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Why do some home teams commit so many more fouls than away teams?

by Andrew Crawshaw

With no Men’s Club games for a couple of weeks and my back now allowing me to sit down in front of my computer again, I thought I would take a look at some of the data I have been recording and see if there was anything new that jumped out at me. 

After 120 fixtures some of the statistics should start to flatten out, all other things being equal, and if they aren’t then it might be worth a further look

Firstly looking at the numbers of matches done by each of the referees:-

  1. Liverpool have had half of their games refereed by two officials – Michael Oliver and Paul Tierney have each been in charge for 3 games.
  2. Other teams having had a referee three times are Crystal Palace, Michael Oliver; Bournemouth, Lee Probert; and Huddersfield, Chris Kavanagh.
  3. Lee Probert has only been in charge of 6 matches of which three have been at Bournemouth
  4. Anthony Taylor has been the busiest whistle blower having officiated in 12 matches
  5. Martin Atkinson has done 11 and Oliver, Marriner and Dean have all done 10.
  6. Hooper and East have each done 2, Coote and Scott 3, and Mason 5.
  7. Southampton, Burnley and Everton have had 11 different referees, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester have each had 10.
  8. Liverpool, not surprisingly have had the fewest different referees with 7 as have Palace.  Spurs Man City and Man United have had 8.

Of course none of these issues would arise if the PGMO were remotely competent and employed enough officials of an acceptable standard.  (Untold’s own standard is that no referee should oversee any team more than twice in a season).

Now I want to look at the numbers of fouls noted in the official PL website.  Please note these are the fouls actually given by the referees and may bear little resemblance to those actually committed.

  1. There have been 1312 fouls committed by home teams and 1337 by away teams so near enough a 50/50 split – no signs of any obvious home/away bias
  2. 5 teams have been called for fewer than 120 fouls – Man City 109, Fulham 115, West Ham 116, Liverpool and Bournemouth 118
  3. 6 teams have been called for 150 or more fouls – Brighton 160, Everton 156, Palace 155, Man United and Arsenal 151 and Watford 150.
  4. There are some real oddities however if we look at the numbers of fouls committed by some teams home and away bearing in mind that the overall numbers across all matches are as near as not equal.
Team Fouls Committed         Difference             Home-Away
Home Away Total
Cardiff 98 44 142 54
Chelsea 76 46 122 30
Everton 93 63 156 30
Arsenal 89 62 151 27
Bournemouth 72 46 118 26
Huddersfield 73 58 131 15
Newcastle 75 60 135 15
Man City 60 49 109 11
West Ham 61 55 116 6
Leicester 61 61 122 0
Southampton 69 72 141 -3
Liverpool 56 62 118 -6
Burnley 59 65 124 -6
Crystal Palace 74 81 155 -7
Watford 68 82 150 -14
Wolverhampton 52 73 125 -21
Fulham 43 72 115 -29
Man United 61 90 151 -29
Tottenham 40 88 128 -48
Brighton 52 108 160 -56

 Cardiff have been called for 54 more fouls at home than away, Chelsea, Everton Arsenal and Bournemouth over 25 more.  Are all of these teams really making that many more fouls at home than away?   To me it seems unlikely.

At the other end of the table Brighton have an even greater imbalance away from home where they have been called for 56 more fouls than at home.  Tottenham are nearly as bad with 48 more calls than at home and Fulham, Man United and Wolverhampton are also outliers with between 21 and 29.

Now I know that some teams play differently at home from their away matches but these numbers simply look odd and suggest that there are some outside factors at play.

