On this week’s Daily Cannon Weekly podcast, episode 215, host Matthew Wade took some time to discuss the yellow cards stats an article on the site threw up after the game against Manchester United, showing how unfairly Arsenal are being treated.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Players react towards the match Referee Kevin Friend during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on September 30, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 30: Players react towards the match Referee Kevin Friend during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on September 30, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

There’s a story on the Daily Cannon website this week which some of you may have seen, and, if you haven’t, it’s worth a very quick gander.

Long-time listeners will know that I complain bitterly about English referees in a way that makes me sound like a biased, stuck record and, perhaps, like a complete idiot.

However, looking at the bookings figures so far from this season in the Premier League [that you can see in that link above], Arsenal receive a booking every 3.2 fouls.

That means Arsenal get yellows more easily than any other team in the Premier League.

Arsenal have actually received more than four times the number of bookings as Brendan Rodger’s Leicester City, despite the fact that they’ve committed 10% fewer fouls.

The nearest to us in terms of fouls per booking are Bournemouth on 4.4 fouls per booking, Chelsea are not far behind either with United.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Granit Xhaka and Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal appeal to referee Anthony Taylor as he awards Watford a penalty during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Arsenal FC at Vicarage Road on September 15, 2019, in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
WATFORD, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 15: Granit Xhaka and Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal appeal to referee Anthony Taylor as he awards Watford a penalty during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Arsenal FC at Vicarage Road on September 15, 2019, in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Then, right down the bottom of the scale, you’ve got Liverpool with 10.2 and Leicester with nearly 15 fouls per booking.

So, when you consider about half of the Premier League has to commit twice as many fouls to get a yellow card as an Arsenal player, perhaps there is something to the fact that not all teams are refereed equally.

I will confess that Granit Xhaka and one or two others do love getting a cheap booking that can’t really be argued with for silly foul.

Either way, this is a trend that has been on and off for the majority for the last 15 years.

At one stage, there was a website doing very detailed analysis about refereeing decisions, refereeing mistakes, bookings, what have you, and I was keeping a firm eye on that. And ultimately, it’s not as much as it was when we were truly challenging but there was a point when it was Arsenal and Man United neck-and-neck and the disparity between the outcomes of refereeing decisions was extraordinary

Obviously VAR now helps for the offsides,as we saw at Old Trafford.

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Hopefully, it will also help with straight red cards.

However, the way it appears to be being implemented in the Premier League, where they are scared of making the same mistakes as have been made in other leagues in terms of it being too imposing and too involved in influencing the decisions, they seem to be really going the other way

Apart from offsides, it’s had really really little influence in terms of overturning refereeing decisions, particularly mistakes.

Of course, it doesn’t help that VAR or retrospective analysis cannot be used when it comes to yellow cards, so if a referee just wants to give lots of your players two yellows, there’s nothing you can do about it under the current rules, even if they’re all entirely spurious.

If we thought Maitland-Niles was a bit unlucky against Aston Villa, there’s plenty of opportunities for players to be much more unlucky than that going forward, particularly, as I say, because we get booked far more often for the same offences as any number of other teams, including the ones renowned for heavy-handed tactics like Burnley.