How Tottenham’s 451 fouls can equal no red cards at all.

By Josif

As Untold Arsenal has already reported, someone who calls himself a journalist actually gave advice to a football team to use violence as a legitimate way to win the game over their rivals.

Just like many people who use their own brain-cells to make conclusions on what the hell is going on with the world we live in, I couldn’t believe that someone would publish that sort of an article without a tongue-in-cheek moment. I mean, I would understand if someone wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece in the mould of Jonathan Swift’s advice for poor people to sell their children to the rich people as food. Of course, Swift didn’t actually advise his readers to either sell their children or to buy the babies from the poor people, but made his proposal to condemn what he thought was wrong with the world he lived in.

The problem with the football world we all participate in (as fans, supporters, haters, ultras, players, managers, tea-ladies, blog-readers, blog-writers, blog-commentators), the Telegraph’s advice was neither anomaly nor a tongue-in-cheek moment. We know why the latter couldn’t be the case – that would require a humorous nerve that the Telegraph keeps out of sight of his readership.

But why that’s not an anomaly?

Let’s check the facts:

Tottenham Hotspur made 451 fouls last season or 11.86 fouls per game. They got 0 (zero) red cards

Some would just wave their hand and say: “Nah, not all fouls are the same!” and I would agree with that.  But this season Tottenham are joint second on the list of fouls committed as they have committed 149 fouls or 13.54 per game. As you have already figured out, their number of fouls per game has risen up. Number of red cards so far? 0 (zero).

In 49 games since the beginning of 2015-16 Tottenham have committed no fewer than 600 fouls without receiving a single red card. In the same period Arsenal have committed 453 fouls in 49 games or just two fouls more than Tottenham had committed in 38 games last season. Arsenal have received 5 (five) red cards. Yes, I agree, four of those five red cards were correctly given (Cazorla against Chelsea, Mertesacker against Chelsea, Coquelin against Tottenham and Xhaka against Swansea) but the fifth card was Gabriel’s against Chelsea and that one was overturned by FA which leads me to my point.

FA’s hypocrisy.

I don’t have a crystal ball but it’s very unlikely Arsenal would have lost the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season if Mike Dean wasn’t Mike Dean but a referee without bias against Arsenal. That hypothetical referee with integrity would have sent off Diego Costa and Chelsea, not Arsenal, would have played 45 minutes with ten men. Given the form of Arsenal and Chelsea at that time, it’s reasonable to assume Arsenal would have won the game.

What happened after that game that made me hate English football for a while? Well, the FA charged Diego Costa for his foul play on Koscielny and the Spanish striker got three-match ban. Gabriel’s red card was overturned but he got a one-game ban for protesting against the decision that was proven wrong

In South-Slavic languages, there is a phrase: “A wolf ate a donkey.” It’s used when some big crime is revealed but due to power/position of those involved in it, nothing happens. And that’s exactly how the whole Costa-Gabriel incident panned out. Costa may have been suspended for three games but Chelsea didn’t lose three points gained thanks to the numerical advantage given by Dean’s wrong decisions and Arsenal got no satisfaction apart from shallow and literally pointless “moral victory”…and even that victory was flawed with Gabriel’s subsequent suspension.

Now, you might have asked yourself: what does that have to do with Tottenham?

Well, Tottenham Hotspur, those knights in white shining armour who haven’t deserved a red card in the last 49 games (actually, 51 league games as the last red carded Tottenham player was Vlad Chiriches against Stoke City in 36th match of their 2014-15 campaign), have had 3 (three) subsequent suspensions for the offences the referees “didn’t see” in the real time.

Dele Alli was suspended for his conduct against Claudio Yacob from West Brom Albion in the first half of the game which means Tottenham would have played with ten men for over 45 minutes if the referee Mike Jones had seen the incident.

Mousa Dembele was suspended for his eye-gauge on Diego Costa that Mark Clattenburg didn’t see. Again, Spurs would have played with ten men for over a half-time as the incident occured at the end of the first half.

Finally, Moussa Sissoko used an elbow on Harry Arter of Bournemouth that Craig Pawson didn’t see as a red card offence. He was given a three-match suspension. Bournemouth would have had an extra man on the pitch for over 12 minutes if the referee had done his job properly.

A wolf ate a donkey again.

So, here is a modest proposal part deux:

Let’s change the rules of football in England. Let’s allow all players a freedom to express themselves with elbows and eye-gauges. Let’s shred all those pesky yellow and red cards into pieces and allow players to beat their opponents – literally – on the pitch. I don’t know if England will win the international tournament after that change of rules but Tottenham might finally win the league.

