Tackles, fouls and yellow cards: Arsenal and Leicester compared



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.


Club Tackles Fouls  Yellows
Arsenal 2018/19 609 412 72
Leicester 2018/19 676 351 57
Difference -67 +61 +15


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.


Club Tackles Fouls  Yellows
Arsenal 2019/20 584 421 86
Leicester 2019/20 742 418 41
Difference – 112 +3 +45


We thought 2018/19 could have been a one-off aberration, 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 partway 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)


Club Tackles Fouls  Yellows
Arsenal 2020/21 456 345 47
Leicester 2020/21 681 416 61
Difference -225 -71 -14


And so we move onto the season just finished…


Club Tackles Fouls  Yellows
Arsenal 2021/2 540 363 60
Leicester 2021/2 690 356 55
Difference -150 +7 +5


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 started getting so many penalties that it looked like they would pass the all-time record for penalties awarded by halfway through the season.

Club 2019/20 2020/21 2021/2
Arsenal 3 6 8
Leicester 7 12 2


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.

2 Replies to “Tackles, fouls and yellow cards: Arsenal and Leicester compared”

  1. Tony,
    I mentioned Leicester City and penalties commenting in the blog post “Fouls, penalties and free kicks….” and you’ve done yeoman’s work with the tables in this post. However, we both neglected to mention that L.C. , in fact, set the Premier League record in the 2015/2016 season with 13! There was quite a discussion around football at the time. Several of those penalties were of the Vardy stops in the box so the defender runs into him variety. VAR review may have provided a different outcome but since L.C. were the darlings that season, perhaps not. Full disclosure, lol, AFC were ‘awarded’ 2!

  2. Tony,

    These figures go in line with how arsenal are treated which i noticed from my teens. arsenal are punished more severely than others. and my initial assessment of why is due to the bullys who would use dirty tactics to stifle our play. The likes of sam allardyce who physically kick our team off the park, but the moment we retaliate the ref pulls out a card. Even this season I can give you a good example, Martinelli ws sent off for two yellows in same process of play against wolves, the following week wolves go to spurs and in minute 41 wolves son counters and was hacked down by neves, a foul much worse than the martinelli push on wolves. No yellow. i was fuming but not as much as i used to because I’m used to seeing this. This is just one of a million examples of arsenal reciving severe punishment for fouls most teams make but never get penalised. Another odd thin i have noticed is sky commentators seem to make more of a meal if arsenal get away with a foul or yellow, but in other games they move on very quickly. These are just odd things i notice, likewise MOTD Milk anything that goes for us looking for anything to clutch on but peculiar or dubious deciisons that may or may not need a second look that go against us are almost never discussed. these are just odd things, surely i cant be the only one who noticed this as a general football fan and arsenal fan

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