By Tony Attwood
A tackle from a Manchester City player is 83% more likely to get called as a yellow card offence than a tackle by a Chelsea player.
While most of us will, I suspect, be quite happy with the way things are going for Arsenal, and certainly relieved that the maniac journalists and their blogging pals did not get their way and have Mr Arteta sacked after three matches, there is a very big warning light shining, in terms of the behaviour of PGMO referees on the pitch.
For if refereeing decisions in the Premier League continue as they have for the first 11 league games, Arsenal and Manchester City will see their yellow card rates rise substantially this season. On the other hand Chelsea will see a major decline in their yellow card rates, West Ham a slight decline and Liverpool will stay about the same.
|Club||Fouls 20/21||Fouls est 21/22||Yellows 20/21||Yellows est 21/22|
Yet as we look at the number of fouls Arsenal are committing, that number is stable while if the current rate continues Arsenal yellow cards will just escalate further and further.
Quite what is causing these bizarre figures is difficult to tell. Certainly Arsenal have a new defence and although they are clearly learning how to operate as a team we are at present only the seventh best defence in the league, as opposed to the third best defence in the league across the whole of last season.
To see if Arsenal are improving their defence we can, as ever, look at the league table of the last six matches. Here we have the last six table arranged by goals against.
|1||West Ham United||6||5||0||1||12||6||6||15|
This is something of a relief because aside for changing our style of play we have no control over the crazies at PGMO, and even by reducing our tackling further and further it is often touch and go what they will do.
So even though the yellow card rate is rising in a most worrying way, we are keeping the goals against down, in the same way that we did last season. You may recall that last season, ordered by goals against, ended
Here as you will of course know, is the current position in the Premier League
|3||West Ham United||11||7||2||2||23||13||10||23|
Because of the difficult start to the season with almost a completely new defence, and most learning for the first time that managing the referee was as much their concern as managing oncoming attackers, our goals conceded is on the high side. Indeed with the full season’s table thus far we have only the seventh best defence, unlike having the third best last season.
We can see the effect of this situation using our usual tackles, fouls and yellow cards table for the season to date.
In the table below I have also shown the difference between the various clubs listed and at the end the figures for the most and least tackles, fouls and yellow cards in the league.
|Most||218 (1)||154 (3)||30 (5)|
|Least||139 (2)||83 (4)||12 (6)|
The clubs listed in the “most” and “least” columns are (1) Everton, most tackles; (2) Manchester United, fewest tackles (3) Watford most fouls; (4) Leicester fewest fouls; (5) Newcastle most yellow cards; (6) Liverpool & Chelsea fewest yellow cards
So what conclusions can we draw?
The most obvious difference is the way the way Manchester City and Arsenal are being punished for fouls – a foul from either of them is almost twice as likely to get a yellow card as is a foul by a Chelsea player.
As we can see in Arsenal’s case the club is committing considerably fewer tackles than Chelsea and West Ham and yet getting 50% more yellow cards. And that is why we have to manage the whole affair, reducing our tackling and through that controlling what the referees can get away with.
As in previous season’s we’ll get no help from the media with this sort of analysis, and the response from the blogs is normally “you can prove anything with statistics” which says more about their knowledge of maths than anything else.
Arsenal cut their yellow card rate almost in half two seasons ago, it is worrying that so much of that work could be undone under another PGMO onslaught. Of course some of the difference is due to the new defence learning the game, but the trend is still worrying.
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