Palace v Arsenal. How will the referee handle matters if Arsenal tackle?

By Bulldog Drummond

As in previous seasons (see for example here) we will be taking a fulsome look at the referee and his approach to the game and attitude toward the players.   Here are the match officials…

Match Referee Assistant Referees 4th Official VAR referee Assistant VAR Referee
Crystal Palace  v Arsenal Anthony Taylor Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn Peter Bankes Darren England James Mainwaring

Anthony Taylor

As we have seen in detail this summer referees differ in their approach to matches.

Referee Fouls pg Fouls/Tackles Pen pg Yel pg Yel Red pg Red
Anthony Taylor HOME 10.29 0.63 0.14 1.79 50 0.11 3
Anthony Taylor AWAY 9.29 0.55 0.18 1.82 51 0.07 2

So Mr Taylor gives more fouls against the home team than the away team – and this makes this game very interesting since last season Palace were the kings of getting other teams to foul them and have the referee call for a foul.  (We’ll look at this in detail in the next piece). 

So the Palace statistic suggests that Arsenal are going to get more fouls given against them than Palace are while the referee statistic suggests Arsenal will get fewer fouls given against them than Palace.  It is going to be interesting to see which way it swings.

Fortunately, the bulk of our defence have been in place for a while so they know about PGMO approaches – although as we will see later, Crystal Palace are a very special case when it comes to refereeing decisions.

Overall, Mr Taylor follows the long-established tradition of favouring the home team.  You may recall that in the era of empty stadia, the figures for home wins as opposed to away wins were reversed with the away teams getting more wins.   Since the return of crowds some referees have returned to the old ways of favouring the home team, while others have stuck with the approach adopted during the “behind closed doors” time of favouring the away team.   Mr Taylor is very much a home team referee which makes Arsenal’s overall task much more difficult.

Referee games Home Win Away Win Draw
1.Anthony Taylor 28 42.9% 25.0% 32.1%

But now we come onto the really odd thing about Crystal Palace and the question of tackles, fouls and yellow cards.

Club Tackles Fouls By Fouls Against Yellows
Crystal Palace 636 415 500 67
Arsenal 540 363 376 60
Highest 786 – Leeds 469 – Leeds 512 – Aston V 101- Leeds
Lowest 498 – Man C 320 – Man C 292 – WHU 42 – Mam C

We can see that Crystal Palace tackle at the higher end of the scale, and get called out for 14% more fouls than Arsenal.  However, this is compensated by the extraordinarily high number of fouls that are given against the teams that Palace play.

Crystal Palace get a third more fouls given against them during the season than Arsenal do.   In short, they get 124 more free kicks for fouls against Palace players than Arsenal get for fouls against Arsenal players, during the course of the season.

It is not the highest but very close to it – only Villa get granted more free kicks for fouls against them than Palace, and it clearly benefits both clubs in that they only have to fall over for the referee to give them a free kick.   In fact almost every tackle put in against a Palace player is called as a foul by the referee, which gives Palace an incredible advantage.

As a result it appears that Palace and Villa both invite the opposition to come and tackle them, knowing that much of the time they will go down and the referee will give Palace a free kick.

The wonder is that so many Premier League clubs fall for it.  We can only hope that Arsenal’s defenders who got suckered into this approach last season and thus ended up with a 2-2 draw at home and a horrific 3-0 defeat away, have learned the lesson.  If they get close to a Palace player it is likely that Palace will get a free kick. And this applies as much to a Palace player getting close to an opposition player while Palace attack.  In short, the stats say that Palace players go close to the opposition defence and invite the foul.

It was understandable for Arsenal defenders to fall for it last season, as most of the defence would probably have never seen anything like it before, but now they have had a chance to learn.   When a Palace player is anywhere near the ball DON’T TACKLE.

What makes this so interesting is that the other statistics look fairly normal.  In this table we see the two teams playing on Friday night, plus Leeds – the heaviest tacklers in the league, and Manchester City, the club with the least number of tackles.

Club Tackles/Foul Tackles/yellow Fouls/yellow
Crystal Palace 1.53 9.49 6.19
Arsenal 1.49 9.00 6.05
Leeds 1.67 7.78 4.64
Man C 1.56 11.86 7.62

Thus Arsenal are more likely than Palace to have their tackles called out as fouls.  Palace are less likely to have their tackles called as fouls than even Manchester City.

Arsenal are more likely than Palace to have their tackles given as a yellow card, although neither team are near Manchester City.  City can put almost three more tackles a game before getting carded, than Arsenal.

When committing a foul Arsenal are more likely than Palace for the foul to result in a yellow card, although nowhere near as likely as Leeds United



2 Replies to “Palace v Arsenal. How will the referee handle matters if Arsenal tackle?”

  1. Not content with favourably comparing his own managerial prowess with that of Pep a couple of weeks ago, Jamie O’Hara is now comparing his playing style with that of Lucas Torreira – “He reminded me of myself the way he played a little bit, he was horrible, nasty.”

    Dream on, son. Dream on.

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