Tackles fouls and yellow cards: what Arsenal must do now to survive in the PL

By Tony Attwood

Here’s the updated table of how matters are working out on the pitch.  The top ranked teams in each category are shown in bold.  Please note that Aston Villa have played two games fewer than most other teams – although that does not affect the “tackles per foul” or “fouls per yellow” ratio.

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 161 139 1.15 22 6.31 2 0 15
Aston Villa 137 142 0.96 25 5.68 4 1 9
Brighton and H 230 175 1.31 20 8.75 5 6 17
Burnley 183 143 1.27 17 8.41 0 2 16
Chelsea 211 171 1.23 17 10.05 4 2 5
Crystal Palace 226 156 1.45 19 8.21 2 3 13
Everton 256 147 1.64 22 6.68 2 4 4
Fulham 205 180 1.14 29 6.20 5 5 18
Leeds United 281 134 2.09 22 6.09 1 5 14
Leicester City 235 139 1.69 30 4.63 9 1 2
Liverpool 185 136 1.36 10 13.6 5 6 1
Manchester City 158 139 1.13 19 7.31 3 5 8
Manchester U 198 155 1.28 20 7.75 5 4 3
Newcastle U 168 134 1.25 25 5.36 4 2 12
Sheffield United 230 172 1.34 24 7.17 3 1 20
Southampton 266 172 1.54 21 8.19 2 2 7
Tottenham Hots 227 177 1.28 18 9.83 2 4 6
West Bromwich 221 162 1.36 20 8.10 0 4 19
West Ham Uni 205 150 1.37 18 8.33 0 4 10
Wolverhampton 211 173 1.22 19 9.11 1 5 11


Arsenal are committing fewer fouls than most team – with a third of the season gone Arsenal has committed over 100 tackles fewer than Leeds and Southampton and only Aston Villa, who have played two games fewer, tackle less.  In short we are tackling fewer times per game than anyone else except Manchester City.

In terms of fouls we are also near the bottom of the list, near Leeds and Leicester.

However those two clubs compensate by getting the highest numbers of tackles in per foul.  Arsenal however are getting a foul given against them for almost every tackle (although of course fouls can be given for issues other than tackles, such as shirt pulling, elbows, pushing etc.  We measure tackles as they are the most common form of giving away free kicks).

Where the big difference is seen is with the yellow cards.  Yellow cards are given against Arsenal for every 6.31 fouls, whereas Liverpool can commit 13.6 fouls before getting a yellow.  So Liverpool can tackle twice as often as Arsenal with impunity – although the clubs commit almost the same number of fouls.

Indeed it is the clubs at  the top who get away with multiple fouls before getting a yellow.  Chelsea. Liverpool and Tottenham use this tactic.

Leicester City are running away with the yellow card league having got 30 cards (only Fulham are keeping up with 29).  Leicester however are using  the ploy of spreading them around the team which is stopping players getting suspended – but the danger is that when the suspensions start coming they will hit several players at once – which is what happened last season as they slipped down the table.

Leicester are also running away with the penalty league and as we noted in a recent post, if they carry on like this they will get more penalties by far than have ever been awarded for a Premier League team.   They have been compensating for this with the penalties they gained, although before the last round of matches these were drying up.

As for how Arsenal should change their style in order to help themselves move up the table, they could consider copying Tottenham’s approach, just to get out of trouble

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 161 139 1.15 22 6.31 2 0 15
Tottenham Hots 227 177 1.28 18 9.83 2 4 6

Tottenham as we can see have put in 66 more tackles than Arsenal this season, and committed 38 more fouls.  From which you would expect Tottenham to have many more yellow cards than Arsenal – but the reversal is true.  We have four more yellows than they do.

If we can take the tackles up, and risk giving away more fouls, but not increase the number of yellow cards at all, that would be a fairly simple method of taking the club up the table.

9 Replies to “Tackles fouls and yellow cards: what Arsenal must do now to survive in the PL”

  1. good review,I have noticed our non tackling for a long time. so many goals against us could have been avoided if our players would be brave enough to tackle

  2. @ abz

    One of the key points of this ongoing saga is that the more we tackle the more players get yellow and red cards. For seasons we have been treated, on average, more harshly than our closest rivals. I suspect that because of this uneven playing field we have been forced to adopt different tactics than other teams (e.g. making fewer tackles) in order to try and compensate.

