How the teams that commit the most tackles get the easiest ride from refs

By Tony Attwood

It is an issue we have raised before, but it comes back season after season.  The teams that tackle the most, get away with more tackles for each foul given against them, than the teams that tackle least.

We’ll come to why this is the case in a moment but here first is the evidence from this season. 

*In the tables which follow Arsenal are included by way of comparison not because they are in the same league when it comes to tackles and fouls.

The teams that commit the most tackles per game

 

Team Tackles per game Fouls per game tackles per foul
Leeds United 24.2 12.3 1.97
Chelsea 21.5 10.2 2.11
Fulham 20.7 10.2 2.03
Everton 20.3 8.5 3.28
*Arsenal 15.0 10.2 1.47

 

The difference here is truly shocking.   Everton can commit 3.28 tackles before they get a foul given against them.  That is getting on for two and a half times as many tackles that Arsenal can get away with before having a foul called against them.  Even Chelsea are getting away with half as many tackles again before getting a foul called against them as Arsenal.

Now we come to the clubs that commit the smallest number of fouls in each game and we find looking across the whole league it is almost the same group of clubs.   In other words, the clubs that tackle the most can get away with more tackles before a foul is called than other clubs.  

The clubs that commit the smallest number of fouls per game

 

Team Tackles pg Fouls pg tackles per foul
Everton 20.3 8.5 3.28
Wolverhampton 19 9.3 2.04
Chelsea 21.5 10.2 2.11
Fulham 20.7 10.2 2.03

 

But what of the teams that commit the least tackles per game?  

The clubs that commit the smallest number of tackles per game

 

Team Tackles pg Fouls pg tackles per foul
Manchester City 10.2 8.2 1.24
West Ham 13 10 1.30
Liverpool 13 8.2 1.59
Brentford 13.5 7 1.93
Arsenal 15 10.2 1.47

 

So the comparison is clear throughout.   The more tackles a club puts in, the fewer fouls per tackle are called by the ref.  Put another way:

The more tackles a club puts in, the fewer are classed as a foul.

And the range is huge.  Manchester City can put in 1.24 tackles before having a foul called while Everton put in almost three times that number at 3.28 tackles per game before any of them are seen worthy of being called as a foul.

So what is going on?  Where is there such a difference?

We know that Manchester City can buy anyone they wish because of the failure of Uefa to deal with them in the Court for Arbitration in Sport, by putting in the evidence against Manchester City far too late.   They don’t commit the smallest number of fouls per game, but it is on the small size.  But the tackles they do commit tend to be called as fouls.  Why is that happening?

Now it could be argued that the clubs committing the smallest number of tackles are being told by their managers “don’t tackle unless you really have to as a last desperate resort”.   That could explain the situation – all the tackles they put in are tackles of the last resort and so more likely to be called as fouls.

But watching the games it seems a real stretch of the imagination to give this explanation.   And as science always tells us, when there is a range of explanations go for the simplest.

And the simplest explanation that fits the observable facts and the statistics is that referees simply don’t call fouls on clubs that tackle more and more, for fear of stopping the “flow of the game”.  In other words referees become immune to the tackling of clubs like Everton, Wolverhampton, Chelsea and Fulham, and so let them get away with it, for fear of otherwise putting half the time in the book, and ending up with four or five players sent off in each game.

It is in fact a conscious or subconscious decision of referees to let the teams that tackle a lot to get away with more.

Which really removes all concept of fairness from the game.

 

 

2 Replies to “How the teams that commit the most tackles get the easiest ride from refs”

  1. Having watched Man City who IMO are a possession base team trying to play there game in the opponents half tend to commit the more cynical foul in stopping a break away when they lose possession because they have committed so many players forward . They the same as Arsenal and many other teams press the ball and crowd out the opponent with the ball which tends to be a slower process which obviously takes speed out of the tackle , speed tends to be one of the more yellow card tackles ( a player running at speed with the ball is taken out , tackled ) So crowding out and pressing teams seem to make less tackles but when they do a lot are in the desperation stakes and commit the good yellow card tackle .

  2. @Steve Vallins,

    maybe you do have a point there. Just reminds me of Vardy running into the box and diving at the slightest contact to get penalty after penalty. And as many the players are quite some actors, getting tackled at full speed always makes for a very spectacular outcome even if the contact is not that bad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.