According to CIES Football Observatory, Arsenal have the worst foul frequency rate in Europe’s top-five leagues.
Remember when everybody under the sun called Arsenal a soft side? Things have been quiet on that front since Arsene Wenger left the club, but not a lot has changed with respect to the physical side of our game.
Arsenal still struggle to compete when challenged physically and the latest statistic shows that we are too afraid to challenge teams ourselves.
The Gunners average a foul once every 10 minutes and 44 seconds. That is the least frequent among clubs from Europe’s top-five leagues, and the fourth worst when teams from all 31 European domestic leagues are taken into account.
When you compare that to the number of red cards we’ve received this season, it makes things a whole lot depressing.
Arsenal have to be smarter
One of the most annoying things our opponents do against us is break play up by fouling our players. That disrupts our rhythm and momentum going forward, which makes scoring a lot more difficult than it should be.
When the roles are reversed, Arsenal aren’t big fans of committing intelligent fouls to break play up. We often let our opponents run the length of the pitch without any real obstruction, and that makes it really easy for them.
Matheus Pereira’s goal at the Emirates earlier this month is a perfect example of that. Three Arsenal players had the chance of bringing him down, but all three of them decided against doing that. As a result, he punished us with a brilliant goal.
Arsenal have to learn how to upset the rhythm of our opponents. Slowing the game down is one way of doing it, but that’s not always in our hands, especially in games where we sit back and defend for our lives like we did against Chelsea last week.
Mikel Arteta would’ve seen Fernandinho commit fouls after fouls just to disrupt the opponents’ momentum at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side became a lot more successful because of that, and the Arsenal boss should take that leaf out of his mentor’s book.
Being ranked as the team with the worst foul frequency rate in Europe’s top-five leagues makes us look good on paper, but it’s not how the modern game works. That has been a major problem this season – hopefully, Arteta will change that going forward.