Leeds v Arsenal: the tackles, fouls, yellow cards. Time for Leeds to wake up.

By Bulldog Drummond

Thankfully the updated data on fouls which was somewhat delayed (perhaps the computer had covid) has finally come through so we can now look at the forthcoming match against Leeds in the usual way:

Club Tackles Fouls Yellow cards
Arsenal 252 153 24
Leeds 330* 204 47*
Percentage Leeds above Arsenal 31% 33% 96%

*Leeds have committed the highest number of tackles and received the highest number of yellow cards so far this season.  In terms of fouls they are fourth highest.

So we can see at once the totally different style and approach that Leeds United has from that of Arsenal.  They are seeing tackling as the way for them to survive in the Premier League, and so are taking the consequences of their actions.  However if we look at the table of yellow cards we can see a certain link between the clubs….

Rank Club Yellows League position
1. Leeds United 47 16
2. Newcastle United 42 19
3. Brighton and Hove Albion 38 13
4. Aston Villa 35 10
5. Everton 35 14

It doesn’t hold up all the time but generally speaking, tackling a lot, having fouls again and then getting yellow cards invariably means the club is lacking players with the skill to anticipate passes and movement, which in turn results in a lower position in the league.

But let’s come back to our regular table of tackles, fouls and yellow cards and see the relationships…

Club Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow card Fouls per yellow card
Arsenal 1.65 10.5 6.38
Leeds United 1.62 7.02 4.34

We may perhaps have expected Leeds to be picking up more fouls as a result of tackles, but referees are obviously seeing Leeds’ tackling and Arsenal’s tackling in the same way.

However, the sheer volume of Leeds’ tackling is what is getting them penalised when it comes to yellow cards.   Although the number of tackles Arsenal can undertake before having a foul called against them is the same as Leeds, the volume of Leeds fouling means they get much less leeway.

The referees are not suggesting Leeds’ fouls are worse than Arsenal’s (if they were the tackles per foul ratio would be higher) but rather that Leeds are delivering so many fouls they are getting yellows more often.  Arsenal can deliver half as many tackles again before getting a yellow card as Leeds United.

Now you might think that someone would notice this.   We know the journalists won’t because these figures suggest that referees are controlling the game by impression not by the rules. And no newspaper in England would dare suggest that a referee employed by PGMO is ever doing anything other than being the best in the world.

But Leeds’ management ought to realise that the number of tackles they are putting in is part of the reason that they are getting yellow cards.  Leeds in short are losing out by not managing their play to accommodate the bias of the refs.

The other factor is that the number of fouls they are getting contributes to yellow cards.  Now that is more reasonable on the part of the referees because yellows can be given for repeated foul play.   

So this high fouling tactic is giving them almost half as many yellow cards again, as Arsenal.  That is entirely Leeds’ fault, and really they ought to wake up to this.  Maybe they don’t employ statisticians at Leeds United on the grounds that you can prove anything with statistics.

Thus we can say that referees are treating Leeds unfairly in relation to the number of tackles it takes to get a yellow card, but fairly in the sense of penalising repeated foul play.

Therefore, we can expect in this game that Leeds will continue at the high level of tackling and fouling and so get more yellows than Arsenal.

There is more on the stats surrounding this game at Leeds United v Arsenal, the form guide, home and away


5 Replies to “Leeds v Arsenal: the tackles, fouls, yellow cards. Time for Leeds to wake up.”

  1. In the wham game Martinelli was booked for impeding the goalkeeper and Ramsdale was booked for time wasting. Both bookings were special in that neither was a foul but subjective PGMOL decisions. The cards get added to the stats as do many others that are given just for being an Arsenal player.

  2. Just day-dreaming…Wilshere…wonder what he could bring Arsenal once back to fitness…no transfer fees…knows the house…has the (Arsenal) talent… is homegrown…has loads and loads of experience which is what the young players need…

  3. Chris we all know what a peak condition Wilshere can bring to the party but alas he’s legs have gone and speed of mind , not one club has given him an offer , so sad .
    He was ruined by taking too many tackles with no protection IMO

  4. @Chris
    When he decides to hang up his boots, we should offer him a one day contract so that he can retire a Gunner!

  5. They ought to take him into the squad…even if only as a joker, I’m sure he would bring something in second halves.

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