How Liverpool commit many more fouls than Arsenal, before getting a card



Today in Arsenal’s history: It is proposed that Arsenal should be elected to the First Division

By Bulldog Drummond

We had a look in the last article at the increasingly bizarre figures that are emerging about the way referees deal with tackling, fouls and yellow cards.   Here’s the table from yesterday in case you missed it (data is from WhoScored).  As ever this season the yellow card figure only includes cards given for fouls, not for the many other reasons refs are now giving cards for.


Club Tackles per game Fouls per game Yellow for fouls per  game
Manchester City 13.5 8.6 1.00.
Arsenal 16.5 9.5 1.09
Liverpool 17.3 12.1 1.09
Tottenham H 20.5 10.7 1.40
Chelsea 17.5 12.8 1.68


So although it is not our intention, we can tell Chelsea how to rise up the league: stop fouling – the referees are punishing you much more than they are punishing other clubs.

Anyway, enough of that, and we can now move on to our usual look at ratios, and in keeping with the change in refereeing behaviour this season, which has led to a multiplicity of yellow cards for reasons other than fouls (although interestingly not with Arsenal) we can look at the ratios as we normally do.  Thus again the “per yellow” number only includes yellow cards given for fouls, not all yellow cards.


Club Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Manchester City 1.57 13.5 8.6
Arsenal 1.74 15.13 8.72
Liverpool 1.43 15.87 11.11
Tottenham H 1.87 14.64 7.64
Chelsea 1.37 10.42 6.81


The first thing we can notice here is the large amount of tackles Tottenham can get away with before a foul is called, remembering that they tackle far more than other clubs.  Two explanations are available – Tottenham are much better at tackling than other teams, or referees simply feel that they can’t call out as many Tottenham tackles as fouls, as they do with other teams, because Tottenham are tackling so much more than the rest.   (At the rate seen so far this season, Tottenham will end up putting in over 250 more tackles than Manchester City by the end of the campaign).

In terms of the number of tackles teams can put in before a yellow card is waved for a tackle, the difference is huge.  Arsenal for example can put in 45% more tackles before seeing a card, than Chelsea.

Indeed by 20 January there were three players who had already had eight or nine yellow cards in the season!  Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle on nine, plus Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea) and Joao Palhinha (Fultham) each on eight.

But the huge difference we see is the number of fouls players of different teams can commit before being given a yellow card (and remember we are only measuring yellow cards for fouls in this set of data).

Liverpool commit 27% more fouls before having a yellow card waved, than Arsenal do.   Given this level of disparity, it is no wonder that a prime element in Arteta’s transformation of Arsenal since he took over has been to focus on the reduction of yellow cards.  And indeed that reduction has been extraordinary – not least because Arsenal are now putting in more tackles per game than they were in 2019/2020 is up by 7%, but the number of them being called as fouls is reduced by 47%.

Arsenal season Tackles per game Fouls per game Yellow per fouls per  game
2019/20 15.4 11.4 1.60
2023/24 16.5 9.5 1.09


At to emphaise the point, the drop in the number of yellow cards that come from bad tackles is 47% – almost half, and yet is being achieved now by having more tackles per game, and fewer fouls.   It shows that with the right players, this can be achieved.

But to come back to this game.  Liverpool will be able to put in over a quarter more tackles before a yellow card is waved for a foul, than Arsenal will.   That will as ever frustrate the crowd – indeed it always frustrates me each time I watch Liverpool play.

But it must not frustrate the Arsenal team. They need to expect that this is the sort of bias that the referee will show, and simply get on with the game.  There is nothing they can do about PGMO or its officials – it is simply the benefit that Liverpool have in each game they play.

Of course, something could be done if PGMO were not a secret society.  But we’ve been complaining about that since Untold started 15 years ago.  Things have improved somewhat, but that is because Arsenal now play in full recognition of how the referees behave, rather than in terms of what the laws of the game say.

3 Replies to “How Liverpool commit many more fouls than Arsenal, before getting a card”

  1. What about the fouls committed in Liverpools penalty boss?I think we have to be scared two clear cut penalties against Chelsea and VAR plus that serial referee ,it will be by the Grace of GOD if we win this,seriously what is going on?Who is in charge this was more worse than the 49unbeaten movie.

  2. It is an interesting comment of yours David, as it suggests that you either accept the inequities of the refereeing system, or don’t actually understand the importance thereof. Why there is such a difference is a concept that some people are able to ponder and think through, resulting in something a little more informative than your two word comment

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