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Premier League Betting and Odds

Arsenal have been given more red cards in the last 10 years than any other PL club

By Tony Attwood

Mikel Arteta tipped to “surprise a few people” with Arsenal in new Premier League season

So says, The Daily Mirror,  in a radical change of heart and direction, although of course the Mirror is a little behind the times, given that the surprise came last season when he cut the tackles by 22%, cut the fouls given by referees against Arsenal by 18% and amazingly cut the yellow cards against Arsenal by a staggering 45%.

Another surprise then, and this one actually reported in the Mirror, rather that being utterly ignored?  Wow!

But if Mr Arteta is going to go further he’s going to do something dramatic about our red card problem.   Here is the red card listing season by season for the clubs with the most cards in the Premier League across the last ten years

Season…. 11/2 12/3 13/4 14/5 15/6 16/7 17/8 18/9 19/20 20/1 Total
Liverpool 5 2 1 3 3 0 1 2 1 0 18
Manchester U 1 1 3 5 1 2 1 4 0 1 19
Stoke City 2 4 5 1 4 2 1 19
Watford 3 5 4 4 3 19
Aston Villa 2 3 7 3 1 4 20
Leicester City 4 3 1 5 5 3 0 21
Sunderland 4 3 7 2 2 4 22
Tottenham H 3 2 4 4 0 0 2 3 3 2 23
Manchester C 5 3 1 2 0 4 2 1 4 2 24
Chelsea 4 3 3 4 5 0 4 0 0 3 26
West Ham U 1 5 2 5 5 2 1 2 3 26
Southampton 2 3 6 2 2 3 4 4 26
Everton 2 3 1 2 5 2 3 4 3 2 27
Newcastle U 2 4 6 7 5 2 2 3 3 34
Arsenal 4 5 4 2 4 3 2 2 5 5 36

If we look at these numbers we can see Arsenal are getting double the number of reds on average that Liverpool and Manchester United get.  Which, irrespective of whether this is caused by referee bias or poor tackling, or saying the wrong thing, or anything else, is a very good reason to do something about it.  Here are the average figures over the last ten years taking into account the fact that most clubs have not played ten consecutive years in the PL.

Season…. Average red cards per season in PL
Liverpool 1.8
Manchester U 1.8
Manchester C 2.4
Chelsea 2.6
Everton 2.7
West Ham U 2.9
Southampton 2.9
Leicester City 3.0
Aston Villa 3.3
Arsenal 3.6
Newcastle U 3.7
Sunderland 3.7
Watford 3.8

When it comes to yellow cards we see a similar picture.  Here we are not the highest but we are up there with clubs that perhaps we would not normally associate ourselves with.  This is one of the tables that alerted us to the fact something odd was happening. 

To reduce the size of the chart I’m only including clubs that were in the PL in 2020/21 – it is in the order of the average number of yellow cards each season.

Compare Arsenal’s yellow total in 2020/21 with the season before…..

Club 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20 20/21 Total Av.
Liverpool 53 54 54 66 61 54 44 38 38 40 502 50.2
Brighton 54 60 57 46 217 54.3
Leicester C 49 48 72 52 57 41 61 380 54.3
Soton 43 60 57 57 59 63 71 53 52 515 57.2
Chelsea 74 51 57 73 58 72 42 49 60 50 586 58.6
Fulham 54 48 58 68 67 295 59.0
Everton 60 59 55 66 44 72 51 55 70 59 591 59.1
Arsenal 64 42 53 68 40 68 57 72 86 47 597 59.7
Man City 51 62 72 77 61 71 59 44 60 46 603 60.3
Leeds U 61 61 61.0
Newcastle 67 71 53 65 60 52 57 66 61 552 61.3
Wolves 64 72 57 53 246 61.5
Tottenham 43 55 66 79 72 62 50 56 82 53 618 61.8
QPR 54 59 75 188 62.7
Crystal Pal 58 63 60 77 72 58 62 54 504 63.0
WBA 48 63 67 64 65 80 73 51 511 63.9
Burnley 64 65 65 75 67 48 384 64.0
WHU 74 62 64 58 78 73 59 62 48 578 64.2
Man U 51 57 66 64 65 78 64 73 73 64 655 65.5
Sheffield U 61 73 134 67.0
Stoke City 60 78 72 82 51 70 62 475 67.9
Aston Villa 70 72 78 70 75 68 63 496 70.9
Grand Total 1154 1179 1219 1361 1186 1392 1164 1222 1281 1097 12255 61.3

The average number of yellow cards across all clubs in the PL in the last 10 seasons, whether they played in the PL last season or not, is 61.3, so Arsenal are just a little below average.  But we can see that in the two seasons before that our yellows were out of control: 72 in 2018/19 and 86 in 2019/20.   That had to be sorted.

