How some escape yellow cards but others are penalised for tackles

By Tony Attwood

Manchester City put in fewer tackles in each game than any other club in the Premier League.  They put in 10.2 tackles a game on average this season compared with Chelsea who put in 21.5 – more than double (and Chelsea are not the most tackling team in the league).

In fact, a Manchester City tackle is more likely to be called as a foul by the referee than the tackle of a player for any other club!

So these tackles are obviously pretty nasty – or if not then the referees are pretty biased.  Or influenced by something. 

After 1.24 Manchester City tackles, on average, they are penalised for a foul.  Everton can commit just on twice as many tackles before getting a foul.

However the extraordinary thing is, despite the nastiness of these Manchester City tackles (or maybe the fact that the referees pick on them, which causes them to be called as fouls more often than any other team’s tackles), Manchester City don’t get yellow cards.

Manchester City can commit 14.45 tackles before getting a yellow card, while their neighbours Manchester United can only commit 4.71 tackles before getting a yellow card!  Put another way Manchester City can commit three times as many tackles before getting a yellow card as Manchester United.

Here are the figures for assorted clubs.


Club Tackles per game Fouls per game Yellows per game Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow
Manchester City 10.2 8.2 0.67 1.24 15.45
Arsenal 15.0 10.2 1.83 1.47 11.81
Chelsea 21.5 10.2 2.00 2.10 10.75
Manchester Utd 15.7 12.5 3.33 1.26 4.71
Everton 20.3 8.5 1.16 2.39 17.50
Tottenham 17.7 10.3 2.33 1.72 7.60
Leicester 15.2 8.0 1.17 1.90 12.99


Of course we must recognise that different clubs have different attitudes towards tackling.  Leeds are the master constant-tacklers knocking in 24.2 tackles per game.  Behind them are Chelsea putting in 21.5 tackles per game.

At the other end of the scale Manchester City put in way under half that level of tackles – 10.2 per game.

Everton commit 2.38 tackles for every foul called against them.  Manchester City commit 1.24 tackles for every foul called against them, just about half the number of Everton.

Leicester are always included in our analyses because when we first started on these comparisons their figures were utterly out of line with everyone else – they were tackling without limit and just never being called out for fouls.   Some of their supporters claimed this was because of the quality of one player but in fact once we had pointed the numbers out, referees began to change their approach – whether he was playing or not.

Of course that was nothing to do with us, it was just a coincidence that we reported on it and then a change happened, but the lack of fouls awarded against Leicester was a major benefit for a long time.

These are very big differences and let’s consider them as a table to make things clear (the full table is set out at the end of the article)

Tackles per game range: 237%

  • Manchester City 10.2, West Ham and Liverpool 13.0
  • Leeds United 24.2, Chelsea 21.5

Fouls per game range: 179%

  • Brentford 7.0; Leicester 8.0
  • Manchester United 12.5, Leeds 12.3

Tackles per foul range (Everton / Manchester City): 92%

  • Everton 2.38; Chelsea 2.10
  • Manchester City 1.24; West Ham 1.30

So Manchester City can only commit 1.24 tackles before a foul is called.   And yet they can get away with 15.45 tackles before a yellow card is given.

So despite committing tackles which are more likely to be called as a foul than any other team, Manchester City have engineered a situation in which their tackles are less likely to be given a yellow card than any other team except Liverpool.

Here’s the table of all the clubs for tackles, and yellow cards this season.

Team Tackles per game Yellow Cards per game Tackles per yellow card
1. Manchester City 10.2 0.66 15.45
2. Liverpool 13 0.83 15.66
3. West Ham 13 1.17 11.11
4. Brentford 13.5 2.33 5.79
5. Arsenal 15 1.83 8.19
6. Leicester 15.2 1.17 12.99
7. Manchester United 15.7 3.33 4.71
8. Aston Villa 16.5 2.5 6.60
9. Newcastle 16.7 2.00 8.35
10. Nottingham Forest 16.8 3.00 5.60
11. Brighton 17.2 1.66 10.36
12. Southampton 17.7 1.33 13.31
13. Tottenham 17.7 2.33 7.60
14. Crystal Palace 18 1.83 9.84
15. Bournemouth 18 2.00 9.00
16. Wolverhampton 19 2.00 9.50
17. Everton 20.3 1.16 17.5
18. Fulham 20.7 2.83 7.31
19. Chelsea 21.5 2.00 10.75
20. Leeds 24.2 2.16 11.20

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