Arsenal v Watford: Watford create all-time PL record of 19 fouls in one match

By Tony Attwood

Untold likes to investigate tackles, fouls and yellow cards.  Watford as we know from this coverage are a high fouling team.  In fact before this weekend’s game they had committed 19 more fouls than any other team in the league. 

Yet even that simple stat could not have prepared anyone for what they did in this match – for where they had been previously fouling at an average of 13.5 fouls per game in their first ten league matches of the season they now went up to a staggering 19 fouls IN ONE GAME!!!   The largest number of fouls by any team in one premier league game this season.

Against this Arsenal were said by the referee to have committed six fouls during the game considerably below our average of 9.4 fouls per game prior to this match.

Given that Arsenal players were being kicked all over the park during this match at a rate of fractionally over one foul every two minutes one might expect a journalist somewhere to have noticed how the beautiful game has been reduced to an exhibition of kick em off the park.

And maybe there is such an expression of outrage somewhere – but this morning in a flip through the media I couldn’t find it.  

At this point I am not sure which is the most alarming: that a Premier League team should commit 19 fouls in a game or that the media should universally choose to ignore the fact.

But actually it turns out to be neither fact, because more alarming still was the fact that despite out fouling Arsenal 19 to 6, when we look at yellow cards, Arsenal got four and Watford three!!!  And this in a sport in which giving a yellow for “persistent fouling” is most certainly possible and allowable.

Indeed if you ever wanted to see a set of figures which manage to demonstrate what is wrong with refereeing in the Premier League and what is wrong with the reporting of Premier League matches by the media – all in one simple table, it is this.   To repeat:

Club Fouls Yellow
Arsenal 6 4
Watford 19 3

Cards awarded for persistent fouling, none.  Mentions in the media (although I must confess I haven’t checked every newspaper and media report so this final figure might be wrong) zero

And yet, despite those utterly outrageous statistics, Arsenal won.

So why is the media not covering what might well become a record season for fouling play by any club?  The obvious reason is that it doesn’t fit in with their agreed pre-ordained approach.   After all this is a season in which we have had headlines such as

Arsenal make worst start to a season in 67 years (


Arsenal slip to worst start to a season in 67 years (The Sun)

and… well you get the idea.  Repeat ad infinitum.

Although perhaps a dishonourable mention should also go to “Ranked! Arsenal’s worst-ever starts to a season” from FourFourTwo

Interestingly Arsenal are not alone in not retaliating against Watford.  Before this match the number of fouls committed against Watford this season averaged at 10.2 a game.  Way below the 19 fouls against Arsenal committed by Watford, but still way above the six that Arsenal dished out in this match.


But what is so funny is that the denial that Watford are the dirtiest team in the league propagated by the media and supported it seems by their fans is actually their worst enemy.  It encourages Watford to foul even more – and in terms of results it is not doing them a blind bit of good. 

Meanwhile back on planet earth, Arsenal are now back within touching distance of fourth – the place in the table currently occupied by the highly lauded Liverpool, but a place which when Arsenal achieved it was derided on the ground that “fourth is not a trophy”.

And More to the point if we look at the last six games we are now firmly in second position…  The overwhelmingly wonderful Tottenham Change-the-manager are 12th.  (We did warn them that changing the manager doesn’t always work, but would they listen?)

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 West Ham 6 5 0 1 12 6 6 15
2 Arsenal 6 4 2 0 11 4 7 14
3 Chelsea 6 4 1 1 15 3 12 13
4 Man City 6 4 1 1 11 5 6 13

But it is rather droll that Arsenal losing their first three games of the season should have been the big headlines at the time while Watford creating what appears to be an all time record for the number of fouls in a match while getting fewer yellow cards than their gentler opposition, doesn’t get a mention.

Instead, to cover their shame and embarrassment the Mirror run the headline

Mikel Arteta and Claudio Ranieri in heated dispute over controversial Arsenal winner

Yep, it’s a funny ol game, this football lark.

17 Replies to “Arsenal v Watford: Watford create all-time PL record of 19 fouls in one match”

  1. the boys did what they could, with great spirit (the CF hierarchy 1 Auba 2 Laca i don’t get, never have and never will but after all what do i know?), but it was just impossible to play decent football under such conditions – that kevin friend might still be on their list this morning would put any other organisation than the PGMO to mortifying shame
    the time-wasting masquerade has reached a point of no-return too; it’s high time professional football took inspiration from basket-ball: the clock stops as soon as the ball is still; it’s the only way we have an outside chance of getting rid of those maddening pantomimes once and for good

  2. For once karma did show it’s face. After the persistent fouling….and when that didn’t work, throwing yourself to the ground feigning injury until the whistle went, then jump up and run off…. this despicable Watford team and it’s equally despicable manager, got what they deserved….NOTHING!
    Many teams cry that refs have got something against them but I’m 100% sure that if someone looked at the stats, Arsenal have suffered from VAR decisions going against us more than any other. The whole reasoning for VAR is bewildering, brought in because of mistakes from the one man in charge on the pitch, they gave responsibility to one man in an office, it’s not progress is it?

