Is this the most insulting anti-Arsenal headline ever?

By Tony Attwood

Can Arsenal really ‘do a Leicester’ and win the Premier League?

That really is the headline over a piece in the Telegraph today. 

The piece was written by Jim White – and that may explain something.  A recent piece of his in the Telegraph was headlined, “From anal beads to iPhone apps”

But “do a Leicester”???   That suggests some links between Leicester City and Arsenal.  But Arsenal have been in the top division of football since 1919, (if this White character wants to know about it, he might care to check our series “100 years in the top division”).

Leicester on the other hand were, in 2008/9 Leicester, in what we used to call the Third Division (now League One) and they won that league.  In 2013/14 they got promotion to the Premier League, and two years later they won it.

And at the moment they are bottom, 20 points behind Arsenal after just nine games, which is a pretty extraordinary achievement.

But let’s take this a bit further.  Since 2008/9 Leicester have had two promotions and won the league once and the cup once.   And indeed it is true to say that during that period Arsenal has not won the league.  But we have qualified for the Champions League eight times, and won the FA Cup four times.

So I ask again, what on earth does “Do a Leicester” actually mean?  Leicester rose from 14th to 1st in two seasons – an extraordinary achievement I agree.  If Arsenal rose 14 places, we’d be… well not in the league because we haven’t finished 14th or lower since 1976.  Which, for the sake of Telegraph journalists is, I should explain, 46 years ago.

But there is another factor, for obviously the media is still desperate to avoid anything that remotely looks like an investigation of Leicester’s activities in the past, after the discoveries revealed here about Leicester’s “arrangement” with the referees.

In case you have forgotten let’s go back just a few years and look at the most bizarre set of data we’ve ever found.  You will see from the data below that Leicester tackled more in 2019/20 than any other club…

Team Tackles 2019/20 Fouls 2019/20 Yellow 2019/20
Arsenal 584 421 86
Aston Villa 523 451 68
Brighton & HA 641 385 57
Burnley 547 412 67
Chelsea 638 386 60
Crystal Palace 686 425 62
Everton 671 472 70
Leicester City 742 418 41
Liverpool 550 331 38
Manchester C 514 361 60
Manchester U 580 433 73
Newcastle U 603 370 66
Sheffield United 611 410 61
Southampton 706 450 53
Tottenham Hot 665 423 82
West Ham U 696 387 62
Wolverhampton 646 406 57


But now consider this


Club Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.38 6.79 4.90
Leicester 1.77 18.10 10.20


Now of course you might want to argue that Arsenal’s tackles were 28% worse than Leicester’s so fouls were called that much more often.  But then why were Arsenal tackles getting two and a half times as many yellows as Leicester’s?  And why were Arsenal’s fouls getting over twice as many yellow cards as Leicester’s?

These figures were utterly bonkers, and it wasn’t only Untold that noticed.  Arteta noticed as well which is why Arsenal moved from being the most yellow-carded club in the league in 2019/20 with 86 cards to Leicester’s 41, down to 47 cards the following season.   Meanwhile (and this may not have had anything to do with Untold’s constant publicity of the situation) Leicester’s cards shot up from 41 to 61.

In fact, we kept on analysing Leicester’s figures in articles such as “Why do Leicester get such strange stats for fouls, cards and penalties?” and our conclusions were clear.  Leicester were tackling just like everyone else, but were simply never getting pulled up for it.

Then, following our publicity on the issue Leicester supporters wrote in to tell us it was all because they had a specific player who was the world’s best tackler, and that when suddenly their figures changed, and refs started to give Leicester the fouls against, and the yellow cards we thought they deserved, that was because one player was injured.

It was an interesting theory and we checked – but the dates didn’t match.   But by pure chance (!), once we had highlighted that Leicester were, unlike any other team in the league, tackling with impunity, it stopped, and they started to get fouls against and cards just like everyone else.

Later they had another try, this time getting more penalties than anyone else had ever had (Leicester heading for all time record number of penalties).  This time we even helpfully explained how they were getting them.  And by an amazing coincidence after our article, the penalties stopped.

Now four disasters have hit them at once.  First their owners are in real financial trouble and can’t give the club any more money.   Second, while all the media was saying that Arsenal were about to get clobbered under FFP regulations, it turns out there was never any suggestion of this, and it was Leicester who were getting the warnings.  Third, every referee is aware of Leicester’s tackle / foul / card figures because of our publicity.  Fourth every referee is aware of the Vardy trick for getting penalties (ditto).

And so they are bottom of the league.  All of which makes “Can Arsenal really ‘do a Leicester’ and win the Premier League?” the most insulting headline ever produced by a sports journalist.  Which, considering some of the headlines we have seen, really is saying something.

8 Replies to “Is this the most insulting anti-Arsenal headline ever?”

  1. Over the last 34 season, since season 88-89, these are comparative achievements:



    4 Titles
    9 FA Cups
    1 League Cup
    1 Europa/Uefa Cup

    15 Trophies

    Leicester city

    1 Title
    1 FA Cup
    3 League Cups

    5 Trophies

    Over 34 seasons Arsenal have finish in the top 5 30 times. THAT’S 30 TIMES. For those not too good at numbers that means over those 34 years Arsenal have finished out of the top 5 on JUST 4 OCCASIONS

    Over the same period Leicester have finished in the top 5 just 3 times. THAT’S 3 TIMES

    Just counting the 2 top European competitions, The European Cup/Champions League and the Europa league in all its guises:

    Arsenal have qualified 28 times, including a record run of consecutive qualifications in the CL.

    Leicester have qualified 5 times.

    To make a comparison such as the one made by this White character is simply ridiculous, as he well knows. Well, either he knows or he’s simply an idiot.

  2. It is sadly a very common approach to dismiss a commentary that brings in range of data with the phrase “chill out” as if somehow this has some meaningful input into the debate. In fact it tells us far more about the writer Ivor. Which is why, by and large, I like to publish such comments when they come in.

  3. Two points here:
    1. White was making the point that Arsenal’s chances are better this year because a number of the other rich clubs seem to be in transition phases. The same thing was the case in 2015-6.

    2. Given the financial advantage Arsenal, and the other 5 rich clubs, has over Leicester (and it is huge) then Leicester’s record in the past 5 seasons or so has been sensational. The real issue that the Premier League ignores at its peril is the even growing financial inequality in the Premier League. Too many uncompetitive, one-sided matches will make a European Super League all the more likely.

  4. Tony

    When I read the initial article, I thought pretty much as you have written. Sadly I have become disillusioned by the media’s perception of football in this country, but encouraged that this site still calls out the stupid and damn right lies fed to fans.
    I have been lucky to witness the early George Graham years and the magnificence of the Arsene Wenger football revolution, but the outside money that flowed into the game alongside the obvious bias in the PGMOL and EPL management changed the game for me.
    Keep posting articles, both serious and humorous (Sir Hardly Anyone), it’s a benefit for the game and fans

  5. From the Express today, Rickie Lambert talking to talkSPITE

    “This is probably the first time that [Klopp] might have made a mistake not bringing anyone in [the summer window]. ”

    Núñez, Carvalho, Ramsey and Melo don’t count as incoming players in Lambert’s parallel universe.

    The state of football punditry today is pitiful.

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