By Bulldog Drummond
- Watford v Arsenal: Are Arsenal up for sale as well?
- Watford v Arsenal: we could be back in fourth at the end of the weekend
The tackles and yellow card data that we use throughout the season come from the Premier League’s website.
The Premier League website does actually have an entry for fouls per club on its website year by year, but if you click on it having chosen your season of interest, you’ll find the message “No stats are available for your search.” I have no idea why they won’t publish this, unless it is to hinder research such as ours.
But Untold is not so easily disrupted, and so for the fouls data, to make our regular comparison between tackles, fouls and yellow cards we turn elsewhere, and we use the data from Footstats. This is also the data that is used when the media at large report the number of fouls per club in reports, and so appears to be an official source. But just not something that Premier League wants us to know about.
The reason for this of course could be the way in which Arsenal have seized hold of the link between tackles, fouls and yellow cards since Mr Arteta took over the coaching of the club, and set about taking Arsenal from being the most yellow carded team down to one of the least as this table shows…
|Highest in league||500: Leeds||330: Watford||75: Leeds|
|Lowest in league||344: Arsenal||216: Leicester||31: Liverpool|
However because Arsenal have played fewer games than anyone else except Everton and Leicester (each also on 24 games) we now also need to look at tackles, fouls and yellows per game.
|Arsenal (24 games)||14.33||9.17||1.46|
|Watford (26 games)||15.65||12.69||1.69|
From this point we have to consider the all-important ratios which then gives a clear indication of how the referees consider each club differently.
It is this table that so often shows up the oddities of what PGMO referees are up to. Here we can see that Arsenal can put in more tackles than Watford before being called up for a foul. Likewise, and indeed logically, Arsenal can therefore put in more tackles before getting a yellow card than Watford.
But Arsenal will get shown a yellow card much more readily for fouls than Watford. Every 6.29 fouls Arsenal commit brings a yellow card this season, while for Watford the number is 7.5
This shows, as we so often see, that some clubs can go on tackling and fouling, knowing that the yellow card is going to be shown much less frequently than for their rivals. And we must always be aware that getting a yellow card generally changes a defender’s game, for he knows that a) the referee is watching him and that b) one more slip, no matter how minor is going to bring forth the second yellow card.
This is not to suggest that all referees are biased against Arsenal, but it is a factor that is built into the system and the way that it works. Referees are clearly aware that they are consistently penalising one team more than the other for its tackling, and so psychologically, making (as they do) instant decisions, the referees use the option of a yellow more readily for one team than the other.
To overcome this being discussed there is a general agreement among the media not to run the tables such as those above, but to focus on individual players and the number of cards they get – something that generally doesn’t tell us much at all about refereeing.
Thus they will never, ever show you this table…
|Team||Fouls||Yellow cards||Fouls per yellow|
|West Ham United||235||33||7.12|
The final column is the one that matters: it shows how many fouls a club can get away with before a yellow card is waved. You can interpret this in one of three ways.
First, a club with a high number (such as Liverpool) is practised at delivering niggling fouls which just annoy and upset the opposition but which individually don’t end up with the referee waving a card.
Or it can mean that the referee brings to the game the view that Liverpool are not a dirty team, and so they ignore the repeated fouls and wag a finger not a card.
Or that Liverpool at back at the old game of rotational fouling in which defenders take it in turn to commit the final tackle, and so do not get the card for having committed a lot of fouls.
Looking at the other end of the table, one can see that Manchester United seem simply to invite yellow cards – they have picked up 77% more than Liverpool. And yet they have only committed 7% more fouls than Liverpool!!!!!
Arsenal have dealt with this cut cutting the tackling and so cutting the fouling. Arsenal foul significantly fewer times than the other top teams. Yet despite committing 34 fewer fouls than Liverpool, have still picked up four more yellow cards than Liverpool.
If you want to know why Liverpool are doing so well, here’s a reason: they can commit almost one fifth more fouls than Arsenal without getting a similar increase in cards.
As they say, it’s a funny ol’ game.
- The stupidest thing said about Arsenal this week
- WSL North London Derby – reflections on the game at the Emirates
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- Arsenal are the most fouled team in the Premier League. Why?
- Partey setback, AFC man hauled off, new C Ronaldo signing, Arteta desperate