Fewer fouls than Liverpool but 3 times as many yellow cards as Liverpool!

By Tony Attwood

The table below relates to the number of tackles, fouls and yellow cards per game in the Premier League , with all clubs except Burnley and Everton having played four league matches.  Those two clubs are on three games.

The table is in descending order of fouls called by the referee per game, and it is easy to see just from the raw figures that while the fouls per game descend neatly (as that is how we have set it out) there is not much relationship between the number of fouls called by the ref and the number of tackles and yellow cards.

However if a club feels it is getting too many yellow cards the only things it can do to reduce this is cut the number of tackles or train its players to be better tacklers.   The latter looks like being a much longer process than the former, and of course is also dependent on the vagaries of the referees.

Therefore the approach to reducing the number of tackles has settled in as a way of moving up the table and reducing the influence referees can have on the game.

Position Team Tackles per game Fouls per game Yellows per game
1 Watford 16 13.25 2.25
2 Aston Villa 12.75 11.75 2.75
3 Burnley 19 11.67 2
4 Everton 18.66 11.67 0.66
5 Brentford 15.25 11.00 1.75
6 Southampton 14 10.75 2
7 Crystal Palace 14 10.75 1.25
8 Liverpool 13.5 10.25 0.5
9 Tottenham Hotspur 17 10.25 2.5
10 Manchester United 13 9.75 2.25
11 Wolverhampton 16 9.75 2.25
12 Manchester City 14.5 9.25 1.25
13 Brighton and Hove 19 9.25 2
14 Newcastle United 17.5 8.75 2
15 Arsenal 13.5 8.50 1.5
16 Chelsea 18.25 8.50 0.75
17 West Ham United 17 8.25 0.5
18 Leeds United 18.75 8.25 2.25
19 Norwich City 18.75 7.50 1.25
20 Leicester City 15.75 6.75 1

If you are a long time reader you will know that it was the extraordinary figures of Leicester City that started us on the journey of examining the relationship between tackles, fouls and yellow cards in December 2019.  For at that time Leicester’s figures for yellow cards against the number of tackles, were quite unlike the figures for any other team.  And they were challenging Liverpool at the top of the league table.

At that time Leicester were getting far, far fewer fouls given against them per tackle, and far fewer yellow cards per foul.  This seemed to give them a feeling of impunity, as they undertook over 150 more tackles than Arsenal this season while picking up, by that point just 19 yellow cards.  Arsenal on the other hand had 72 at that moment!

As I wrote at the time (and recent critics now seem to ignored) “you can argue that Arsenal’s fouls are far, far worse than Leicester’s.  Indeed you might say that Arsenal’s fouls are consistently twice as bad as Leicester’s.  So they get more than twice as many yellow cards.  Arsenal get a yellow card for approximately every seven tackles.  Leicester get a yellow card for every 17 tackles.”

The Leicester oddity was then made odder as suddenly the number of fouls given against them shot up.  Some Leicester correspondents said this was because of injury to their main tackler, but the dates were checked and did not coincide.

But when we look at the clubs that have cut the number of tackles most successfully we can see there is a significant range of what happens as a result.

Team Tackles per game Fouls per game Yellows per game
Aston Villa 12.75 11.75 (1) 2.75 (2)
Man United 13 9.75 2.25
Liverpool 13.5 10.25 0.5
Arsenal 13.5 8.50 1.5
Leicester City 15.75 6.75 1

Leicester have now changed totally, cutting the number of tackles per game (not to the lowest but to a lower part of the league as measured by tackles) and have cut their number of fouls, and their number of yellows cards.

Aston Villa must be wondering what they have done wrong.  They undertake 20% fewer tackles that Leicester but get 75% more fouls against them, and 175% more yellows.

Arsenal have finally got their tackling down to Liverpool’s level – 13.5 per game,  and indeed are being called out for fouls at a lower level than Liverpool but still get a higher number of yellow cards.   Why won’t referees give Liverpool yellow cards?

