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August 2021
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Tottenham v Arsenal: unexpected statistics point to an unexpected result

By Bulldog Drummond

Tottenham fans will be relishing the game against Arsenal, as a chance to reduce by one their historic deficit in matches between the two clubs (Tottenham have won 65 while Arsenal have won 82).

But there are a couple of other numbers that show some interesting pointers ahead of this match – and they are statistical approaches we have not fully explored before.  The figures below come from our weekly analysis of clubs which we are publishing either on Tueseday or Wednesday each week.

The latest article is The Four PL clubs that are getting very special treatment from the referees.

As we can see Tottenham make around three more tackles per game than Arsenal, but both clubs have exactly the same ratio in terms of “tackles committed per foul given”.  So despite having committed 31 more tackles and 26 more fouls than Arsenal, this season, Tottenham’s tackles per foul ratio is the same as Arsenal at 1.17.

But where Arsenal suffer is that while we get a yellow every 7.14 tackles, Tottenham can wait until their 10th or 11th foul before seeing a card.  They also get more penalties than we do, but they also give away many more than we do.

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 117 100 1.17 14 7.14 1 0 14
Tottenham Hots 148 126 1.17 12 10.5 2 3 1

So although Tottenham H are being given an easier ride by referees, in essence the clubs are not that far apart in terms of these figures – we just get yellow cards slightly more often than they do despite tackling far less.

But when we come to compare the clubs’ positions, we see what appears to be a huge difference…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 10 6 3 1 21 9 12 21
14 Arsenal 10 4 1 5 10 12 -2 13

However, strange things are afoot.

First, as we know, but the media has not been able to get its head around, the old home and away advantage or disadvantage have now vanished, and as we showed yesterday the notion that home is an advantage is no longer there.   Of course this might reverse again now small crowds are back, but we have to wait and see if that is the case.  As we know the change it home/away ratio is down to the referees, and small crowds might not be enough to reverse this trend.

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Looking at the games so far this season there have been 36 home wins which is 36.7%, draws are now at 20.4%, and away wins sit at 42.9%.  That doesn’t mean we are going to win, but thus far this season, walking out onto the pitch before a ball is kicked, the away team has the big advantage.

So let us compare Tottenham H at home this season and Arsenal away this season…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
5 Tottenham Hot home matches 5 2 2 1 8 6 +2 8
14 Arsenal away matches 5 2 1 2 5 4 +1 7

Although Tottenham are fifth in the league if we just look at their home games, and Arsenal are 14th if we just look at our away games, our records are virtually identical!  One point and one goal difference between us.  And this in a season that from Arsenal’s point of view is as shocking as a shocking thing that is rather shocking.

Finally, in terms of tactics neither Tottenham nor Arsenal have shown themselves to be extreme.  Arsenal are at the low end of the list of tackle totals, and at the low end of the fouling.  Tottenham are at the high end of tackling and fouling, but not so that refs are targeting them.  The same is true for all other parameters.

So if we cast our minds away from Tottenham and Arsenal this weekend, who should we be watching out for?

Leeds and Everton will be knocking in the tackles, but Brighton and Fulham will be getting fouls given against them.

Fulham and Leicester will be picking up the yellow cards, but Liverpool won’t get a card all game, or if they do it will just be the one.

Leicester will be watched for the penalties.  They were getting one a game for the first eight matches and several times, (double anyone else), and repeatedly used that late penalty to pick up all three points.  Without this staggering array of penalties they would be sitting alongside Arsenal in the league rather than being in fourth.  In short, without penalties won by Vardy, they are a very ordinary team indeed (as are we at the moment although we don’t get the penalties).

But in the last two games the Leicester penalties have dried up – and that happened exactly when we started publicising the fact that they were out on their own in getting penalties.  Exactly the same as last season with the issues of their massive number of tackles.

Meanwhile Wolverhampton who are away to Liverpool should realise that their best chance of a point is from having their centre forward fall down in the penalty area – Liverpool have more penalties against them than anyone else.

More anon…

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