The shocking statistics on how referees have affected Arsenal’s league position

By Tony Attwood

In 2019/20 an Arsenal player was given a yellow card for every 4.9 fouls the team committed.  In fact Arsenal had to commit fewer fouls than any other club for each yellow card they got.  The size of the difference between Arsenal and other clubs can be seen by the fact that Leicester had to commit 10.2 fouls for each yellow card they got.

It clearly was an enormously debilitating factor for Arsenal during the season, hampering the defenders who knew that they the yellow cards were going to come in thick and fast.

And it was not that Arsenal committed more fouls than other clubs, so in the end the referees were giving them yellow cards to for repeated fouling.  Seven clubs committed more fouls than Arsenal – but it was Arsenal that was getting the most yellow cards.  Indeed as we noted above, Leicester had to commit more than twice as many fouls as Arsenal to get a yellow card.

This astonishing figure has come about through a decline in the number of fouls Arsenal have to commit each season in order to get a card.  To show how far this has moved we can note that in 2015/16 Arsenal had to commit 8.97 fouls in order to get a yellow card – this season it was 4.9.

It is probably not a coincidence that when Arsenal could commit 8.97 fouls per yellow that the club came in 2nd in the league.   By 2017/18 Arsenal got a yellow card after every 6.72 fouls and we had dropped to sixth in the league table.  The following year we only had to commit 5.72 fouls to get a yellow, and this past season as noted above it was 4.9 fouls to get a yellow as we sank to 8th.

The cause of this can be debated.  For example, have we started to employ players who are less able to manage their performance?  Or is it that we are just employing players who are unused to the strange ways of referees in the Premier League?  Or have the refs just decided to get Arsenal for some reason?

It is probably one of those reasons – unless you really believe that all these things happen by chance alone – in which case there is probably not much point watching football.

Certainly our sinking to 8th in the league while rising to being top of the table as measured by the number of fouls it takes to get a yellow card has coincided with a significant change over in the playing staff of the club.  New players can take a while to adjust to the unique approach to refereeing of the PGMO.

Given that our long-running campaign to expose the strangeness of refereeing in the Premier League (same referees handling the matches of the same clubs over and over etc) is one that the media utterly refuses to consider, it is unlikely that these odd stats are going to become what the media loves to call “a talking point”.

Indeed looking through the statistics year by year I can’t find any case of a club having statistics like Leicester’s this season of being allowed to commit 10.2 fouls per card in the last ten years. When Arsenal were in the enviable position of being able to commit the most fouls before getting a yellow card (2015/16 when we also came second in the league) the figure was 8.97 fouls per card.  The leap up to 10.2 fouls per card is utterly astonishing.

But leaving aside Leicester’s “good fortune” in being able to commit fouls but simply not get cards, it is clear that Arsenal have got to change their game to accommodate the activities of PGMO.

This past season Arsenal committed 11.08 fouls per game, virtually the same as the 11.0 fouls per game by Leicester.   Yet Arsenal ended up with 86 yellow cards, more than any other club in the League.  Leicester got 41 – under half Arsenal’s total.

Obviously getting a yellow card affects a player, in that having got the card he knows that a) the referee is watching him and that b) he cannot afford to make any mistakes of timing a tackle etc.  That changes the player’s game and of course affects the defence.

Changing the approach of the defence can be done for as we have seen in 2015/16 Arsenal got fewer yellow cards than anyone else (39). It is not an issue at all as to whether the yellow cards are justified or not.  Arsenal is being hampered by the fact that we get yellow cards far more readily than other clubs.  Indeed as our earlier articles comparing yellow cards to tackles show, it doesn’t even have anything to do with the number of tackles either.

Giving Arsenal yellow cards is how PGMO is playing the game at the moment.  Yet we were able to outsmart the referees in 2015/16 and we need to do it again next season.  In fact we need to do it again this weekend too.





18 Replies to “The shocking statistics on how referees have affected Arsenal’s league position”

  1. You imagine adding those stats to the VAR stats, how much has the total effect been on our club for this year alone?.

  2. Shall I say I am surprised? No…they have always had it for us. Look at Nketiah against Leicester city/Jamie Vady on Mustafi, same match.
    There were loads of it, with VAR helping them too.

