By Bulldog Drummond
Given that the game against Liverpool may or may not be on (at the time of writing) I thought I’d do one of the sets of data that we normally cover ahead of the game, just in case the game goes ahead. And not least because the data is quite interesting of itself.
The table shows that in terms of tackles Liverpool and Arsenal are this season very close together, although Liverpool get more fouls awarded against them than Arsenal do.
Indeed looking at Arsenal’s tackles position in the league and their fouls position they are running a pretty level course – and this continues when it comes to the measure of yellow cards. 16th in terms of the number of fouls committed and 16th in terms of the number of yellow cards dished out.
One could hardly wish for a more consistent set of referee interventions.
But when we look at the Liverpool figures it is clear that referees are more likely to take a Liverpudlian tackles as a foul than an Arsenal tackle as a foul which is a remarkable change from two years ago. Indeed in recent years Liverpool’s numbers have been totally out of sync with those of other clubs.
In short, in the past, Liverpool tackles were so rarely seen as fouls that they were almost dropping off the bottom of the chart. Tackles fouls and yellow are taken from these data bases. Historic comparisons come from the Data Tables chart.
Tackles, fouls and yellow cards so far this season.
|Arsenal||294 (14th)||180 (16th)||30 (16th)|
|Liverpool||286 (16th)||209 (7th)||28 (18th)|
|Highest in group||Leeds – 362||Watford – 244||Leeds – 52|
|Lowest in group||Burnley – 256||Man C – 184||West Ham – 22|
Last season figures, taking into account the whole season.
|Arsenal||456 (20th)||345 (20th)||47(17th)|
|Liverpool||526 (15th)||396 (14th)||40 (20th)|
This season, estimation for end of season based on performance so far. Both clubs have played 20 games in the league.
So we can see that Arsenal and engaging in many more tackles than last season, but are likely to end up with the same or slightly lower number of fouls. However, the yellow cards will increase by a quarter. Which is hard to explain without considering what the refs are up to.
But while Arsenal’s tackling rate has gone up by 22% so Liverpool’s has stayed the same, and so has their fouling rate. But the yellow cards have increased. Arsenal’s yellow cards are up by 21% and Liverpool’s by an astonishing 33%.
So what conclusions do we draw?
First, Arsenal’s completely new defence have got the hang of the PGMO Protocol that Arsenal operate under, recognising that seeing even the most innocuous tackle as a foul is how the referees have been controlling the Arsenal games.
Last season, as you will if you have been a regular reader for a while, Arsenal cut the level of tackles dramatically and thus reduced the level of fouls and yellow cards. The aim last season was to get Arsenal’s stats down to Liverpool’s level, and they have done it.
Referees are of course able to continue to dish out yellow cards to Arsenal more than one might expect because the yellow is so much a matter of opinion, and indeed Arsenal have the reputation, it seems, among the PGMO, as being a dirty team. Indeed during the reign of Emery we were indeed the dirty team – although it looked to me as if this was because the manager couldn’t bring himself to believe that referees in England, that heartland of democracy and fair play, that Arsenal were treated differently from others. That run of defeats that led to his departure came about because he had started to adjust the club’s style of play to take account of PGMO.
So Arteta continue the “cut out tackles” policy and it took until Christmas 2020 to get it right, but we can see what a success this has been.
Of course it has been harder to keep it up this season with a completely new defence in place, but the fact is he has done it. We are seventh in the league when the league is analysed by goals against, as opposed to third last year, which shows a decline, but I suspect much of this is down to the change in personnel and their adjustment to the new tactics.
The key point is that Arteta has got Arsenal down to Liverpool’s figures when it comes to fouls and yellow cards, and that is giving us an enormous boost.
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