Why do Arsenal get so many red cards and why can’t Liverpool sign new players?

By Tony Attwood


Arsenal now are top of the red card league, with five red cards this season.  No other club has five.  Four clubs have had three, six clubs have had none.

Arsenal were also top of the red card league last season, where they had five all season.

But although the media say otherwise, this is unusual for Arsenal.  In 2018/19 Arsenal only got two red cards – the top club was Leicester with once again, five.  The season before that 2017/18 it was exactly the same.  Arsenal got two red cards and Leicester were top of the red card league with five.

Below is the table for the past ten years.

Season Arsenal Red Cards Highest Red Cards
2019/20 5 Arsenal 5
2018/19 2 Leicester 5
2017/18 2 Leicester 5
2016/17 3 Hull 5
2015/16 4 Southampton 6
2014/15 2 Aston Villa 7
2013/14 4 Sunderland 7
2012/13 5 Arsenal 5
2011/12 4 QPR 9
2010/11 6 WBA 7

So as we can see Arsenal have been top of the red card league twice in the previous 10 seasons, but each time only reaching five reds.  The last time we were almost bottom of the league for red cards was 2003/4 when we got one.

And yet of course in the media Arsenal’s red cards are highlighted.  Indeed during Mr Wenger’s years we also had regular headlines about the number of yellow cards Arsenal got – invariably without actually quoting the number of yellows other teams got.  Through much of Mr Wenger’s early years we were called a very dirty team by Sky Sports on their Gillette Soccer Saturday show, but of course were anything but.

This season we are eighth in the yellow card league with 32 yellows, behind Manchester United on 36, Leicester on 39 and Sheffield United at the top on 43.

But the negative publicity goes on and on.  For example, back in 2018 the Daily Mail ran a major article on its web site celebrating the 118th Arsenal player to be sent off during the reign of Arsene Wenger.  The piece contained lots of shock horror about the numbers, and went so far as to list every single player in the list of players sent off.

What the piece didn’t do was compare how many players of other clubs were sent off in the same period, nor indeed the nationality of the players who were sent off.  So we were given the impression that Arsenal was a club whose players were out of control, but we had no idea if Arsenal was exceptional in this regard.

I was reminded of this approach to presenting facts last night as I got ready to watch last night’s football extravaganza between Wolverhampton and Arsenal and mistakenly tuned into TalkSport and caught them discussing why Liverpool had not splashed out on a couple of high profile European defenders.  (You may have noticed this – when Arsenal are about to play, TalkSport always have a debate about Liverpool).

What horrified those on air was the fact that Liverpool, a team in desperate need a whole set of new players (according to the commentators) had not gone out and spent £100m but instead had spent just half a million on Ben Davies and taken Ozan Kabak on loan.  Such moves were incomprehensible to the journalists.

Lots of reasons were given for Liverpool not signing the players the journos thought they needed … but not the view that players from outside England are becoming harder to attract to the Premier League.

And yet there are reasons why players might not want to come to England.

One is that, as we have shown, and as is reported in Europe but not in England, English refs are making many more errors than refs from other countries.  (You might recall our comparison of Swiss referee error making with that of PGMO employees).

Another is that the style of refereeing is different here.  While the sudden change in results when matches are played behind closed doors has now diminished in most other leagues, it remains a major factor in the Premier League, where it was shown that the issue was caused by a change in the way referees act when crowds are not present.

But there is now another fact – that if one plays in the Premier League as a foreigner there is a chance that one might then be frozen out of the team, and not be transferred, and so simply not get any football for six months or more.  The story of Ozil is well-known across Europe, and it caused some concern.  Getting stuck in England is now a concept in footballing transfers – and a reason to be cautious about coming to England.

And then there is also the issue of referees.  Although it was hardly noted in England that at the last world cup there were no English referees, it was noted elsewhere, and the question as to why this happened was debated.  As a result there was an extra highlighting in Europe of the oddity of the way the PGMO runs refereeing in England.  The sort of commentary that one never finds about PGMO in the English media started to happen in the foreign media.

Yet the biggest problem is that players from outside England hear and see the commentaries about English clubs with the crazy negativity heaped on certain clubs, and they know that refereeing in England is different from elsewhere, and they just think, no, I’d sooner play in Germany.

The evidence that referees have not been running matches properly



10 Replies to “Why do Arsenal get so many red cards and why can’t Liverpool sign new players?”

  1. In 2 games 2 game changing decisions made by referees . Against MU Bruno Fernandez goes down the back of Xhaka leg , ( if that was an Arsenal player definitely off ) a red card IMO the ball had gone and it was in the 14th minute a non decision a game changer if he does the right thing , MU down to 10 men with 1 hour 15 minutes of play remaining , VAR nothing .
    Then we have the Luiz incident yesterday , as well as being a stranger set of circumstances leading to his sending off and penalty this happened 47 seconds over the 2 minutes of added time .
    I don’t know what to say or think on how Arsenal are refereed anymore , far too many strange incidents over the years .

  2. I wonder when the Prem will wake up, the worst referees in the world will eventually kill the brand. The offside decision against Laca on Saka’s goal needs looking at as well. Lines drawn at random places on the pitch when the image has no clear line of sight to the ball are not proof of offside to me. The so-called official with the flag was on that side of play and his arm movement was very late. I agree with Mikel ” where’s the contact?” on the dismissal of David Luis. Where’s var? Oh yeah nicely tucked away under security where nobody can see what they are up to. We had no refs at the last world cup simply because we have no refs. Clowns to the circus please and take the whistles off of them before throwing them to the lions

  3. Having seen the highlights of this

    1- Where was the offside? why does the PIGMOB even bother with Moss? I mean even UEFA who are not the best at picking refs dont like him!