  3. I always read your reports about the refs with much interest and this one is just as interesting… You guys have the stats… You mention we are refereed by the same refs many times would these stats be because an individual referee gives more cards than others. Where other teams this season refereed by the same ref as our games given as many cards also the referee controlling Leicester games did he give as few cards out to other clubs he was in control of… It seems it would be a good idea to brake the statistics down between individual referees and see if they are giving a similar amount of cards per foul in all there games

  4. I always thought VAR would just add to their stitch up armoury for us and big up for others rather than create any type of level playing field. Seems I was right to be fearful. See disallowed goal v Palace for a prime example.

  5. Tezz in the past we have done this in great detail, but it does take a lot of time to do it. We are hoping that next season we’ll be able to go into this in even more detail than before – to such a level in fact that it will cause PGMO and all those who criticise us, to take a few steps backwards. But it is a matter of time – gathering the data that PGMO are so keen to stop us seeing – really does take some work.

  6. Tony thanks for the reply I support whole heartedly what your doing with your investigations into refereeing in this country… And the fact that it’s being covered up in the way your suggesting is just as bad as what’s going on within uffa and fifa…. Why won’t the papers report on it… If its affecting results then it affects football in this country and betting surly the betting side of it should be looked at if referees are getting away with giving certain clubs more cards… Don’t forget you can now bet on things like that.. I’ll look forward to your coverage next season it should make interesting reading… Keep up the fantastic reporting

  7. Why the media don’t engage in certain topics is an endless source of interest. I think that generally they all stay within the agreed parameters of what is news. Thus the Swiss chief prosecutor leaving his job in a fight with Fifa is not news. Also the fact that the stadia of the next world cup have been built by slave labour isn’t news. It isn’t news because none of them cover it. If it were news it would be in the papers. It isn’t in the papers so it isn’t news.

  8. @ Tony

    I mentioned a while ago the stats on the ‘Who Scored’ site which splits cards given for fouls and cards given for ‘other’. Now the league season is over it’s worth looking at that again. I think it puts a different complexion on things.

    When we look at actual cards given for fouls, as you say Arsenal commit a slightly above average number of fouls; 422 against an average of 408 but the number of cards received for fouls is slightly less than average; 6.9 fouls per card as opposed to an average of 7.9. So in actual fact those figures are not unreasonable with a small deviation. Leicester though are still being treated far more leniently with 11.3 fouls per card.

    Based on cards for fouls we are actually only the fourth most harshly treated club behind Bournemouth (6.0 per card), the Spuds (6.3) and West Ham (6.8). In fact, it’s interesting to note that seven of the nine clubs most harshly treated (i.e. above average cards per foul) are clubs from the south, whereas most clubs not from the south are more favourably treated. (I know this may be contentious with some but for my purposes I treated clubs from the Midlands as ‘non-southern’.)

    So back to the gist of this. If we are treated not too badly on fouls per card there is clearly an issue elsewhere. And this is where we come to the matter of ‘other’ cards.

    The average for ‘other’ is 12.5 per club. So presumably this is all those dives, ungentlemanly conducts, dissents, time wasting etc. The most leniently treated received just 5 cards. Who should be one of the three most leniently treated in this respect though? It is yet again Leicester who seemingly can do little wrong!!

    Interestingly, the top three most harshly treated for ‘other’ cards includes two of the three most harshly treated clubs in terms of fouls per card; Arsenal (of course) and the Spuds. Now we may not love our friends down the road but it’s interesting that the two North London clubs are consistently treated more harshly in every way possible. Far be it from me to suggest that given most refs are from the north, this might have something to do with it.

    Anyway the real crux of the matter is that the average for ‘other’ cards is 12.5 per club. Leicester receive around half that amount and some ten clubs in second place is Everton with 16. But way out in front, and making Liverpool’s points lead in the premiership look like a narrow margin, is Arsenal with 27. YES, 27!

