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Arteta shows he is with us, and knows exactly what is going on

“A beautiful game was destroyed.   I cannot give my opinion. I will be suspended. I think you can read my body language very clearly.”

In speaking of the referee’s performance yesterday Mr Arteta showed once again how fully and completely he understands what Arsenal are up against.

We first got an insight into how differently referees will treat different clubs after the first 14 games of the 2019/20 season in which Arsenal were given over twice as many yellow cards as Leicester City despite undertaking far fewer tackles – an extraordinary occurrence.

That led to an in-depth review of Leicester’s ability to tackle with seeming impunity

But before that we looked at the strange figures that could arise relating to tackles, fouls and yellow cards in “How a club can commit the most fouls, but get the fewest yellow cards” with a follow-up article  “What is the relationship between fouls, tackles and yellow cards?”

However nothing really prepared us for last night.

According to the official figures published by Premier League Arsenal committed six tackles last night and Tottenham committed 16.   The Premier League does not publish any data at all on fouls for fear of what it reveals, although its website is packed with other data.   But it does publish data on yellow cards showing three for Arsenal and one for Tottenham.

From that official data we can see for every two tackles Arsenal got a yellow card, while it took 16 tackles for Tottenham to get a yellow card.

This is not the first time that the action of referees has caused some consternation – as it clearly did to Mr Arteta last night.   We might think back to the issue we highlighted two seasons ago when these figures were revealed.   The fouls figures are reported by Footstats and are those quoted wherever the number of fouls is reported.

We first wondered what was going on in the 2019/20 season when we found this…

2019/20 season Tackles Fouls Yellows
Arsenal 584 421 86
Leicester 742 418 41
Tottenham 665 423 82

What was so extraordinary then was not just the figures which were utterly bizarre but the fact that the media would not comment upon them.  And the reason for that was clear.  It would imply something was not right in refereeing.  So we developed this simple table showing tackles per foul, tackles per yellow card and fouls per yellow card.

2019/20 season Tackles/Foul Tackles/yellow Fouls/yellow
Arsenal 1.39 6.79 4.90
Leicester 1.78 18.09 10.20
Tottenham 1.57 8.11 5.16

The variation in numbers was huge to the point of being utterly unbelievable.  But they were true and the implication was clear.  Clubs were being treated in very different ways by referees.

We did also recently have a statement by a reader that the number of fouls called and yellow cards given is related to the quality of the tackle not the number, but we worked on this analysis and found that was quite untrue.

The article “Do referees give yellow cards because of the quality or quantity of fouls” shows clearly that the quality of fouls is irrelevant.

Mr Arteta knew that, which is why with this season almost over, Arsenal’s tackling level is way down on what it used to be.  And indeed last night those numbers fell even further.

And yet last night Tottenham managed to put in 16 tackles, have nine fouls called and got one yellow card.  That is a ratio of 1.77 tackles per foul, 16 tackles per yellow card, and 9.00 fouls per yellow.

Their ratio all season is 1.66 tackles per foul – so they could put in a slightly larger number of tackles but not much to account for the other figures we found.

The tackles per yellow card ratio is 9.22 – so roughly speaking once every nine tackles, Tottenham have a yellow card given against them.  Last night that ratio shot up to nearly double – 16 tackles per yellow card.

Likewise, normally Tottenham commit 5.55 fouls before getting a yellow card.  Last night it was 16.

Of course, it might be argued that suddenly Tottenham Hotspur sorted out their tackling so that overnight they learned how to produce the perfect tackles which didn’t then get fouls or yellow cards.

Maybe overnight also Arsenal forgot how to tackle, but I don’t think that is a reasonable explanation, especially since Arsenal dramatically cut their level of tackling last night.   They clearly knew how the game was going to go.

The sudden change in the way Tottenham were treated by the referee last night raises numerous questions, and of course Mr Arteta couldn’t speak on it, because anything said by a manager that relates to the figures we have been publishing for three years now, would result in a ban.

But what makes last night so very strange, and what explains Mr Arteta’s statement that he could not speak about what went on for fear of being banned is that across the whole season, Tottenham’s figures are not very far away from Arsenal’s.  Normally, Tottenham tackle more and foul more than Arsenal but also get a few more yellow cards.  But last night was very, very different.

Mr Arteta clearly already knew how the system works, but last night was a real slap in the face for Arsenal in terms of refereeing.  Quite how Arsenal can respond to this sudden exaggeration in the refereeing approach is difficult to see.  But it is all looking rather ominous.

14 comments to Arteta shows he is with us, and knows exactly what is going on

  • mick shelley

    A masterclass by Tottenham, and Son in particular, in how to extract the maximum benefit from a weak and complicit referee who not only allowed himself to be conned by the Spurs players tactics but also was clearly influenced by the intimidating atmosphere coming from the home supporters who roared for action to be taken against any Arsenal player who came anywhere near a Spurs player. The commentators and pundits also guilty for aiding and abetting in the whole charade by siding with Spurs on just about everything.
    Could you imagine the post match uproar in the media if we were ever awarded a penalty similar to last nights.
    Makes me wonder why I bother watching.
    I cannot imagine how depressing it must be for Arteta and the players.

  • mick shelley

    Despite the sentiments in my previous comments I am heartened an extremely proud with the way our boys continued to try to play good football throughout the game despite the odds being stacked against them. It cannot be easy playing against a referee as well as the other team. Trying to keep your composure in the face of such a handicap must be very difficult so massive credit to them all.
    Lets hope Arteta and his players use a siege mentality approach to galvanize themselves for victories in the final two games and in doing so stick a massive two fingers up to Riley and his cronies and all the media and pundit community who wanted to see us fail and Harry, Son and all the other Spurs cheats grab fourth spot.

