By Walter Broeckx
I remember when we talked about the book Animal Farm from George Orwell there was this great quote: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
I was wondering if this also applied to players in the PL. Are all players in the PL treated equally by the referees? They should be. But how do you check if this really is the case? Or is not the case?
Thus I thought I might attempt a few case studies to see if we can find some differences and see some numbers that might shed a light on to this.
Let us start with using an example from a player on whom we have lots of data.
Per Mertesacker. Before coming to Arsenal a few years ago he already had a very long career in the Bundesliga. And when we examine his record in the Bundesliga we see that in the nine seasons in which he played 221 matches in Germany he got the amazing total of 9 yellow cards. Yes that is spelled nine. Neun as Per would say it in German.
That is one yellow card on average per season. In other words it took him around 25 matches to get a yellow card in the Bundesliga. And if we calculate this in terms of the number of minutes he was on the field we find that he got a yellow card every 2184 minutes. When he came to Arsenal I also mentioned this in my hallelujah article about his arrival. I mentioned that he was probably the cleanest defender you can find around.
So how does it compare to his yellow cards in the PL? Well he played 96 PL matches so far. And he got 9 yellow cards. So the same number of yellow cards already but in not even half the matches. His average per season was 1 in the Bundesliga but in the PL this has gone up to 3. He needed 25 matches to get a yellow in the Bundesliga and now he gets one yellow card every 11 matches. And he only needs 949 minutes to get a yellow card compared to the already mentioned 2184 minutes in the Bundesliga.
Now I know this is still very low for a central defender but it is a bit odd that he gets around two to three times as many yellow cards compared to the Bundesliga.
A reason might be that well…perhaps English referees don’t like German players that much? Because I don’t see much difference with the Per I had admired in the Bundesliga and the one in the PL.
Let us take another one. Koscielny. Now to compare him I have only taken his Ligue one numbers. Because playing in the lower leagues is maybe not the same.
In Ligue 1 in France Koscielny played 35 matches and got 3 yellow cards. Now since playing in the PL he played in 126 matches for Arsenal and has already had 18 yellow cards. Let us try to compare this with each other.
If we take this per match we see that in France he got one yellow card per 12 matches. And now he gets one every 7 matches.If we look at it per season we find that in France he got 3 yellow cards per season and now almost 5. It took him 1166 minutes to get a yellow card in France and in the PL he will get one every 469 minutes. And again one of the important things when we signed him was that I also mentioned that he seemed to be a clean defender.
The difference is not as spectacular as with Per Mertesacker but still… There is a difference.
Maybe apart from German players we might think that English referees don’t like French players also?
Of course the country where a player comes from should play no role to the referees. And to be honest I don’t think this really is the reason behind this big increase of yellow cards compared to the league they are coming from.
Could it be down to the fact that they came to this country and started wearing the colours of Arsenal? Is it just the fact that being an Arsenal player brings different punishment? To examine this we should need an English player to check if there is a difference. Oh look….we got one.
Calum Chambers. English, from Southampton to Arsenal this summer. Nice material to compare.
Last season Chambers played 22 matches for Southampton in his first season in the PL. He played 1641 minutes in total and he got the amazing number of 0 yellow cards. Yes, this is zero. Nul. Null.
And if we compare this to his numbers at Arsenal…it gets shocking. He played 7 matches in the PL so far for Arsenal and in those matches he got 5 yellow cards. Yes five! Vijf. Funf. Cinq. (in case you doubt it, I translated it to a few other languages to make sure you understood).
Of course it might be that Southampton has done an evil thing and instead of sending us the real never yellow carded Calum Chambers have send us his twin brother without us noticing it. Of course I don’t know if Calum has a twin brother at all so it still is the same person that managed to play 22 matches for Southampton last season without getting a yellow card that we now have at Arsenal.
But then how do we explain the cold fact that in 1641 minutes of playing for Southampton he never got booked and yet when playing for Arsenal he gets booked every 105 minutes.
And the fact that Southampton played a very similar passing game makes this even more strange. Southampton are also known for their high pressure game and in a way this could lead to making more fouls than the not that aggressive pressure game from Arsenal.
And yet the naked numbers show us an amazing difference between playing for Southampton and playing for Arsenal.
Three case studies. And three times we find an abnormal rise in yellow cards against Arsenal players compared to their previous clubs and seasons.
It sure does give the impression that Arsenal players are treated differently by the referees compared to players from other teams.
- WSL Round Up – West Ham v Arsenal Sunday 18:45
- Arsenal lost, but it is all part of the drive toward long-term sustainability
- Everton v Arsenal: a happy video, line-up and what the league table will look like after
- Everton v Arsenal: Injuries, points needed for 4th, and Arsenal the first to 100?
- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table