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Which team is holding all the cards… but would prefer not to?

Their percentage of cards per tackle is the worst in the Premiership

Are you convinced that referees and their assistants have ‘got it in for’ your favourite football team? That certain teams always get away with offences when pitched against you? Well, now we are able to settle the debate. If you are a fan of West Ham it seems you may have a valid point.

The stats in The Book, a new study by betting company BetVictor, has analysed the disciplinary records of Premier League teams over the past five seasons and found that West Ham grab the attention of officials the most, with the club receiving the lowest fouls per card ratio of any side in the top flight. 

West Ham players receive a card for every 5.48 fouls the team makes, with Burnley not far behind on a booking for every 5.64 fouls made. 

Interestingly, Arsenal have the third worst fouls per card ratio at a card for every 5.79 fouls, way ahead of their top six rivals.

At the other end of the spectrum, Liverpool commit the highest number of fouls for every caution at 7.72, with Jurgen Klopp’s men on average earning 10 fewer cards per season than any other regular opponent. Brighton are the only other side to commit over seven fouls before receiving a booking at 7.38, with Everton having the third best fouls per card ratio at 6.92.

Overall, Manchester United commit the most fouls per season compared with any other side in the division at 445.8 per season, while Liverpool and Manchester City commit the fewest at 367.6 and 367.8 respectively.

What of the other London teams? Fulham rank sixth on the list while Crystal Palace lie plumb in the middle with Chelsea right behind them. Three places further back you will find Spurs

The disciplinary records for all Premier League teams (except Leeds) over the past five full seasons can be found below.

TeamAverage cards per seasonAverage fouls per seasonAverage fouls per card
West Ham United68.8377.25.48
Burnley68.75387.755.64
Arsenal67.8392.85.79
West Bromwich Albion71.74275.96
Manchester City61.2367.86.01
Fulham704236.04
Aston Villa71.54416.17
Wolverhampton Wanderers664086.18
Manchester United71.8445.86.21
Crystal Palace67.24356.47
Chelsea58377.46.51
Sheffield United634106.51
Newcastle United61.75404.756.55
Tottenham Hotspur62.6411.26.57
Southampton64426.66.67
Leicester City57.43946.86
Everton61.8427.86.92
Brighton57420.67.38
Liverpool47.6367.67.72
*No data for Leeds United*
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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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