Stat Attack: Premier League bookings, red cards and referees

With the Premier League nearly a quarter of the way through (already!) and an international break upon us (again!), here at bwin we’ve decided this represents an ideal opportunity to take a look at some of the trends of the season so far from a betting perspective. With this article focusing on discipline, we have found some interesting statistics on West Ham United, Norwich City, Stoke City, Fulham, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers.

Join bwin here now to place free bets of up £20 on any Premier League market!

As you may have noticed, bwin’s weekly Counting Cards feature has proved popular with punters, with last weekend’s column tipping up two winners out of three selections for the second time in three weeks. But who are the main offenders when it comes to getting into trouble with the officials? Which teams are squeaky clean? And which referees are more likely to get their cards out of their pocket? Read on to find out…

Main offenders

Sometimes, statistics can disprove a myth and go against perceived wisdom. At other times, all they do is reinforce what you thought you already knew. A look at the table for most yellow cards received in the Premier League in 2012/13 certainly does the latter.

As much as it may play to stereotype, Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United are the team who have received the most yellow cards so far this season, picking up 18 bookings in seven Premier League games. A mixture of agricultural play – midfielder Mark Noble has made the most tackles in the division (34) – dissent and time-wasting tactics have led to that high total. It could be a longer term trend, too, with only six teams in the Championship last year receiving more yellow cards than the Hammers’ 73.

West Ham’s total of 18 is two more than closest rivals Aston Villa, who have been booked 16 times. Paul Lambert’s team were only booked twice in their first two games of the season, meaning they have picked up 14 yellow cards in five matches. Again, this could be a trend, as only Chelsea were booked more often than the Villans last term.

Perhaps unsurpisngly, Stoke City are third in the list with 15 bookings, while Everton’s Maroune Fellaini has committed the most fouls of any player – 24.

The Good Guys

I don’t know if there is any correlation between the number of bookings a team receives and how well they perform over the course of a season (comparative to expectations) but it may be of concern to Norwich City manager Chris Hughton that while his team remain winless, they also top the fair play table when it comes to yellow cards.

The Canaries have only been booked twice in seven games all season (Jonny Howson away at Newcastle and Leon Barnett against Liverpool), which is quite a remarkable statistic. Whether this means they are doing anything wrong – are they getting close enough to opponents? Are they defending robustly enough? – is difficult to ascertain and is the subject of another debate, but at the moment where Norwich go yellow cards do not follow: there have only been seven bookings in the seven league matches Norwich have played this season.

Fulham are another side who have escaped the officials’ wrath, with Martin Jol’s team booked just four times so far this season. None of those bookings have come in their three home matches, and there has only been one booking at Craven Cottage all season, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany.

Talking of City, they and Arsenal have been shown a yellow card on just six occasions in their seven fixtures, with the Gunners not receiving a booking in four of their seven games.

Red Cards

There have been just ten red cards brandished in the 138 Premier League games played so far this season, an average of one every 13.8 matches. Liverpool and Swansea have been given two each, with Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic and Stoke given the other six. Last season, there were 66 sending-offs in 760 games (QPR accounted for nine of those) at an average of a red card every 11.51 games, which suggests there could be a few more sides going down to 10 men as the season progresses.


We all know referees have an unenviable job, with constant criticism from managers and players trying to cheat combining to undermine their efforts over the course of 90 minutes. But as we also know, sometimes they really don’t help themselves. So who are the most card happy refs in the Premier League?

This will come as no surprise, but Martin Atkinson tops the list of bookings for refs who regularly officiate in the top flight, with 30 yellow cards shown in eight matches at an average of 3.75 a game. That said, there are refs with a higher average of bookings per match: Phil Dowd has booked 29 in seven games (4.14 a game), Mark Clattenburg 24 in six (four a game) and Lee Mason 23 in six (3.83 a game).

At the other end of the scale, Andre Marriner has booked just ten players in five matches, Andrew Taylor 12 in seven and Mark Halsey 11 in six, although Halsey has shown two red cards.

An interesting one to keep your eye on is Chris Foy. The Merseyside official has been inexplicably banished to League Two since officiating the Manchester United v Tottenham fixture (what he did wrong other than not award a penalty for an incident he didn’t have a clear view of and fail to give Sir Alex Ferguson all the injury time he wanted is unclear) but he has booked just eight players in seven games. If he ever gets reinstated to the Premier League, bear that in mind.

Only time will tell whether the trends identified here will continue over the course of the season. But they certainly appear worth bearing in mind, not least on the Premier League’s return on October 20th when repeat-offenders Aston Villa travel to Craven Cottage to take on the comparatively saint-like Fulham. What price the Villans to be booked more times than Martin Jol’s men?

New customers can register here to claim a free £20 bet or click here to see all our Premier League odds.

Follow us on Twitter @bwin