  3. 19 fouls ;- plus the ones which were not awarded by the ref with the selective vision.

    As others have said, there is a clear pattern in our recent games- blatant red card offences are ignored by the officials (and most of the commentators) – Palace player mid-air assault on Saka, Evans of Leicester wrestling hold on Auba and now Rose’s diaplay of multiple yellow (at least) offences not seen by Mr. Friend. The token last-minute red for the Watford player makes no difference.

    I had always respected Mr. Ranieri, even when he was manager of clubs with dubious behaviour. He has now lost my respect for his outrageous remarks about sporting etiquette. Arsena; were right not to give the ball back following blatant cheating by Watford.

    Still, what do I know? Watford are just a good example of a good old-fashioned English style of physical, “get in their faces” football. After all, it’s supposed to be a contact sport and game for men! They are good at “breaking up the play,” so it shouldn’t matter if they break a few opponents’ bones in the process.

  4. The biggest farse is the fuss made by some media about Arsenal not returning the ball and scoring from it!
    In my mind, you don’t have to return the ball when the opposing players have been faking injury all game long.

    Great 3 points, wonderful to sit at 5th for the next two weeks (at least).

  5. I watched MOTD this morning and the comments they made about us beggar belief.

    These are just a few of the comments that bear absolutely no relation to reality:

    “When we were giving Arteta a little bit of stick earlier in the season”

    A little bit of stick ? After 3 matches we were relegation fodder and Arteta must be sacked !!

    “I’m not saying they are going to be challenging for top 4. It’s too early to say”

    Really? As I posted on the previous thread this is the table of the last 35 matches.

    Man City 83 points

    Chelsea 68 points
    Arsenal 67 points
    West Ham 67 points
    Man Utd 64 points
    Liverpool 60 points

    Of course top 4 is not guaranteed but to suggest that having the 3rd best points tally over 35 matches ‘is too early to say’ if we can at least be challengers is ridiculous beyond belief. But I suppose if you’ve dug yourself such a massive hole by proclaiming Arsenal as fit for relegation after just 3 matches then climbing out of it can be pretty awkward and very embarrassing.

    I suppose the easiest things to do are:

    a) Pretend you never said it.

    b) Deny seeing what’s been happening right under your nose.

    There’s more buffoonery:

    “”You can see the improvement, and that’s what Arsenal fans have been yearning for for weeks and weeks now”

    Well in case he hadn’t noticed we haven’t lost for ‘weeks and weeks’. And again if only he’d of read Untold he’d of realized that the improvement started one third of the way through last season.

    And on it goes:

    “I think if you go back to the first game of the season, we was all worried, we was all worried for Arsenal against Brentford…”

    So we come out of the last 2/3 rds of last season as a top 4 side on most parameters, lose 1 match to a high flying, newly promoted team, playing at their shiny new stadium, a potential banana skin in anyone’s book, and ‘we was all worried for Arsenal’ ! Really ? ONE GAME !!

    Not only that but the stats fromthat match were:

    Possession: Arsenal 65% Brentford 35%

    Goal Attempts: Arsenal 22 Brentford 8

    On Goal: arsenal 4 Brentford 3

    Off Goal Arsenal 13 Brentford 5

    Free Kick: Arsenal 13 Brentford 9

    Corners: Arsenal 5 Brentford 9

    Attacks: Arsenal 137 Brentford 83

    Dangerous Attacks: Arsenal 76 Brentford 26

    Goals: Arsenal 0 Brentford 2

    Apart from the important one we dominated EVERY aspect of that match. I’m not taking away from Brentfords performance, or even their win. We fluffed our lines. The stats suggest we should of won. We didn’t. It happens. They are a decent side. Chelsea managed 1 shot on target against them and won. Again it happens.

    The point is, to see that match as the portent for doom and gloom that the media did was an over reaction of Teutonic proportions. But it’s Arsenal. That’s what they do.

    And what MOTD proved, they are still doing it. It’s madness.

  6. Well as far as I am concerned, the next two games are turning out to be very important. Arsenal have proven that they can win or at least tie lower ranked teams on a regular basis. This is where we lost many points in the past few years.
    They have proven as well that they can defend, resist, play tough. I loved it when they did not give the ball back. It was a ‘screw you cheaters’ kind of attitude which gave a very clear message : don’t mess with us and expect us to turn the other cheek.

    And as AMN and Lacazette showed : physicality exists within the team.

    Now they need to get points against teams on the top of the league. As far as I am concerned, 2 points would already be a good result. I’d hate to loose even ons of the 2 games.