After all, it’s not like FA cares about the young people who play football in England.

Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

As another FA corruption story breaks it is clear the FA and Fifa deserve each other. But we don’t deserve either of them.

Why Arsenal Is Nigeria’s Favourite Football Team

Fifa and the poppy debacle: the poppy just like Fifa is a “political act”.

The Telegraph advised Tottenham to kick Arsenal, but an elbow was as effective

Arsenal – Tottenham 1-1: If you can’t win it, make sure you don’t lose it

34 Replies to “How Tottenham’s 451 fouls can equal no red cards at all.”

  1. Tony,

    I’ve just finished my work on the Week 9 referee review and in the 9 weeks we have covered so far Spurs should have had 4 players sent off for second yellow cards and 8 straight red cards. They have also benefitted from one wrong penalty decision. Only Watford with 15 and United with 17 decisions have benefitted more from the largesse of the PGMO. Arsenal have benefitted from a single decision.

  2. Just a quick note about writing in – we do have some rules about providing evidence if you want to argue with any point made in an article, and so to ensure your comments are published, please do have a read of the page about making comments. And in relation to comments that have been made endlessly in the past “the evidence of my eyes” isn’t what we mean by evidence. We tend towards a more scientific view of the concept.

    It might also be worth noting that because of the size of Untold’s readership (over 5 million page views a year) and the fact that it is run by volunteers, it can take a little while to clear comments sometimes.

  3. I have to say I absolutely loathe English football media and football officials.

    When I first arrived in UK in 2007, I could hear the media clamour “oh Arsenal haven’t won anything in 3 years! Hahaha”. Nobody mentioned Arsenal’s need to keep their star players due to the stadium debt coinciding with Chelsea and other’s pumping of money in maniacal proportions.

    Incidentally, it had been 15 years since Spuds had last won anything (the FA Cup in 1991), but nobody made any mention of it. As if winning trophies every year was only Arsenal’s responsibility.

    Well, it’s been 8 years since Spurs have won a trophy (if you can call the mickey mouse cup AKA league cup as a trophy) and 25 years since they won anything more than a league cup.

    Similarly, Liverpool haven’t won anything noteworthy since their FA cup win in 2006, other than a league cup in 2012. But you don’t hear the media sniggering about their lack of trophies.

    Also, when Arsenal recently won two consecutive FA cups, the media tried to change their line to “Arsenal havent won the league for xx years)but it didn’t get any traction given that the media favourite Liverpool havent wont he league since quarter of a century, Spurs haven’t won it for half a century!

    The same bias is seen on all other reporting related to Arsenal including refereeing decisions. The referees know that they can shaft Arsenal anyway they want, the media would make it look like its all fair. Case in point, last Sunday’s game. I was watching MOTD and the hosts didn’t even show or discuss Dembele’s sharp elbows on Walcott. Both pundits were quick to agree that the penalty was valid, but no mention of the different standards applied to Arsenal, the clear penalty not awarded to Sanchez against Sunderland!

    Ultimately, I have come to believe that the UK football journalists are the lowest of the low professions (if I can call it a profession). They are just wind up merchants without an ounce of credibility. They are worst then prostitutes – who atleast provide some gratification to their clients – they just perpetuate lies and fool people while brown-nosing the establishment!

    And so long as the media continues to grovel to their masters in the FA, instead of being fair independent voice, there won’t be any improvement in the shortcomings or deliberate bias of the referees!

  4. Just for a semblance of balance. Andrew appears to have conveniently missed the penalty Leicester should have been given against Arsenal (1 point gained), the penalty incorrectly given against Southampton (2 points gained), the handball/offside (both?) goal against Burnley (2 points gained) and the offside goal against Spurs (1 point gained). That is 6 points fortunately gained in 11 games or 25% of Arsenal’s points total in the season so far. I also seem to recall that Arsenal were fortunate not to have Coquelin sent off against Leicester.

  5. Good post Josif
    Without going into statistics I’ve wondered about this very same thing myself.
    How is it that a team featuring in their line up players like Vertonghen,Dier, Walker,Rose,Wanyama, Lamela and Dele Alli, who are always ready to bend the rules , aren’t getting into more trouble with the officials.

    Usually there’s a player or two on each club who’s a bit chippy and confrontational, but Tottenham’s line up is full of them. Yet, despite your evidence , and my own eyes ( I watch most of their games), they ready get punished.