  • Jack

    I think it’s fair to note Holding’s second yellow card was not for a tackle. Xhaka’s card was also for dissent. And that’s one of the problems with your analysis of cards vis-à-vis tackles. You’ve always failed to account for non-tackle related cards.

    The penalty was really soft. We can’t complain on Holding though. We’d wish the referee was lenient but Holding from the get go was showing aggression that was not warranted. He played with the temperament of a derby and got punished.

    But we move forward. History won’t say why Arsenal failed to make CL, it will simply say Arsenal failed to make CL. On to beating Oilcastle and qualifying for CL.

  • 1979gooner

    spot on Mick- indeed , why bother watching when it’s so biased

    Son is a cheat, pure and simple, and the inept referees / refereeing bodies have allowed cheating to prosper over last 2-3 decades

  • 1979goone

    ps the Holding yellows were both very soft indeed

    first one – both players had hold of each other – Son fouled Holding as much as Holding fouled Son – in context with Son’s red card elbow on Holding in 11th minute which went unpunished this was awful inconsistency

    second one very very harsh – there was no movement of elbow, Son ran into him and was nowhere near getting the ball, very very harsh indeed, probably not even a foul

  • Cheadle

    This was tough to swallow but we need look forward and realize that we are just two wins away from confirming our Champions League return.

    Two games; one against a team that’s turned their season around so they have no relegation worries and another against a team that should avoid relegation.

    Tottenham must be framed as just a blip, nothing more. In a league this tough, surrounded by teams with experienced coaches and battle-hardened players, our team (the youngest … with a rookie coach) has managed to propel itself into a Champions League place despite being written off early in the season.

    Having held our nerve to still be in the top four with just two games to go, I believe we have enough to cross the finish line on 72 points.

  • mick shelley

    If Holding deserved a yellow for his so called elbow on Son then surely Son deserved a straight red for this deliberate elbow to Holdings face.
    https://twitter.com/adamkeys_/status/1524851527374016514

  • goonersince72

    mick shelley
    Hey mick, I agree that Son deserved a straight red but too many Untolders are claiming Holding’s elbow was either nonexistent or Son ran into it! Everyone should look at it again objectively as I’ve done several times. Holding tried to rearrange his face FFS. AFC have a hard enough time with referee bias, look at yesterday’s VAR ref. But as supporters we need to be honest with ourselves for better or worse. There’s no credit in being as biased as the PGMOL and media. Holding’s first yellow was clearly soft (beyond my opinion) because Tierney held up 2 fingers indicating that was his second foul. A yellow for 2 fouls? Outrageous. And he ignored Son’s elbow, so that’s 2 ‘mistakes’ on two incidents between the same players. Supporters called for a straight red to Son. Now to Holding’s elbow to Son’s face. For me, straight red if he didn’t already have a yellow. Look at his face, he knows what he’s doing. Look at replays from the opposite side of the field. Smashes Son’s face with his elbow. There were several replays at the time and afterward. I’m retired in Florida, U.S. now but I think the feed is the same as in England. Perhaps not. Any other gooners in the States see the replays I’m referring to? Or in G.B.?
    I’m banging on, I know. There was enough bias and mistakes by the ref, just not on that play.

    The best revenge on Spurs and PGMOL will be winning the final 2 games and 4th. Let the media try to spin that. Of course it may be difficult if Gabriel is out. COYG!!!

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I’m not sure if it was Menace who brought this up…the non calls, the Holding calls and indeed the penalty, if viewed independently can all be seen as possibly correct/incorrect. But, taken dependently, there was a narrative. Son getting away with his elbow, the penalty on Cedric, Holding being aggressive, Holding getting called for…holding, Holding getting called for an elbow and being sent off…ALL the calls were against the team in red.

  • goonersince72

    11 on 11 Spurs couldn’t keep up. Tierney stepped in. Even down to 10 players the possession was almost even.

  • Ukp

    “The article “Do referees give yellow cards because of the quality or quantity of fouls” shows clearly that the quality of fouls is irrelevant”
    Tony you are a researcher/writer, to say the above is obviously an attempt to disinform. The article you referred to makes very little attempt to discuss the relationship between “quality” of fouls and and yellow cards. It only attempts to establish the validity of the relationship between “quantity” of fouls and yellow cards. I sincerely hope you correct that impression. I also hope you will publish my response to the said article. Be man enough to allow a debate you started. Thank you

  • Ukp I have published your comment as you have requested, but your assertion that my article is “obviously an attempt to misinform” is clearly bonkers. You can’t possibly know what was in my head when I wrote that. But if you were to take what is in my article as what I was thinking, you will see that it was, as I said a response to a comment that said that there was little relationship between the number of fouls and the number of yellows. I think my figures showed that this was wrong. There is a strong relationship between the two.
    So Ukp I would urge you to give up your attempts at telepathy at a distance, as on the basis of this one example, you are not very good at it.
    You cannot possibly know that my piece was set out obviously to misinform. You could of course write an article which set out the evidence, but since you can’t know what was in my mind, it would be a matter of deduction based on a very limited amount of data. And probably a complete waste of time, as I doubt many people would be interested.

  • Ukp

    I’m sure I’ve responded to this, I’m sure the response doesn’t contain insults. But just in case the response got lost in transit, all I have to say is it is evidently obvious that the post you refer to makes no attempt to discuss the relationship between quality of fouls and yellow cards, so how you can consider your statement in this article to be factual is beyond me

  • Ukp – you have said it yourself – “it is beyond you”. So I am not quite sure why you are writing to tell us this.

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