Tackles, fouls, yellow cards, injuries and illness. How Tottenham and Arsenal compare

By Bulldog Drummond

The Guardian is reporting that Tottenham are annoyed at the postponement of the game today saying  that “Tottenham have been left furious… believing rules regarding Coronavirus-related postponements have been manipulated to create “unintended consequences”.”

The Guardian adds that “Arsenal would have been without at least 15 first-teamers for their visit to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.”

Indeed the Tottenham argument has a logical fallacy as is shown by the way their statement continues, with the club saying, “We are extremely surprised that this application has been approved.   We ourselves were disqualified from the European Conference League after a significant number of Covid cases meant we needed to reschedule a fixture…”

The point of course is that League fixtures are dealt with by the autonomous committee of the League, while the Uefa fixtures issue was dealt with by Uefa according to their own rules.  It is a case of Tottenham bringing in evidence, which we were asking for in the last article, but actually, it turns out to be irrelevant evidence.   It is a bit like saying, “I was banned for driving at 85 mph in England, but when I did that in Germany, nobody minded.”

It leaves the Premier League in an invidious position. Neither Arsenal nor any of the other clubs involved in the season’s 21 postponed games to date have pulled off anything that is outside the regulations, but it is clear they are being stretched to their limit and matches have been called off that are likely to have gone ahead before the pandemic.

Given that the game against Tottenham was postponed quite late on, the highly efficient Untold machine (that is to say, me) had already started producing articles ahead of the game, including of course an analysis of tackles, fouls and yellows as we produce before most league games.

Club Tackles Fouls Yellows
Arsenal 294 180 30
Tottenham 292 183 31
Highest 376 (Palace) 244 (Watford) 52 (Leeds)
Lowest 256 (Burnley) 163 (Burnley) 22 (West Ham)

Adjusting for the number of games here are the per game figures as they stood yesterday morning.

Club Tackles pg Fouls pg Yellows pg
Arsenal 20 games 14.70 9.00 1.5
Tottenham 18 games 16.22 10.16 1.72

What we can see is that Tottenham are consistently tackling more than Arsenal per game, and so picking up slightly more fouls per game but fractionally more yellows.  The differences are small but the referees are a little more lenient with Tottenham than they are with Arsenal.

However looking at the relationship between tackles, fouls and yellow between the clubs we can see that in terms of the number of tackles undertaken before a foul is called is much the same, and the number of tackles undertaken before a yellow is given, is much the same.    But combine these stats that Tottenham, by getting fouls against them more readily, and getting those tackles turned into yellow more readily have to commit considerably fewer fouls before getting a yellow than Arsenal.

Club Tackles/foul Tackles/yellow Fouls/yellow
Arsenal 20 games 1.63 9.00 9.80
Tottenham 18 games 1.59 9.43 5.90

Referees are clearly minded to think that Tottenham are a dirtier team than Arsenal and so are much more likely to see a Tottenham foul as worthy of a yellow than an Arsenal foul.

Obviously, the game is not on today but the home and away form page we produced before the game was called off shows just where Arsenal need to improve – it is in the away form.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Tottenham Hotspur home 10 7 1 2 16 10 6 22
8 Arsenal away 10 4 1 5 15 17 -2 13

The form tables don’t bring us much solace either, other than the fact that this ought to be a great game between two teams in form…   These tables don’t include any games played on saturday or sunday 15th / 16th January.

Premier League Form (Last 6)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
2 Tottenham Hotspur 6 4 2 0 12 3 9 14
4 Arsenal 6 4 0 2 16 5 11 12

The last ten has the positions of the two teams reversed, but only on goal difference.

Premier League Form (Last 10)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal 10 6 0 4 21 12 9 18
4 Tottenham Hotspur 10 5 3 2 14 8 6 18

The race between the two teams is neck and neck, and it is only home and away form that separates them when they come together in what the newspapers like to call “a clash”.

10 Replies to “Tackles, fouls, yellow cards, injuries and illness. How Tottenham and Arsenal compare”

  1. Why bother about this when you have cheated your way in to fotball. This club stinks abd now we get to see it again.

  2. Niclas this is a perfect example of what I have been writing about. I imagine your “cheated your way into football” comment doesn’t refer to the start of the Arsenal club, but probably to the 1919 promotion, which came after Arsenal had helped Tottenham get into the League after they had left the Southern League.
    If I have got that right then you might be interested to know that I have written the definitive book on the 1919 promotion and it is now on line – as well as the definitive history of the man involved Lt Col Sir Henry Norris – a major war hero in the first world war, and an Arsenal director.
    Of course you might be thinking of something else, but I’ll take it for the moment that it is the 1919 promotion, and so what I will do is publish a piece that starts with your comment, and then goes on to note that you have provided no evidence, and have in fact got it totally wrong. My evidence comes from the newspapers and magazines of the day, and the minutes of the League meeting, and Tottenham’s response to the vote that put Arsenal back in the first division.
    Thanks for your contribution.

  3. Tony

    I can’t find the numbers detailed elsewhere but unless you exclude yellow cards for technical offences, such as kicking the ball away, entering the crowd, wasting time, failing to leave the field quickly enough following a substitution taking your shirt off etc and likewise establish how many yellows didn’t result in a pause in play ( advantage having been played ) then the numbers are far from complete and without that completeness it’s flawed to make the assumptions made

  4. Niclas Skott

    a) Arsenal are about the 20th Premier league team to be granted a postponement.

    Not one other club has been even doubted about their application, let alone had to face trial by media.

    b) We made our application under the same criteria that every other club has made theirs.

    Are you accusing Arsenal of making any of their absentees up ? If so where is your proof ?

    c) We, like the previous applicants to be granted a postponement, met all the required parameters to be granted a postponement.

    Are you accusing the authorities of changing the criteria just to suit Arsenal ? If so where is your proof ?

    And that’s before we even get into how you somehow connected this legitimate application, to some cooked up media story from over 100 years ago.

    Why a legitimate request for a postponement and a fictional story about Arsenal getting into the football league equates to you thinking our club stinks I don’t know, but it would nice if you explained what lies behind this opinion of yours.

  5. @ Mike T

    Those numbers can be found on whoscored.com. Sadly, as much as I love UA and Tony’s perspective on football, he is seemingly unwilling to acknowledge the dynamic you mention as I have raised it several times to no avail.

  6. @Nitram

    You know as well as I do, Niclas Skott has nothing to offer. He’s a disgruntled person with nothing substantive to argue. Possible a Spud still dreaming of his team winning a Premier League title and allowing jealousy to get the better of him. That, of course, is pure speculation as I can offer no evidence to support my guess……but I’m sure he can relate to that 🙂

  7. Mikey

    Yep, you’re probably right, but no harm in asking is there ?

    You never know he may have some evidence.

  8. Mikey, Nitram,

    I’d say the person found behind Niclas Scott is at leat :

    – misbehaven
    – impolite or rude
    – lonely as no one in his right mind could have some kind of serious conversation with him
    – not interested in facts, just his own personal feelings of the moment.
    – cowardly – he’d never date to make that statement in public or state who he is

    What a disgrace

  9. Chris, Nitram I love Gooner…particularly the brighter ones….not that I’m suggesting you guys fit the bill 😂😂😂

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