By Tony Attwood
Why West Ham can commit twice as many fouls as Newcastle, before getting a single yellow card.
Yes it is true. The number of yellow cards received by a club, is not directly related to the number of fouls committed.
Indeed the number of fouls clubs need to commit before seeing a yellow ranges from 4.15 for Newcastle to 8.55 for West Ham. Put round the other way across the season West Ham can commit twice as many fouls as Newcastle before getting a yellow card!
Or put another way, the average Newcastle foul is twice as bad as the average West Ham foul!!! (According to PGMO employees).
We have often mentioned on Untold the revolutionary Arsenal tactic that Mikel Arteta introduced at Arsenal during the first third of last season – that of focussing the defence on not committing fouls and thus not getting yellow cards.
It worked brilliantly, and such a tactic wrestled the control of Arsenal’s games away from the referee and gave it back to the players, for although referees will and do vary the number of fouls they allow a club to commit before a yellow card is given, if the players reduce the number of fouls referees can give, that reduces the number of chances they have to penalise with a yellow.
And yellow cards certainly do have an impact, because once a defender has got a yellow he is going to be playing more cautiously, in order to avoid the second. Which in today’s high paced Premier League games, is a significant disadvantage.
Just how successful Arsenal have been this season, after a very dodgy start as the new defence was introduced to the side, can be seen from the “fouls per team per game” table below which was produced based on results before last night’s games. (Sorry but I do need some sleep sometimes).
Arsenal are, in fact, committing fewer fouls per game than any other Premier League team. And as these figures show, there’s a good reason why.
|League Position||Team||Played||Fouls committed by Team|
|6||West Ham United||18||163||9.06|
|9||Brighton and Hove||17||172||10.12|
We can of course see that the table in order of number of fouls doesn’t directly relate to league position, so reducing fouling as seen by PGMO does not by itself institute a rise up the league table.
But if one has the right players on the pitch, it is certainly true that the “don’t foul” approach helps to reduce the number of yellow cards handed out. Again we need to look a cards “per game” to ensure the figures are comparable across all teams. The base figures come from Footcharts, and are the numbers used by all analysts talking about fouls and yellows.
|Pos||Team||Played||Yellow Cards||Yellow Cards per game|
|5||Brighton and Hove||17||37||2.18|
|20||West Ham United||18||19||1.06|
Fouls per card
Now comes a key question: how far does the issue of fouls relate to yellow cards? One would think that there should be a basic relationship – if one fouls more, then more yellow cards are waved. But is the relationship between fouls and yellow cards the same for all teams?
What we can see is that there is a general link between the number of yellow cards per game, and the number of fouls per yellow card per game. But…
If a team gets more cards it is because the ref lets the team get away with fewer fouls before they get a card. Not because the team commits more fouls.
|Pos for cards||Team||Played||Fouls per game||Yellow Cards per game||Fouls per yellow per game|
|5||Brighton and Hove||17||10.12||2.18||4.64|
|20||West Ham United||18||9.06||1.06||8.55|
So why do referees give a yellow card after 8.55 fouls by West Ham, but after 6.19 fouls by Arsenal and after 4.15 fouls by Newcastle? The possible answers are…
a) West Ham’s fouls are consistently very minor.
b) Referees believe that West Ham are a non-aggressive team and so give them more leeway.
c) Referees like West Ham.
Of course, I am not a professional referee – I just watch football, but watching occasional West Ham games on TV I genuinely do not see that most of their fouls are minor. Personally, I think they get away with a number of tackles that other clubs would not get away with, and when they do commit a nasty one, or a player does several in a row, the ref gives an extra warning that he might not give to (for example) Newcastle.
Obviously, it might be that West Ham’s fouls are genuinely less nasty than other clubs, but having completed this table I’ve been looking at West Ham’s performances on TV, and I still don’t see that.
I think PGMO have something to answer here. What a shame they utterly and absolutely refuse ever to deal with the people who pay their wages (ie the football going public).
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