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The return of the Premier League means football is well and truly back, and we have you covered with a preview of every single game from a refereeing stats POV.
We have combed through the Premier League referee stats for this weekend, all to find the very best betting angles for you. As the EFL and the Community Shield showed last week, there will be more minutes played, and more cards handed out than ever before in English football, so considering the referee stats has never been more important for your punting.
Burnley v Man City: Craig Pawson referee stats
Craig Pawson is the man in the middle for this one, and his 5 games this season see him handing out 4.6 cards per game, way above his career average of 3.61; showcasing the effects of the new rules surrounding kicking the ball away and otherwise wasting time.
Burnley’s manager Vincent Kompany was no stranger to a card during his time as a player in the Premier League, and it is his side we should look towards here.
Despite being runaway winners of the Championship last season, and dominating the ball with well over 60% possession in most games, Burnley still picked up yellow cards at a shade under 2 per game, while Man City and Arsenal, last season’s top 2 in the Premier League, saw 1.16 and 1.34 cards per game by contrast. This tendency to earn more cards than you may expect will only increase this year as they are forced to defend more, and run down the clock as they fight for every point available.
Burnley will be fired up at home in their first game back in the top flight, and over 3.5 cards is priced very generously at 1.66. City had two competitive games against last season’s Championship winners Fulham, which saw 4 and 7 cards respectively, and high numbers here again tonight would not be a surprise.
Arsenal v Nottingham Forest: Michael Oliver referee stats
Last season’s runners-up Arsenal kick off a bumper Saturday, hosting Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest, the team who put paid to Arsenal’s title hopes with a 1-0 win at the City Ground last season. Forest will be aiming to avoid the infamous second-season syndrome which plagues newly-promoted sides, whilst a reinforced Arsenal side are hoping they can sustain their title-contending form throughout the entire campaign this year.
A quick look at Michael Oliver’s referee stats shows that he has been awarding way over his usual rate this season. Oliver is usually one of the more lenient referees, but his six games so far this season have seen his average near double, from 3.29 to 6.17.
Only Wolves saw more cards per game than Forest last season, so cards for the visitors seem near certain here. One player to look out for is Neco Williams, who commits 1.5 fouls per game, and will be tasked with handling Martinelli, who draws more fouls than any other regular starter for Arsenal besides Bukayo Saka. Williams only saw 30 minutes of action against Arsenal last season, but sits at odds of around 3.75, simply too good to ignore if you are planning a bet builder here.
Bournemouth v West Ham: Peter Bankes referee stats
One of the four Saturday 3 o’clock kick-offs, Peter Bankes will take charge at the Vitality Stadium, in a game to avoid for card bets. No side received fewer cards than West Ham last season, whilst Bournemouth sat in the middle of the pack, and not only did both sides not pick up many cards, their opponents didn’t either, with the two sides second and third-from-bottom in terms of cards given to their opposition in 2022/23.
The line is suitably low, at just 3.5, but there is still value to be found in backing the under at evens. Both games between these sides last season came in at under 3.5 cards, and both sides rank near the bottom of the division in both fouls committed and drawn. Despite Peter Bankes’ referee stats giving him the highest career average (4.02 per game) of any referee on duty this weekend, cards here should be hard to come by.
Brighton v Luton: David Coote referee stats
Second of four 3pm kick-offs is the return of Luton, the first club to have gone from the top flight football to non-league and made it back again. Their story may be incredible, but they will need to take inspiration from Brighton if they are to survive and thrive on such a small budget in the Premier League.
David Coote is your referee here, and he instantly stands out, handing out 3.79 cards per game, the second most of any referee active in the Premier League this weekend. Luton picked up plenty of cards in the Championship last season, and a tricky assignment away to Brighton has all the hallmarks of a game spent chasing shadows for the Hatters.
No side saw more cards for their opposition than Brighton last season, with 2.42 opposition cards per game on average, way more than anyone else. Luton’s 93 bookings last season put them well into the top-half of last season’s Championship in that metric, and we should expect that number to increase this season. Two of the three promoted sides last season saw three yellows awarded on their trips to the AMEX, and backing Luton to receive over 2.5 cards looks like a good option here.
Everton v Fulham: Stuart Attwell referee stats
Also at 3pm on Saturday, we have Fulham making the trip to Goodison Park to face Everton. Stuart Attwell is the referee here, and his performance in the Community Shield showed exactly why bookings are likely to increase this season, with Thomas Partey and Julian Alvarez both picking up first-half bookings for kicking the ball away before a free-kick.
Both Everton and Fulham received plenty of bookings last season, both comfortably topping 2 per game, enough to see both in the top-half of the league. Despite neither scoring particularly highly in terms of fouls drawn or conceded, their two games last season saw 4 and 5 cards respectively, which makes an over 4.5 card pick here seem very appealing at 1.83.
