Everton v Arsenal and the oddity of referee behaviour


Arsenal commit 21% more fouls than Man City, but get 84% more yellow cards!

By Bulldog Drummond

The more a club tackles, the fewer fouls per 10 tackles are awarded against it.  That is the week-by-week oddity of Premier League refereeing and encourages some clubs to tackle more and more.   (All referee-related data comes from WhoScored).

However, in 2019/20 PGMO turned on Arsenal and granted them 86 yellow cards, making them the most carded team.  In 2020/21 Arsenal cut out tackling and the card level was almost cut in half, with only three clubs getting fewer cards.   However, in 2021/22 the refs realised what Arsenal were up to and the number of cards was pushed up again as the club got 60 yellows.  This season looks like being the same – we are steady at around 13th in the yellow card table as the newer members of the squad get used to PGMO and their funny ways.

It appears that referees are not willing to allow Arsenal to reduce their yellow card level to that of Manchester City and so a compromise has been reached.   Arsenal are now down to 12.5 tackles a game on average   That is just around two thirds of the number of tackles that Everton make.   And so now it is Everton that suffers from extra attention from the referees.   

When it comes to yellow cards Arsenal are getting them at almost twice the rate of Manchester City.   And this is bizarre.  Arsenal are said to be committing 21% more fouls per game than Manchester City (according to referees) but as a result are picking up 84% more yellow cards than Manchester City, game after game.   Surely if Arsenal were 84% dirtier than Manchester City this would show up in the number of tackles and fouls.  But in both cases Arsenal are only 21% higher than Manchester City.

So to be clear: Arsenal commit 21% more tackles and 21% more fouls than MAnchester City, but in return get 84% more yellow cards!!!!   No wonder the media doesn’t want to talk about this sort of thing.  One could watch videos of Arsenal all day long but not find an explanation.

This is the background to our regular table that looks at tackles, fouls and yellow cards per game.


Club Tackles PG Fouls PG Yellow PG
Everton (P20) 18.3 9.3 2.1
Arsenal (P19) 15.1 10.3 1.74
Man City (P20) 12.5 8.5 0.95


So let’s see what the normal comparison table shows us.  Amazingly, given the statistics above, Arsenal and Manchester City commit the same number of tackles before each is called for a foul: on average 1.47 tackles before a foul is called.   Everton as we would expect given the figures above, get many more of their tackles called out as fouls.

But then the figures reg really weird.  Arsenal commit fewer (yes fewer) tackles than Everton, and 66% fewer than Manchester City to get a tackle called as a yellow.

In the end we can see the enormous bias here.   Almost twice as many Everton tackles are called as fouls than Manchester City.  Arsenal fares a little better but not much.


Club Tackles/Foul Tackle/yellow Foul/yellow
Everton 1.97 8.71 4.42
Arsenal 1.47 8.68 5.92
Man City 1.47 13.16 8.94


These figures are utterly bonkers.  Arsenal and Manchester City commit the same number of tackles before one of them is called as a foul.  Everton can get away with many more.

But then Arsenal and Everton have their tackles turned into yellow cards at the same rate, but Manchester City get in half as many tackles again before a yellow is shone.

The enormity of the difference between clubs is shown in the way that Manchester City so far have picked up just 19 yellow cards while Manchester United have got over two and a half times as many yellows.  I know Manchester United are a dirty team, but are they that dirty compared with their rich neighbours?

There is one other interesting statistic here.  Manchester City are fouled 9.4 times a game.  Arsenal players are fouled 11.5 times a game – almost 25% more.   Why are defenders going after Arsenal’s team so much more?  Everton players are only tackled 10.7 times a game.  Is this because Arsenal players are younger and thus more susceptible to retaliation?  I’ve got no evidence to back that up but at least it is an explanation.

For this game we can see Arsenal will get more yellow cards, but Everton will commit more fouls.  As they say, it truly is a funny old game.

5 Replies to “Everton v Arsenal and the oddity of referee behaviour”

  1. This weekend’s referee appointments are the following:

    Everton vs Arsenal
    Referee David Coote (yes, he who gave 2 of the most ridiculous officiating performances in FA Cup history)
    4th official Andy Madley (he who refused to give 2 blatant penalties and kept Dan Burn on the pitch)

    Man City vs Spurs
    Referee Andy Madley

    Pure coincidence of course, I mean the PGMOL would never put the same man on 2 teams of officials in matches involving the Premier League’s most likely champions, would they?

    Oh, wait…what’s that? Andy Madley refereed Man City vs Everton on New Year’s Eve, and then took charge of Arsenal vs Newcastle 3 days later?

    What are the chances of Paul Tierney doing Arsenal vs Man City on 15th February, considering he has refereed 3 of Arsenal’s 5 last defeats in domestic competitions?

    PS Mr Tierney is on VAR duties at Spurs on Sunday…

  2. Of course that is possible Silentstan, but since the game is there for all to see, to follow such an explanation there should be some evidence. We’ve compared Arsenal’s tackling with that of other clubs and can’t see the evidence, but if you want to do the analysis yourself and come up with an analysis I will certainly consider it for publication

  3. “Why are defenders going after Arsenal’s team so much more?”

    My suspicion would be because they know they have more of a chance of getting away with it!

  4. And, the elephant in the room is what about uncalled or overcalled fouls? In addition to ignoring official statistics, the PGMO and the media are happy to ignore the questions of the fans regarding controversial onfield decisions. The opaque nature of PGMO is as bizarre as it is frustrating. Untold’s attempt to have a group of referees ‘call’ the games (well done! Tony, Walter et. al) via the television some years back produced quite amazing and different results from the official results!

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