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Arsenal v Burnley: tackles, fouls, yellows and home/away form

By Bulldog Drummond

The Telegraph is still headlining its utterly misleading notion Why Arsenal’s red cards are a black mark against Mikel Arteta’s management by Sam Dean; an article that deliberately aims at misleading the reader into the notion that Arsenal are a dirty side.

In fact as we saw in Red card plague blights Arsenal, plague of blindness blights the media Arsenal are very much at the moderate end of the red card trail and the same is true with yellow cards.

The top carded team in terms of yellows is Leeds with nearly double the number of yellows Arsenal have in the league while only three clubs have achieved fewer yellow cards than Arsenal.

Interestingly Burnley have been given only 90% of the fouls against them that Arsenal but have still managed to get 17% more yellows than Arsenal.  It’s a funny ol’ game this refereeing lark.

Tackles Fouls Yellows
Arsenal 294 180 30
Burnley 256 163 35
Highest 391 Brighton 257 Watford 54 Leeds
Lowest 256 Burnley 163 Burnley 25 WHU
High v Low 53% more 58% more 116% more

And to show just how funny I’ve added a further line “High v Low”.  Quite simply this shows that the club with the highest tackles undertakes 53% more tackles than the club with the lowest number of tackles this season.

When we do the same analysis for fouls, the club with the highest number of fouls get 58% more fouls against them than the club with the lowest.    The similarity of those two numbers (53% more tackles and 58% more fouls) shows just how reasonable our regular analysis of tackles and fouls is.   And how reasonable Arteta’s decision to cut tackling right down, was.  We can now prove in stats what we see on the pitch – tackles and fouls are closely related not by the severity of the tackle but by pure numbers.  Do more tackling you get more fouls, no matter how good your tackling is.  It’s a PGMO thing.

But… PGMO referees do seek out their revenge, and they get it with the yellow cards.  The difference between the most and least carded club is over double (116% to be precise), so the clubs that foul and tackle most get a disproportionately higher level of yellows.   Cutting the tackles really is a clever tactical move.

Now as you can see above the difference between Arsenal and Burnley in the tackle, foul, yellow card analysis is very modest – we are both at the lower end throughout.  But a difference is still seen in the relationship charts.

Tackles per foul Fouls per yellow Tackles per yellow
Arsenal 1.63 6.00 9.80
Burnley 1.57 4.66 7.31

The number of tackles we put in per foul is slightly higher than Burnley.  We might take it that our players are slightly more adept at the skill than Burnley’s.

But the difference of number of fouls that can be committed before a yellow is given out is much bigger – we can do 29% more fouls before getting a yellow and 34% more tackles before getting a yellow.  So skill counts.

Let’s now compare the home and away form…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal home 10 7 1 2 18 8 10 22
19 Burnley away 10 0 4 6 8 19 -11 4

We can see from this that anything other than an Arsenal win is going to be an absolute shock, and a sign that we really do have a post-Liverpudlian problem.

Obviously the Africa Cup can have an impact and we know that Burnley have only one player at the Africa Cup of Nations Maxwel Cornet of the Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast is of course the country Pépé plays for, and they beat the reigning champions Algeria 3-1 to knock them out of the cup.     Nicolas Pépé in fact scored a brilliant goal in the second half moving into the penalty area and curling the ball into the far corner.

But back to Arsenal v Burnley, home and away.  Only Newcastle have a worse away form than Burnley (partly because Newcastle have played one game fewer), while only Manchester City and Liverpool have a home form that is better than Arsenal.

On the basis of goal difference Arsenal should win 2-0, but if we can recover from the blues of the match against Liverpool on Thursday it could be more than that.

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