In this article…
During this article we walk through some stand-out EFL games across this weekend and our favourite EFL referee stats, conducting a deep-dive into those that we feel will be the most action-packed. There is plenty of value to be found in cards and fouls this week, so don’t miss out.
Across the first game week, 56 yellow cards were issued in the Championship, averaging just under 2.5 yellow cards per team, or five yellows a match. One of the standout games was the opener: Sheffield Wednesday v Southampton. Robert Madley awarded eight yellow cards this game, setting the precedent for a tight level of officiating across the opening weeks of the season with plenty of cards and fouls to come.
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Coventry v Middlesbrough: Dean Whitestone referee stats
Dean Whitestone is the man in charge of the first Championship game this week. Dean Whitestone’s referee stats average 21.39 fouls and 2.74 yellow cards per game. Compared to his other Championship officiators, such EFL referee stats are fairly minimal. However, across the last five games he was in charge of, Whitestone dished out a much higher average of five yellow cards per game.
During the last game between Coventry and Middlesborough, referee David Coote issued ten yellow cards. For reference, this was far above his career average of 3.79 yellow cards per game. This fixture historically produces a high amount of cards, with an average of 4.6 yellow cards over the last five bouts.
Coventry’s first game of the season was against newly relegated side Leicester. Five yellow cards were issued during this game. On the other hand, Middlesbrough’s first game was against Millwall, where four yellows were given.
We expect Whitestone to be busy Saturday afternoon, especially given the recent high-fouling form of both teams.
Bristol Rovers v Barnsley: Carl Brook referee stats
Carl Brook needs no introduction to League One, averaging over 24.5 fouls given throughout his career as a referee. In fact, Brook averages just shy of four yellow cards per game. However, Carl Brook’s referee stats don’t tell it all, as he appears to be on fire recently, awarding eight yellow cards during the game he officiated on Tuesday night. In fact, over his last five games, Brook awarded 26 yellow cards, two penalties and a red card.
Brook will have his hands full on Saturday given the past records of the two teams. The last time these two teams faced each other in March, there were five yellow cards and 22 fouls committed. Across the last four games between the two, the average yellows per game is 4.5.
Importantly, both teams are on high fouling form. Rovers received three yellow cards and committed 13 fouls in their opening game against Portsmouth. On the other hand, Barnsley saw six yellows during their opening game against Port Vale. This is particularly significant since Barnsley won 7-0 yet still somehow managed to be in the ref’s book six times.
Cardiff v QPR: Oliver Langford referee stats
There has been a rivalry between Cardiff and QPR recently, growing bigger as QPR’s main rivals in West London (Chelsea) are in a different league – meaning they rarely get the chance to play them. QPR fans claim the rivalry is also fuelled due to the two sides often clashing in promotion campaigns. Nonetheless, this fixture is a historically tasty one.
All this means that Oliver Langford will have a tricky job Saturday afternoon. Across these two fixtures last season, there were 12 yellows and a red card issued. Oliver Langford’s referee stats show an average of over three yellows a game, however, during the opening weekend of the Championship, officiating Huddersfield v Middlesbrough, he gave out a total of 55 booking points (three yellows and a red). We fancy him to potentially do the same again here in what’s likely to be a feisty affair.
Birmingham v Leeds: Tim Robinson EFL referee stats
Both teams had disappointing starts to their 2023/24 season, finishing their respective matches with a draw. Birmingham drew 1-1 away to Swansea, whilst newly relegated Leeds held off Cardiff at 2-2, scoring in dramatic fashion in the 95th minute.
Tim Robinson is the man in charge of this one. He consistently ranks in the top five referees for the most fouls given per game every season – with a career average of 23.57 fouls across 230 matches. Tim Robinson’s referee stats for cards are equally as significant, awarding an average of 3.63 yellow cards each game. Finally, Robinson does not shy away from giving reds, issuing the second most red cards last season, and having a career average of a red every five games.
The playing style of both teams fits the narrative presented by the ref’s stats; lots of fouls. Leeds averaged the highest fouls per game of any Premier League side last season with 12.3. Typically these came from a few usual suspects, including Junior Firpo, Wilfried Gnonto, and Tyler Adams. New signing, Ethan Ampadu, made a mark during his debut with Leeds by getting a yellow card – only adding to the potential for high fouls and bookings on Saturday.
There’s plenty of value to be had in Leeds cards – they are currently over evens to have the most cards in the match.
Ipswich v Stoke: Joshua Smith EFL referee stats
For the final game of our five picks, we return to a familiar face; Joshua Smith. Last week we picked Smith’s game out due to his high average fouls – at 23.71. The average for the league is just over 21.
Newly promoted Ipswich Town host Stoke City at Portman Road, and will look to build on their winning start against Sunderland last weekend. They also had success midweek against Bristol Rovers in the Carabao Cup and look to be a strong team this year.
In their opening game Ipswich received three yellow cards and committed 13 fouls – higher than their average last season of 11.2. Stoke’s opening game was equally as exciting in terms of cards. The Potters received five yellow cards against Rotherham.
From Joshua Smith’s referee stats it is clear that he is a ref who likes to take the game by the scruff of its neck and with two teams on high fouling form, we expect there to be plenty of cards issued Saturday afternoon.
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