An informative spot of media support for Arsenal following Klopp v Arteta

By Tony Attwood

I am very sorry to say that as usual I have not made myself clear to everyone in terms of my review of the Liverpool game relating to tackles, fouls and yellow cards – figures which if you are a regular reader you will know we have been tracking for over two years now.  (Last season’s summaries are here).

My point overall was that Liverpool deliberately chose to play a different sort of game from their normal approach first by roughing up the players and then seducing Arteta into a false move.  And we have to admit it worked completely.

And so as a result we need to understand exactly what Arsenal did wrong and what Liverpool did right – which is exactly what Mr Arteta will have done immediately he got hold of the statistics.

Prior to match the figures per game for the two clubs were as below

Tackles Fouls Yellow Tackle/foul Tackle/yellow Foul/Yellow
Arsenal 14.64 9.09 1.54 1.61 9.47 5.88
Liverpool 13.45 9.72 1.09 1.38 12.33 8.92

In this game of Liverpool v Arsenal the figures changed radically.

Tackles Fouls Yellow Tackle/foul Tackle/yellow Foul/Yellow
Arsenal 18 12 0 1.5 No yellow No yellow
Liverpool 14 15 2 -0.93 7.00 7.50

Tackles: Arsenal’s tackling went up by just under four, Liverpool’s stayed just the same as normal.

Fouls: Arsenal’s fouling rate went up by three from its average, Liverpool’s went up by over five.

In terms of tackles per foul, Arsenal stayed at their normal point, but Liverpool revealed the most unusual result…

Liverpool got more fouls against them than they put in tackles!   

This is the first ever game I have seen with more fouls than tackles for a club.  The extra fouling incident was presumably the misconduct of the Liverpool manager.  If that is so then it appears that every single tackle put in by Liverpool was a foul.   And if that is right, then that was a deliberate ploy.  (In which case the admission of guilt in the article linked above is very clever, deflecting the fouling approach of the game, and focusing on the manager’s yellow card).

Pulling this together we can see that Liverpool’s tackling rate in the game was their norm, but their fouling rate shot up, because the tackles were always illegal.  Again it seems like a ploy.

But that is not all we can say because there was that touchline bust up.  Looking at the game prior to the shouting and pointing between the two managers, I feel Arsenal were coming out on top, but after that it was all Liverpool.

The cause was what Arteta perceived as a flailing elbow in an challenge on Tomiyasu.  Klopp then immediately got faux angry and both managers were booked.

In relation to this Garth Crooks put forward the view that this was a further deliberate ploy by Klopp, and certainly the figures are tending to point in this direction.

What Crooks said on the BBC was, “It was clear from Klopp’s post-match interview that he thought that Sadio Mane’s challenge on Takehiro Tomiyasu was fair, but boy, did he use the ensuing confrontation with Arteta to fuel the Anfield crowd.

“Liverpool were struggling until that moment and the only mistake Arteta made was getting involved with Klopp in the first place. The row ignited the crowd as Klopp knew it would.

“Mane, the architect of the incident with Tomiyasu, also took advantage of Anfield’s rise in temperature with a well-taken goal and a glorious assist. But it was Klopp who was the villain here, not Arteta.”

This is not to say that Arsenal were ahead before the incident, nor that they would have won had the incident not taken place, but the point is made that Klopp engineered events to his benefit, while Arteta became emotional and fell for the ploy.

That led the Anfield crowd to raise its efforts in support of Klopp and as the Mirror put it “whipped up a frenzy… (which) … seemed to prompt a renewed effort and feistiness from the Reds’ players too, with Mane perhaps fortunate to escape with just a booking soon after for a robust foul on Ben White near the touchline.”

Now whereas the first part of this piece is based on actual statistics the latter part is an opinion.  But it does raise the point that Arteta is still an inexperienced manager.  In films of him at Manchester City as assistant, he is generally seen sitting with a notepad recording details, never moving from his seat, and leaving the pitch calmly at the end.

So we can take it he has rarely had to deal with manipulation by a more experienced manager who will use whatever ploy is available to convince his players that they need to take on this nasty bunch of ne’er-do-wells and see them off the park.

Thus Arsenal were clearly unsettled after the incident, and Liverpool with their crowd, reinforced.

Indeed one can think back over the years to how many times the Anfield crowd has been considered the 12th man, and of course thanks to the LSE research during lock down, we now know how much influence the home crowd can have on a referee and presumably players (although I’ve not seen any research on the latter point, and it may not exist).

Arsenal does not have these advantages at home because of the activities of the AAA in general, and AFTV, Black Scarf and Arsenal’s Supporters’ Trust, and many bloggers in particular, all of whom have been very voluble in their denunciations of the players, board, coaches, manager and everyone else down to the groundsmen and physios.  Remember it was only two months ago that many so-called supporters plus all the media, wanted Arteta out of the club.

It is obviously much harder for Arsenal to get themselves together in such circumstances.  But these circumstances are not going to change, and so we need to sort this out.  Mr Arteta has to learn that when Klopp goes a-shouting, he needs to stand still, look at Klopp, smile, and allow himself to be pushed to the ground.   That could have happened, Klopp would have been sent off, and the Liverpool players unsettled.  As it was, Arsenal were unsettled and we lost heavily.

But a lesson learned for next time.

One Reply to “An informative spot of media support for Arsenal following Klopp v Arteta”

  1. Tony now you’re clutching at straws. For months you have been telling us that Arsenal tackle/foul and foul/card ratio is bad BECAUSE WE ARE REFEREED DIFFERENTLY. That Everytime we attempt a tackle we are penalized, so much so that we have to tackle less. Whenever someone suggests that maybe it’s because our tackles are more “illegal” you and your crew are up in arms. So Liverpool plays arsenal, has a worse tackle/foul/card ratio than their average and suddenly it’s not because the ref hates them but because “because their tackles were always illegal”. I know you’re are an arsenal fan, but I don’t think this perspective of everything arsenal is right, if the result isn’t the desired one, it’s because someone else is at fault, does your research any favors. You seem to start your research from the foundation that “arsenal is right” so when the result goes wrong, it’s the refs fault, the opponents fault etc.
    2. The second point to note is that comparing your figures for the match with the seasons average is very misleading. That Liverpool average 10 fouls per match this season doesn’t mean, prior to the match against us they always fouled 10times in every match. It means maybe when they played Norwich they fouls 2x, against Brentford maybe 5, against Utd maybe 16, against Chelsea maybe 7, against westham maybe 18. Check the average of these you’ll see it’s about 10, yet there’s a match with 18 fouls, another with 16. In plain, simple terms I DOUBT ANY TEAM HAS ANY STANDARD FOR FOUL NUMBERS. THEY FOUL BASED ON HOW THE GAME WENT. That you sat in your chair in your sitting room and calculated the average of all the figures doesn’t mean Liverpool go into the match doing mathematics of foul numbers. If arsenal sat back and refused to compete, would the Liverpool players have gone looking for them to kick? As a defender I see you coming at me with the ball, I feel I have the timing right, I attempt a tackle, I’m not thinking “my average number of tackles for the season is 5, I’ve already made 5 in the first half in this match, I won’t make another” nobody does that Tony. Yes I agree you might come with a tactic in a game to play hard, tough, compete hard in certain games everyone does that. As was mentioned in earlier comment, against Aston villa we made 17 fouls, I didn’t see your article saying how we almost doubled our season foul average

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