An Absolute Scandal: Penalties awarded to/conceded by Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Tottenham during recent seasons.
After Stoke’s ludicrous penalty on Saturday (has anyone seen a penalty given this season for a handball at similar or closer range?) I decided to research the ratio of penalties given for and against each of the top teams – and compare these to goals scored and conceded. One would expect that penalties should be broadly proportional to goals over the longer term… as goals scored probably correlates with the amount of time the ball is in the penalty area, as should penalty offences.
I have looked at comparative records over the last six seasons (including this one).
It should be noted that this is not statistically perfect as the goals scored/conceded are clearly impacted by the penalties (although not all are scored: since the start of the Premier League in 1992/93, 1,625 penalties have been awarded of which 85% have been scored, 11% saved and 4% missed (Arsenal have scored 83%)). But this effect will actually dampen the results!
An acknowledgement to the excellent “My Football Facts” website for the source data: http://www.myfootballfacts.com/Premier_League_Penalty_Statistics.html (I haven’t cross-checked the data – am taking the footballfacts data as correct…).
So let’s have a look at the numbers, starting with this season up to 2 March (although not sure they have included Liverpool’s from the weekend):
Immediate observations are that Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd have yet to concede a penalty while Liverpool have had plenty at both ends and have probably conceded slightly more than anticipated. Tottham are about where one would expect while Arsenal have been hard done by. But, this is just one season and, statistically one shouldn’t read to much into this – after all, it all evens out in the end, doesn’t it?
Was last season statistically different…?
Not really. Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City only conceded three between them – in fact Man Utd didn’t trouble the referees in their own box at all as they raced to the title. Chelsea were awarded a staggering 11 penalties – I note that Eden Hazard joined them at the start of the season. Liverpool and Arsenal – particularly Arsenal – were on the wrong side of the numbers. Poor old Tottenham were not awarded a single penalty (although only conceded 3).
How about the previous season where Man City won the title right at the end on goal difference?
Disproportionately healthy ratios for the two Manchester clubs, Liverpool did OK while – this season – Chelsea were down with the Arsenal while Tottenham were in a much better place. Remember that Chelsea finished out of the CL places this season – but managed to win the thing. European data was not immediately available…
Then, for 2010/11:
Very surprisingly, Man Utd had a ratio difference almost as bad as Arsenal’s – at the foot again – while Chelsea and Man City were treated generously. Tottenham and Liverpool had more moderate adverse numbers.
Moving back another year:
A good season for Chelsea in the League but, although they were awarded 12 penalties they also conceded 5 which left them with an adverse ratio. Man Utd had a positive ratio but for everyone else it was very bad – particularly Tottenham.
So, for the final season I looked at, did things start to even up?
Er, no. Not particularly good for anyone other than Man City (who finished 10th – prior to the current era). Even Man Utd had an adverse outcome – right down in the basement with Arsenal.
Then, combining it all for the last 6 years – and these numbers really are statistically significant:
The first thing to note is that the overall ratio for all six clubs together is adverse – which somewhat undermines the argument that the big clubs always get things their own way. Chelsea did best of all with a net ratio of +1.6% while Man Utd have a positive outcome, net +1.1%, and Man City are net 1.0%. Liverpool are at a disappointing -3.0% and Tottenham at an unfortunate -3.7% – but right out in last place – by a mile – are Arsenal with an astonishing -8.1%. So perhaps the big clubs do get an advantage – if they are Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City anyway…
It is clear that something here is horribly wrong. The probability that, over a six year period, Arsenal should have conceded more penalties than they were awarded through chance fluctuation is tiny. In fact, for the last five years, in no season have Arsenal been awarded more penalties than they conceded! Incredible!
Still reeling from this, I then found something rather interesting on another table on the myfootballfacts website showing the penalties awarded/conceded since 02/03. The Arsenal stats are here:
So, from 02/03 to 07/08 Arsenal were always awarded more penalties than they conceded (apart from 04/05 when it was 3 each way). In 08/09 Arsenal were awarded/conceded 5 each and then, for the following five seasons (including the current one) Arsenal were awarded fewer than they conceded. Over this whole period Arsenal have finished consistently in the top four so it is not as if their form collapsed. Given goals scored and conceded it seems as if the 02-09 period was about right. Penalties awarded since have dipped by 1.5 a season whereas penalties conceded have more than doubled. Net, Arsenal are about 4.5 penalties a season worse off in the current era which equates to about 4 goals.
What on earth happened in 2009 to trigger this reversal?
I sat scratching my head for a long time.*
So, I don’t know why this is as it is, but I find it hard to express my horror and disgust at these numbers in writing. This is an absolute scandal and questions need answering.
*Coincidentally, I noticed that Mr Riley retired from refereeing in 2009 and moved on to another job…
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP