The Saints can put in 56% more tackles than Arsenal before getting a card




By Bulldog Drummond

The Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl joined the club in 2018/19 taking over from Mark Hughes of whom it has often been said.  In his three full seasons since then, the club has come 11th, 15th and 15th.  In 2020/21 they also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Southampton’s problem of course is that their ground only holds around 29,500 which severely inhibits their income.   Their one major trophy was the FA Cup win in 1975/76 and they were runners’ up in 2002/3.

Southampton’s reputation was severely marred by the Bob Higgins case – Higgins having been dismissed by the club in 1989 after abuse allegations were made against him.  At the second trial of Higgins in 2019 he was found guilty of 45 charges of indecent assault against teenage boys and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.  A subsequent FA review found numerous failures by Southampton to act promptly on allegations of abuse.  A Barnados report said that Southampton FC “did not consider the welfare and wellbeing of the boys involved with the club as their prime consideration.”  Southampton FC admitted it had “completely failed to protect so many young people from suffering abuse over a long period of time.”

It is a reminder of past events at a time when we are trying (with of course limited resources) to investigate the way in which clubs today fail to protect young players by not keeping proper records of their injuries, and by not adopting training methods appropriate to the young people’s needs.  (See The scandal of the lack of medical records in football).

Back with the football Southampton have been helped in recent years by Danny Ings who scored an amazing 34 goals in 67 games, before going to Aston Villa where he has managed just eight goals in 40 matches.

This season Che Adams has scored five and Jo Aribo two.  No one else has scored more than one goal.  We might compare this with Arsenal’s goalscoring this season: Jesus and Saka have got five each, Martinelli has four, Odegaard and Xhaka have three each, while Vieira, Eddie and Saliba each have two.

A look at the basic statistics of the two clubs reveals some very interesting details.  PG = per game.


Team Shots pg Tackles pg Fouls pg YelLow PG Fouled PG
Arsenal 8.3 14.9 10.3 1.8 11.5
Southampton 13.5 19.3 10.5 1.5 9.4


Southampton are putting in 63% more shots per game than Arsenal but score 62% fewer goals than Arsenal!

Southampton tackle a lot more than Arsenal (30% more in fact) but the number of fouls given against each of the two teams is almost the same.  And in fact, Arsenal pick up 20% more yellow cards than Southampton.

Arsenal also suffer 22% more fouls against them than Southampton.

So to summarise, Arsenal tackle less than Southampton but have more fouls given against them.  Arsenal are fouled far more than Southampton but Arsenal get more yellow cards than Southampton.   Does any of that make any sense at all?

Of course it doesn’t for this is the PGMO.  So let’s do the comparison table


Team Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.45 8.28 5.72
Southampton 1.83 12.9 7.00


Southampton can tackle more than Arsenal before getting a foul called against them.   Southampton can tackle a lot more (an amazing 56% more in fact) than Arsenal before getting a yellow card against them.   Southampton can foul a lot more than Arsenal before getting a yellow card.

There are only two explanations.   Either Arsenal are a stunningly dirty team or the referees are biased against Arsenal in a way they are not biased against Southampton.

Now if Arsenal were indeed a stunningly dirty team, I would expect Match of the Day and Sky’s not very pro-Arsenal pundits to be commenting upon this all the time.  But they don’t.  Likewise, I would expect the print media to be covered in “dirty Arsenal” stories.  But they are not

So given that these are the officially agreed figures, which we pick up from WhoScored maybe this is an example of referees having it in for Arsenal.

3 Replies to “The Saints can put in 56% more tackles than Arsenal before getting a card”

  1. Curious…watching VAR award a penalty to Citeh. Yes, there was contact, no doubt. However, it seemed clear that the attacker straightened out his leg to ensure there was a lot of contact. That is to say his leg was not in a natural position a la Jamie Vardy. Can you award a penalty and a yellow for embellishment?

  2. I agree GGG. How both the VAR official and the referee can be fooled by Bernardo Silvas obvious ‘sticking out a leg sideways to ensure contact with the totally innocent defenders leg’ ploy is beyond comprehension. Reminded me of Hazard who regularly got away with a similar method of cheating when playing for Chelsea. Dear old Harry Kane does similar when jumping over the keeper; he always dangles a foot to ensure he gets contact and then goes over theatrically to win a penalty.
    Surely the refs, who one assumes are not all completely gullible or stupid, must know they are being conned if the average fan can see what is going on.

  3. What frustrates me lads is how the likes of Silva, and yes Kane, are defended rather than criticised on the basis they are being ‘clever’. What twaddle.

    We are sitting there watching it and seeing it for what it is. The pundits can see it for what it is. We can all see it for the exaggeration it is. We can all see it for the cheating it is. So that’s hardly being clever, is it?

    The fact the referees can’t see it says more about THEIR incompetence than how ‘clever’ the likes of Kane are.

    As for the pundits, as usual they point blank refuse to point the finger at the guys at the centre of this who get it wrong so many times, the officials.

    Yes, we all find it distasteful when a player tries to con the referee, but that’s what footballers do. They appeal for fouls when not touched. Corners they know aren’t theirs. If they were paragons of virtue we wouldn’t need officials, would we? It is THIER job to see what is and isn’t a corner. What is and isn’t a foul. What is and isn’t a penalty.

    I’m not saying it’s always easy but hey, my job isn’t easy, but I’m expected to get it right. And of course, now they have a chance to see it again from all angles, in slow motion, and STILL they get it wrong.

    When it comes to the pundits, as usual the last people they point the finger at are the officials.

    If they don’t like the player/team, he’s a ‘nasty little scroat ‘cheating’ his way to a penalty.

    If they do like the player/team, it’s that ‘clever old head’ ‘winning’ a penalty.

    And let’s be clear about this, this is not unique to football. In cricket, a gentlemen’s sport by all accounts, bowlers appeal for wickets they know full well are not out. But it’s up to the official to get it right. Batsmen don’t ‘walk’ when they’ve clearly got a ‘nick’, they wait for the official to make his call.

    In cricket, they accept that that’s the umpire’s/officials job. To make these calls. It’s up to them to get it right.

    Look I’d rather guys didn’t dive about, but they do, and they always will. And yes, it can leave a bad taste sometimes, but to me that is far less of an issue than the fact referees simply fail to see it when it is so obvious. For pities sake, surely t’s their job to differentiate between what is a foul and what isn’t? What is a dive and what isn’t? Just like it’s the umpire’s job to uphold an appeal from the bowler or not. Or to tell the batsmen that refused to walk he’s out. That’s his job.

    I also find it strange as to why we see nothing wrong with a bowler trying to con the umpire with a clearly frivolous appeal (attempt at cheating?) or a batsman chancing his arm by refusing to walk (another attempt at cheating?). Yet footballers are lambasted on a regular basis for doing the exact same thing.

    Like it or not it’s part of the game. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t need referees or umpire’s, would we? It’s up to the officials to get it right, and the sad fact is, that in football anyway, despite the additional aid of VAR, the officials simply get it wrong far far too often, and sadly nobody seems able, or willing to call them out for their incredible lack of competence, except of course us here on untold.

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