    So not only do we get more than double the average we actually get 69% more than the second worst club. Just to put that into context, for ‘other’ cards the gap between Everton (16) in second and West Ham (5) in 20th is exactly the same as the gap between ourselves and Everton. In terms of probability, that is quite ludicrous.

    This is where the difference really is. And here’s the rub. Fouls are open to interpretation and some are treated more harshly than others and sometimes we think our players, or indeed those of other clubs, are sometimes unfairly carded. But these offences are far more likely to be scrutinised by the observer. But referees are rarely, if ever, questioned when giving out ‘other’ cards and we possibly deserved every one of those 27 as we potentially were breaking the rules. The issue here though is that players of other teams appear to be let off far more often and this goes unquestioned too. Just look at our last game. Three cards. Holding for a clumsy (rather than reckless) challenge; Xhaka and Martinez for ‘other’.

    For anyone who is familiar with the inordinate amount of time that is wasted by opposition goalkeepers at the Ems, you will be familiar with the crowd loudly counting the seconds for the referee. Rarely does it ever result in a talking to for the keeper let alone a card. In fact the number of average number of cards given to keepers this season is 1.35. Both Leno and Martinez have received two. No clubs keepers have received more than Arsenal. It all starts to stink after a while.

    This is where much of the real damage is done and it slips by unnoticed.

  9. Hmmm. As a matter of fact, let me say this article posting by the Untold Arsenal today has busted and exposed Mike Riley’s kingpined PGMO outfit in his obnoxious grand slam plan which he has so designed and employed overtime against Arsenal FC, which for a long has been aided and abetted by his cohorts and partners in corrupt practices progress that’s being systematically implemented to frustrate all Arsenal FC legitimate efforts done on the field of play in the Premier League by it’s club players to lift the Premier League’s coveted title trophy again after their efforts making on field continuously for over two and halve decades to retake the title since they last took it in 2003-2004 season’s campaign in the PL. In fact, it has even get to the point now where the Mike Riley’s controlled PGMO outfit have decided to make sure Arsenal doesn’t make the PL table top-four finish anymore. An ugly situation the Mike Riley’s PGMO outfit have criminally imposed on Arsenal that has seen the North London giants affluence club side – Arsenal FC missed out on the Champions League competition for four consecutive seasons now. This is criminality committed against Arsenal FC by Mike Riley and his cohorts. But it MUST be punished with severity punishments handed to Mike Riley and his other criminal elements by the Law.

    But wait a minute, does Mike Riley think Arsenal FC and their fan base support supporters including the club supporting investigative media journios will fold up their arms to helplessly watch on the PGMO in their dark art evil practices of raping Arsenal FC unlimited in broad day light not bothered even if the bystanders are watching that included the mainstream media outfits. But who have failed to report the PGMO criminal act against AFC to the appropriate authorities concerned for investigations will continue unabated for as long as he Mike Riley wants it to last? Capital NO is the answer. It’s cannot. This is because the evil plot being carried out against Arsenal by Mike Riley and aided by all his cohort comrades in dark art crimes which are regularly been committed against Arsenal to systematically hamper the club from winning the PL title again or to make the top-four table finish again too to qualify to play in the CL, for, Riley has vowed and promised the FA and the Mainstream Media to continue to implement to the letter as long as he remained the PGMO chief executive officer has been unravel and exposed by the Untold Arsenal website for not only the Arsenal supporters to see it but for the general public concerned with professional football activities world wide to see it too.

    I believe this bold step that is now taken by the Untold Arsenal to expose the evil deeds in darkness by Mike Riley’s run PGMO that are being committed against Arsenal FC with some regularity to their committing too will start the process and journey that will see to the permanent end of Mike Riley anti-Arsenal order regime that’s been running at the PGMOL as it’s currently constituted.

    However, how about this superstitious optimism belief gist in some Arsenal supporters circle saying that as the Eland Road football club side Leeds United has secured promotion from the Championship League division last season to play in the Premier League division next season’s campaign, Arsenal will next season win the PL title. I pray fervently to God the Almighty to make me a witness to this superstitious optimism belief that will see Arsenal win the PL title next season to come to pass for all us the Arsenals. Amen? Amen!

