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Arsenal prepare for Watford: the team that foul more than any other in the league.

By Bulldog Drummond

It is fascinating to see how the media cope with Arsenal when their standard stock of “Arsenal crisis” and “Arsenal chaos” stories have run out.   As things stand they can’t even claim that we have a major set of injury worries for the game against Watford, since only one club lies below us in the injury league as of this morning, and that is West Ham who profess to have no injuries at all.   

Now I don’t have any time for West Ham, and the stadium that I helped pay for, so I am not sure that I believe their zero-injury account of themselves, but on the other hand, we can thank them for beating both Tottenham and Manchester City in recent games.

As you will know we have reached the lofty heights of being sixth, and a win on Sunday and a defeat or draw for Manchester United (at home to Manchester City) would see us reach the even loftier heights of fifth.  A victory by quite a few goals would help our goal difference (which is still negative) as well.

And so, in such a landscape the media is quiet, and all the blogs have to natter about are all the players we are going to sell in January.  Not necessarily preposterous in terms of the quality of the players being talked about but rather the fact that I am not quite sure how we’d fit them in.

Of course our two main strikers are aged 62 (when added together) and so won’t last too much longer, but strikers in their 30s, although physically slower have much more guile and generally more strength than their younger contemporaries.  The older men have met the defenders they are up against before; they know the opposition’s tricks, and they know their own strengths.

Besides which, elsewhere there are youngsters galore.  And while thinking of them, we might spare a thought for poor Joe Willock.  Demanding the chance to start every game and showing everyone how to score goals, this season he has started seven games in the league and league cup and scored… none.  I wonder if he is still happy to have demanded his move?

Our two injuries are the two we all know about: Granit Xhaka who is apparently working hard to get his fitness back, and Kieran Tierney, the latest report on whom says that he is still having pain when running, and the club don’t know when he’ll be back.   Mind you that report was on 30 October so things may have changed since then.

As things stand the top club for injuries is the mighty Aston Villa who have eight men down.  It makes our two out seem very modest.

As noted, the only club with no injuries is West Ham, which just adds to the oddity of their realm at the moment.   As you may recall they also have tackle / foul / yellow cards which are hard to believe, unless there is some referee connivance going on.

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Here are their figures, along with Arsenal’s and our next opponents, Watford

Club Tackles Fouls Yellows Tackle/Foul Tackle/yellow Foul/yellow
WHU 168 87 12 1.93 14.00 7.25
Watford 148 135 22 1.10 6.73 6.13
Arsenal 139 94 13 1.48 10.69 7.23

Now Watford are top of the fouls table, way out of line with every other club, committing almost double the number of fouls of Leicester, the least fouling club (at least according to PGMO).  Yet they have achieved this feat with only nine more tackles across ten games, than Arsenal.

But the strange thing is that despite almost every tackle being called as a foul, they have not cut this down.   As a result, they are almost twice as likely to get a yellow for a tackle as Arsenal.  And yet the number of fouls they commit to get a yellow is much the same as Arsenal.

So how can that be?

The only explanation is that referees are under orders not to hand out more and more yellows and then ultimately send players off.  Indeed I very much suspect there is a warning from PGMO to its members not to rubbish the spectacle by having one team playing with eight or nine men because of the multiplicity of duplicate yellow cards.  So the ratio of the number of fouls per yellow card is kept the same, no matter that one team is using the foul as a central tactic in its performance.

Mind you, Watford have managed to concede one goal fewer than Aston Villa – which is something considering that Villa have the best goalkeeper in the country.  I know that, because lots of Arsenal supporters told me that after we let him go.

2 comments to Arsenal prepare for Watford: the team that foul more than any other in the league.

  • Chris

    Maybe Watford is resorting to rotational fouling on a grand scale ?
    That could explain some of the discrepancy.

  • Michael Oliver’s handling of offences in the penalty area this season has been less than outstanding.

    I have been watching Brentford quite a lot recently and noticed that they have stopped using their tactic of holding on to the opposing goalkeeper after the Arsenal game. I can’t help thinking that somebody may have encouraged them to do this.

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