Surprises Galore – We Name Dirtiest Teams In The Premier League

Which Premier League team do you think fouls most frequently? Someone at the foot of the table, right? Strugglers who are so desperate, their defenders have no option but to foul?

 

No! Here’s why.

99% of all fouls happen when the opponent has the ball. So, when hunting for the really dirty teams, we need to focus on the ones who foul most frequently while the opponent has the ball. And here’s the surprise!

The really dirty teams are the so-called “Big 6”!

Manchester City, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. To beat the “Small 14”, these “Big 6” teams use two techniques. First, they dominate possession. Second, when they lose possession, they foul their opponents. Our investigation shows fouling is a vital part of the approach used every Premier League game by “Big 6” teams, first to climb to the top of the league, then to stop others from taking their spot.

In fact, the “Big 6” Foul To Win. And it works.

The “Big 6” club not only expects to win when it plays a “Small 14” club – it expects to dominate possession too. And, when the “Big 6” team fouls, it’s a thoughtful, premeditated action. Facts show that we see this executed week after week, year after year. So Foul To Win is a strategy, and results show it pays off.

 

IT’S ALL GONE QUIET OVER THERE

 

How come we never hear anyone talk about this strategy? I don’t imagine Pep or Klopp ever tell their boys to Foul To Win. Yet the facts tell us something very different – it’s what their teams repeatedly do, from kick-off to the final whistle. Numbers don’t lie.

So, all this foul play takes place in front of our eyes week after week, and what words are chosen to describe what we all see week after week? Journalists, managers, players, commentators and pundits happily pull out a phrase from a shortlist they share. You know these terms well.

The tactical foul, the professional foul, the cynical foul, even (unbelievably) what they call a “good” foul. And, when a player stops an opponent by deliberately sticking out a leg and gets a yellow card, he’s “taking one for the team”.

 

HOW DOES “FOUL TO WIN” WORK?

 

The objective is simple: stop opponents creating danger. If the “Big 6” team loses possession when they’re trying to dominate the game, they can very quickly concede a goal. The Foul To Win strategy reduces this risk dramatically. And, hey, the switch in advantage back to the “Big 6” team only takes a second.

A fast transition into possession by a “Small 14” team is dangerous, because it can easily result in a “Big 6” team having to defend a dynamic, free running fast-moving breakaway into their half where their defenders might be undermanned and/or out of position. All it takes to dramatically divert the natural course of the game is a simple foul. Momentum is destroyed. Risk is slashed. Now, the “Big 6” team is defending a free kick – a static situation, where all opponents are closely marked, and defenders are all located in optimal positions.

And, even if the foul attracts a yellow card, the risk of being reduced to ten men is a limited concern, as 5 substitutes are available and the technique of rotational fouling means players can – and do – take turns to stop their most dangerous opponents.

Foul To Win is a proven strategy because the numbers over the years show us that the most successful teams are the ones who foul most frequently when they’re out of possession.

 

WHO FOULS MOST FREQUENTLY WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE THE BALL?

 

This analysis of the last 5 Premier League seasons from 2017 to 2022 uses statistics published at FBref.com. This covers all 13 clubs who were Premier League members for all 5 seasons.

 

 

The Dirtiest Teams

Average Time In Possession Per Match

Average Time Out of Possession Per Match

Fouls Committed Per Match

When Out of Possession, Foul Committed Every

1

Man City

60 mins 7 secs

29mins 53 secs

10.23

2 mins 55 secs

2

Chelsea

54 mins 26 secs

35 mins 34 secs

11.77

3 mins 1 sec

3

Man United

49 mins 8 secs

40 mins 52 secs

13.03

3 mins 8 secs

4

Tottenham

49 mins 38 secs

40 mins 22 secs

12.32

3 mins 17 secs

5

Liverpool

55 mins 49 secs

34 mins 11 secs

10.37

3 mins 18 secs

6

Arsenal

50 mins 16 secs

39 mins 44 secs

11.93

3 mins 20 secs

7

Southampton

46 mins 1 sec

43 mins 59 secs

13.12

3 mins 31 secs

8

Brighton

45 mins 59 secs

44 mins 1 sec

13.04

3 mins 32 secs

9

Leicester

47 mins 7 secs

42 mins 53 secs

12.02

3 mins 34 secs

10

Everton

41 mins 55 secs

48 mins 5 secs

13.11

3 mins 40 secs

11

Crystal Palace

40 mins 54 secs

49 mins 6 secs

12.84

3 mins 49 secs

12

Newcastle

36 mins 5 secs

53 mins 55 secs

12.43

4 mins 20 secs

13

West Ham

41 mins 12 secs

48 mins 48 secs

11.14

4 mins 22 secs

 

IS THIS NEW?