Looking at individual matches Home teams have been called for between 4 (Man City v Brighton) and 23 (Wolves v Brighton) fouls.  Away teams between 3 (Fulham v Bournemouth) and 21 (Cardiff v Brighton).  There is a pretty even spread across both home and away numbers

Out of interest I have looked at who were the referees involved in the top and bottom 20 numbers for home and away fouls.  Where matches occur in the same grouping for the numbers of fouls called against both home and away teams I have highlighted the games in blue.  Where a match appears in the opposite grouping (highest for one and lowest for the other) I have highlighted it in red

Home Fouls Away Fouls
Fewest 20 fouls per game 

4 to 8 fouls home teams

3 to 8 away teams

Andre Marriner 2 games (Arsenal v Liverpool, Chelsea v Liverpool)

Craig Pawson Wolves v Everton

Jonathan Moss 2 games (Burnley v United, Chelsea v Cardiff)

Kevin Friend 3 games (Man City v Newcastle, Man United v Wolves, Chelsea v Everton)

Lee Mason Man City v Brighton

Martin Atkinson 2 games (Cardiff v Brighton, West Ham v Spurs)

Michael Oliver 4 games (Cardiff v Man City, Palace v Liverpool, Chelsea v Palace, Huddersfield v Cardiff)

Mike Dean Spurs v Cardiff

Paul Tierney Liverpool v Southampton

Roger East West Ham v Burnley

Stuart Attwell 2 games (Liverpool v Cardiff, Man City v Fulham)

Andre Marriner 5 matches (Fulham v Bournemouth, City v Huddersfield, Arsenal v Liverpool, Watford v Spurs, United v Leicester

Anthony Taylor 2 matches (Spurs v Fulham, Burnley v Bournemouth)

Chris Kavanagh 2 matches (Huddersfield v Chelsea, Huddersfield v West Ham)

Craig Pawson Wolves v Everton

Jonathan Moss Man City v Burnley

Lee Mason Chelsea v Bournemouth

Michael Oliver 3 matches (Cardiff v Man City, Leicester v West Ham, Huddersfield v Liverpool)

Mike Dean Leicester v Wolves

Simon Hooper Newcastle v Leicester

Stuart Attwell 3 games (Liverpool v Cardiff, Man City v Fulham, Wolves v Southampton)

Highest 20 fouls per game

14 to 23 for home teams

17 to 21 for away teams

Andre Marriner Fulham v Bournemouth

Anthony Taylor 4 games (Liverpool v West Ham, Watford v Palace, United v Newcastle, Burnley v Bournemouth)

Chris Kavanagh Brighton v Spurs

Craig Pawson 3 games (Burnley v Chelsea, Cardiff v Newcastle, Huddersfield v Spurs)

Graham Scott Arsenal v West Ham

Jonathan Moss 2 games (United v Everton, Arsenal v Everton)

Kevin Friend 2 games (Cardiff v Fulham, Brighton v United)

Lee Mason 2 games (City v Southampton, Wolves v Watford)

Martin Atkinson Everton v West Ham

Michael Oliver 2 games (Leicester v West Ham, Spurs v Liverpool)

Paul Tierney Newcastle v Chelsea

Stuart Attwell West Ham v Bournemouth

Andre Marriner Newcastle v Brighton

Anthony Taylor 2 games (Arsenal v Watford and Everton v Palace)

Craig Pawson 4 games (Bournemouth v Leicester, Man United v Spurs, Cardiff v Newcastle, Huddersfield v Spurs)

David Coote 2 games (Leicester v Huddersfield, Everton v Brighton)

Graham Scott Huddersfield v Palace

Jonathan Moss Watford v Brighton

Kevin Friend 2 games (Cardiff v Fulham, Man United v Wolves)

Lee Mason Everton v Southampton

Martin Atkinson 2 games (Palace v Arsenal, Cardiff v Brighton)

Michael Oliver Spurs v Liverpool

Mike Dean Chelsea v United

Paul Tierney Burnley v Watford

Stuart Attwell Arsenal v Wolves

Im not sure that this table enables us to draw many conclusions but here are the ones that jump out:-

Andre Marriner tends to give fewer fouls against away teams than any other referee, half of his 10 matches have resulted in 8 or fewer fouls being awarded against the away team. 