    Having said that, refs find other ways of carding our players and consequently putting our players under pressure. Despite committing fewer fouls and tackles than most, (according to the website whoscored) last season we were given 31 cards for offences other than fouls against an average of 15.0 for the other 19 teams. The second highest was 21 which is a huge difference.

    So far this season, we are sitting second in that table but have still received around double the average of other teams for non-fouling offences.

    Both last season and this season, roughly a third of our cards come in this way whilst teams who consistently commit more tackles and more fouls are treated far more leniently in both respects.

    And let’s not forget by extension, if that is the way we are treated it is logical to assume that fewer real fouls are called against our opponents than against us so in actual fact this imbalance is just the tip of the iceberg. It reduces our ability to compete for 50/50 balls on a 50/50 basis. (If you want a clear cut example of this, take a look at Nitram’s analysis of penalties on the recent posts “Leicester heading for all time record……”.

    This is the sort of stuff an unbiased media would be picking up on but they are far too simplistic, biased or both…….note how many people who haven’t managed a football club (or have failed dismally at it) regularly tell managers what they need to do to achieve success. They all seem to prefer forcing unsubstantiated opinions on the public rather than actually focusing on factual issues which deserve analysis.

  3. Mikey

    Again thank you for your kind words regarding the stats I produced. I hope you don’t mind but rather than people having to go find them I have reproduced them here with an addition comment to yourself which is relevant to your observation that “This is the sort of stuff an unbiased media would be picking up on but they are far too simplistic, biased or both”.

    In response to a comment by Arome I said:

    “We were awarded the most penalties in the league in 2005/6 and 2006/7 back to back.”

    You are correct but isn’t it funny how you found those 2 seasons. Why not look at the bigger picture? I found penalty stats going back to season 2002/03 and this is what I found regarding our main rivals over the period 02/03 to 19/20.

    Penalty awards:


    Man City………….105………….60

    Man Utd………….100………….48




    Arsenal had LEAST penalties FOR and MOST penalties AGAINST

    Arsenal had just 10% MORE penalties FOR than AGAINST

    MAN UTD and CHELSEA both had 100% MORE penalties FOR than AGAINST

    MAN CITY had 80% MORE penalties FOR than AGAINST

    Those statistics are simply ridiculous.

    Now here’s the thing. From the statistics I had available I split them into before and after. I had 7 seasons before and 11 after. This is just for Arsenal:

    7 seasons BEFORE that’s 02/03 to 08/09

    For = 41

    AGAINST = 19

    So we had just over 100% MORE penalties FOR than penalties AGAINST. Sound familiar ?

    Now the 11 seasons AFTER. That’s 09/10 to19/20

    FOR = 45

    AGAINST = 59

    So just 4 more penalties FOR over those 11 years than the 6 years before. That’s just and extra 4 penalties over and extra 5 years ! That is ridiculous. But even worse is the penalties AGAINST ! 40 penalties MORE. We have now moved into the crazy realm of actually having over 20 % more penalties AGAINST than FOR.

    Or put another way our penalties FOR per match dropped by approximately 30% and our penalties AGAINST increased by about 70%. Again that is simply ridiculous.

    But 7 seasons before and 11 seasons after what you may ask. BEFORE and AFTER the appointment of MIKE RILEY at the head of the PGMOL that’s what.

    Those statistics are damming. They are damming enough for how poorly we are treated overall for penalty decisions, but more than that they are truly damming as to how that corrupt cheating b*****d Riley has screwed us every inch of the way, starting with that shameful performance at Old Trafford.

    An Arsenal fan denying this by picking out 2 random seasons in an attempt to somehow disguise this farce is actually pretty sad, and is in fact part of the reason that cheating **** has been able to get away with what he has.


    Those statistics are shameful. As you say the contrast between the before and after is stark, so stark in fact that I would of thought it impossible that it had gone unnoticed at Arsenal, in the media, in fact across the whole football community, yet not a word. I for one have posted similar stats many times, as have others, yet as you know people, many of whom are Arsenal fans, still insist nothing is amiss. Can you imagine Man Utd or Chelsea staying silent about them, even if they just used there allies in the media to do there agitating ? Not a chance. I remember a spell when Chelsea seemed, in fact were having a hard time of it penalty wise. Mourinho wouldn’t shut up about it and low and behold the media jumped all over it, with appropriate headlines. The article that sticks in my mind is one by Martin Samuels. It was either in the Mail or London Evening Standard I cant remember which, and it ran with a headline much like this:


    or something very similar. Suffice to say the media campaign worked and the penalties returned. Now this ‘drought’, if I can call it that, lasted about 2 months and ran as I recall from October to November, and was on the back of some high profile ‘diving’ accusations involving Diago Costa.

