The Big Premier League Yellow Card Guidebook - Part Two

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Premier League Yellow Card Guidebook - Part two

Our big Premier League yellow card stats guidebook continues!

We've gone from Liverpool to Wolves (alphabetical) and broken down which positional areas on the field pick up the yellow cards, against each specific club.

Missed part one? Take a read of it here.

Liverpool: Central Midfielders

Picking up where we left off, and the central midfielders are back on top, by quite some way for Liverpool too.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have looked a shadow of their former-selves this season, the red arrows are no longer flying, they’re stuttering and faltering along. A lack of energy and link-up across the frontline has seen a decline in opposing yellow cards at the back, leaving room for the CMs to top the charts.

Despite a drop in form, their 3 in the middle have not suddenly become an easy force to turnover. Curtis and Thiago in particular, both average 1+ dribble per game from the middle of the park, in an attempt to get their side further up the field. The duo are also prone to engage in the fiesty battles, making the central area the main focus, when Liverpool are playing.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 19
  • Centre-backs: 9
  • Forwards: 8
  • Right-backs: 5
  • Left-backs: 2

Manchester City: Central midfielders

With 46 to their name, no PL club has scored more open play goals this season than Manchester City. The league leaders have ran riot this campaign, reasserting their dominance at the top of the table.

Somewhat untouchable at times, Pep Guardiola's side have re-found their mojo, controlling the tempo of games from the middle, feeding into the final third. In fact, at 28%, no club averages a higher % of attacks through the middle of the park.

Their star man, Kevin de Bruyne, no doubt dictates such a style of play, but the Blues have a wealth of options to deal with, from an opponent's point of view. Guardiola demands his team to recycle and not force openings, seeing them have the majority share of possession in virtually all their games - they are the only PL club this season to average 60% plus of the ball.

Being forced to sit deep, it doesn't come as a surprise to see those opponents at the back pick up the bookings against City.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central Midfielders: 16
  • Centre-backs: 13
  • Forwards: 9
  • Right-backs: 5
  • Left-backs: 3

Manchester United: Central midfielders

When analysing Manchester United’s season, it would perhaps be most fitting to use the Gennaro Gattuso meme - sometimes good, sometimes maybe sh*t. Some may argue that this is a tad harsh, given their league standing, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have been hit and miss.

One thing that will always remain constant under the Norwegian’s leadership though, is the side’s counter attacking threat. The Red Devils enjoy hitting the ball in-behind, with the majority of their play flowing through Bruno Fernandes.

The Portuguese midfielder likes to be the advancing figure, popping up in those attacking pockets of space in the final third. Such a style of play translates to the opposing yellow cards, with the central figures racking up the bookings.

It is worth noting too, that the opposition forwards also like the odd card.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 17
  • Centre-backs: 13
  • Forwards: 10
  • Right-backs: 3
  • Left-backs: 3

Newcastle United: Central midfielders

Had Allan Saint-Maximin been fit the entire season, we are sure more right-backs would be higher up the list. The Frenchman is the beating heartbeat in a stagnant Newcastle side, which has struggled to create this season.

Despite a lack of productivity though, the cards have been racking up through the central zones. There isn’t *too* much to split the CMs and CBs, with the latter numbers dropping off during Callum Wilson’s absence from the side.

The arrival of Joe Willock will likely see an increase on the number of opposition CMs picking up a card, with the lively midfielder injecting some energy through the lines.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 15
  • Centre-backs: 12
  • Forwards: 7
  • Right-backs: 5
  • Left-backs: 3

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Sheffield United: Forwards

As you can tell at first glance below, Sheffield United’s opponents don’t tend to rack up the cards. A team struggling at the bottom, this is usually the case, with the South Yorkshire side rarely seeing the lions share of possession. Spending the majority of games without the ball leaves the Blades chasing games, as seen through their 55 yellow cards received this season - no club has more.

With their 3-5-2 set-up though, they tend to invite pressure on themselves. This is the case both home and away, due to the lack of crowds, and opponents have fancied themselves in near enough every match-up. The opposing frontmen like to press high on the centre-backs, seemingly leading onto a few cautions along the way.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Forwards: 11
  • Central midfielders: 6
  • Centre-backs: 5
  • Left-backs: 3
  • Right-backs: 2

Southampton: Central midfielders

The forwards’ numbers have started to pick up in the second part of our guidebook. From Southampton’s perspective, they come in second behind the central midfielders.

Operating with the orthodox 4-4-2 formation, teams clearly feel obliged to try and push on and pin the Saints back. Although their defensive double pivot are effective in soaking up the danger, there are spaces to exploit at St Marys. The defensive numbers are low for opponents, with the pressing players taking the top spots for the cards.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 17
  • Forwards: 11
  • Centre-backs: 7
  • Left-backs: 5
  • Right-backs: 5

Tottenham: Central Midfielders

From looking at the number of cards distributed, it’s as though Christmas is all year round in North London. So far this season, no club’s opposition has received more booking points than Tottenham’s.

The CMs may find their names on top of the cards received again, but the forwards and CBs aren’t too far behind either.

When Spurs are in the mood, they are able to carve open any defensive line. With Harry Kane dropping deep and his partner in crime Heung Min-son making runs in behind, defenders will be punished for holding a high-line. If they don’t, they invite pressure onto themselves.

Alongside Villa, they are only the second club in the league to have a 20+ figure, from opposition areas picking up the yellows.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 21
  • Forwards: 18
  • Centre-backs: 17
  • Left-backs: 6
  • Right-backs: 3

West Brom: Central midfielders

The main takeaway from West Brom’s numbers is certainly the number of right-backs cautioned - only Everton’s opponents had picked up more down this channel.

Matheus Pereira certainly plays his part in this regard, averaging 1.2 dribbles and being fouled 1.6 times per game. The tricky Brazilian is often a handful down the Baggies’ left flank, making it worthwhile seeing which RB he is facing up against.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 11
  • Forwards: 9
  • Right-backs: 8
  • Centre-backs: 8
  • Left-backs: 5

It’s worth noting that the cards aren’t flashed too often when West Ham are in action - both for and against.

Those in the middle appear to be more suspect, although the value could again lie with the opposition’s frontline. This isn’t just exclusive to the pressing wingers either, with the likes of Ashley Barnes and Alexandre Lacazette being cautioned against the Hammers this calendar year.

Although it’s hard to predict such individual players, due to their lack of individual bookings, it could be worth a value punt in selecting a number nine to get in the book. West Ham average a low 77% pass success rate in the Premier League this season, so perhaps opposition managers are trying to catch them out at the back.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 12
  • Forwards: 8
  • Right-backs: 5
  • Centre-backs: 5
  • Left-backs: 3

Wolves: Central Midfielders

Before beginning the research on Wolves, I was predicting the left-backs to be relatively high, simply due to the force of nature that is Adama Traore. The winger averages an astonishing 4.2 dribbles per game, with 41% of Wolves’ attacking play coming down the right-hand side (the highest in the division).

Although the LB number does not stick out as an obvious ‘go to’ area, it is worth noting that a number of CBs that are cautioned, come from their own left channel. Dan Burn is an example of one of the defenders trying to cover the space in-behind, only to bring the pacy forward down. In doing so - he landed us an 18/1 YourOdds selection!

As the most dominating aspect of this guide, it feels only right to see the CMs finish us off by ranking on top again. However, when Adama looks in the mood, you would fancy a couple of fouls down his flank.

Opposing positional yellow cards:

  • Central midfielders: 17
  • Centre-backs: 13
  • Forwards: 8
  • Right-backs: 5
  • Left-backs: 5
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