In fact in only one game has he awarded more than 11 fouls to the away team (Newcastle v Brighton where he gave 17).  He is similarly abstemious for the home teams but not quite to the same extent.  Newcastle 13 against Brighton and Fulham 16 against Bournemouth are the only home teams he has awarded more than 11 fouls against.

Craig Pawson on the other hand tends to give more fouls, half of his 8 games feature in the highest fouls for away teams and a further one in the highest fouls for home teams.  For home teams in one game he has awarded his lowest total of 8 fouls, 17 is his highest and the rest are between 11 and 14.  For away teams his fewest is 7, he has also awarded 10 once, 11 twice, 15 once and 16 in his remaining 3 matches.

 

 

10 comments to Why do some home teams commit so many more fouls than away teams?

  • From a first look at these figures I would say there is something very very fishy going on.

    For Cardiff to commit 69% of all their fouls at home is extremely unlikely to be chance.
    Likewise for Brighton to commit 67.% of their fouls away from home seems very very odd.

    Such figures suggest that managers are telling their players to get stuck in at home (in Cardiff’s case) or away (in Brighton’s case) and play a very different game from that played away.

    It also suggests that Arsenal are committing over 4 more fouls a game every game at home than away.

    This just seems so unlikely I suspect there is a referee bias, conscious or unconscious going on.

  • Gord

    The Tottenspud have played one or two more away games than most other teams. The other teams are typically within 1 home/away of other teams.

    Other things which might be correlated (positive or negative) are: cards, treatments, minutes the home team has possession, minutes the away team has possession.

    I’m outside building joists today.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Good work , Andrew . In our case , with so much of the ball possession , its always likely that we either commit fouls or are drawn into fouls when losing the ball.

    But the very poor(or bias)level of the PIGMOB referring against us ,where we are regularly penalised for almost every alleged minor infringement or are often given phantom fouls against us.

    It of course does not work the same ways for our opponents.

    Can anyone remember the last time that we committed a foul so heinous, or so dastardly, that one had to exclaim in horror , ” Oh my god !” , or something akin to that ?

    Compare that to the leg breaking fouls against Ramsey, Eduardo, Diaby ,Sagna or Walcott ? Or that kick in the face by Adebayor on RVP ?

  • jjgsol

    Does “fouls” mean free kicks, so as to include offsides, or is it just fouls?

  • Gord

    I don’t think how fouling is related to possession is straightforward. If we ignore the attacking third of the field, having possession should make it unlikely that the person with the ball commits a foul, but does make it more likely that they will be the target of a foul.

    Supposedly, some other players on the team possessing the ball may commit a foul in order to put themselves in a better position to receive a pass from the person possessing the ball.

    In the attacking third of the field, quite often the team with possession tries to place the ball where another member of the team with possession can direct the ball into the goal. In those situations it is common for attacking players to commit fouls.

  • Gord

    A little while ago, fansided had some foul and card data.

    Top-7 European Tournaments – Most Fouls in a Game (2018)
    Bundesliga Augsburg _ 0:0 Leipzig _ _20181020 44 7
    Bundesliga Schlake _ _1:0 Mainz _ _ _20180929 43 4
    Europa _ _ Zuerich _ _1:0 Ludogrets _20181004 42 6
    LaLiga _ _ Girona _ _ 0:0 Valladolid 20180817 41 2
    LaLiga _ _ Levante _ _2:1 Alaves _ _ 20180930 41 8
    SerieA _ _ Inter _ _ _2:1 Fiorentina 20180925 41 4
    SerieA _ _ Frosinone _1:2 Genoa _ _ _20180930 41 5
    Ligue1 _ _ Reims _ _ _0:0 Bordeaux _ 20180929 39 5
    LaLiga _ _ RealMadrid 2:0 Getafe _ _ 20180819 39 8
    LaLiga _ _ Vallecano _1:2 Getafe _ _ 20181021 39 10
    SerieA _ _ Cagliari _ 0:0 Sampdoria _20180926 39 4
    Champs _ _ Porto _ _ _1:0 Galatasary 20181003 39 7

    The second last column is the cards in the game, and I think the last number is the number of cards (could be just yellow cards). Consistency doesn’t seem to be there, 41 fouls in one game and only 2 cards, vs 39 fouls in a game and 10 cards?

