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December 2020
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Man U v Arsenal: tackles, fouls, yellow cards. Who’s helping who?

by Bulldog Drummond

Tackles are not the only way of committing fouls or getting yellow cards, but they are the most common so is a good place to start as we try to get a feel of which each team in this afternoon’s game is likely to get up to.

Likewise committing fouls are not the only way of getting yellow cards, but again is seemingly the most common and so yellow card numbers tell us a lot.

Man U Arsenal Most Least
Tackles 71 (18th) 67 (20th) Crystal Palace – 126 Arsenal – 67
Fouls 63 (5th) 56 (19th) Brighton – 81 Liverpool – 52
Yellow cards 10 (9th) 8 (13th) Leicester – 16 Wolves – 4

So we have both Manchester United and Arsenal sitting very low in the tackles charts.  Indeed Arsenal are bottom – we are not a tackling club, at least not at the moment.

But Manchester United are still committing fouls – the 5th most fouling team.  That is interesting, because since the tackle is the most obvious way of fouling, what are Man U doing to commit all those fouls.  Pulling shirts, elbowing, pushing…  We should look out for that.

Hopefully the ref will have seen the figures too.   But at the moment those fouls are not taking Man U into the referee’s notebook.  Yet Arsenal, who are hardly tackling or fouling at all, are the 13th most commonly carded team.    Just consider this: Man U commit 63 fouls and get 10 yellow cards (one per 6.3 fouls)  Arsenal commit 56 fouls and have eight yellow cards getting one for every seven.  It’s not a huge difference but enough to have an effect.

The other factor that is of interest is shots and goals – one might take it that the more of these the better, at least in general terms…

Man U Arsenal Most Least
Shots 71 (10th) 53 (18th) Liverpool – 97 Palace – 32
Shots on Target 27 (5th) 20 (12th) Tottenham – 37 Palace – 10
Goals scored 9 8 Liverpool – 15 Sheff Utd – 3

Arsenal are not the least likely team to take shots, but are almost the least likely.  We shoot half as much as Liverpool.  When it comes to shots on target we are mid-table and Man U are 5th, but in effect that only means just over one more shot on target per game.

In a way today’s game could be considered a match between teams at the bottom end of the table, but the variation in the number of games plays makes the table a little misleading.  We could rise to sixth if we win, but then of course those other teams on six games could jump up further.  Man U, if they win could rise to tenth, depending on results.

But it is if we look at the goals scored we see the problem…  Here is the league table in the order of goals for.

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Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 7 5 1 1 17 15 2 16
2 Chelsea 7 3 3 1 16 9 7 12
3 Tottenham Hotspur 6 3 2 1 16 8 8 11
4 Everton 6 4 1 1 14 9 5 13
5 Leicester City 6 4 0 2 13 8 5 12
6 West Ham United 7 2 2 3 13 10 3 8
7 Aston Villa 5 4 0 1 12 5 7 12
8 Leeds United 6 3 1 2 12 9 3 10
9 Southampton 6 3 1 2 10 9 1 10
10 Brighton and Hove Albion 6 1 2 3 10 12 -2 5
11 Manchester City 6 3 2 1 9 8 1 11
12 Manchester United 5 2 1 2 9 12 -3 7
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers 7 4 1 2 8 8 0 13
14 Crystal Palace 7 3 1 3 8 11 -3 10
15 Arsenal 6 3 0 3 8 7 1 9
16 Newcastle United 6 2 2 2 8 10 -2 8
17 West Bromwich Albion 6 0 3 3 6 14 -8 3
18 Fulham 6 0 1 5 5 14 -9 1
19 Sheffield United 7 0 1 6 3 10 -7 1
20 Burnley 6 0 1 5 3 12 -9 1

We are holding on in there because of our defence – we have the second best defence in the League.  Only Villa is better, and that may be because they have only played five games.

Really, virtually all other statistics can be set aside; we need to be scoring more goals and on a very consistent basis if we are going to rise up the actual table from 12th.  The defence it seems will do their job, but the goals do have to start going in at the other end.

2 comments to Man U v Arsenal: tackles, fouls, yellow cards. Who’s helping who?

  • Dublin Gooner

    Yes, more of the shots on target need to start going in, which is a great source of optimism. It’s a better situation than if the problem is at the other end. 1 extra goal per game will at the moment (generally) turn losses into draws, and draws into wins (have we lost by more than one goal this season? Liverpool I think, and then only because we were chasing the game at the end.) If the problem is conceding every game you know you (generally) must score to draw, and (generally) must score at least two goals to win.
    So regular clean sheets are the platform for success, at least for Arsenal at the moment. Which is encouraging, albeit maybe not exciting.

  • Nitram

    Dublin Gooner

    “So regular clean sheets are the platform for success, at least for Arsenal at the moment. Which is encouraging, albeit maybe not exciting”.

    Exactly. As you, I, and just about everybody else has obviously noticed, we are not the free flowing attacking force of our Halcion days, and some are finding this hard to accept, but surely sorting out our defensive structure (Not defence) was Artetas absolute primary objective ?

    Surely now consolidation is the key. Get the team used to this new approach to games. Then once the team set up and defend in this manner as a matter of pure instinct, then that will be the time to look at how we can be more expansive, but it will take time.

    As I pointed out the other day, Klopp didn’t start winning things in his first season (unlike Arteta who as we know won the FA Cup in his first season), in fact he didn’t win anything for 3 1/2 years winning the CL in May 2019, having joined the club on the 8th of October 2015.

    Again as I pointed out the other day, the high intensity pressing game introduce by Klopp took time to reap rewards. For a couple of years Liverpool were extremely vulnerable in the 2nd half of matches because ‘their legs had gone’. Add to that the fact he inherited an anything but infallible defence and Klopp had a job on his hands.

    He needed time to get it sorted, and time he was given. Gradually the fitness required for the players to continue the ‘press’ for the full 90 minutes was achieved, and he addressed the defensive frailties with the acquisition of Virgil Van Dyke.

    Those 2 factors allied to the return of Salah were the 3 key factors that elevated Liverpool from also rans to the current World Club champions. Quite a remarkable transition, but then again Klopp is a quite remarkable manager.

    Can Arteta perform the same trick? Is Arteta going to be a ‘remarkable’ manager ? Maybe maybe not. But one thing is for sure, remarkable manager or not, if he is to do so, we need to be patient, and we need to be understanding when things don’t quite go as planed. Hmmm. Unfortunately history shows that when it comes to Arsenal, patience and understanding are always in extremely short supply, not only from the hyper critical media, but sadly from way too many of our overly entitled fans.

    As for today?

    Dean !! Do I need to say anything else?

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