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv

And it was: with 47 yellow cards last season we still were not the lowest number of yellows: Liverpool, Brighton and Manchester City still beat us, but at last we had cut the number down to manageable proportions.  Unfortunately the red cards went up, but I am fairly sure we are getting both under control with the no-tackling process at the same time.   If reds go up again, I think some further analyses of which referees are handing them out is going to be in order.

Four views have emerged as to why Arsenal get as many yellows as they do:

1: Arsenal do genuinely commit more fouls – normally through undertaking more tackles.

2: Arsenal get the referees who hand out lots of yellow cards.  (See “Shocking new referee statistics”).  If the PL were a league in which each referee got each club twice, once home, once away, this would not matter so much, but Arsenal can get the same ref up to five times a season, and the refs we get multiple times tend to be the heavy handed ones when it comes to cards.

3: There is a view among referees going back to the George Graham days that Arsenal is a dirty team and thus need to be watched.  This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – Arsenal are watched, so any 50/50 case which might or might not be a yellow, gets a yellow.  Liverpool are seen as clean, and so any 50/50 is seen as not yellow because “Liverpool are not a dirty team.”

4: The reinforcement of the media who note the number of yellows and never question whether all of them are justifiable.  How many pundits would guess that over the last 10 years the only “big six” teams to have had fewer yellows than Arsenal are Liverpool and Chelsea?  Certainly not the Daily Star.

If Arsenal are going to surprise a few people next season, then it will be by a combination of effects:

  • Reducing the number of tackles
  • Watching carefully who the referee is and adjusting accordingly (which I feel started last season)
  • Creating a psychological view that Arsenal are not a dirty team. 

That last point is difficult as clubs are forbidden from discussing referees, or the actions of referees suchy Arsenal are not allowed to discuss their reduction in yellow cards!  

What we might get (although I hope not now I have pointed it out) is that after the third yellow card of the season, an anti-Arsenal newspaper or website or broadcaster will say “Arsenal make it 600 yellow cards in the last 10 years” and tell us how shocking that is, forgetting to say that Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham reached that figures last season.

Last point: yellow cards dropped by 15% last season, as some other clubs started to follow Arsenal’s “no tackle” tactics.   It could go even lower this season.  I wonder when the media will realise?

Thanks to James Curtis of Curtis Associates Research Ltd for preparing this data.

The statistical enquiry of 2021

7 comments to Arsenal have been given more red cards in the last 10 years than any other PL club

  • Abanks

    Blah blah blah, all the media’s fault. Nonsense. Why write this rubbish?

  • John L

    Apart from the obvious suggestion that referee bias has been a key factor in awarding red cards to Arsenal players, it would be interesting to know how many potential red cards for fouling (or in aome cases, assaulting) Arsenal players have not been given because of the same bias.

    I can certainly think of a good few examples.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Notwithstanding a change in our style of play (not tackling) and changing the perception of our club from a ‘dirty’ to a ‘clean’ team, two other places where we can improve is the perception by some that our players go down easily and petulance that some of our players show. Cynically, if our players do decide to let themselves fall under contact they have to be wiser and better at it and as for complaining to the referee…no referee or person likes to be shown up, so again, choose your spots…get the refs on our side.

  • I think I have often explained ABanks why I run Untold. I am very sorry that you have not picked up on that – although of course I and my pals who write Untold don’t consider it rubbish not do I think it is “all the media’s fault”. For goodness sake you only have to glimpse at the site to know that the media is but one area we look at. We, along with a lot of other people feel it is an important message.
    But let’s imagine that your allegation is correct and that our articles do say “it is all the media’s fault”. Ok, then you would know what you are going to get each time you read Untold.
    So there really is a very interesting question. “Why, since you know what you are going to get, and you know you will disagree with it, do you continue to read?” Surely that is an odd way to pass your time. Indeed it does suggest to me that you are suffering from a most curious condition. One that makes you read something, even though you know what it is going to say, and even though you know you will disagree.
    Do you know why you are doing this?

  • Mikey

    @ Abanks

    You state that what has been written is “nonsense”. I look forward to seeing your evidence since a one word claim is far from convincing as an argument.

  • mick shelley

    Abanks is a classic troll.
    He gets a perverse sort of amusement in deliberately winding Tony up.
    Ignore him and he will give up, as long as he gets a response he will continue with his nonsense.
    Tony, either ignore him or ban him but don’t waste your time even reading his rubbish.

  • Nitram

    Tony

    I have to agree with Mikey and mick.

    This banks character is a wind up plain and simple. I don’t believe a single post of his has extended beyond a dozen words and half of those are ‘Blah’ !!

    I think you take great pride in allowing all but the most obnoxious posts through, and and very often make an attempt to address even the most ludicrous notions, but honestly this guy is not worth it.

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