Spending and tackles: is last season’s trend continuing this season?

By Tony Attwood

Last season we uniquely devised a league table in which clubs were placed in order according to their results over the last 24 games of the season (approximately the last two thirds of the season, for most clubs starting on Christmas Day).

The position of clubs in that league table across the last 24 games is shown in the first column below, but instead of placing the clubs in the order of merit according to points we have now added an extra column at the end – “Spend.”   That is now the defining order.

Either way, however Arsenal are second.

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts Spend
3 Manchester United 24 13 8 3 43 21 22 47 £-114m
2 Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47 £-86m
1 Manchester City 24 20 0 4 62 20 42 60 -£69.1m
6 Leicester City 24 11 6 7 42 33 9 39 -£52.5m
5 Chelsea 24 12 6 6 29 22 7 42 £-4.5m
7 Liverpool 24 11 5 8 32 23 38 -£4m
4 West Ham United 24 13 5 6 41 28 13 44 +£1.5m
8 Tottenham Hots 24 11 4 9 43 31 12 37 +£5.4m

This final column is taken from the Guardian’s analysis of expenditure less income from sales during this transfer window.  It is the table we have used each summer when looking at the relative transfer incomes and expenditure on new players.

So to be quite clear this final column does not show money spent, but money spent less money received.  In detail they show Arsenal’s spend as

  • Nuno Tavares: Defender — from Benfica, £6.8m
  • Albert Sambi Lokonga: Midfielder — from Anderlecht. £17.2m
  • Ben White: Defender — from Brighton. £50m
  • Martin Ødegaard: Midfielder — from Real Madrid, £34m

Against this is our income of £22m from the sale of Joe Willock is taken away to get the total.

Zech Medley, Ben Sheaf and Tolaji Bola have all gone to to other clubs for undisclosed sums.  But since the buying clubs have been Coventry, Oostende and Rotherham it is unlikely that the sums were very great.  What’s more such transfer sums are often based on how many games players actually play for their new clubs.

Meanwhile there are of course still 10 days to go with the transfer window so it is quite possible the figures here will change dramatically.

However  there was another issue that we looked at last season and which we can already consider for this season – although with very preliminary figures.  It relates to tackles.

Last season, in order to stop referees giving ever higher numbers of fouls and yellow cards against Arsenal, Arsenal cut the number of tackles their defenders engaged in.

Now for Arsenal and some of the other larger teams in the Premier League we can see how many tackles the club put in, in its first game of the season, and then in column three see how this compares to last season’s average.  (If you want to go back and check any of the figures from last season they are all on our Key Data Tables page)

Team First game 2021/1 Average tackles per game last season This season compared to last season
Arsenal 9 12.0 75%
Chelsea 21 16.1 130%
Everton 23 16.8 137%
Leicester City 15 17.9 83%
Liverpool 16 13.8 116%
Manchester City 16 13.1 122%
Manchester United 8 14.5 55%
Tottenham Hots 15 16.7 90%
West Ham U 23 13.5 170%

Of course this season is only one game long but we can see that Arsenal clearly are continuing to cut their tackling – presumably in order to cut their yellow cards still further.  In fact just four of the nine clubs considered have cut their tackling, and we can see that it is Manchester United who have gone overboard on this notion, cutting their tackles to a level even lower than Arsenal!

This shows the notion of cutting tackles to cut fouls and thus cut yellow cards is not part of every club’s planning as yet, although we have only had one game.

We’ll carry on looking at this as the season progresses, and bring in fouls and yellow cards as well.  It was, after all, the key to Arsenal’s rise up the table after Christmas, so it is worth considering.

Besides which, if last season is anything to go by, no other blog, newspaper or broadcaster is going to run these tables.

2 Replies to “Spending and tackles: is last season’s trend continuing this season?”

  1. (live on arsenal.com)
    U23 HT
    young guns 3 palace 1
    great reaction from the lads, after w ham’s thrashing
    hutchinson 2 + biereth 1; hutchinson is an extraordinary prospect, pure class, speed, efficiency, a true bukayo in the making
    happy for the former fulham lad, who had looked a little bit too … self-conscious before he scored the goal, but scoring on an (almost) off-day is what great scorers do, so hats off to him
    taylor-hart, who hadn’t been picked against the hammers, has brought danger on his left flank; as for patino there is definitely something brady-esque in his left foot (t-hart should have done much more of one of his lovely passes over the palace defense
    i still don’t find the lads very comfortable with the back-3 setup … but it is well known that in clubs relying heavily on their academy, like ajax, the exact same system is used from top to bottom, so it might be a sign that MA has decided to return to a back-3??
    being two goals up is a bit flattering, they’re a good side, these palace boys, but one of them was sent off right before HT, so i don’t think we’re in for tyhe same horror show the 2nd half against the hammers was

  2. 4-2
    swanson scored the 4th, in the very same situation as the one he made a mess of against w ham
    very scrappy 2nd half; betsy probably had a very good reason to take hutchinson and norton-cuffy out at HT, but it sure harmed us
    graczyck was our outstanding man in this half, which says a lot; azeez missed a penalty – he’ll have to vary a bit, it’s the third time i’ve seen him take one, and the third time he went for an emphatic attempt, slightly on the right of the keeper, only this time the palace lad was expecting exactly that
    pleasant game anyway (the palace boys’ “passion” gave a nice vintage touch to it), and there’s never much to dislike about a 4-goal win
    looking forward to the next games

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