Fulham - No Love from the Officials!
Perusing the internet yesterday afternoon, I came across Martin Tyler's blog on SkySports.com.
One of the topics discussed was discipline handed out against opponents for each Premier League club; in so many words, which clubs are most protected by the officials.
This has been a hot topic since the Ryan Shawcross tackle that left Aaron Ramsey with a badly broken leg, and Arsene Wenger's reaction suggesting that Arsenal was not sufficiently protected from the rough tactics of 'lesser' Premier League opposition.
The statistics reported by Mr. Tyler, compiled by Opta, painted a fairly interesting picture. To begin, in stark contrast to Mr. Wenger's claims, it appears that Arsenal are actually one of the more protected sides, with the club ranking second in opposition bookings.
Manchester City lead the way with the most yellow cards handed out to opponents.
Fulham were tied with Bolton in eighteenth, with only Wolves having fewer opposition players booked.
Another interesting perspective was the analysis of the number of fouls committed by the opposition before the first booking was handed out.
Fulham topped the list!
Fulham players are fouled on average to ten times before the first yellow is bestowed on the opposition. Again, Manchester City were the beneficiaries of the least number of fouls committed by opponents before first booking with just under six fouls on the average.
As to be expected, the general trend suggests that teams with the most individual talent, not necessarily the best clubs, draw the most opponent bookings.
Simply put, individuals with superior talent frustrate the opposition and draw more (and harder) fouls. I make the distinction between individual talent and overall success of the club, because as it turns-out, Chelsea (in contrast to Man United, Man City, Arsenal and Spurs) are fourth in the number of fouls received before the first opposition booking and tied for fourteenth for overall yellow cards handed out to opposition players.
Somewhat surprising is the fact that Wigan sit tied for fourth in opposition bookings and just below (or above, depending on your preferred phrasing) Manchester City in fewest fouls received before the first opponent booking.
Both of these facts suggest that it's not just a simple matter of the big clubs being protected and the little clubs being assaulted with pick-axes before the official render assistance (though it does feel that way). The beauty of statistics is that with a little work you can make them say anything that you wish, so without further ado, I'll spin these numbers to suit my ends and make the following blanket declaration:
PREMIER LEAGUE OFFICIALS HATE WEST LONDON!
Ah! That feels better.
If you'd like to review the numbers for yourself, here's the link: http://www.skysports.com/opinion/story/0,25212,12038_6012066,00.html