    Now, some of it is clearly a result of Pochettino’s coaching , who like his compatriot Simeone, never strayed away from a shirt pull or an ankle tap whenever it seemed advantageous ( in the all important Argentine tradition), but even his esteemed tutelage in the dark arts can’t explain all incidents of Tottenham players getting away without proper punishment.

    Michel Oliver was standing ten yards away from Eric Dier when he wrestled Giroud to the ground by his shirt, but still didn’t think it was worthy of a second yellow , even though he had already sent Coquelin off for similar indiscretions.

    Very strange.

  6. Very well written Josif. You have summarized the recent past and present thuggery of spuds nicely.

    In my spare time I am trying to learn the basics of video editing, and planning to compile videos on various topics (just like one mentioned above).

    Andrew and Tony, thanks for keeping it up.

  7. Maybe, just maybe, the spurs players are a little bit more intelligent than the arsenal players. Maybe after being booked they actually think to themselves hang on I can’t dive in anymore. The speed at which spurs press will always produce fouls. Not necessarily bookings. There are no 2 footed challenges or reckless fouls. All you lot have done since Sunday is moan. I didn’t see one incident on Sunday where spurs should have had a player sent off. Koscielny on the other hand should have been booked for the penalty and then sent off for the yellow that followed later

  8. One of the problems is that inconsistencies are there in refereeing ie for diving and throwing yourselves to the floor with the slightest of contact then Arsenal would have double the bookings they already have,

  9. From my observations, and like Tom I watch most of their games, Vertonghen gets away with more skullduggery than any other player I can think of, apart from possibly Costa.
    My best mate is a Spurs fan and even he cannot believe how his frequent misdemeanors, of which quite a few are straight reds, escape detection most of the time. Do you recall the occasion a couple of years ago when he almost removed a strikers shorts from behind just as he was about to shoot and not even a foul given. Moss was the ref I think so no surprise.

  10. Furthermore… Spurs players fouled a total of 17 times on Sunday. The worst offenders being dembele (3) and wanyama (4) how many fouls are you suggesting a player needs to commit to get booked and then sent off? Fact is koscielny also fouled 4 times. So where is your argument here?

  11. An outcry has emanated from the electorate and a Presidential candidate known as Mr Trump, as a fallout in the ongoing US Presidential election which has gone viral on the news programs on the CNN, BBC & Sky News which has accused the mainstream news journalists in the US of abandoning the ethic of the profession of journalism to become partisans during the 2016 US Presidential election campaigns, instead of them to be neutral in it to seen of upholding the ethic of their profession of, constructive investigative journalism. Which is hinged on neutrality and what the truth has revealed and not what the journalists want to see happen or think should be. And as it’s stand now in the US, it’s being said more and more people are turning to the social medium platform for solace.

    So the abandoning of professional ethic of journalism is no longer peculiar to the English media alone. But has become a muppet moving about in the media of the world and infecting it with virus.

    Like I said in my comment posting during the heat and the buildup to the just concluded NL derby match between us and the Totts, I alleged that the Totts have become the girlfriend of the FA are courting them because the Totts are giving them good money by virtue of renting their Wembley Stadium. So it is that not surprising to see the Totts getting Red Card concessions from the Pgmol in their games. In this wise, the Pgmol who are the affiliates of the FA will always obey the directives of the FA who are their bosses.

  12. Have you considered that Spurs pressing game is bound to lead to more tackles and therefore more fouls? if Arsenal had entered the game with the same determination maybe they would have had as many? Not sure why more fouls would equal red cards anyway? also if you want to draw a line that links them statistically surely you need fouls by player?

  13. Clive, to evaluate those claims we really need to know when the incidents took place. If you look at one of the referee comparison charts that we publish, that will show the standard that allows us to compare evidence.

  14. Good article Josif, I would like to see Riley try to answer the points you raise – and especially if he had to answer from the “dock” in court!

  15. To the Spurs fans here- Arsenal are an attacking, pressing side taking it to the opposition, especially in the 18 yd box. And yet, they get fewer penalties and/or pk’s than this style would suggest. Spurs are more defensive minded (very good defensive side, btw) even using 5 at the back Sunday, set up for tackling down low, which would suggest some yellows and or maybe reds and yet those occur infrequently in comparison to the number of fouls committed. I’m editing Josif but that’s what it comes down to. Read the referee reviews here of matches against teams other than Spurs and you’ll see what we mean.

  16. @SS, Clive et al Tottenham fans

    The art of writing can’t be mastered without mastering the art of reading first.

    Have I mentioned a single incident from the Sunday match in my article? Yes or no?

