Arsenal v Leicester: are they still playing their old tricks?



By Bulldog Drummond

If you’ve been reading Untold awhile you’ll know that it was Leicester’s tackles, fouls and yellow card figures that tipped us off that there was something very funny going on with their approach to football.  And in fact there was also a second time that happened when they started getting so many penalties it looked like they were going to smash the all time penalty record.  

Of course we didn’t expect Untold’s publicity of both situations to have any impact – but it did, and whatever little arrangement Leicester had with the referees that oversaw their games came to an end.  The penalty situation was especially noticeable – for after our article (which pointed out exactly Leicester were picking up these penalties) either Leicester abandoned the procedure or else the referees woke up to it.

But interestingly, while Leicester had been getting virtually a penalty every other game, and then suddenly got no more, none of the media noticed – or if they did they chose not to mention it. 

So when we look at Leicester’s figures at the moment and we find them not particularly different from other clubs, it becomes clear that either Leicester have decided the old approach is no longer viable, or the notion among referees is that somehow they were allowing Leicester to get away with tackle after tackle after tackle, which other teams could not.

There was incidentally comment to the effect that Leicester had the best tackler in the league but that he was injured – hence the change in their numbers, and of course we checked, but the date of his injury and the date of the sudden change in their fortunes did not match. 

Now we have two oddball teams in the tackles and fouls tables, each at one of the extremes – Leeds with their “if it moves put in a tackle” approach and Manchester City’s “tackle only when there is absolutely nothing else you can do” vision.


Club Tackles pg Fouls pg Yellows pg
Arsenal home 19.2 10.2 1.36
Leicester away 18.3 10.0 1.50
Leeds United h/a 25.3 12.3 1.92
Manchester City h/a 13.2 8.8 0.88


Of course as ever the key to all this is the relationship between these three attributes of the game – the tackles per foul, tackles per yellow card, and fouls per yellow card.  Here are the numbers…   Data from WhoScored.


Club Tackles / foul Tackles ./ yellow Fouls/ Yellows
Arsenal home 1.88 10.2 14.12
Leicester away 1.83 10.0 12.20
Leeds United h/a 2.05 12.3 13.18
Manchester City h/a 1.5 8.8 15.00


In doing these little analyses we have seen time and again that the clubs that tackle a lot, get far fewer fouls against them per tackle – and so it is the case here – Manchester City get far more fouls called per tackle than Leeds United.   Leeds can also put in many more tackles before a yellow card is called.

But it is in the area of fouls per yellow card that Arsenal and Manchester City do better than their lesser rivals.  Arsenal at home can commit 14.12 fouls before being shown a yellow card.  Manchester City go one better.  But Leicester is having a harder time of it, getting cards much more readily.

And we can look at the league tables shows how the clubs compare.  PPG = points per game.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts PPG
3 Arsenal home 11 8 2 1 27 14 13 26 2.36
10 Leicester City away 12 4 0 8 21 28 -7 12 1.00


So in relation to all pointers, Arsenal are outplaying Leicester when the home / away position is taken into account.  Arsenal get 2.36 points per home game and Leicester 1 point per away game.  Arsenal’s goal difference is +13, Leicester’s is -7.

But who did Leicester beat?


Date Match Result Score
23 Oct 2022 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leicester City W 0-4
5 Nov 2022 Everton v Leicester City W 0-2
12 Nov 2022 West Ham United v Leicester City W 0-2
4 Feb 2023 Aston Villa v Leicester City W 2-4


But if we look at their games since Christmas we find that apart from that Villa away game the pickings have been poor.


Date Match Res Score
30 Dec 2022 Liverpool v Leicester City L 2-1
03 Jan 2023 Leicester City v Fulham L 0-1
14 Jan 2023 Nottingham Forest v Leicester City L 2-0
04 Feb 2023 Aston Villa v Leicester City W 2-4
19 Feb 2023 Manchester United v Leicester City L 3-0


It looks like it is Arsenal’s game to win.

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