One of the biggest frustrations of the game on Tuesday night was the constant flailing of the Ludogorets players.
Every time an Arsenal player got near them they hit the deck. And the Dutch referee, Bas Nijhuis, bought it.
It seemed to me that the ref was hell bent on doing what he could for them while ignoring a series of fouls against Arsenal, mostly on Alexis, in a manner we’ve often seen but never really been able to prove.
So, I decided to look at the stats for the season – how many fouls have Arsenal been given and how many have they given away, and how did the games against Ludogorets stack up.
The results were illuminating.
Excluding the two games v Ludogorets (and the League Cup games), Arsenal have given away 128 fouls, an average of 9.9 per game.
Excluding the same games, they have been given 10.1.
So close, it hardly makes any difference really.
Over the course of the season so far, Arsenal have been fouled marginally more than they foul (or, at least, in terms of decisions actually given).
In 14 games, Arsenal have made more fouls than the opposition in eight matches which I found surprising. Five of those eight have been games away from home, and one of the home games was against Ludogorets.
In the home game, which Arsenal won 6-0, Arsenal ‘committed’ 12 fouls, above their season average by almost 20%. They received just five in return, an almost 50% drop in what they normally get.
But this is nothing compared to the game on Tuesday night when the referee awarded them an astonishing 23 freekicks to Arsenal’s 10.
That’s more than double Arsenal’s season average. A full 127% increase.
In previous games this season, the highest total Arsenal reached in fouls given against them is 13, yet this referee saw them apparently commit 23 in Bulgaria while the hosts committed 10.