Friday, March 1, 2024

How many blue cards every Premier League team would have received in 2023/24

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Highlights

  • Blue cards, allowing referees to remove players from the field for 10 minutes, could be introduced to target tactical fouls and dissent in football.
  • Sheffield United, Liverpool, and Chelsea have received the most yellow cards for poor challenges and dissent this season, and would have received more blue cards than any other Premier League team if they were in use.
  • Manchester City and Arsenal have the fewest yellow cards and would have been the best-behaved teams if blue cards were present.


Football is an ever-changing sport, with new rules and technology like VAR being introduced over time. Some Premier League fans will argue that the latter being brought in is for the better, but many will tell you otherwise.

And a new idea has now been pitched and discussed, with blue cards in the beautiful game potentially coming soon. Reports emerged about the International Football Association Board (IFAB) approving the concept, with referees being given new discretion to deal with certain offences.

The concept would specifically target tactical fouls and dissent towards officials on the pitch, with refs having the power to remove an individual from the field of play for 10 minutes. Fans of rugby will already be familiar with the supposed ‘sin-bin’ rule, with football’s decision makers also hoping that it might have a similar effect on their own sport.

Related

How blue cards will work in football: Sin-bins and suspensions

A detailed guide of how blue cards will be introduced into football, looking at suspensions and the difference between blue and yellow cards.

With so many Premier League players booked for dissent this season, there would be no shortage of individuals spending time in the bin if blue cards had been present from the start of the current campaign. But which club would be the most affected by them?


Well, thanks to new data collected by The Athletic, fans are able to see a complete breakdown of how many yellow cards have been shown to teams for either dissent or cynical challenges during 2023/24. And going off the numbers, it’s safe to say referees would certainly have been kept busy.


Clubs with the most blue cards in 2023/24

Rank

Club

Yellow cards for dissent

Yellow cards for tactical fouls

Total blue cards shown

1.

Sheffield United

8

25

33

2.

Liverpool

9

22

31

3.

Chelsea

15

16

31

4.

Manchester United

13

17

30

5.

Fulham

14

16

30

6.

Aston Villa

5

24

29

7.

Everton

6

22

28

8.

Bournemouth

9

19

28

9.

Tottenham

10

17

27

10.

Wolves

10

15

25

11.

West Ham

9

16

25

12.

Newcastle

9

16

25

13.

Brighton

9

15

24

14.

Burnley

3

20

23

15.

Nottingham Forest

5

17

22

16.

Brentford

3

19

22

17.

Luton

3

16

19

18.

Arsenal

5

14

19

19.

Crystal Palace

6

12

18

20.

Manchester City

3

12

15

All data per The Athletic (Correct as of 12/02/24)


Sheffield United, Liverpool and Chelsea lead the way

Mauricio Pochettino’s side penalised most times for dissent

Chelsea's Nicolas Jackson is shown a yellow card against Wolves.

Sheffield United have had their fair share of struggles this season under Paul Heckingbottom and Chris Wilder, with the Blades failing to adjust to life back in the Premier League. Despite their 3-1 win over Luton Town, they still sit bottom of the division with 13 points. And had blue cards been present, then their struggles might have been even worse.

They have been shown the most yellow cards for either dissent or tactical fouls over the course of the season so far, with the vast majority of those being for poor challenges (25). That is perhaps indicative of their issues dealing with elite Premier League attacks, but they are only 11th for yellow cards shown for dissent.


The worst culprits for arguing with referees are Chelsea, who have been shown 15 yellow cards for that reason specifically, nearly as many as they’ve been shown for tactical fouls. Nicolas Jackson, Conor Gallagher, and a few others in the squad have seen yellow for backchatting to an official, with the former the most booked player for dissent. Mauricio Pochettino’s difficulties at Stamford Bridge would certainly be even more amplified were blue cards a thing this season.

Chelsea's Raheem Sterling is shown a yellow card

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are tied with the Blues for bookings, with the vast majority of those being for tactical fouls. Only Sheffield United and Aston Villa have committed more than the Reds in the league this season, who are also tied with Merseyside rivals Everton on 22.


Meanwhile, Manchester United aren’t far behind Liverpool and Chelsea, picking up 29 yellows which might have been blues instead. Captain Bruno Fernandes is their worst offender this season with seven bookings, and hasn’t been afraid to give referees stick over the years. He will be one player in Erik ten Hag’s squad who will be desperate for the new rule not to come in.

Most yellow cards in 2023/24 Premier League season

Player

Club

Yellow cards in 2023/24

Bruno Guimarães

Newcastle

9

João Palhinha

Fulham

9

Edson Alvarez

West Ham

8

Anthony Gordon

Newcastle

8

Nicolas Jackson

Chelsea

8

Mario Lemina

Wolves

8

Darwin Nunez

Liverpool

8

Christian Norgaard

Brentford

8

Stats from the Premier League website (Correct as of 12/02/24)

Manchester City and Arsenal among the best behaved

City have joint-fewest cards for dissent and fouls

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta claps

Unlike some of their ‘big six’ rivals, both Arsenal and Man City are comparatively well-behaved when it comes to bookings. Both teams have been shown the fewest yellow cards in the league this season, with the Gunners (37) just one behind their fellow title challengers.

However, Mikel Arteta’s side do slightly edge in front when it comes to hypothetical blue cards shown. Arsenal have been more guilty of both dissent and tactical fouls than City, and would have been shown blue on two more occasions for both counts than Pep Guardiola’s squad.


City, interestingly, are the best behaved team in the division, only receiving three bookings for dissent while only getting 12 yellows for tactical fouls. Considering that the Manchester outfit average more possession than any other team in the league (65.2% per game), it’s surprising to see them commit any tactical fouls off the ball at all. They are joint-lowest in that metric with Crystal Palace, who separate the Cityzens from Arsenal at the foot of the table.

Manchester City's Mateo Kovacic is shown a yellow card

Burnley, Brentford, and Luton also join City in seeing the fewest cards for dissent over the course of the season so far, with all four sides only picking up three at the time of writing. Vincent Kompany, Thomas Frank, Rob Edwards and Guardiola all look to have made a point to their squads of not starting pointless arguments with officials which result in needless bookings, although the three bottom-half sides all have work to do when it comes to tactical tackles.

Managers critical of blue card concept

Sin-bins have already been trialled in amateur and youth football in England and Wales, and the FA are considering trialling the concept in both the FA Cup and the Women’s FA Cup in 2024/25. It could have a net-positive impact on the game, especially considering how many cards have already been shown for dissent this season. However, managers have been less than enthused about blue cards coming to the Premier League, with many speaking out ahead of gameweek 24.

Ange Postecoglou’s harsh response on the matter went viral on social media, with the Tottenham boss stating that it could “destroy” football. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was similarly sceptical about the concept, arguing there was a need to keep things as simple as possible.

“I think the introduction of a new card would just give more opportunities to fail as well because the discussion will be: ‘It was a blue card, it should have been a yellow card, now he has 10 minutes off. In other times it would have been a red card, or would have been only a yellow.’ Whatever.”


Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp

Since the report, FIFA have downplayed the idea of a blue card coming to elite football any time soon, with the concept initially limited to lower league football. If it proves to be a success in those games, expect to see many of the Premier League’s players taking a short break on the sidelines during games in the future.

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