A Liverpool foul is 27% less likely to get a yellow card than an Arsenal foul



By Tony Attwood

A comparison of the key defensive numbers between Mancheseter City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, shows that for three metrics those four clubs are in the same order.

Thus in terms of tackles, fouls and yellow cards given for fouls, the order is almost exactly the same.  The only reason for “almost” is that in terms of yellow cards shown for fouls Arsenal and Liverpool are the same, and that despite Liverpool committing many more fouls than Arsenal!

Liverpool have in fact committed 27% more fouls than Arsenal this season but each team has picked up 24 yellow cards.  So overall each foul Liverpool commits is 27% less likely to be a yellow card offence than each foul Arsenal commits.  Which seems rather a large percentage.

Meanwhile  the figures for Tottenham are really odd.  They tackle 52% more than Arsenal, but they foul only a fraction more than  Arsenal do, yet they get 59% more yellow cards for fouls than Arsenal do.  Those are pretty astounding numbers; in fact they are utterly bonkers.to the point of being almost unbelievable.  In fact they would be unbelievable if we were not talking about employees of the Professional Game Match Officials company.

The only way to make understand the Tottenham numbers (and please do check them yourself here because I keep thinking I must have made a mistake) is that they tackle a lot (more than any other team in fact) but they are 16th in the fouling table.

And here is another issue: Chelsea get over double the number of yellow cards per game that Arsenal get.and yet they are only making 6% more tackles per game than Arsenal.

So what are they doing to get all these yellows?

Who Scored has an analysis of what it calls “card situations” which are divided into fouls, unprofessional conduct, diving and “other”.   32 of Chelsea’s 70 yellow cards this season are classified as “other” – which is not very helpful.  What is it that they are doing that gets all these other cards?

Arsenal have 10 cards for “other” reasons, so Chelsea are operating at three times Arsenal’s rate of offences for “other” reasons.


Club Tackles per game Fouls per game Yellow per fouls per  game All yellows per game Fouled
Manchester City 13.5 8.6 1.00. 1.73 11
Arsenal 16.5 9.5 1.09 1.55 10.5
Liverpool 17.3 12.1 1.09 2.05 10.5
Tottenham H 20.5 10.7 1.40 2.20 14.3
Chelsea 17.5 12.8 1.68 3.18 12.0


This is where the secrecy of the PGMO becomes maddening because we are being asked to accept these figures and yet not have a clear indication of what is going on, either from PGMO themselves or from Whoscored, the only people who seem to collecting this data.

So we have to go along to each match, spending our money on tickets, and seemingly having to accept all this on trust.   It’s the PGMO, they are right, even if what they do is incomprehensible.  The media don’t seem to find it of any interest at all.

I was going to continue with the analysis that we usually do comparing teams for tackles, fouls and yellow cards at this point, but I think the issue of Chelsea’s cards for other reasons should be an issue by itself.

Here is the rundown of yellow cards for other reasons, taken from Who scored which as I say is the only source I know of for this data.


R Team Fouls Unprofessional Other
1 Chelsea 37 6 32
2 Wolves 32 6 25
3 Brighton 28 4 25
4 Manchester United 30 3 23
5 Tottenham 35 4 22
6 Sheffield United 50 3 20
7 Fulham 30 2 20
8 Aston Villa 39 6 19
9 Liverpool 24 3 18
10 Newcastle 34 4 15
11 Bournemouth 22 3 15
12 West Ham 35 2 14
13 Burnley 34 1 12
14 Luton 26 0 12
15 Crystal Palace 25 3 12
16 Nottingham Forest 35 6 11
17 Brentford 31 5 11
18 Manchester City 22 8 11
19 Everton 34 4 10
20 Arsenal 24 0 10


Without further explanation of “Other” we are back to the old days of PGMO telling us nothing and all the journalists sitting there accepting it, glad they they don’t have to look at a load of figures and can instead make up transfers that never happen and were never going to happen..

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