from referees” given that “they can commit 11.43 fouls before getting a yellow card, compared with 8.08 for Arsenal and 9.00 for Manchester City.”

So the question arises, how on earth are they doing this?   As they tackle they are getting pulled up more often than the other teams shown here – once every 1.36 fouls compared to once every 1.7 fouls for Arsenal.   That clearly puts Arsenal in a much better position than Liverpool when it comes to refereeing decisions.

But, and this is the key point, when we look at the number of fouls committed before a yellow card is waved, for inexperienced Aston Villa it is 6.41 fouls per card (and by “inexperienced” I mean, inexperienced in the world of playing the game according to the referee.   When a club is mid-table and not one of the big six or seven, the refs tend not to worry about the clubs too much.  It is only when they approach the top of the league that PGMO starts to show what might be called “a little more interest.”)   

So, for Aston Villa this season it is 6.41 fouls per card – which is an improvement on 5.23 fouls per card last season and 5.12 the year before that.  So clearly the coaches and the players are learning – but they still have a very long way to go.  For Arsenal, the current rate is 8.08 fouls per card.   For Manchester City it is 9.00 fouls per card.

But then we find that Liverpool can commit 11.43 fouls before getting a card.  That is 41% more fouls before a card is waved than is the case with Arsenal, and an astonishing 78% more than Aston Villa.

I do watch a fair amount of football, and certainly looking at the games I really do not think that Aston Villa’s fouls are 78% worse than Liverpool’s – which is what these numbers suggest.

But as things stand, this is an incredible advantage for Liverpool, and means that Arsenal have to be much more cautious than Liverpool when tackling – which of course gives Liverpool quite an advantage in itself, since Arsenal cannot play their normal game.

So, in summary, as we can see from this, Liverpool and Arsenal tackle at the same sort of level, but when it comes to fouling almost a quarter more of Liverpool’s tackles are fouls, than is the case with Arsenal.

And yet amazingly, given that the number of tackles put in by the two clubs is just about the same, Arsenal get 14% more yellow cards as a result of the fouls than Liverpool do. 

Arsenal are not treated as badly as Villa, who are being hammered by referees, but still, given that the clubs put in the same number of tackles game after game we are still asked to believe that Arsenal’s tackles are 14% worse than Liverpool’s – and not just that, worse enough to merit yellow cards.

The figure is slightly balanced by the fact that Liverpool have had three yellow cards this season for unprofessional conduct and a whacking great 17 cards for what are currently being classified by the League as “other” offences.   This could involve kicking the ball away, refusing to go back 10 yards at a free kick, swearing at the referee, and quite possibly eating the grass, although I’ve never seen that happen.

This indulgence by Liverpool players in what appears to be an array of other offences beyond nasty tackles means that while Arsenal are on 33 cards this season Liverpool are on 41 – almost a quarter more than Arsenal.  It is all very strange.

If we take account of the two yellow cards becoming a red and so discounting such yellows and counting instead the red (which is what the League and Who Scored do, so it is not just us making up new figures), the accumulated table of cards now shows that Chelsea and Sheffield United have over twice as many cards as Arsenal.  Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur remain kings of the Red Cards with four each – again twice as many as Arsenal.   

At this rate Chelsea will end up with 116 yellows to Arsenal’s 57.  In the table below the “Big 7” clubs are in bold.


Yellow Pos Team Yellows Reds
1 Chelsea 61 3
2 Sheffield United 61 2
3 Aston Villa 55 1
4 Tottenham Hotspur 52 4
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 52 3
6 Newcastle United 51 0
7 Brighton & Hove 51 2
8 Manchester United 47 1
9 West Ham United 45 1
10 Fulham 45 3
11 Nottingham Forest 44 3
12 Everton 43 1
13 Brentford 42 1
14 Burnley 38 4
15 Crystal Palace 37 1
16 Liverpool 36 4
17 Luton Town 36 0
18 AFC Bournemouth 35 1
19 Manchester City 34 2
20 Arsenal 30 2


7 Replies to “Liverpool: why do the referees give so few fouls against them when they tackle?”

  1. There was always Mike Dean , Tranmere supporter . Yeah Right.
    Peter Bankes is reportadly unknown but comes from Liverpool
    Jarred Gillet is Australian but no record of his preference is listed.
    David Coote , Rob Jones ,
    Mike Salisbury, John Brookes all are unknown .
    Draw your own conclusions but if you take kids born in the 1980’s chances are that it’s Liverpool , Manchester United or us and you can be pretty certain it isn’t us.

  2. Robert Jones confirmed he was totally inadequate without VAR at Middlebrough. He denied Aston Villa an obvious penalty which,I presume, he failed to give in case he was wrong – totally reliant on the “bail me out” culture.
    Di Zerbi ran yards onto the pitch after one Brighton goal at Stoke – didn’t notice him being cautioned – Tierney referee

  3. Whine, whine, whine!
    “The refs don’t like us”, “they must be supporters of the other team, although I have absolutely nothing to support my opinion, other than it must be true!”
    Yellow cards are not given just because a certain number of fouls have been committed!
    To be grasping at this, as a way to prove how much of a victim you are, is embarrassing to say the least!!!

  4. porter

    Jarred Gillett IS a Liverpool fan. had an article on him. He even studied at Liverpool John Moores University! He is not allowed to referee Liverpool matches, but has done matches of their ‘title rivals.’

    Apparently 5 current PGMOL referees support Liverpool…

  5. I do enjoy comments like this with no evidence and just accusations. I think it does give us quite an insight into some of the supporters of other teams

  6. Also in regard to joe, the fact that it was sent from a fake email address – again a reflection on the sender. But we do have the IP address so we can track him/her/

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