Arsenal v Leeds – the tackles, fouls and yellow card index

By Bulldog Drummond

The tackles / fouls / yellow card table is a chart we have been developing since 2019/20 when we first noticed how out of sync the Leicester City figures were for tackles, fouls and yellow cards, with the rest of the Premier League.

So for our game tomorrow against Leeds we thought we would not only present the Arsenal and Leeds figures for tackles, fouls and yellow cards, but also the figures of Leicester, West Ham, Tottenham and Manchester United each of whom have had statistics of interest this season.

And there are some extraordinary numbers developing this season.  As for example with Manchester United who have the fifth highest number of yellow cards in the league, but the lowest number of tackles in the league.

West Ham started the season with referees looking as if giving any player in their squad a yellow was forbidden.  However slowly referees have realised we are watching and they are no longer bottom of the yellow card list and are now only three behind Arsenal, with just Chelsea and Liverpool having fewer.

Club Tackles Fouls Yellows Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 132 83 13 1.59 10.15 6.38
Leeds United 170 93 19 1.82 8.95 4.89
Leicester City 157 70 11 2.24 14.27 6.36
Manchester Utd 104 93 21 1.12 8.30 4.42
Tottenham Hots 158 77 15 2.05 10.53 5.13
West Ham Utd 148 74 10 2.00 14.80 7.40

In short Manchester United can deliver fewer tackles before getting a foul, can deliver fewer tackles and  fouls before they get a yellow.

Of course the media won’t report this, because to do so suggests either that Man U happen to have gathered the worst bunch of tacklers in the league (and watching them I don’t think this is right at all) or else they are having the same problem with referees as we had two years ago.

Indeed despite having put in 53 more tackles than Manchester United, Leicester have been given seven fewer fouls than Manchester United.  And Manchester United are flying away in the yellow card league.  They are not top, but when tackles and yellow cards are compared they are way out in front.

And this is the problem clubs have.  Cutting tackles, as Arsenal did so majestically when Arteta came to the club, is not enough.  It is a great help if you are the subject of PGMO interference but alone it is simply not going to do it.  It is just part one, but Man U hasn’t realised that yet.

The fact is Leicester can commit twice as many tackles as Manchester United before getting a foul.  West Ham can commit almost twice as many tackles before getting a yellow card as Manchester United.  

And all this shows the genius of Arteta – for Manchester United have tried to copy his approach and got it horribly wrong.

Arsenal still get called for fouls far more often than most clubs when it comes to tackles – but the number of tackles and fouls we can commit per yellow card is rising.

What’s more, the data we are looking at week by week suggests Arsenal’s players are learning the lessons, and as matters stand, despite having a new defence the club is only fractionally above last season’s overall fouls per game figure.

Team Fouls per game last season Fouls per game this season
Arsenal 9.08 9.22
Burnley 10.11 9.66
Chelsea 11.39 12.65
Leeds United 11.24 10.33
Leicester City 10.95 7.78

Chelsea are letting their numbers rise – happy with their league position and so not really focussing too much on fouls. But if the PGMO realise we are watching… well, they might just adjust.

Leicester became the masters of tackling like mad but giving no fouls away but eventually the referees caught up with them.  Now they are trying it again, and succeeding once more, but in doing so they have collected six points fewer than us in  the last six games.

I really do think we are getting this right – keep cutting the tackles and fouls, but not so much that we start affecting the results.  In short, cut those tackles down, but still be able to defend.

More anon.

Arsenal’s last 100 league games, and Leeds’ one league victory

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