By Tony Attwood
The statistics comparing Norwich City and Arsenal for the game on Saturday are frightening. Fortunately it seems quite clear that Mr Arteta aware of them and has a plan in place to overcome them. Now we are about to see if the squad has taken his response to the situation on board, and is able to deliver the counter-measures he has devised.
Lurking behind the league table, the table below relating to tackles, fouls and yellow cards certainly makes worrying reading ahead of Saturday’s game. The figures. I must stress only relate to this season.
|Club||Tackles per game||Fouls per game||Yellow per game||Tackles per foul||Foul per yellow||Tackles per yellow|
Tackles are the prime cause of fouls being called by referees, and the prime cause of yellow cards. Yet the simple fact is that Norwich are tackling at a rate of 45% more tackles a game than Arsenal and yet they are getting called out for 24% fewer fouls than Arsenal and are getting 40% of the yellow cards Arsenal are receiving.
Strip out the numbers and it looks utterly bizarre: many more tackles undertaken, fewer fouls given, fewer yellow cards awarded.
As a result, their players are perfectly aware that they can tackle around twice as much as Arsenal before even getting called out for a foul. They can commit 27% more fouls than Arsenal before being called up for a yellow, and most frightening of all they can get away with an astounding 141% more tackles than Arsenal before getting a yellow card.
Now those numbers are indisputable because they are a record of what has happened in terms of the behaviour of the clubs and the response of the referees as provided primarily by the Premier League itself.
Worse, as we have already noticed the PGMO have given Arsenal the referee who gave more fouls against Arsenal than any other last season and a VAR official who gives more yellow cards against Arsenal than any other last season. The perfect storm in fact.
So why have the PGMO appointed two such senior officials for this very low profile match which is not on TV?
The first reason is that it is not on TV so although anything the referee and VAR official do will not be prime news and probably cut from the highlights. Second, four defeats in a row in the league, or three defeats and a draw, or even a win by one goal, will have the referee compliant media howling for the club to be disrupted further by removing the manager.
Now since Mr Arteta has developed his own style of playing, which involves cutting tackles down to a minimum, and since there is every chance that whoever is brought in next would not follow that approach, and indeed wouldn’t approve of Arteta’s youth first policy, this will mean even further disruption for Arsenal.
Of course Arsenal do have a chance to overcome this; first by ensuring that they cut their tackling rate to an absolute minimum. Unfortunately with a new defence, these players have not had that long to get used to such a radical change of style and approach. Remember last season it took a third of the games before we got the technique right.
Our hope is that by showing PGMO that we know exactly what is going on, we might convince the referee and VAR official to hold back and not use their power to disrupt Arsenal even further. They know we are watching – although so secure are they in the certainty that the media will never criticise a referee, that doesn’t worry them that much.
A high level of punishment for tackles is a very effective way of keeping a club under control but at the heart of this Saturday’s game are three simple facts.
First, the players must not tackle, not matter how frustrating things get.
Second, our players should show the ref that they know how many times they are being fouled. Not with angry gestures but simply with a quiet word such as “That’s four of those I’ve had,” as he is scythed down yet again.
Third, the crowd should support Arsenal in pointing out to the ref what Norwich do. Sadly I fear that so many of the crowd are now so much under the constant influence of the media, and thus don’t believe that we are being hard done by, this won’t happen, but I can always hope.
The only way out is to attack more, shoot more and stay down for that extra couple of seconds after each tackle.
- Arsenal transfers: Gnabry return, White a disaster, Martinez a loss?
- Why do journalists get so fixated on scoring in double figures?
- Buying players does not mean success as last season shows…
- All change with PGMO and the refs.. But what change?
- The last five years proves one big thing: nothing is guaranteed.