Sometimes, it feels like Arsenal don’t have to do much to pick up a card from the referee while opponents can murder at will with impunity.

Arsenal, as we’re repeatedly told, are a soft side, so it would stand to reason that they aren’t running about fouling teams all over the place even though it feels like the refs think they are.

As a fan, it’s so easy to get caught up in thoughts of officials being ‘out to get us’ and I know I fall prey to this more often than most.

But what do the stats actually say?

Arsenal have picked up a total of 52 yellows this season. Their opponents have received 72. That’s an average of 1.49 yellows per game for the Gunners and 2.06 for the opposition.

Yeah, I hear you shout, but I bet Arsenal players need fewer fouls to pick up a card, right?

Well, no.

Arsenal have given away 361 fouls this season, averaging 6.9 fouls per yellow. Our opponents? 372 fouls at a rate of one yellow per 5.2.

These stats are from all competitions, so what if it’s just a problem in the Premier League?

  • Arsenal yellows – 39
  • Opposition yellows – 55
  • Arsenal fouls per card – 6.23
  • Opposition fouls per card – 4.78

The Champions League makes interesting reading. Things are even better for Arsenal there, although somewhat skewed by that crazy ref in the Ludogorets away game that gave 23 fouls against us in one match:

  • Arsenal yellows – 8
  • Opposition yellows – 8
  • Arsenal fouls per card – 9.35
  • Opposition fouls per card – 6.88

FA Cup

  • Arsenal yellows – 1
  • Opposition yellows – 3
  • Arsenal fouls per card – 11
  • Opposition fouls per card – 6

EFL Cup

  • Arsenal yellows – 4
  • Opposition yellows – 6
  • Arsenal fouls per card – 8
  • Opposition fouls per card – 6

Home

  • Arsenal yellows – 23
  • Opposition yellows – 33
  • Arsenal fouls per card – 7.2
  • Opposition fouls per card – 5.6

Away

  • Arsenal yellows – 29
  • Opposition yellows – 39
  • Arsenal fouls per card – 7.2
  • Opposition fouls per card – 4.8

From all that data it’s quite clear that Arsenal get away with more fouls per card than their opposition. None of this, of course, takes into account the nature of the foul.

I’m didn’t look at red cards this season because Jon Moss and Granit Xhaka have just ruined any meaningful comparison that can be made there.

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