    Top 7 European – Most Fouls in a Game 2017/18
    Europa _ _ PBelgrade _2:3 DKyiv _ _ _20170928 51 5
    LaLiga _ _ ABilbao _ _0:0 Las Palmas 20180209 49 8
    Europa _ _ VPlzen _ _ 2:1 Sporting _ 20180315 48 5
    SerieA _ _ Torino _ _ 0:0 Genoa _ _ _20171230 47 4
    SerieA _ _ Chievo _ _ 2:1 SPAL _ _ _ 20171125 46 1
    Europa _ _ PBelgrade _2:0 Skenderbeu 20171102 46 4
    Ligue1 _ _ Metz _ _ _ 2:1 Nice _ _ _ 20180127 45 10
    Ligue1 _ _ Strasbourg 3:2 Lyon _ _ _ 20180512 45 6
    Bundesliga Mainz _ _ _1:0 HBerlin _ _20170923 45 7
    LaLiga _ _ Girona _ _ 1:0 Getafe _ _ 20171217 45 8
    LaLiga _ _ Girona _ _ 6:0 LasPalmas _20170113 45 7
    Europa _ _ Skenderbeu 0:0 PBelgrade _20171019 45 6

    Top 7 European Tournaments – Most cards in a game
    LaLiga _ _ Bilbao _ _ 1:3 RSociedad _20181005 34 11
    LaLiga _ _ Getafe _ _ 0:1 Levante _ _20181006 35 10
    LaLiga _ _ Vallecano _1:2 Getafe _ _ 20181021 39 10
    Bundesliga Wolfsburg _2:1 Schalke _ _20180825 27 9
    LaLiga _ _ Bilbao _ _ 2:1 Leganes _ _20180820 25 9
    LaLiga _ _ CVigo _ _ _2:0 AMadrid _ _20180901 26 9
    LaLiga _ _ RBetis _ _ 1:0 Sevilla _ _20180902 32 9
    LaLiga _ _ Valencia _ 0:0 RBetis _ _ 20180915 31 9
    LaLiga _ _ Sevilla _ _0:2 Getafe _ _ 20180916 32 9
    LaLiga _ _ Barcelona _2:2 Girona _ _ 20180923 25 9
    LaLiga _ _ RBetis _ _ 2:2 Bilbao _ _ 20180923 33 9
    LaLiga _ _ Huesca _ _ 0:1 RSociedad _20180921 28 9
    LaLiga _ _ Girona _ _ 2:3 Eibar _ _ _20181006 26 9
    Champs _ _ VPlzen _ _ 2:2 CSKAMoscow 20180919 33 9
    Europa _ _ Leverkusen 4:2 Larnaca _ _20181004 32 9

    Top 7 European Tournaments – Fewest Fouls in a Game 2018
    EPL _ _ _ _Cardiff _ _0:5 Man$ity _ _20180922 10 2
    Bundesliga Stuttgart _0:3 BMunich _ _20180901 11 0
    Champs _ _ RMadrid _ _3:0 Roma _ _ _ 20180919 11 3
    Europa _ _ BATE _ _ _ 1:0 PAOK _ _ _ 20181004 12 1
    Ligue1 _ _ PSG _ _ _ _3:1 Angers _ _ 20180825 12 2
    SerieA _ _ ACMilan _ _2:2 Atalanta _ 20180923 12 3
    Bundesliga BMunich _ _0:3 Gladbach _ 20181006 12 4
    Bundesliga Stuttgart _0:4 Dortmund _ 20181020 13 0
    SeriaA _ _ Lazio _ _ _1:2 Napoli _ _ 20180818 13 0
    EPL _ _ _ _Man$ity _ _6:1 Hudderfld _20180819 13 2
    EPL _ _ _ _Spuds _ _ _3:1 Fulham _ _ 20180818 14 0
    EPL _ _ _ _Man$ity _ _3:0 Fulham _ _ 20180915 14 0
    EPL _ _ _ _Man$ity _ _2:0 Brighton _ 20180929 14 3
    Champs _ _ AMadrid _ _3:1 CBrugge _ _20181003 14 4

    I would say those EPL results are strange, as they involve only Man$ity and the spuds.