In statistical terms Arsenal commit 83% of the number of fouls that Liverpool but Arsenal get 300% of  the number of yellow cards of Liverpool.   Put more simply – we tackle far less than Liverpool, get fewer fouls given against us than Liverpool, but get three times as many yellow cards.

That is obviously part of Arsenal’s problem, but quite how they can overcome this, I am still not sure!



14 Replies to “Fewer fouls than Liverpool but 3 times as many yellow cards as Liverpool!”

  1. Tony

    Come on now, you know it’s because we cant tackle properly, and haven’t been able to do so for getting on for 20 years apparently.

    Perfectly good tacklers join on us and within no time at all we knock that out of them.

    Rubbish tacklers leave us and turn into World class tacklers the minute they walk through the doors of another club.

    I thought that was obvious.

  2. During the Liverpool game against Chelsea, Liverpool’s Fabinho committed a succession of fouls, three of which would undoubtedly have resulted in yellow cards had they been done by an Arsenal player. He should have got at least one yellow for persistent fouling even if the ref (A Taylor) didn’t think any single foul worthy of a card.
    If Fabinho or the other Liverpool thug James Milner played for us they would amass an enormous number of yellows between them. And why is Salah never carded for his diving antics?

  3. @Nitram,

    ? sorry to disagree. Xakha made a textbook tackle and ended up with a red card….just one example of many.
    And there is then no explanation as why any player arriving at the Emirates suddendly loses his tackling ability and starts to commit tackles that are deemed bad and dangerous. Is there some kind of bad air around the Emirates or in the dressing room ? Or maybe something is being put into their drinks ?

    Were all players product of the youth teams, all having the same coaches all the time etc, why not. But such is not the case.

    So I’m still convinced there is something afoul, that PIGMOB has been trying to pull a Leicester 2 on the PL and got caught with their hands in the cookie jar by Untold. And while having the same set of incompetent referees more then twice a year is being ignored bacause it is Arsenal, the stats about the relationship between tackles, fouls and cards is impacting many more teams. So they had to act, which they did.

    Reminds me of Fergie time, but now it is rather something that ought to be called Klopp handicap ?

  4. Chris

    I was being sarcastic.

    I’ve posted tons of statistics on how we are constantly being screwed. Not sure how you’ve missed that.

  5. Joe Malcolm

    Of course it is and obviously we’ve been making more serious fouls than everyone else for nearly 20 years now.

    Seriously Joe ?

  6. Mick, I agree about Fabhino getting away with fouls. The foul for which he got yellow was worse than Xhaka’s red card “offence”

  7. @Nitram,

    Well, I was wondering how come…or if you had been hired as influencer by PIGMOB… ;=)

  8. Burnley’s Tarkowski has just scythed down Everton’s Richarlison with a tackle worse than the Xhaka red card one and Atkinson has not even blown for a fowl. Absolutely unfathomable how Atkinson doesn’t see that as a foul.

  9. Don’t forget that Atkinson was the referee when we played Man. City. The same Atkinson who doesn’t see a left-hook as a foul.

    Interestingly enough, the Premier League’s website has Andre Marriner named as the referee. I hope they are not trying to foil future statistic-gathering.

    Everton vs. Burnley ended 1-1 (in yellow card terms) and 3-6 in terms of fouls committed, which was odd, not least because the bad fouls were coming from only one team.

  10. There was an interesting thread on Twitter on Sunday. It consisted of a series of posts by a Liverpool-supporting journalist, and was complaining about the standard of refereeing in the Premier League. One of the cited examples was Mike Riley’s appalling handling of that game in 2004, when Untidy were allowed to kick, trip and dive without fear of receiving a red card.

    I have seen more people speaking up against the current refereeing situation on Twitter recently. Hopefully this will continue.

  11. A PGMOL official without a headset and off field influence is a lame duck. The use of off field influence on Atkinson shows why Tarkowski is not red carded but Xhaka is.

    There is absolutely no point discussing the stats when the answer is visible on the heads of the corrupt PGMOL.

    The two cards issued to our defenders were ordered by the controller on the headphones.

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