by Bulldog Drummond
Arsenal get a yellow card for every seven tackles.
Leicester get a yellow card for every 17 tackles.
This article continues from Arsenal v Leicester, Leicester’s declining tackles, Arteta confirms tactic
Looking at our results across the games since resumption we can see the obvious improvement in Arsenal – plus the increase in goal scoring prowess.
|17 Jun 2020||Manchester City v Arsenal||L||3-0||Premier League|
|20 Jun 2020||Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|25 Jun 2020||Southampton v Arsenal||W||0-2||Premier League|
|28 Jun 2020||Sheffield United v Arsenal||W||1-2||FA Cup|
|01 Jul 2020||Arsenal v Norwich City||W||4-0||Premier League|
|04 Jul 2020||Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal||W||0-2||Premier League|
Leicester however have stumbled since the return with just one win, and that against an unimpressive Palace.
|20 Jun 2020||Watford v Leicester City||D||1-1||Premier League|
|23 Jun 2020||Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion||D||0-0||Premier League|
|28 Jun 2020||Leicester City v Chelsea||L||0-1||FA Cup|
|01 Jul 2020||Everton v Leicester City||L||2-1||Premier League|
|04 Jul 2020||Leicester City v Crystal Palace||W||3-0||Premier League|
But this stumble started before the resumption of games – they only won two of their last seven league and cup matches before the pandemic stopped football.
So what has changed for Leicester during the course of the season? For certainly something has. This is how the table looked on 14 December 2019…
If there was one team that could give Liverpool a run, it looked like Leicester. And on that day we started to wonder how they were doing it.
What we found was so extraordinary that we were forced to go back and check everything a number of times, and indeed we didn’t publish our data until 6 February at which time we showed Leicester’s figures for yellow cards against the number of tackles, is quite unlike the figures for any other team.
But then it got weirder. For since then Leicester have won three games out of ten in league and cup. Obviously a success rate of 30%. Prior to that (and leaving aside the FL Trophy which is for under 21 sides), in League and Cup Leicester played 33 games and won 23 which is a win rate of 70%.
That is an astonishing success rate turn around. 70% win rate collapsing to a 30% win rate.
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Of course there is no evidence that our publication of the extraordinary figures for the number of tackles they can commit before they get a yellow had any effect on Leicester. Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe others had spotted it before us, and referees were starting to tighten up.
But the facts are that prior to our publishing the data they had a 70% win rate. After they have a 30% win rate.
The number of tackles per game since our publication has also declined, which suggests a change in the style of play and that in turn might explain the fall from grace.
Is it that referees are more aware of the Leicester tactics? Is it that the opposition are more aware of what Leicester get up to? Were Leicester bribing referees? (Of course that is a scurrilous accusation and we have no evidence for that whatsoever – it is not meant as a serious point). Or is it all a coincidence?
But the fact is that, as you may recall, when we did the analysis of tackles, fouls and yellow cards in February, we found the Leicester’s position was utterly different from every other club. They get far, far fewer fouls given against them per tackle, and far fewer yellow cards per foul. This clearly gave them a feeling of impunity, and indeed looking at the table now we can see that they have undertaken over 150 more tackles than Arsenal this season.
But they have done this while only getting 19 yellow cards. Arsenal have had 72!
Thus while Leicester are top of the tackle league they are way down in the fouls league
|Position||Team||Played||Total Fouls||Fouls committed|
So we have Arsenal with 528 tackles leading to 308 fouls leading to 72 yellow cards, we have Leicester with 655 tackles (the most in the league) leading to 308 fouls leading to 37 yellow cards.
Now of course you can argue that Arsenal’s fouls are far, far worse than Leicester’s. Indeed you might say that Arsenal’s fouls are consistently twice as bad as Leicester’s. So they get more than twice as many yellow cards. Arsenal get a yellow card for approximately every seven tackles. Leicester get a yellow card for every 17 tackles.
(And yes I know that one doesn’t only get yellow cards for tackles, but around 95% of yellows are given for tackles).
How do we explain this? We can try several ways. For example we might suggest that Leicester players are all experts at tackling and Arsenal employ hothead defenders.
We might suggest that Leicester have a method of gentle tackling which is hardly a tackle at all, but is used to hold up the attack briefly, to get other men back. A clever ploy.
We might wonder if the referees are biased – but we have no evidence of this of course, only these very strange figures.
We’ll consider this a little further in the third and final preview of this match.
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