Newcastle United’s weakness revealed and what they could do. Arsenal v Newcastle United.



In the last article we took our usual look at tackles, fouls and cards, and so here we look at how the figures interact.

We know that Newcastle United are the top tackling team of our sample group although to be fair to them they are only 13th in the league overall for tackles, quite a distance behind the arch-crazies for tackles: Tottenham Hotspur and Everton.

Liverpool are the top foulers of our group of four clubs, way above the rest – in fact the fourth-highest foulers in the League.   Newcastle have the most yellow cards in our group, although 20 behind Chelsea, the great card collectors of the season.


Club Tackles Fouls Yellow for fouls All yellows Possession
Arsenal 16.4 9.6 1.08 1.52 61.1%
Newcastle U 17.3 10.4 1.48 2.32 53.3%
Liverpool 17.2 12.4 1.19 1.88 60.0%
Mancheseter C 13.1 8.4 1.00 1.64 65.9%


So there’s the anomaly: Liverpool are high-flying foulers but they don’t get the yellow cards.   Let’s see how that works out in figures…   In this next table we are counting “yellow” to mean a yellow card given for a foul, not for any other reason.


Club Tackles per foul Tackle per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.71 15.19 8.89
Newcastle 1.66 11.69 7.03
Liverpool 1.38 14.45 10.42
Manchester City 1.56 13.1 8.40


So here we can see the validity of Arsenal’s approach – they can put in more tackles before a foul is called, although Newcastle are not far behind.  But consider Liverpool – they have a 30% greater chance of each tackle they put in being called out as a foul than Arsenal do.

But Arsenal, as we have been seeing all season, can put in many more tackles than other clubs before the yellow card is waved around by the referee.   The worst performers here are Newcastle.  Now they have a 30% greater chance of a tackle resulting in a yellow card.

But it is in the “fouls per yellow card” column that the real anomaly pops up.  Despite Arsenal being able to put in more tackles before a foul is called and more tackles before a yellow is waved, when a foul is called the referees are much more likely to come down on Arsenal with a yellow card.  Liverpool on the other hand are much more likely to get away with it!!!

The difference is that a tackle from Arsenal is 17% more likely to become a yellow card than a tackle from Liverpool despite the fact that Liverpool are tackling and fouling much more than Arsenal.   Yes, one could argue that although Liverpool tackles are often fouls, and there are many more of them they never quite slip over the line into yellows, but I just don’t see that.  What I see is that referees will punish Liverpool for fouls, but just won’t go that extra step, presumably because they have this crazy idea that Liverpool is not a dirty team (or because they are biased of course).

Newcastle United are following an incredibly foolish path.  They are the 14th highest tackling team – right next to Liverpool in the tackling league table in fact, and they are 16h in the fouling league, which seems about right.  But when it comes to giving out yellow cards for those fouls they are really getting done by the referees.

The solution for them of course is to follow Arsenal’s path and cut down on the tackling.  Why they don’t is presumably because they have the wrong players – which of course is down to the manager.  If I recall, he came from Bournemouth where such issues are simply not the problem.  There it is all about staying up no matter what.

Now this could work out very much to Arsenal’s benefit in this game when we see this statistic for yellow cards by location:

  • Arsenal yellow cards from fouls at home: 11 so far this season
  • Newcastle yellow cards from fouls away: 23 so far this season

So Newcastle are picking up more than double the number of yellow cards away from home for fouls than Arsenal are picking up at home from fouls.

And when we look that total number of fouls for the two clubs taking in all possible reasons for the referee waving a card in the air, Newcastle away from home are picking up 50% more cards than Arsenal.  Here’s the full table for yellow cards this season for the two clubs.


R Team Fouls Unprofessional Other Total
3 Newcastle away 23 1 6 30
17 Arsenal home 11 0 9 20


So unless this referee changes his spots utterly, Arsenal go into the game with an advantage that is entirely of Newcastle’s making.  If the zebras want to rise up the league, they have to do what Arsenal did in the first two seasons of Arteta’s reign.  Cut the fouling by cutting the tackling.

  • Arsenal yellow cards 2019/20: 86
  • Arsenal yellow cards 2020/21: 47

I don’t think they will, because this approach is very much a Manchester City, and then after Arteta’s move, Arsenal approach.  Other clubs don’t seem interested despite the evidence being completely clear for all to see.

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