Premier League Fouls Sheet
Manchester City v Newcastle United
Manchester City will be hoping to do what only Liverpool have managed to do this season and come away from a league game against Newcastle United with three points.
The visitors have won one and lost one of their last seven, their hopes of a top four finish damaged by too many draws since returning from the World Cup break. City, meanwhile, have struggled to put the kind of winning run together that has often seen them blow their competition away in the race for the title but they have the chance to win back-to-back matches this weekend.
If Eddie Howe’s side are going to stop City on their own turf, they are going to have play dirty when necessary and deny the hosts momentum. Joelinton has made a name for himself doing that this season.
The Brazilian has committed at least one foul in all but two matches this season, one on matchday four and the other in their last league outing, when the Magpies committed only three fouls, assumedly taking their foot off the gas with the League Cup final in mind. He had committed two fouls in four of his previous six matches.
Manchester City often see midfielders commit fouls against them, the opposition midfield committing at least two fouls in each of their last five matches. Furthermore, Newcastle have individuals in their midfield that have had struggled for fitness recently, so Joelinton’s energy and tenacity will be relied upon even more.
Arsenal v Bournemouth
Arsenal will see Saturday’s home game against Bournemouth as a big opportunity to keep their five-point lead over Manchester City in the race for the title.
The Gunners’ brief blip looks to be over, coming into this game on the back of three straight victories, including a 4-0 win against Everton in midweek. Bournemouth, meanwhile, followed up a first win since the World Cup break with a 4-1 defeat against Manchester City, hardly standing them in good stead for this one.
In terms of fouls, Kieffer Moore is the man I’m looking at here.
The giant Wales striker is committing 1.7 fouls per 90 in the 12 league games he has started and that has continued recently, committing 17 fouls in his last six starts and at least two in five of those. Target men generally fall foul of the referee’s whistle due to the combative but Bournemouth are clearly looking to stop the opposition progressing from their defensive third given Moore, Solanke, Billing and Christie are high on the list for fouls committed.
As for Arsenal, they have seen opposition strikers commit at least two fouls against them in four of their last five matches. Gabriel has been fouled in 12 of his last 13 matches, William Saliba in five of his last six and Jorginho in each of his last three Premier League starts. Their brave style clearly draws fouls from their opposition forwards.
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
A match-up between two mid-table sides who love being kicked by their opposition and aren’t afraid to dish it out either.
Crystal Palace have been fouled 12.4 times per game on average (most) this season and Aston Villa 12.2 (third). The Eagles have also given away an average of 11.7 fouls per game (third most) and Villa 11.3 (fifth). There should be a lot of fouls in this game and I’m backing Jordan Ayew to be the man to commit at least two.
For starters, Jordan Ayew commits an average of 1.8 fouls per 90 in games that he starts and that number hasn’t shortened over time, the Ghanaian committing 12 fouls in his last seven matches, including at least two fouls in four of those matches. He has started in a central position in his last two matches too.
For Villa, they have seen opposition strikers commit at least two fouls in four of their last five matches, the only break from that being Everton, who sit deeper in shape and instead had their midfield commit at least two fouls each.
Ezri Konsa was fouled in each of his 11 matches prior to last weekend’s game and one or both of defensive midfielders Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara have been fouled in all but two matches since returning from the World Cup break.
Chelsea v Leeds United
Two sides in desperate need of a victory to start bringing supporters back onside with their clubs.
Chelsea have endured a miserable spell under Graham Potter, winning one of their last 11 matches in all competitions, including losing each of their last three. Leeds United got a first league win since early November in their last league match but followed that up with defeat in the FA Cup at Fulham and remain a point and a place above the drop zone.
Despite their troubles on the field, Chelsea have often managed to keep the ball in forward areas, playing a patient possession game that often draws fouls from the opposition – they are now the second most fouled team in the division (average 12.3). Opposition players are committing fouls all over the pitch with at least eight positions having committed at least one foul in three of their last five matches.
Looking at Leeds United, the referee will likely have an eye on teenage winger Wilfried Gnonto who must be getting a reputation in the refereeing circles. He has committed a foul in six of his last seven matches and at least two fouls in five of those, including three against Southampton during their victory last weekend.
He will be up against Reece James, who has been fouled in his last three starts in all competitions. Left-wingers have committed a foul in each of the last four Premier League matches against Chelsea.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur’s wild inconsistency knows no bounds but they will hope to bounce back from a shock FA Cup exit away at Sheffield United in midweek by winning a third consecutive Premier League match to tighten their grip on fourth place.
They travel to Molineux this weekend to take on a Wolverhampton Wanderers side that have improved since Julen Lopetegui took the reins, winning four and drawing two of their ten league matches since the World Cup break to to drag themselves out of the relegation places.
In their recent matches, Adama Traore, Pablo Sarabia, Matheus Nunes, Raul Jimenez and Matheus Cunha have all been on the receiving end of a number of fouls, fouled at least four times over their last five matches, Traore on the end of 11 in his last four league games. Opposition central midfielders are the ones being forced to stop Wolves’ direct attack, committing 4, 4, 3, 4 and 3 fouls over the last five league games.
It makes Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg the obvious selection here. He has committed an average of one foul per game across the season but his numbers have increased over recent weeks, averaging 1.4 in the ten league games since returning from the World Cup break, committing a foul in all but one league game.
He will be the left-sided central midfielder here too, tasked not only with denying Wolves in the centre of the pitch, but also covering his left-wing-back when Traore starts running. And when Traore is on song, there is only way of stopping him.
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