    Is it true that a Tottenham player haven’t seen a red card for 51 games in the league despite over 600 fouls made and at least three conducts that were punished only AFTER the game? If we pretend that all 600+ fouls were “tactical” and totally not worth of two yellow cards, what’s with that three conducts that somehow missed the attention of the referees?

    Is it true that three conducts not punished by the referees in the real time were committed in games refereed by THREE different referees (Jones, Pawson, Clattenburg)?

    Is it true that Eric Dier (Tottenham) got away with a second bookable offence against Arsenal last season while Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) received his marching orders (correctly) for the same reason – committing two bookable offences?

    That’s four red card offences Tottenham have gotten away with and I haven’t even seen all of your games (OK, I might look either of your defeats against Newcastle last season, just for fun).

    Is it true that Jonathan Wilson (Guardian) praised Tottenham for their number of fouls last season?

    Speaking of the Arsenal related incidents this season:

    -Leicester v Arsenal: Vardy made a dangerous tackle on Monreal for which he should have seen a red card before the notorious penalty incident,

    -Arsenal v Southampton: Fonte made two fouls on Giroud – a shirt-pulling and a trip,

    -Burnley v Arsenal: Koscielny hit the ball so there was no offside against Burnley and his handball wasn’t deliberate under any criteria stated in the rules so there was no offence that would justify disallowing a goal;

    -there was no offside for Wimmer’s own goal as Koscielny was onside when Wimmer became the first Tottenham player to feel the taste of Özil’s assist.

    In fact, I’m a good man and I will give you a suggestion. Why wouldn’t you make history and become the first Tottenham fans to actually read the football rules?

    I have to warn you though: if you read through the rules, you might convert to Arsenalism before you could say “St Totteringham’s Day”.

  17. Peter H must have missed the last match in Middlesex where the PGMOB representative applied one code to Dier, and another to Coquelin.

    That or they must just have a very poor memory. It happens. No biggie.

  18. Thank you Josif.

    Excellent and flawless effort. These numbers, that just don’t add up!
    Most odd.

    Fortunately there’s plenty of evidence out there to give us confidence in the pgMOB Rules OK(?) “game management” techniques *coughs*

  19. Clive,superspurs and catcher………… cannot judge by the number of fouls committed in a match by one or the other team, how many yellow or red cards should be issue, for the following reasons:

    1) Not all fouls are automatically cautionable or ejectable offenses,

    2) The referee has discretionary power over whether he will issue a warning or an ejection, and we see this all the time…..although it is clearly not recommended by FIFA to allow serious foul play or dangerous, persistent fouling to go unpunished,

    3) The assistants have the authority (normally) to advise the referee that a cautionable or ejectionable offence has occured but they cannot caution or eject a player under any circumstances,

    4) Players know their reeferees and play to their specific habits. One referee may be very severe when dealing with dissent while another may be very tolerant with tackling from behind.

    5) If you bothered rto read Usama and Walter’s superb referee reviews, you’d quickly see that they back up their claims for a caution or ejection with video evidence and direct quotes from the FIFA Laws…..therefore before dismissing their work, read it first.

    If you guys can come up with contrary proof and support your claims….wonderful!

  20. A man died and went to Heaven.

    As he stood in front of the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.
    He asked, “What are all those clocks for?”

    St. Peter answered, “Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone who has ever been on earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie, the hands on your clock move.”

    “Oh”, said the man. “Whose clock is that?”

    “That’s Mother Teresa’s”, replied St. Peter. “The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie.”

    “Incredible”, said the man. “And whose clock is that one?”

    St. Peter responded, “That’s Abraham Lincoln’s clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abraham told only two lies in his entire life.”

    “Where’s the FA , UEFA , FIFA , PIGMOB , Reporters , pundits , ex-players ant ‘them’s clocks?” asked the man.

    St. Peter replied, “We’re using them as ceiling fans.”

    Brrrrr.. its so chilly in heaven now !

  21. any reason Spurs struggle in the UCL? could it be related to refereeing . UCL and EPL refereeing can’t be the same standard. could explain something.

  22. SS and Catcher

    The Dier /Giroud incident from last season directly rebukes both your claims.
    For one, Dier was already on a yellow so grabing a fist full of Giroud’s shirt is hardly a sign of a higher than your normal Arsenal type of intelligence.

    And two, wrestling him down by the shirt didn’t result in Giroud going to ground at all, even though he could’ve easily done so.
    No, Dier had to chop him down as well to make that happen. So really he committed two fouls on that play ,but hey, don’t let the facts get in a way of your reasoning.

