By Tony Attwood
Across the last ten years, seven clubs have been in the Premier League every season. The regular big six and Everton. Two clubs stand out for having kept tackles down: Arsenal and Liverpool. Two are known for throwing tackles in as they please: Everton and Tottenham.
The question we are seeking to answer is whether referees take account of this, and allow the high tackling clubs to get away with more tackles before a foul is called, or whether the clubs are treated more or less the same.
Historically the clubs are all fairly equal in terms of tackles – the gap between the most tackling and least tackling club is that of Manchester United and Liverpool and is under 9%.
Tackles per club per season
But are we seeing such a narrow range between tackles, fouls and yellow cards at present? The answer is no.
Leeds are committing over three times as many tackles as Manchester City match by match – an amazing difference. But Leeds still have players on the pitch because Leeds have only twice as many tackles called as fouls. So we are being asked to believe that Manchester City fouls are 58% worse than Leeds fouls.
But the club that has become the supremo when it comes to tackling without giving away fouls is Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham can commit almost twice as many tackles before being called for a foul than Manchester City.
Indeed hardly anyone can get close to Tottenham in terms of getting away with tackles without actually being penalised.
Tackles, fouls and yellow cards per game
|Team||Tackles pg||Fouls pg||tackle / foul||yellow PG|
|5. Crystal Palace||18.3||13.3||1.38||2.33|
|7. Nottingham F||17.7||11||1.61||3.00|
|11. Aston Villa||17||13||1.31||2.67|
|17. West Ham||12.7||9.7||1.31||1.00|
|18. Manchester U||16||11||1.45||3.67|
|20. Manchester C||7.7||6.7||1.14||1.00|
What we can see at this early stage in the season is that clubs are varying enormously in their approach to tackling.
Leeds are putting in over three times the number of tackles that Manchester City are delivering but referees are helping them out by the fact that Leeds can get away with many more tackles than Manchester City before a yellow card is pulled out.
And if we are to believe these figures, in the sense that they reflect the actual number of fouls that clubs commit then the conclusion has to be that Tottenham’s defenders are twice as good at tackling as Manchester City’s. Tottenham can commit 2.23 tackles before a foul is called while Manchester City can commit 1.14.
The alternative explanation is that as clubs commit more and more tackles (as Tottenham do this season) so the referees become less and less willing to call fouls against them. So they get away with more.
And the gap is large… The clubs who can get away with the fewest tackles per foul are
- Manchester City: 1.14 tackles per foul
- West Ham 1.31 tackles per foul
- Aston Villa 1.31 tackles per foul
while the clubs that can get away with the most tackles per foul are
- Tottenham Hotspur: 2.23 tackles per foul
- Wolverhampton Wanderers: 2.16 tackles per foul
- Chelsea: 1.97 tackles per foul
- Everton: 1.97 tackles per foul
We really are being asked to believe that Tottenham, Wolverhampton, Chelsea and Everton are between one and a half and two times as good at tackles as Manchester City, West Ham and Aston Villa.
That is quite a challenge to believe, given that Manchester City are one of the State Funded clubs and can buy anyone they want, following the collapse of FFP regulations after Uefa were over ruled by the Court of Arbitration in Sport.
The question then arises, does this ability to undertake tackles without getting many fouls given – an ability that seems to be beyond most teams, affect the number of goals conceded?
Here’s the league table in order of goals conceded with the number of tackles each team can put in before a foul is called…
|lge Pos||Team||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts||Tackles per foul|
|5||Brighton and Hove Albion||3||2||1||0||4||1||3||7||1.81|
Overall what we are seeing is the same effect as last season – the more tackles a club puts in the fewer fouls per tackle are called.
No one else seems to want to mention this, but it does raise the question, why?
Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.
- 1: Are the referees and the media really out to get Arsenal, or am I just imagining it?
- 2: How discussions about refereeing are deliberately stifled by the media
- 3: Referees: the odd statistics that are simply never revealed or discussed
- 4: How we have been utterly misled about football: part 4
- 5: Hiding the problem of refereeing is destroying the credibility of the Premier League
- 6: Revealed: PL referees are not 98% accurate but actually just 75% accurate
- Why the media’s new statistical analyses of football is just a trick to stop you noticing what’s going on
- Yesterday’s game: how Arsenal won, and where the journalists got things wrong
- Brentford v Arsenal: past exploits and the Arsenal team news
- French authorities issue arrest warrant over awarding of World Cup to Qatar
- Brentford v Arsenal: the history and the build up, with some extraordinary odds