By Tony Attwood
It looks a little as if the publicity we have given to our regular chart which compares tackles, fouls, yellow cards and penalties might be having an impact.
This table (a new edition is at the end of this article) is unique – no one else has ever looked at such things as the number of tackles that leads to a foul, nor the number of fouls that leads to a yellow card, let alone compared them for all the clubs in the League.
As we showed before, Arsenal were clearly being penalised by referees in terms of their tackling, and as we saw before, have been reducing their number of tackles through the season. (That is not to claim that Arsenal have followed anything we suggest, we were just suggesting this was a logical step to take when referees are targeting the club. They probably reached the same conclusion from their own statistics.)
But whatever the reason Arsenal have cut their tackling to the lowest per game in the league. (Villa have undertaken two fewer tackles, but have played two games fewer than Arsenal).
Now instead of Arsenal getting a foul given against them every time the ball comes close, we find eight clubs now commit fewer tackles than Arsenal to have a foul given against them. It’s a great step forward.
In terms of yellow cards Liverpool and Manchester City are getting the smallest number – but it is Tottenham Hotspur who have got the measure of referees – they are committing 10.29 fouls before getting a yellow card.
To spell this out, in round figures, Arsenal commit six fouls and get a yellow card. Tottenham commit 10 fouls to get a yellow. It’s a huge difference and makes life so much easier on the pitch for Tottenham. They know they can foul, foul, foul away, and the risk of a yellow is much reduced.
Clearly reducing the number of tackles (the prime source of yellow cards) has been vital to Arsenal’s survival, but it means retraining our entire defence so they rely far more on interceptions rather than tackles.
On the positive side, clearly the referees have remained alert to the Untold figures from last season in which we showed that Leicester were simply getting away with a multiplicity of tackles without ever getting yellow cards at all. The moment we published that analysis the referees’ response to Leicester mega-tackling approach was changed – and quite right to.
Now they are much more likely to get a yellow card for a tackle than any other team in the league. A total reversal of position from the first half of last season!
Leicester, as you will know if you have been following this analysis, compensated for this by developing a new tactic of having Vardy running the opposite way from that which a defender anticipated in the box, and so picked up significantly more penalties than other clubs.
Again we pointed that out, and now the penalties have dried up. Yes, they are still out in front in terms of the number of penalties gained, but they are stuck on ten, and other clubs are catching up.
Thinking of yellow cards you would expect clubs near the foot of the league table to be getting the most, since they are normally involved in the most desperate defending. And yes Fulham, Newcastle and Sheffield United are there with 43 and 44 yellow cards.
But amazingly Leicester are also on 43 cards, again showing that either it is pure coincidence or our earlier reports about Leicester’s tactics have been noticed by the League and referees are taking stronger action against the old Bolton approach of “rotational fouling”. Which also explains why that term has moved from being one that only Untold used, to one that even occasionally crops up on TV.
And what is going on with Liverpool? They are second bottom in the yellow card charts with 25 (Manchester City have 24). Yet they are right up there with Tottenham in terms of the high number of fouls they have to commit per yellow card. How are they getting away with it.
Referees are now clearly noting Liverpool’s fouling in the box – only Brighton equal them for the number of penalties conceded, but really they are being let off very lightly on the yellow card front.
Here’s the table….
|Club||Tackles||Fouls||Tackles per foul||Yellow cards||Fouls per yellow||Penalties for||Penalties against||Lge pos|
|Brighton and H||372||265||1.40||31||8.55||6||8||15|
|West Ham Uni||320||240||1.33||27||8.89||0||4||6|
*Aston Villa and Everton have only played 21 games
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