Look out for cards in the midfield, with both Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gana Gueye ranking highly for fouls within the Everton squad (both around 1.5 per game), whilst Fulham’s Sasa Lukic is able to draw 2 fouls per game. Choosing one of Onana or Gueye to pick up 2 or more fouls may be a nice option for a bet builder.
Sheff Utd v Crystal Palace: John Brooks referee stats
When researching the Premier League referee stats for this weekend, an immediate standout game was this clash at Bramall Lane. Newly promoted Sheffield United, despite winning promotion, saw over 4 cards per game on average, as did today’s visitors, Palace. The referee for this one is John Brooks, the least experienced official to feature this weekend. Brooks is extremely card happy, brandishing just under 4 per game, his 3.75 per game the third highest of any ref this gameweek.
Sheffield United look like they could really struggle here, and with Palace seeing more cards awarded to their opponents than all but Arsenal and Brighton last season, it is no real surprise that the card line is sitting at 5.5. However, on closer inspection, there may be good value in backing the under on this card line.
Sheffield United had 12/46 games go over this line last season, but their opponents had 3 or more cards in all but one of these games, something which seems unlikely for Palace today. Palace were shown more than 2 cards in only one of their six games against newly-promoted sides, and are without both Wilfried Zaha and Michael Olise, who won the most fouls of any regular starter for the club last season. Without those two, expect foul numbers to plummet here, and the cards to stay in John Brooks pocket.
Newcastle v Aston Villa: Andy Madley referee stats
Our final Saturday game should be a corker, with both clubs about to embark on European adventures for the first time in over a decade. Andy Madley is the ref here, and despite him giving fewer cards than any other Premier League referee, he will almost definitely be forced to reach into his pocket here, with Villa picking up and drawing over 2 cards per game, and Newcastle also drawing over 2 a game.
The midfield battle looks like the place to watch here, with no Newcastle player drawing more fouls than Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes, who gets into these battles more than any other player in the famous black and white stripes. Meanwhile, Villa’s midfield is full of technicians who excel at drawing fouls, with McGinn topping the chart with over 2 per game, closely followed by Buendia and Luiz at around 1.5 each. Guimaraes is sitting at 4.33 to be booked, and looks like an excellent value opportunity here.
Brentford v Tottenham: Robert Jones referee stats
The first game on Sunday sees Tottenham make the short trip to west London to face Brentford. Robert Jones will take charge here, and when looking at the Premier League referee stats, he stands out for his reluctance to brandish cards, his 3.25 per game the second-lowest of any ref involved this weekend.
Brentford games have few cards in general, averaging just over 3 per game, whilst Spurs games tended to be a little more feisty, sitting at around 4 per game. However, as their recent friendly against Barcelona demonstrated, under Ange Postecoglu, they will be more expansive in possession and should dominate the ball for longer periods. This in turn will reduce their card numbers from last season, as they will have less defending to do.
The card line for this game sitting at 4.5 simply looks way too high. Brentford commit few fouls, and Tottenham draw the fourth-least in the division, so the cards are likely to come mostly from Spurs. Backing the under, or Spurs to receive more cards both look like good options here.
Chelsea v Liverpool: Anthony Taylor referee stats
The first Super Sunday of the season sounds great on paper, but these two sides have recently had a nasty habit of producing goalless draws, a run which now stretches back four straight games between the two clubs.
Anthony Taylor will referee this one, and he is another who stood out when researching these Premier League referee stats. Taylor usually sits in the middle of the pack, his 3.55 cards per game only slightly above the league average, however in 6 games this term, this has rocketed up to 6 cards per game.
The obvious candidate for a card in this game is Conor Gallagher. The English midfielder makes by far the most fouls in this Chelsea squad, racking up 2 per game. Backing him to make two fouls in a bet builder looks like a good option, but consideration should be given to backing him to be carded, as he will be up against new signings Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, who draw 1.78 and 1.43 fouls per game respectively. Gallagher could easily get drawn into a midfield battle, and a booking for the combative central midfielder may well follow. You could also back him to commit 2 or more fouls as part of a bet builder.
Man United v Wolves: Simon Hooper referee stats
The final game of the weekend in the Premier League sees Wolves traveling to Old Trafford. Simon Hooper presides over this one, and though his personal stats are underwhelming, showing just 3.29 cards per game, these are two sides who picked up plenty of cards last season. Their two games last season saw 4 and 5 cards respectively, and both sides averaged over 2 cards per game over the course of the season.
However, with Wolves likely to be in a state of disarray after Lopetegui’s departure less than a week before their opening game, this could well become a stroll for United. If so, bookings become much less likely, especially for the hosts. Furthermore, United had just a single booking in last season’s home game against Wolves. Taking all this into consideration, backing United to have under 1.5 cards here at 2.25 looks like a great value play.
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