    2- Where was the contact from David Luiz – I couldn’t see any but then the “team” refereeing (instead of reffing the game in progress) from PIGMOB makes sure that the rules of the game are “fluid” at best downright corrupt most of the time.

    I am finding that I cannot watch any game at the moment anywhere at the “top” of the sport because of the appalling lack of quality in refereeing standards. The inconsistencies are incredible. A player from team A gets booked for a “Non” tackle, whilst the opposing teams hacks somebody down and the ref just says play on. It normally takes about 10 minutes to work out which team is supposed to win. The only saving grace is watching a side win in spite of the officials!

    VAR everywhere just appears to rubber stamp the poor standards of officiating. A brilliant example was the 2020 match between Bayern and Dortmund where Jermoe Boateng handled the ball in the area. Apparently according to fans in Germany VAR were once again having one of their many “coffee breaks”.

    I know football is going to lose a lot of fans if this carries on.

    Aa I have said before – All I want is fairness.

  4. @ Les Williams

    “All I want is fairness”.

    I completely agree, our refs are at worst corrupt and at best incompetent. If it is the latter, it would be expected that poor decisions would go both ways and occasionally we see this. I would prefer competent refereeing but incompetent but fair would do I suppose. However, as Tony has often pointed out, things don’t even out in the end, they tend to benefit certain sides on a regular basis and are to the detriment of others far too often we see no consistency whatsoever.

    I too find it hard to watch football nowadays when you know what to expect before it happens. Unless we avoid fouls altogether and outplay a team significantly with no “dubious” offside calls it is hard for us to win. Last night was a perfect example as was the example Steve (above) mentions of Fernandes getting away with a deliberately dangerous assault in the previous game.

    I used to love football (I guess I still do because, against my better judgement, I keep coming back) I just find it makes me angry nowadays and being on permanent medication for high blood pressure I genuinely think it is bad for me. I blame Riley and the media both of which seem totally unaccountable.

  5. Arsenal’s appeal will not succeed. That would amount to official confirmation that the match result was wrong, so it won’t happen

  6. John L

    Just thinking the same.

    It would be admitting the ref was wrong. Lino was wrong. VAR was wrong.


  7. We get the most reds because our players operate under completely different thresholds to others.
    This has been going on for some time, I thought it was about Wenger, but if anything , it has got worse since Wenger left.
    this goes back at least to The days of Fergie, criminals, because that’s who are involved now, would have seen how easy it was to rig games involving Arsenal for one major reason, our owner and board did absolutely nothing. And still they don’t.
    Matchfixing goes on in this country, but I would put it nearer than the Spanish model of corruption than the Italian, where a couple clubs are looked after no matter what.
    Say what you will on City’s model, but they knew what they were up against with this corruption, they overcame it with finances and some vicious lawyers, and even that doesn’t always work.
    Are our owners clueless, disinterested, or just don’t know how to combat it?
    If they are serious about getting into the champions league, I think spending a million or two on the most effective, nastiest, most dogged lawyer they can find , that could beat spending £50 mil on a MF.
    Or do our owners know something we don’t about riches to come, and don’t want to rock the boat? Because that is the only reason I can find for a billionaire allowing a competitive advantage to others that is costing his asset money.

  8. At least they file for the appeal.

    If that fails then there is a millstone around their necks as the Board of a football club responsible for the Health & Safety & Welfare of their employees.

    Not only is it a millstone, the millstone is connected by a very long lead to a consistent, recurring, non-stop sequence of events over many seasons, each event detailing the PGMOB treatment of Arsenal, this sequence of events also including horrific injuries occurring to Arsenal players, these players employees of the Board, these players injured beyond belief because the PGMOB did not enforce the Rules Of Football without bias

    Never to be forgotten, it should be written onto a huge electronic display board alongside the main entrance to the Arsenal Stadium permanently on display for the world to read – ”Eduardo, Playing For Arsenal, Was Injured In A Tackle, And In The Nine Minutes It Took To Stretcher Him Off The Pitch, Sky TV Did Not Dare Show The Replay Of The Tackle Because They Judged It Too Horrific For The Viewing Public.”

  9. Mandy you are spot on! I’ve always felt that the Northern Powerhouses have always carried the major influence on the the game here. I suppose that is historical, remember how Woolwich Arsenal spent so long as the representatives of the South in the Football League. However, we’ve seen it for decades and for me the worst example was the 2-Point deduction in season 90-91. There were sides involved more regularly in brawls(there was a mighty one the following season on the Manchester Derby which barely got a mention!) and never a suggestion of similar sanctions. Although, I think the bid for Euro 96 may have had something to do with it, as the FA wanted to show UEFA how it dealt with violence, seeing as we were just coming out of our European ban.
    I could list countless historical examples of outrageous decisions that have gone against us, where in comparison the Big 2 Lancashire Giants have fared so much better. Totally agree with Mandy, where we should have had top lawyers defending our position years ago, but the previous owners were more concerned that there was enough gin and tonic in the boardroom.

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