  10. Mikey

    Absolutely brilliant work.

    It’s kind of funny this because when these dubious card statistics were first re visited without the in depth analysis you have applied Mikey, a couple of months ago, we had people comming on here attempting to justify the deviation by claiming it was to do with the ‘clumsy’ way we tackle and had nothing to do with bias.

    I wonder what their justification for the bias will be now that we can see it’s actually got nothing to do with the way we tackle, clumsily or not ?

    I suppose now it’s how we must time waste with attitude, or kick the ball ball away with contempt, or swear at the ref with extra profanity.

    Those figures you’ve unearthed mikey are truly shocking.

    Nice one Mikey

  11. I wonder if the figures for our European games are similar.We have a minimum of 6 matches per year over 2 decades, that is a lot of games to be judged on.

  12. @ Nitram

    I wrote the long post above with limited time so apologies for the errors. One thing that needs clarifying though is that of the 1.35 cards for goalkeepers which isn’t quite correct. It’s actually 1.35 for all the goalkeepers used by each club. So if clubs used more than one keeper in a season they didn’t receive 1.35 cards each, the clubs goalkeepers in total received an average of 1.35 for the 38 games.

    I wanted to clarify that as our two boys receiving two each only looks fractionally higher that 1.35. In fact AFC received four cards for keepers as opposed to the 1.35 other clubs received. So three times as many as the average.

  13. Mikey

    Researching statistics is hard work and very time consuming as you know and the odd error is inevitable. We all make them as hard as we try not to.

    Minor errors or not what you reveal is quite extraordinary.

    In answer to Stevo’s question, I think somebody has looked at the European stats and they are a bit better if I recall, but that being said we still had one of the most ludicrous ‘other’ cards I’ve ever seen when RVP got a 2nd yellow for taking a shot after the whistle had gone, a whistle he didn’t hear in a deafening atmosphere.

    Never seen a decision like it before or since.

  14. Guys, your work with the statistics makes very interesting reading but as i said before, does it differ between referees. If we are getting more games refereed by a small group of referees, which is mentioned in the original article shouldn’t we be looking at individual referees card awards in regards to both arsenal and then how the same referees treat other teams. When you use averages it can change vastly while looking at whole groups of referees using a higher number to divide by than if you narrow it down and just look at the group who have refereed the majority of our games

    Tony, Sorry im deviating away from the main subject here a little bit but your reply about FIFA and what they get up to annoys me no end what happened with the selection of the hosts for the next world cup is beyond belief. they won the bid saying that all the grounds would have roofs and be air conditioned because of the concerns about the heat in the height of the summer. they beat England’s bid which I’ve no doubt cost a fair sum to put together on those points. They guaranteed that the temperature at pitch level would make it ok to play all the games. then 3 or 4 months later it turns out they cant fulfil there promises and it will need to switch to a winter competition, which not only is unprecedented but it messes up the entire European leagues seasons. how on earth did they still retain the rights to hold the competition. At that point it should have been awarded by default to England. but FIFA have insisted they won the bid fair and square. the competition now is a completely different thing to the one England lost the bid for.

  15. @ Nitram

    I remember that card incredibly well. I think we were ahead over the two legs at the time. I was watching it in a small rural bar in Portugal not sure how the locals would take to my somewhat emotive behaviour! I should have guessed that everyone of them was an Arsenal fan that night given the nationality of the opposition 🙂

  16. Very interesting data-
    What I believe is that Arsenal are far from a dirty side- in fact the opposite is true-we are still a side openly targeted as being soft-particularly by Northern sides and the PGMOL have set up a regime that punishes a team more heavily for its reaction to a foul than the commissioning of the initial foul itself- Perhaps that is so that English refs can appear to be in charge- when the truth is the PGMOL has created confusion about what constitutes a foul- by its open toleration of rough play-a misguided desire to preserve the culture of English football which is in fact the culture of Northern English grass roots football.

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