By Bulldog Drummond
We now have available once more that most curious of information: the data concerning how often each team is fouled. This previously came to us from Footstats but for this season the data has gone missing. However, it is now being published on WhoScored and the figures really are very revealing.
Arsenal are the most fouled team per game in the Premier League after six games. Manchester United and Tottenham are the least fouled teams, giving them a huge advantage. In fact Arsenal are being fouled over 75% more times in a game than Manchester United and Tottenham, meaning that Arsenal attacks are being broken up through fouls far more often than other teams, thus of course reducing the chances of the club scoring.
Now one prime reason for this is that Arsenal are putting in the second highest number of shots per game – and many clubs respond to constant attempts at getting a shot away by fouling the player. So although the relationship is not totally straightforward there is a link between the number of shots a club puts in and the number of times their players are fouled.
However, some teams are so feeble in the forward line they are hardly putting enough shots in to warrant fouls at all – and yet they get them, so they are clearly picking up more fouls against them than they have shots.
The oddest statistic however is that concerning the teams that get fouled the least often: Liverpool, West Ham, Tottenham and Manchester United. Why are these teams being fouled so little?
|Team||Fouled pg||Shots per game|
|4. Crystal Palace||11.5||11.3|
|5. Aston Villa||11.2||9.3|
|13. Manchester City||8.5||17|
|14. Nottingham Forest||8.5||11.3|
|18. West Ham||7.5||10.8|
|20. Manchester United||7.2||12.5|
Possible reasons why Liverpool, West Ham, Tottenham and Manchester United are being fouled so rarely compared to Arsenal include…
a) Players have got used to getting away with nasty tackles on Arsenal but are being caught out this year when they foul other teams, as referees have started to reduce some of the extreme variations in the way teams are treated.
b) Arsenal attackers, especially Jesus, are so skilful that they cannot get stopped by regular tackles or ball interceptions. But if this is the case it would also apply to Erling Haaland with Manchester City, yet that doesn’t seem to happen.
c) The range of shots per game per club in the Premier League is huge going from 19.5 for Liverpool down to 5.7 for Bournemouth. But the link between fouls against clubs and shots is not simple. So for the moment, it does look like a PGMO decision to call out fouls on Arsenal players far more than on players of other clubs.
Who is the referee?
It is David Coote and this is only his third game of the season, while many others will be overseeing their sixth game across this weekend.
In terms of fouls per game he is roughly mid-table calling out 19 fouls per game – with these evenly spread between the home and away team. But in terms of fouls per tackle he is right at the top end of the chart meaning that managers with any sense tell their players to cut down the tackles when he’s on the pitch.
But against this he is very reluctant to hand out the yellow cards. In fact no referee is handing out fewer yellow cards per game in the Premier League this season than David Coote. So tackles lead to fouls being called, but there’s little chance of being sent off.
However much more worryingly, he persistently gives more fouls against away teams so extra attention is needed by Arsenal. This is a man who deliberately or simply because he is not very good, seriously favours the home side.
That is worrying so let’s go a little further, looking back to last season when David Coote oversaw 20 Premier League games.
Last season he was top of the charts for fouls per game at 23.85 – meaning he found over five more fouls in every game than, for example, Stewart Atwell who refereed the same number of PL games.
He was also top of the league in terms of fouls per tackle – meaning again that Arsenal need to be very careful about each and every tackle they put in.
Coote also was the second-highest yellow card giver, pushing out an astounding 92 yellow cards in the league season – 4.6 per game, every game. And once again his propensity to give fouls and yellow cards against the away team can be seen in the statistics.
And now the relationship between tackles, fouls and yellow cards
|Team||Tackles per foul||Tackle per yellow||Foul per yellow|
Brentford can get away with more fouls per yellow card than Arsenal, and more tackles before they get a yellow card. The refs are slightly less ready to give Arsenal a yellow card for a foul – but only slightly. Mostly the benefit is with Brentford.
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