From organised time wasting to outright corruption. 16 years of football



By Tony Attwood

Yesterday, 12 January, was Untold Arsenal’s birthday.   We published our first article on 12 January 2008: in relation to Arsenal 1 Birmingham 1, a match which I attended.    That game was part of a 14-match run of 12 wins and 2 draws for Arsenal.

Untold Arsenal’s first-ever report focused on organised time-wasting by Birmingham while the ball was out of play and the referee’s refusal to do anything about it at all.   The report was headlined, “Arsenal witness the end of football,” which of course it wasn’t, but still, it must have seemed like it if the match made me want to start a blog.

So here we are 12,942 posts later (thankfully not all written by me), and a recognition creeps in that that game against Birmingham wasn’t the end of football, despite the tactics of Birmingham City.  Anyway, they zigzagged up and down the tables a few times, before finally settling in the Championship in 2011/12, where they have resided ever since.  In recent years they have finished 17th twice, 18th once, 19th twice, and 20th twice.  As for their tactics, I don’t know as I haven’t watched them or done any analyses, but probably not very sound.

But I can say that match at the start of Untold wasn’t the end of football, either factually or metaphorically, and Arsenal have indeed won the FA Cup four times since we started.   But we have got a bit of a break at the moment with no match to play this weekend while others continue with their normal work. 

So with Arsenal not actually having signed anyone as yet (or else I missed it) I thought I would come back to the Everton question once more and see if I can find any signs on the pitch of the conspiracy of which their supporters speak with such regularity.   (After all no one else is looking for it, it seems, and we are still “Untold”.)

The topic I chose, for no special reason other than it being one that we haven’t looked at before, and I can’t recall reading an article on the topic, was penalties.    Who has received the most penalties and who has conceded the most penalties?

In fact Chelsea are the penalty-receiving kings, having had seven this season, more than anyone else.  Arsenal are one behind with six.   The figures come from Transfermarkt and what I have done is taken their data in the table below and added another column, with figures from elsewhere on that same site for the rate of possession.   After all you would expect clubs that get lots of penalties to have lots of possession.

I have then looked at the top five clubs for penalties received and then searched for the Everton figure – and low and behold it is true – Everton have not received a single penalty this season.   (Not that any of my correspondents who pointed out my lack of understanding of Everton’s case pointed this out – their commentaries were, sadly, a little lacking in statistics.  So I’m offering them a first bit of evidence that there might be a conspiracy.  Not that there is, but that there might be.


Club Penalties received Scored Missed Possession
1 6 1 59.2%
2 4 2 60.2%
3 6 0 60.3%
4 4 1 63.6%
5 4 0 54.6%
20 Everton 0 0 0 39.5%


So yes, it is true, Everton are the one team in the league who have not had a penalty this season.   But… look at their possession rate (this comes from FBRef).  Only Luton Town and Sheffield United have lower possession rates, and we know where they are in the league.  And the logic is, if you don’t attack much, you don’t get penalties.

Now obviously having had a look at penalties received it makes sense to look at penalties conceded and here Everton do figure highly in the charts – right up there with the big five.  (Arsenal are added for comparison).


Club Conceded Penalties Possession Tackles
61.1% 15.7 pg
39.5% 19.5pg
47.8% 19.2pg
50.1% 17.7pg
59.2% 20.3pg
Arsenal 2 60.5% 16.5pg


Now what we can see is the there is a tendency for possession rates to be more widely distributed here, and I wondered why that was.   But we might expect Everton to concede penalties when they have only 39.5% possession in matches and when they are high up in the figures for tackles per game.

So there’s a simple remedy for their woes… sign players who can keep possession, and focus on that, so that the tackling is reduced and thus the number of penalties conceded declines.

Thus, no conspiracy is to be found in those figures, but some rather reassuring statistics for Arsenal.   What I do wonder is how Brighton have such a low level of tackling but concede more penalties.   Shirt-pulling perhaps?


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