  7. Talk sport are apoplectic with rage for Arsenals goal against Watford being allowed to stand.
    No surprise there then.

  8. There’s a whole load of bleating sheep who cannot tolerate a spud (Jol) type action albeit this was a simulation of injury. There were so many fallen Watford angels that rose from the dead and not one was booked by their Friend.

    Arsenal were absolutely right in not giving the ball to Watford who were on the back foot defending. If they wanted to stop the game they should have cleared the ball from defence into Arsenals half and allowed Arsenal to put the ball out if this effort of Lazarus was worthy.

  9. And regarding the Brentford match we also had loads of injuries. We had 8 different players playing from our last 3 matches.

    And I think we hit the woodwork twice.

    Just adds to quite how extraordinary the over reaction was, and how these numbnuts still can’t admit it.

  10. …and Michael Oliver was the “referee” that day. He hasn’t had the best of years in 2021. I remember when he was well thought of (almost 7 years ago). Those days are long gone.

    He’s one of Riley’s agenda-boys now.

    Friend’s performance vs. Watford stank the place out. Which team does he support? Answers on a postcard.

  11. siesmic

    It’s such a shame regarding Oliver.

    I have always thought that by and large, though not always, we get refereed better in the cups than the Premier League and in that regard Oliver put in one of the best refereeing performances I have ever seen in a cup match at Old Toilet.

    Man Utd came out with the usual expectation of being able to kick our players off the park with any fear if reprisals, but Oliver was having none of it. He penalized their fouls and didn’t fall for any of their antics.

    He wasn’t biased in our favour, but he refereed the match to the laws of the game and Man Utd didn’t know what hit them.

    Suffice to say with a level playing field we went on to win the match.

    Sadly Oliver is no longer that referee. Whether the pigmob have actually had a word, or over time he has just realized refereeing Arsenal matches impartially is a recipe for disaster as far as your career is concerned I don’t know. Either way it’s turned what I thought was a good, fair referee into an incompetent embarrassment.

  12. @Siesmic Funny you should mention the Brentford game – I remember reading an article on a German football website about this game. The writer could not understand how a supposed “elite” referee could get away with such a performance.

    Your right his days of being an ok referee are long over.

    I find it quite sad that when I want to watch a game these days I have to know who the ref is. I quite often don’t bother if it is certain officials because I know that they are 1) Biased and/or 2) Incompetent. They also have a strange reading of the rules i.e. Team A can foul with no consequences but team B will be penalised for every tackle.

    There have only been a handful of games this year where I have watched and not noticed the officials.

    Willie Collum of Scotland is another ref where the thought “how did he become an elite UEFA official”, after he makes his obligatory howler in every match, comes to mind.

    I read on a fan site a comment about him along the lines of “He is nae biased – he is too incompetent for that”

  13. The Brentford game was very significant because it was our first match of the season, and also THE first match of the new Premier League season. To see an “elite” referee and his VAR team so determined to ignore the rules of the game to ensure that Arsenal lost told me a lot about how the season would pan out.

    After 10 more games I haven’t seen anything to change my mind. Arsenal are playing very well despite the efforts of the officials, but I can’t see them allowing us to win the league. In 2008 and 2016 we should have been champions, but a series of extremely questionable refereeing performances (and not just in Arsenal matches) put paid to that. These officials, aided by the media also fuelled the fires of AFTV and the WOB. These people are not interested in sport, fairness, respect or anything decent.

    98% of PGMOB decisions are correct, according to their own publicity. If you believe that, there is no hope for football. I’d be surprised if they got 20% of them right.

    Ranieri’s comments about respect were the ultimate irony, given Watford’s earlier credible re-enactment of the Battle of Cannae.

  14. i love that stat 98% of decisions are correct according to PIGMOB. It is a pity that it is not true.

    As I have said earlier on this site most games I watch have at best about 75% correct decisions. Most games languish at about 40%. And dont get me started on rules that are never enforced – eg foul throws, time wasting and not moving away at free kicks to name but 3.

    I rather naively hoped that VAR would improve the picture but it has just been used to give the appearance of correct decisions. Surely it could be used to get most decisions right but its most important function appears to me to help the built in bias of referees.

    The media has a lot to answer for with their completely meaningless waffle they make up about football (see Tonys transfer details).

    I was speaking to somebody at the weekend and they had no clue that both Platini an Blatter are to stand trial for fraud in Switzerland – doesn’t that say something!

    I really enjoy coming here as it is one of the only sites I know where people care about the sport.

  15. The Brentford game? The one where Balogun was cleaned out for a stonewall penalty and this wasn’t discussed or highlighted by the pundits? The one where the ball went out for a corner, right in front of me, that led to their first goal! The one where Leno is clearly fouled for their second goal? Yes, the Brentford game!

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