  23. JUST a little REMINDER to all saintly Lilley Whites:

    a quote from St. Josif of Highbury

    ‘In fact, I’m a good man and I will give you a suggestion. Why wouldn’t you make history and become the first Tottenham fans to actually read the football rules?

    I have to warn you though: if you read through the rules, you might convert to Arsenalism before you could say “St Totteringham’s Day”.’

  24. The old naivety/cleverness chestnut again.

    Spurs and co are generally just clever with their fouls, if we wanted to and had the nous we could join the gang, when we get sendings off it is because of our lack of cleverness,etc

    Utter bullshit, but impossible to prove, I suppose.

    It’s not as though Chambers double yellow at Stoke, or Coq’s at Spurs or Xhaka’s straight red, Sunday’s pen or the Leicester one last year are conjured from thin air. Incidents happen on the pitch, the refs have a decision to make, and make their decision.

    Likewise, with Spurs or other teams with their smart fouling or potential fouls, refs have a decision, make their decision. Rarely are there absolutely no grounds for a ref doing what he does, even if the only grounds are that he failed to see something. So you never can prove that if we’d made that challenge or foul it would have been a different result.

    All you can forlornly hope for is a bit of honesty to emerge through the tremendous desire for your team to win, enemies to fail. Generally, this proves completely beyond football supporters.

    So all we who claim something is wrong can do, beyond stating x was a definite yellow, that was never a pen, etc is to try and find data which looks bizarre.

    For instance every individual penalty claim can be endlessly disputed, but over a longer period it can defy honest reason for two teams of similar quality and standing, or just two teams who attack a similar amount, to have vastly different penalty statistics. Anyone with a basic understanding of the game will admit that over long periods of time, teams of similar ability, attacking roughly the same amount, should receive and concede similar amounts of penalties. We’ve shown many times here that this isn’t the case for us.

    Similar principles apply for a team fouling as much as Spurs. You can argue over individual incidents, praise cleverness, but over a long period fouling so much there should have been at least some occasions when they were caught out.

    Same thing applies to our games against Utd and Chelsea, where neither team has had a player sent off against us for about ten years in the league. How much luck or cleverness is realistically possible in so many games filled with fouls and aggression?

    Here are the stats again from yesterday showing double yellows, us vs opponents over five years of premier league action.

    8 for us, 7 against doesn’t sound particularly weird, but you look at the times and see not a single one for us after the 80th minute and, until Simpson’s last year, not a single one before the 84th minute for opponents. Over 5 years, that shouldn’t be possible. Footballers are not clever enough for that, luck cannot account for that pattern, not over about 200 games. And that’s before anyone with simple basic honesty admits for the fact we are generally fouled harder and more often by our opponents than we kick them

    Arsenal double yellows Opposition double yellows

    (11-12) 70,77,78; [45] 90,87,90 [3]
    (12-13) 69,62; [49] -none-
    (13-14) 67; [23] -none-
    (14-15) 78; [12] 89,90,84 [7]
    (15-16) 55 [35] 54 [36]

    Total minutes with ten men (- injury time)


    45+49+23+12+35 = 164 mins (2hrs 44 mins of football)

    Opposition 3+7+ 36 =46 mins (0hrs 46 mins of football)

    Add all these different stats together and it shouldn’t be possible to deny something is wrong with refereeing here, and particularly with how our games are reffed. But it’s possible. Trumps president and it’s fucking possible.

  25. Cheers Mick.

    Combo of news from America and reading this and some responses left me feeling a bit sorry for myself.

    My mood was always going to either help me get to the heart of it it as I see it, or make me too maudlin.

    I think what I described is how it is and am glad someone appreciated it.

    Phhh, bloody international breaks,ey. Could really have done with an uplifting victory this week.

  26. Raises some very valid points. Perhaps with the beyond useless PGMOL and FA, the more you attempt, the more you get away with. Maybe they are coached to foul effectively. It could be the refs know how much the media like Tottenham, and are loathe to cross the MSM.
    But seeing what Wanyama for one can get away with without a card is baffling.
    I am sure Pochettino knows Spurs are poor this season, were there for the taking , so was quite willing to risk using the only tactics that would get them anything at all, luckily for him, he caught Arsenal nowhere near the fluent best, but it seems a lenient ref is something he can count on in this league.
    As for the penalty, technically , it may have been correct, Kos did get him, just, but Dembele was already on his way down. They have been getting quite a few soft penalties lately, Alli is a serial diver, just makes you wonder why refs have not cottoned onto this, or maybe they have, and still let them away with it , for their own special reasons

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