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Arsenal caught in a perfect referees’ trap for Leeds match. But will the ref change?

By Bulldog Drummond

In our post on 12 February we showed that Arsenal, are undertaking a tiny number of tackles compared with Leeds United… 278 by Arsenal; 424 by Leeds so far this season.  And Leeds, remember have played one game fewer than Arsenal.

But why on earth would Arsenal tackle so much less than Leeds?  A little less we could understand but what is the benefit of such an enormous difference?  Is it Arsenal ineptitude?

No, the “stupid Arsenal with bad tactics” notion collapses when you see that the number of fouls awarded against each club is almost the same – 216 fouls committed by Leeds, 214 by Arsenal.

So Leeds have committed 146 more tackles than Arsenal but have only committed two more fouls!  Either Leeds are the most perfect tacklers, or Arsenal are the worst (except for Manchester City who have committed fewer fouls than Arsenal).  

The fact is that referees give a foul against Arsenal every 1.3 tackles.   For Leeds they get a foul against them for every 1.96 tackles   In fact Leeds can commit more tackles than any other club before they get a foul called against them!   Arsenal hardly dare tackle because almost every tackle is called by the refs as a foul.

More tackles fewer yellow cards!

Despite the fact that Leeds have committed 146 more tackles this season than Arsenal, Leeds have fewer yellow cards than Arsenal!  Goodness knows what Leeds have to do to take a yellow, but we know what Arsenal has to do.  They just have to try a tackle. 

Of course you could try and argue that Leeds have got tackling off to perfection and Arsenal are clumsy buffoons, but if you watch both clubs you will know this is nonsense.  Arsenal’s tackling is no worse than Leeds, and yet in 278 tackles Arsenal have notched up 214 fouls and from this got 34 yellow cards.

Leeds have committed a monumental 424 tackles (ie 146 more than Arsenal), have got 216 fouls against them (just two more than Arsenal) and 33 yellow cards (one FEWER than Arsenal!!!!!).

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These statistics are bizarre, and they show exactly why Arsenal are struggling in the League.  It is the way the referees treat Arsenal that is causing us problems, and which is causing Arteta to change his tactics to avoid this blatant referee bias.

We could try another comparison while we are at it.  Tottenham can commit 10,29 fouls before they get a yellow card.  For Arsenal it is 6.29.   Tottenham take the pitch with a free disregard for legislation about fouls because they get away with over ten of them before getting a yellow.

So to avoid getting a mountain of yellow cards Arsenal have had to change their approach to adopt one in which they don’t tackle.  Meanwhile their opposition can tackle with near impunity, knowing that the referees will do very little, and the media won’t ever, ever mention this.

Thus the Leeds manager might tell his team, “take the ball close to Arsenal players and tempt them into tackles.   Arsenal will be reluctant, so you might well be able to get past each player, but if not they will most of the time be called out for fouling, and you will get a free kick.

“Keep doing that and their defenders will back off more and more because they know that after either or nine tackles the yellow card will come out.   Meanwhile you can keep tackling because you won’t get a yellow card – at least not until well into the game.”

So Leeds will play with free abandon, Arsenal will be constrained.  Arsenal have a major problem before they even start, because of the way they are refereed compared to Leeds.

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Tackles per yellow
Arsenal 278 214 1.30 34 6.29 8.17
Leeds U 424 216 1.96 33 7.20 12.85

Of course it can be argued that Arsenal have clumsy defenders and Leeds have exquisitely controlled defenders but just watch the teams and you will know this is not true.

But there is hope

Last season we publicised Leicester’s tactics in which they tackled with impunity, and once we had made that case and published the figures the situation changed dramatically. 

This season we publicised the way Leicester were getting penalties and how if they continued at this rate they would end up with an all time record breaking number of penalties in their favour.  Once again after our piece, the situation changed – they have not had a penalty since.

Of course it may be coincidence, but if it is, let us hope there is a similar one for this game, and suddenly Arsenal are allowed to tackle as freely as Leeds, or else Leeds are constrained as much as Arsenal.

The result of this match is completely down to Anthony Taylor.  Are the clubs to be treated equally over tackling, or not.

Arsenal referees and the media

6 comments to Arsenal caught in a perfect referees’ trap for Leeds match. But will the ref change?

  • George ukaz

    If this is the case there is no need talking about the premiership as the best league in the world of cause the premiership referees are not good enough that’s why they hardly officiate in European or world cup games because every other countries are aware how they are running their league I wonder what other clubs does and get free if Arsenal does it it is a fowl with cards that means before the league start in English premiership the cup has already be won by a club of their choice since Arsenal won the league undefeated the referee and the whole football heads gang up against Arsenal mostly against Arsene Wenger what they are trying is to send Arsenal to relegation but it has never work for them that stud Bruno Fernandez matched on Xhaka both referee and var kept blind eye if is an Arsenal player they will all see it and dish out their card either yellow or red I keep on watching them and their officiating ride on the English premiership is the best league in the world but their referee don’t officiate in major tournaments that is quality of good referees and good League

  • Mikey

    If, as you suggest, now Leeds have been sussed and the refs know it and change their approach to how they treat Leeds, one thing is fairly certain. They won’t change until after the Arsenal game.

    It is simply absurd that these differentials are allowed to go uninvestigated and unpublicised. This exactly the reason I will never give one of those idiots in the media the privilege of being described as a “journalist”. They have as much to do with journalism as does Hans Christian Andersen. Although that’s a little unfair since Hans didn’t just write fairy tales…………….

  • Menace

    I am so impressed with this logic I post the whole comment again:

    Dawie van Tonder
    11 February 2021 at 12:52 PM
    What is mr Wengers position at FIFA at the moment? Is he not in charge of training or such? This to me is an ideal opportunity to inform all the European unions that from now all VAR operators will be from another country. That way the ‘good’ refs from Europe will show up the bad refs in England….

  • Menace

    As regards todays ‘piggy in the middle’ it is quite obvious the chosen one by almighty Riley is Taylor the malevolent.

    His bias is legendary and their knowledge of the ‘Laws of The Game against Arsenal’ have been displayed on the screens of the world. Red cards where subjective is the overriding reason as honesty cannot absolve any card.

    Our defence is in trouble as the Red cards have penetrated the ladies team and the under 23s.

    This group of selected criminals have now had death threats against them after they have cost the game all of its integrity. I am surprised the gall of the media to hide the death of the game amidst the passionate anger of a fan who cannot stomach biased officiating.

  • Menace

    Stuart Attwell is the ‘piggy in the middle’ and Mariner is the flying pig.

    In the Liverpool game the flying pig made an offside decision to favour Leicester and soon after Vardy was gifted another by Allison. Happy Valentines everyone.

  • Ando

    George ukaz,
    I enjoyed what you wrote, like reading a Jack Kerouac novel
    Your points were sound, too
    Cheers

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