Below is the data analysing the fouls and cards awarded by referees. The key findings are
Manchester City commit over three times the number of fouls as Arsenal for each yellow card they get.
Arsenal at home have had 22 yellow cards this season whilst Manchester City have just five and Tottenham and Liverpool have seven each.
Liverpool’s minutes played under caution is totally out of step with the rest of the league.
Tottenham committed 36 fouls in two home games without a single caution.
First Half of the Season – Referee Analysis part 2 the fouls, cards and time played under caution
by Andrew Crawshaw
In part 1 of this review I looked at which referees have been busy and those who have been barely used. I also looked at which referee has been to which club too often and the unevenness of the distribution of referees across the clubs.
Here I want to look at how fouls, cards etc have been allocated against clubs and check if there are any suspicious numbers lurking in the statistics. Please note that I am doing this before the Southampton v West Ham game has taken place but I consider it unlikely that this one match will significantly change the overall numbers from the other 189.
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In 189 matches there have been 2003 fouls called against home teams and 2032 against away teams. At first glance his would indicate a lack of home/away bias, but this isn’t really borne out when I look at the detailed breakdown by clubs. Here are the total number of fouls called by the referees to date for each club. I have arranged the table in descending order of total number of fouls.
|Team||Fouls Called by Referees|
Brighton have been called for a total of 263 fouls 60% more than Man City but all clubs are well within a normal distribution curve so probably nothing too untoward even at this level of detail.
For fouls at home Wolves have been called the most at 125 whilst Liverpool have the least at 81. Again these are within a normal distribution range so again nothing terribly strange in these numbers
Away from home Brighton have 149 and Bournemouth have 64. Both these numbers are outside a normal distribution but not by much (I would expect an upper limit of 131 and a lower limit of 72) so again probably nothing to be getting terribly bothered about.
If I start looking at the data in still more detail by going to the match level the number of fouls conceded at home varies between 3 (Cardiff v Wolves under Andre Marriner) and 23 (Wolves v Watford under Lee Mason). For the Away team the numbers are between 3 (5 matches) and 21 (Cardiff v Brighton under Martin Atkinson). Again nothing particularly remarkable in these numbers on their own.
I now want to look at the numbers of cards and how they compare with the numbers of fouls.
There have only been 11 double yellow cards and 16 red cards in the league to date both of which are far too small to make any statistical analysis possible. I will say that both of these numbers look very small compared with the 617 yellow cards that have been issued so far. I suspect that all referees are given instructions not to send off players wherever this is possible regardless of he number of offences or severity of offences they commit.
|Team||Yellow Cards Issued by Referees|
So in this table Southampton have the largest total of cards at 40 whilst Liverpool have the fewest at 17. I would expect a lower limit of 22 so both Man City and Liverpool have slightly too few cards
But looking only at cards to the home team both Arsenal and Bournemouth have 22 whilst Manchester City have just 5 and Tottenham and Liverpool have 7. The upper and lower limits I would expect are 21 and 9 so the three lowest numbers all look decidedly fishy.
Looking only at the Away cards the numbers are in a much more normal range, Man U and Palace on 23 slightly above the ‘normal’ range limit of 22 but all are above the lower expected value of 11.
Combining the two tables to look at the average number of fouls teams make to get cards shows some more interesting figures:-
|Team||Average fouls called per Yellow Card Issued by Referees|
Here straight away we can see that Liverpool, Man City, Spurs and Everton are all being to ‘get away’ with far more fouls per card at home than any other team. The figure of 17.0 for Man City is just over three times the 5.4 for Arsenal and nearly three times the number they have in their away games.
Liverpool have the fewest cards per foul away from home but the difference is nowhere near as large as for the home teams.
If we look at individual matches there are some very strange numbers indeed. I have already mentioned the Spurs v Liverpool match where there were 33 fouls but no other sanctions at all. As well as that match the following also stand out :-
Home team ‘oddities’
- Spurs v Bournemouth – 4 home fouls and 2 yellow cards
- Chelsea v Everton – 7 home fouls and 4 yellow cards
- Watford v Bournemouth – 11 home fouls and 4 yellow and 1 double yellow card
- Southampton v Chelsea – 13 home fouls and 6 yellow cards
- Wolves v Watford – 23 home fouls and 3 yellow cards
- Spurs v Chelsea – 19 home fouls and no cards
- Arsenal v West Ham 16 home fouls and 1 home yellow card
So Spurs have managed two of the highest home foul totals without any further sanction – 19 against Chelsea and 17 against Liverpool – oh to be able to do likewise!
Taking the away teams
Of the 5 away teams only committing 3 fouls, Fulham are the only one picking up a single yellow card against Bournemouth
Man City v Huddersfield – 4 away fouls and 2 bookings
Cardiff v Brighton – 21 away fouls and one yellow and one red card
Everton v Southampton – 20 away fouls and 5 yellow cards
No-one comes close to Liverpool’s 16 away fouls without any other sanction. Newcastle are second in the list with 13 away at Man City.
Finally I want to look at a measure as to how the referees decisions impact on the individual teams and I’m going to use the Minutes Played Under Caution.
This is a relatively simple measure and looks at the time when each team receives a yellow, double yellow, red card or penalty. For each incident I have noted the time it was awarded and subtracted that from 90 to give the time remaining in the match. A yellow card counts those remaining minutes, for a sending off or penalty I have counted double the time remaining.
|Team||Time played under Caution (mins)|
So here Liverpool are the big winners. The referee’s decisions have impacted on them by far the least. They would appear to be the red hot favourites to win the league on these figures and it is easy to see why they are unbeaten so far this season.
Man United and Arsenal are the biggest losers having been impacted a massive four times more. In the case of Arsenal the home difference is far greater at over five times. These two teams are also the only ones in the top six to be at this end of the table. Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City are all in the bottom five and Spurs not much above these three. It will be interesting to see if the change in manager at United has a significant impact on their numbers in the second half of the season.
The Spurs home numbers are even more staggering at less than one sixth of the Arsenal figure (although partly explainable by the variance in the number of their home and away matches).
Arsenal also stand out at having been impacted more at home than away.
If “Type III” matchfixing is happening in the league at the moment then I would suspect some clubs are targeting ourselves and Man United. We’ll take another look at Type III in a subsequent article.