Arsenal v Manchester United: the tackles, the fouls and the yellow cards

By Bulldog Drummond

Manchester United are one of that small number of teams that have beaten Arsenal, more than Arsenal have beaten them.  The current score is 100 wins to them, 85 to us with 50 draws.  Although to get to this total we go back to the days when neither side had the names they have now.   The first game was on 13 October 1894 which ended Newton Heath 3 Woolwich Arsenal 3 in League Division Two.

But if we look back over the most recent half-dozen games, we have had the advantage with three wins, two draws and one defeat.

Date Match Res Score Competition
10 Mar 2019 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
30 Sep 2019 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
01 Jan 2020 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
01 Nov 2020 Manchester United v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League
30 Jan 2021 Arsenal v Manchester United D 0-0 Premier League
02 Dec 2021 Manchester United v Arsenal L 3-2 Premier League

And moving on to the current season we can see that Manchester United have themselves had a bit of an up and down time…

Date Match Res Score Competition
20 Feb 2022 Leeds United v Manchester United W 2-4 Premier League
23 Feb 2022 Atlético Madrid v Manchester United D 1-1 Champions League
26 Feb 2022 Manchester United v Watford D 0-0 Premier League
6 Mar 2022 Manchester City v Manchester United L 4-1 Premier League
12 Mar 2022 Manchester United v Tottenham Hot W 3-2 Premier League
15 Mar 2022 Manchester United v Atlético Madrid L 0-1 Champions League
02 Apr 2022 Manchester United v Leicester City D 1-1 Premier League
09 Apr 2022 Everton v Manchester United L 1-0 Premier League
16 Apr 2022 Manchester United v Norwich City W 3-2 Premier League
19 Apr 2022 Liverpool v Manchester United L 4-0 Premier League

So across those last ten games in all competitions, they have won three, drawn three and lost four.   Goals for, total 13 while goals against, total 18.

Thus we are now three points above them with one game in hand and a better goal difference and a home record that is much better than their away record.

In terms of domestic honours, Manchester United have won the league more times than any other club (20 all told as opposed to Arsenal’s 13.  They last won it in 2013, and we last won it in 2004.

But we are ahead of them (and indeed everyone else) in terms of FA Cup wins (14 to Arsenal, 12 to them), although they have outdone us in Europe with five trophies to our two.

However, let us move forward and consider the style of play.

In terms of tackling Manchester United are 11th, Arsenal 18th.   For yellow cards Manchester United have the sixth-highest total, Arsenal 15th.  Leeds have the highest numbers in terms of all three categories and Manchester City the lowest numbers in each case.

Club Tackles Fouls Yellows
Arsenal 465 301 47
Manchester United 515 339 64
Leeds United 665 389 91
Manchester City 413 282 36

Manchester United get 1.94 yellow cards per game, while Arsenal get 1.47 cards per game played this season – which means they get 32% more yellow cards than Arsenal when we take into account the fact that they have played one more game.

So let’s see why…

Club Tackles/foul Tackles/yellow Fouls/yellow
Arsenal 1.54 9.89 6.40
Manchester United 1.52 8.04 5.30
Leeds United 1.71 9.31 4.27
Manchester City 1.46 11.47 7.83

Arsenal can thus commit fractionally more tackles before a foul is called than Manchester United can.  But Manchester United really fall foul of the referees when it comes to tackles being penalised by yellow cards.  They are more likely to have a tackle result in a yellow card than even Leeds United.

And this is reflected again when we look at the relationship between fouls and yellow cards.  The target here must be Manchester City who only get a yellow card once every 7.83 fouls.  That is clearly what Arsenal are aiming for, and have now got to a yellow once every 6.40 fouls.  

That difference is still a gap – and there is another big gap between Arsenal and the rest, with Manchester United’s figures (one yellow every 5.3 fouls) having more in common with Leeds United (one yellow every 4.27 fouls) than with Arsenal (one ever 6.40).

This process of taking Arsenal from being the most yellow-carded club in the league down to one of the least has been a significant achievement by Mikel Arteta, and has taken us away from the area we found ourselves in under Unai Emery who didn’t seem to realise just how different is the number of cards shown to clubs across the Premier League, from other leagues.

When it comes to refereeing decisions, the Premier League most certainly is in a world of its own. 


5 Replies to “Arsenal v Manchester United: the tackles, the fouls and the yellow cards”

  1. As was pointed out on an earlier post, there are examples of red card offences by Man Utd players being ignored by referees. McTominay must have got away with several such offences. Fernandez got a yellow for a deliberate hack at a Liverpool player in the last few minutes at Anfield, which should really have been a red card. Ronaldo has got away with a good few this season.

    I recall the game at Emirates when De Gea defied Arsenal with a series of wonder saves, before Wilshere’s ankles were deliberately hacked by McNair, resulting in another long-term injury absence. It happened right in front of he ref. What was the reaction? – Red Card? -No; / Yellow Card? -No;/ Award of a free-kick? -No.

    Who was the referee? Mr. Mike Dean (of course)

  2. We should win 2-1 then when we take Pgmo into account alongside those fine chaps in the VAR tent then we’ll get a good goal chalked off because Granit was involved in some seriously aggressive eyebrow raising In the build up play.

  3. John L

    This is what ESPN said about the assault at the time:

    “……Jack Wilshere. The England international suffered an ankle injury against United after a cynical lunge from Paddy McNair and has undergone surgery to repair damaged ligaments. The anticipated recovery time is three months”.

    Funny how Dean, who as you say stood just a few yards away didn’t see it that way. Still, he was probably tacking his que from the media as is the referees want:

    Andy Dunn The Mirror

    “Whether or not some of Wilshere’s problems have been self-inflicted……..”.

    And that was the always the media’s excuse when it came to Wilshere.

    Even Wenger ended up taking a bit of the blame himself for some reason. Why I don’t know because like most of us here we all saw the endless assaults he had to endure.

    He never got the protection he deserved.

  4. McNair effectively finished Wilshire who was out for 5 months.- I was in row 10 behind the goal. Yes Dean had a perfect view of the assault and did nothing.

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