By Tony Attwood
Multiple tackles, fewer fouls
The initial reason that Untold started looking into the issue of tackles, fouls and yellow cards was because the figures Leicester City got were so very different from Arsenal’s. So here’s another look at our regular quick review of the key figures from the the two clubs across recent seasons.
In the difference row, a minus number shows more for Leicester than Arsenal and a + number more for Arsenal than Leicester.
2018/19 first suggested there was something odd going on, in that Leicester committed more tackles than Arsenal, but also committed far fewer fouls, and so got fewer yellows.
We thought 2018/19 could have been a one-off abberation, but 2019/20 was the season that started us wondering about what was going on with referees when it came to overseeing Leicester City games compared to Arsenal games. Leicester put in 112 more tackles but found the referee only penalised them three more times than Arsenal. As for yellow cards, Arsenal managed to pick up 43 more!
It was that last figure that was so bizarre. The two clubs were virtually equal on fouls, but Arsenal got more than double the number of yellow cards. And that despite Arsenal committing 112 fewer tackles.
Now there might have been a reasonable explanation for this – and indeed some Leicester supporters did put one forward suggesting that one of their defenders was the absolute expert on the perfect tackle, but it didn’t seem to accord with the figures, especially in relation to what happened when that player was injured.
Interestingly Leicester’s figures were even more extreme when we first looked at them part way through the season, and they did even up a little after our article appeared (although I am sure that was a coincidence).
In 2020/21 the gap in the number of tackles was 230, up from 112, but now suddenly Leicester were getting more fouls given against them and picking up more yellows. It was almost as if the PGMO had read our blog, but I am sure that couldn’t have been the reason.
In fact both clubs had reduced their tackling levels (Arsenal by 128, Leicester by 61), and finally the figures made a bit more sense. More tackles, more fouls and more yellow cards to Leicester. It had taken incredibly dramatic action by Arsenal to get there, but they got there in the end. (See Leicester heading for all time record number of penalties)
And so we move onto the season just finished…
But this last season we are back to the oddity of 2019/20. Arsenal undertakes far fewer tackles and yet are deemed by the referees to commit more fouls and so get more yellow cards.
We have also looked at penalties gained, following the fact that in 2020/21 Leicester starting getting so many penalties that it looked like they would pass the all time record for penalties awarded by half way through the season.
Yet no sooner had we published our little piece on Leicester’s penalty record (which predicted that they would double the all time record for penalties in a season, than the issue more or less stopped, and in 2021/2 they were back to more normal levels.
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