    We have had over 10 years of this **** and not a word. Not from Arsenal, not from the media and noticeably not from Samuels.

  4. Again on the subject of the media, and Samuels in particular I would add this.

    Untold Arsenal may just be a fan blog run by a few unpaid enthusiastic fans but we know from the amount of plagiarism of it that has occurred, as well as other possible influences, that it is well read by the ‘media’. Only the other day Tony was referenced in a BBC match day commentary.

    As I say, it is obvious this blog is well known and well read. Therefore we know the tons of statistics that are researched, reproduced and scrutinised to death within it, are perfectly well know to the media in general, yet it is all totally ignored.

    Yet one neg head in another AAA type blog says something negative, insulting, abusive or all of the above, and the media are all over it.

  5. And here we go again.

    Cavani pushes a player in throat and he stays on the pitch.

    Post match pundits do suggest he was lucky to stay on the pitch but they still laugh about it.

    What makes it worse is he goes on to score AND gets motm.

    Can you imagine the outrage if Arsenal got away with that. But as far as SKY were concerned nothing to see he, and we move on.

  6. I’m posting this again following a post on a prior thread.

    Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves manager) said it loud and clear that the official (Lee Mason) was not good enough to officiate at the top level. He is being chastised for it by Sky the sporting adjudicators.

    I would say that PGMOL are not good enough to officiate at professional sport anywhere and at any level. They have no integrity nor do they have transparency in their selection process that lends me to accuse them of racism. They do not appoint officials on a free process but select officials to manipulate the league without having any checks and balances.

  7. @ Nitram

    The question for me is, why isn’t Cavani picking up a retrospective three match ban. His behaviour is clear for all to see yet nothing is done.

    @ Menace

    I certainly don’t disagree with you or the Wolves Manager. The issue is that they are not just incompetent (that is obvious). I would be more than willing to accept unbiased incompetence week in week out. Yes it would be frustrating but at least it would, as the saying goes, all even out in the end. That is not what we get though. As you correctly say, they are selected for their willingness to manipulate the league for the benefit of some teams and to the detriment of others.

  8. Mikey

    “The question for me is, why isn’t Cavani picking up a retrospective three match ban. His behaviour is clear for all to see yet nothing is done”.

    I have, and have had for a long time, my own explanation for as to why? and it is the media.

    My argument has always been that it is the media that run the referees. A referee is not judged on how he actually referees a match in relation to the Laws of the Game, but how he referees it in relation to what the media want from him.

    If he follows their narrative he is praised. If he goes against it he is criticised.

    Just one prime example of their influence was Leicester City’s title winning season. It was obvious for many months the ‘media’s’ preferred team for the title that year was Leicester City, and certainly not their closest rivals Arsenal.

    On the back of that Leicester’s attackers were awarded penalties when tumbling under the merest of touches, whilst at the other end their defence were given liberty to behave like all-in wrestlers. The media applauded every dubious penalty and cheered every Half Nelson applied.

    When an Arsenal player errs such as Xhaka the other day, he is slaughtered from every angle. If it hadn’t been dealt with at the time there is no way the media would of rested until it was relived a thousand times, reviewed in microscopic detail and retrospectively punished.

    Obviously Cavani’s may be revisited but that is entirely dependent on the media. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Laws of the Game, the PL or the FA. They will sit tight and see how there masters in the media react to it. If, and it’s a massive if, the media make a fuss about it, as they would had an Arsenal player got away with it, they still may well look at it.

    I haven’t read a paper or watched SKY or BTS today so I have no idea what is being made of it but without looking I would doubt very much. If it is, as I say, they may well take a look at it. I wont be holding my breath though.

  9. That is now two throat grabbing incidents since Xhaka was sent off and no action taken in either of them. The Cavani one actually sees the Everton player hurled to the ground. Its a disgrace the way Arsenal are dealt with more harshly than other teams are for similar offences.
    Arsenal should be making a real fuss about it with all three authorities, the FA, the Premier league and the PGMOL.
    Similarly I have been watching the way throw ins are being taken by other teams since Bellerin being penalised five times in recent weeks. I have seen several examples similar or worse than Bellerins so called illegal efforts but, surprise surprise, not a single one being declared as foul throws.

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