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Premier League full stats table: Arsenal move towards abandoning tackling

by Tony Attwood

In the table below which does not include last night’s games, the top two teams in each column are shown in bold.

Looking at the table we can see that Arsenal are committing comparatively few tackles because they are being penalised so regularly with fouls.  Almost 80% of Arsenal tackles are rewarded with a kick to the opposition.

Which means that there is no point in Arsenal tackling at all, because all tackles do is give the ball and advantage to the opposition in terms of a free kick.  In fact what this means is that Arsenal ought to be reducing their tackle rate down to zero.

And that in fact is what the club seems to be doing.  If PGMO staff are going to penalise virtually every tackle the club makes, it is best to abandon them.

Interestingly, Liverpool’s tackling is rate is also low.  However they clearly have no reason to mind the fouls they give away, because those fouls don’t turn into yellow cards with the same rapidity as they do for Arsenal.

If we look at the current top six teams we notice some trends:

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Man Utd 276 224 1.23 29 7.72 6 4 1
Man City 218 167 1.31 22 7.59 4 5 2
Leicester 310 177 1.75 37 4.78 10 1 3
Liverpool 238 184 1.29 18 10.22 5 6 4
Arsenal 225 179 1.26 27 6.62 3 1 10

Manchester United’s model looks rather middle of the road, although they have the second highest number of penalties awarded in their favour.   Manchester City are clearly keeping the fouls down and through this keeping the yellows down.  This is helpful for them as they only have a 20 man squad (although this of course may change in this transfer window).

Leicester City’s approach looks more dubious.  They are getting away with more tackles per foul than other club, but with 37 yellow cards already, they are going to start feeling the pinch as the suspensions come along in the second half of the season.  Plus it seems that the ease with which they were picking up penalties has since declined somewhat and it may be that referees have become more alert to the Vardy tactics in this regard.

Of course thus far the tactic is working, but last season of course we did see it fall apart as referees changed their response to the tackling.

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Liverpool seem to have a perfect stance in being able to commit more than twice as many fouls as Leicester, (and indeed more than other team) before they get a yellow card.

Arsenal’s decision to reduce tackling as far as possible has led to their only have one penalty against them, which is a great bonus.

Arsenal are helped at the moment by the refs being more lenient in terms of handing out yellows than with Leicester, but a fast passing game looks to be the best approach in the second half of the season.

Here is the full table.

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 225 179 1.26 27 6.62 3 1 10
Aston Villa* 292 173 1.69 27 6.41 4 2 11
Brighton and H 310 228 1.36 27 8.44 6 8 16
Burnley 224 194 1.15 23 8.43 0 3 17
Chelsea 266 218 1.22 27 8.07 5 3 7
Crystal Palace 309 209 1.47 25 8.36 2 4 13
Everton 295 177 1.66 30 5.90 2 4 6
Fulham 262 221 1.18 35 6.31 5 5 18
Leeds United 344 173 1.98 25 6.92 2 6 12
Leicester City 310 177 1.75 37 4.78 10 1 3
Liverpool 238 184 1.29 18 10.22 5 6 4
Manchester C 218 167 1.31 22 7.59 4 5 2
Manchester U 276 224 1.23 29 7.72 6 4 1
Newcastle U 240 185 1.30 32 5.78 4 3 15
Sheffield U 313 244 1.28 37 6.59 4 1 20
Southampton 346 216 1.60 27 8.00 2 2 8
Tottenham Hots 296 222 1.33 22 10.09 3 4 5
West Brom 278 195 1.42 23 8.48 2 4 19
West Ham Uni 258 190 1.36 21 9.05 0 4 9
Wolverhampton 287 224 1.28 29 7.72 2 8 14

Tottenham’s progress is being helped by referees in that although their number of fouls is on the high side they are allowed to get away with over 10 fouls before a yellow card comes in, thus allowing them to keep their squad together without suspensions, while the tackles pour in.  They have committed 43 more fouls than Arsenal this season but got five fewer yellow cards. 

It is the sort of trick that Arsenal ought to be learning but I suspect they are not because it was not the sort of approach that he found at Manchester City.

Of course what Arsenal could do is put together a video of each foul given by a PGMO member of staff against them, and point out the bias that these figures reveal.  But knowing the way PGMO behave such a strategy might backfire.

The pic at the top is of Mike Riley, general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited.

1 comment to Premier League full stats table: Arsenal move towards abandoning tackling

  • David Collings

    Tony,
    Are there any comparable stats for say the Bundesliga on tackles, fouls, yellow cards etc where we know that there is a wider pool of referees?