 

Sadly not. As the figures show, it’s been going on for years.

 

DOES FOUL TO WIN PAY OFF?

 

Of course it does! The league table has the same clubs at the top as the Dirty Play tables! Money is the reward.

Teams at the top of the league (who are the dirtiest – see above) get the most prize money and the most TV money. And their players enjoy the fattest wages, the biggest bonuses and the most international recognition. Every one of the “Big 6” teams is owned either by a multibillionaire investor or by a National government or state fund.

 

FOUL TO WIN MAKES GAME PLANS EASIER

 

When “Big 6” teams sit down to devise a game plan, Foul To Win makes it all much simpler. Their objective is to spend as much time as possible as close to the opponent’s goal as possible. They do this by dominating possession. When the high press produces no new possession, Foul To Win will often be used. The high press squeezes the “Small 14” team close to their own goal. And, if they do manage to break out with the ball, a “Big 6” player will very often pull a shirt, grab an arm or chop their opponent down.

 

FOUL TO WIN MEANS THEY CAN BUY DIFFERENT PLAYERS

 

Foul To Win enables “Big 6” clubs to have a different player acquisition strategy.

They don’t have to buy the VERY best defenders, because – instead of relying totally on skill by defending with tackles and interceptions – a key element of their defensive play is to foul. So they don’t need the very best defenders – they have much more need for players who help them keep possession. Put another way, they need players who happen to be good at defending, but who are really really good on the ball.

So, in defensive positions, they don’t want out-and-out defenders; instead, they can afford to select in the back line men who are actually best in midfield. Cancelo at Man City is an excellent example – not a great defender, but a joy to watch going forward. Another example: in October, Pep Guardiola talked about Akanji, purchased as a centre-back: “We did just one training session [with Akanji as a full-back] and he got it, the movement you have to do as a full-back, the high pressing. And with the ball he’s a magnificent player.” Exactly.

 

WHY DO THE AUTHORITIES ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN?

 

I’m not screaming conspiracy, because I don’t believe there is one. It’s not an accident, though, and it’s not a coincidence. This article is 100% based on solid facts that repeat season after season. Foul To Win exists because managers, players, authorities, match officials and media all play a role in letting it happen – and letting it keep on happening.

 

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

 

The “Big 6” won’t change their strategy – it works too well, and they’ve been getting away with it for years.

It’s time for the Premier League and match officials to take real action (not words) to punish the crime properly.

Or should we examine an alternative?

 

TIME TO WAVE GOODBYE?

 

Last year, the “Big 6” wanted to leave the “Small 14” behind, by joining the so-called European Super League. Revolt by their English fans halted their plans, but it might just be temporary as the ESL hasn’t gone away.

The European Court of Justice will announced its verdict in a case against Uefa and Fifa, and although it went against the Super League clubs, this verdict may not reflect all of the cases that will be brought and where the future of the European Super League (possibly in a revised format) will be decided. If Uefa and Fifa lose any one of these cases, make no mistake. The “Big Six” will soon want to get their greedy snouts back in this brand new money trough.

If they try to play in both the Premier League and the ESL, they face a deduction of 30 points in the Premier League. So they might leave. And, if winning the Premier League means using “Foul To Win”, how much do we all care if they do leave?

Worldwide TV audiences for Premier League football would drop for a while, so TV rights income would also fall. But does that matter, especially if the “Small 14” don’t have to share this income with the “Big 6”? New winners and leaders will step forward, and the game they play will be cleaner and fairer. Honours will perhaps be spread more evenly. And the spectacle will soon be every bit as intriguing as it is now.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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