  • bugdy

    Something that’s worth looking at is how these fouls relate to possession, and how often they receive cards against the number of fouls committed (not the nature but the frequency, i.e. persistent fouling).

    It’s suggested here
    https://arsenal-mania.com/forum/threads/a-bald-mans-chester-city.28457/page-97#post-4691146 that statistically City (and other Pep) teams commit more fouls than their possession stats suggest they should, i.e. they are dirtier than people give them ‘credit’ for.

    Match stats from the Beeb:
    City Vs Utd, they won 3:1, had 65% possession, committed 12 fouls each.
    City Vs Shakhtar, won 6:0, 62%, committed 14 fouls to 5.
    City Vs Southampton, won 6:1, 67%, 14 fouls to 9.
    City Vs Fulham, won 2:0, 65%, 9 fouls to 8.
    Spuds Vs City, won 1:0, 52%, 13 fouls each.
    Shakhtar Vs City, won 3:0, 52%, 15 fouls to 5.
    City Vs Burnley, won 5:0, 69%, 11 fouls to 5.
    Liverpool Vs City, drew 0:0, 51%, 10 fouls each.
    Hoffenheim Vs City, won 2:1, 66%, 16 fouls to 12.

    Arguably risking fouling is how you achieve possession in the first place. If you don’t tackle you’ll never commit a foul, but you’ll probably never achieve the amount of possession City do.

  • Gord

    In the most recent update to the inverse treatment league, Man$ity has inflicted the need for treatment on opposition 11 times. The median number in the EPL is 13, and MAD is 1.5. So, Man$ity is consistent with the median behavior. (MAD works with a 50% probability level, not 68%).

    Inflicting a treatment on opposition often involves the opposition having to play short-handed for a while. The median length of time that teams had to play short-handed (total, not one incident) is 20 minutes, with a MAD of 4.5 minutes. Man$ity comes in at 15 minutes, which again is consistent with the median.

    Another outcome of an inflicted treatment, is that an opposition player needs to be substituted. The median number of substitutions form inflicted treatments is 3, with a MAD of 1. Man$ity has required opposition to use 3 substitutions from treatment, which is the median.

    PGMO officials seem to be very hesitant to issue cards (for rough treatment or simulation) when treatments are required. But when treatment is the result of a tackle, you would think that it would be on the rougher side of things. I have no data which specifies a reason for a treatment, or if the treatment was in some sense self-inflicted. Hamstring injuries often happen in a self-inflicted manner.

  • Gord

    Cards and treatments:

    I have 8 possibilities in one set of data, and another possibility in an earlier data set.
    An Bournemouth player carded against Cardiff.
    A Southampton player was carded in the game against Everton.
    A StateAid player was carded in the game against Arsenal.
    A Huddersfield player was carded in the game against Everton.
    A Cardiff player was carded in a game against Man$ity.
    A Wolves player was carded in a game against Southampton.
    A Watford player was carded in a game against Bournemouth.
    A Southampton player was carded in a game against Bournemouth.

    Possibly? An Everton player was carded for an incident involving Hazard.

    Out of 241 treatments. For something that is supposedly on the rougher side of football, the number of cards is 3% of the treatments? And no simulation?

  • Gord

    OT: Youth FA Cup

    On the Arsenal.com website, is news that Arsenal U-18 will be playing Northampton Town. Local team from where Tony lives, I think.

    I wonder if Tony has a yard big enough to play the game at his place?

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