Revealed: Which Top 4 Premier League Club Is In The Pocket Of Referees

Every season you hear the same statements being thrown about: “Manchester United get all the cards,” “The referees are in Sir Alex’s pocket” and so on. So I’ve taken a look at a breakdown of how cards were given and received by Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion.

I chose these teams as they’re the last three champions of the league, because Arsenal fans would probably kill me for not including them in this breakdown and West Brom being the team that finished 10th last season and representing the mid-table sides. I’ve gone through the last 48 games, one by one, to deliver this breakdown and make it as accurate as possible.

So let’s start with the breakdown of cards that have been given to opponents of the teams that I’ve previously mentioned.

Team YC RC SRC TC G1C MCG CPG
Arsenal 104 8 5 112 41 38 2.3
Chelsea 82 3 2 85 41 28 1.77
Manchester United 72 10 4 82 41 25 1.7
Manchester City 74 2 2 76 37 21 1.58
West Brom 60 4 4 64 36 16 1.33

SRC: Straight Red Card TC: Total Cards G1C: Games with at least one card MCG: Multiple Card Games CPG: Cards per Game

As you can see just by the total number of cards given, Arsenal have by far and away the most cards given to opponents, while Chelsea and United are in a close battle for second followed by City in fourth and West Brom a very distant fifth.

But why does Arsenal get so many cards, particularly yellow cards, given to their opponents? For the amount of time that Arsene Wenger spends talking ill of the referees, it can’t be that he has any sort of influence over the officials. As you may have heard on the EPL Talk Podcast, Kris Heneage made a very good point in stating that Arsenal are a side with many technical players. In a league where strength and speed are at the forefront, technical players tend to be on the receiving end of their fair share of fouls.

Just looking at a team like West Brom, who don’t necessarily have the same amount of purely technical players in the team, you can see the drop off in total cards. The other thing one might notice when looking at this table is that Manchester United’s opponents have received 10 red cards. Even though it isn’t very far from Arsenal’s total red card tally, it’s miles ahead of the other three teams in the table. To average it out, Manchester United have played nearly 1/5 of their games against 10 men or less. That is a HUGE advantage when you take into account a team of United’s quality and perceived advantage going into a game against any full squad. Then to look at a team like Manchester City, who themselves have a fair number of technical players, to be as far away as they are from the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and United, is almost mind boggling.

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