By Tony Attwood
The referee for the game against Leicester is Anthony Taylor and his Arsenal and Leicester games this season are shown below. In the “Yellow” column we show the total number of cards given and then which ones were proferred against Arsenal or Leicester players.
|Date||Home team||Score||Away team||Yellows|
|18 Sep 2021||Burnley||0 – 1||Arsenal||
|3 Oct 2021||Crystal Palace||2 – 2||Leicester||5 (Bertrand, Telemans, Barnes)|
|15 Dec 2021||Arsenal||2 – 0||West Ham||5 (Martinelli, Ramsdale)|
Arsenal and Leicester have played 147 league and cup games against each other of which Arsenal have won 69, Leicester 33 and 45 have been drawn.
The first-ever game is one of those fascinating events in which neither club had the name that it has today, as on 7 January 1895 it ended Leicester Fosse 3 Woolwich Arsenal 1, the match being part of the League Division Two season.
However starting in 1984 Arsenal decided to go on a bit of a rampage against Leicester – a rampage which lasted until 2017.
In that period the clubs met 43 times with Arsenal winning 25 times and having 13 draws leaving Leicester to pick up just five consolation wins.
But the recent period has been that bit tighter with four of those five Leicester wins coming in the last nine games, the last being a 0-1 home defeat for Arsenal on 25 October 2020.
The Big Penalties Game
Having seen their adventures in the world of tackles exposed, with the result that referees became a little more aware of the tactics, we picked up on another thread, and on 21 December 2020 Untold ran the article “Leicester heading for all-time record number of penalties.”
This came after Leicester were awarded their ninth penalty of the season. In our report on Leicester’s win at Tottenham, we noted that the Guardian mentioned Leicester’s penalty five times. On the BBC Radio 4 report the day after the match the penalty was mentioned four times. But neither news source mentioned the real oddity of the Leicester penalty: the sheer number the club was getting.
For by that point they had been given nine penalties while four clubs had not been given a single spot-kick. If that rate had carried on by the end of the season they would have had 24 penalties compared with the previous season in which Leicester had got four all season. (This season so far they have had two thus far.)
So we ran that article after Leicester had had their ninth penalty of the season and pointed out the trick that was being played in which a player such as Vardy would dribble in the penalty area, turn 180 degrees unexpectedly and be clattered by a following defender, go down and get the spot-kick.
And then, after our article, the penalties situation changed. After that, for the rest of the season, Leicester only got three more awards, and ended up with 12 penalties all season. Still the biggest number of any club in the league that season (Arsenal were awarded six) but not the record-breaking total that would have occurred had the tactic continued unchecked.
What was particularly interesting was that by that point in the season when we did our report, Leicester were second in the league having gained those nine penalties in 14 games. Then we saw a change in Leicester’s fortunes. By the end of the season they had slipped down the table as their win ratio of 64% (previously significantly bolstered by penalties) went down to 52%. Their goal scoring of 2.57 goals a game sank to 1.79 goals per game.
So there we have two curious stories about Leicester. First, an ability to tackle with near impunity (or at least impunity compared to many other clubs) such that they could commit nearly three times as many tackles as Arsenal before getting a yellow, and could commit more than twice as many fouls before getting a yellow. Second a club heading for a record-breaking number of penalties that suddenly stops getting them.
Leicester are still way ahead of Arsenal in the number of tackles and fouls they can commit before being called up for a yellow card, but at least the difference has come down quite a lot so that now they can just commit 20% more tackles than Arsenal before collecting a card.
Of course, it can be argued that Arsenal are a much dirtier side than Leicester but it appears hard to make that case. It is just that Leicester get penalised far, far less than Arsenal – and indeed than most teams. It will be interesting to see if the referee tomorrow does follow this trend, legitimised as it appears to be by PGMO.
As for the fact that none of the media made mention of either the lack of fouls and cards or the significant number of penalties, except Untold, well, the media really don’t do that type of analysis. As for the fact that referees changed their attitude just after we mentioned it, well, I’m sure that was just a coincidence.
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