- Referee: Mike Dean
- Assistant 1: Stuart Burt
- Assistant 2: Adam Watts
- 4th Official: Lee Probert
Good morning stat-fans and welcome to RefWatch… before I get started I would like to talk a little bit about confidence – it’s a bit of a subject that’s bouncing around at the moment as we [The Arsenal] are on one heck of a streak in the EPL and looking good for a top 3 spot. Not that we here at Untold ever doubted it of course… well – maybe a little bit but we tried not to let it show too much; besides – the season isn’t done yet and we can take a fine lesson from our north London neighbours in terms of ‘counting ones chickens’ and the fable of the cockerel that crowed too early [and thus choked]. We’ve been the nearly men for a while now and we Arsenal fans know that it takes more than just being the better team to win titles – you need something extra.
And something extra appears to be exactly what Manchester United has in spades this season… a little extra penalty there, a little red card there and a lot of very favourable referee appointments in the run in. It is getting so obvious that the whiff of ‘something Calciopoli’ in the air is fast becoming a stench so strong that even Joe Mug is curling up his nose and checking his shoes for something unpleasant. Let’s face facts – Manchester United’s squad are at present nothing special and are relying on aging players such as Scoles, Giggs and Ferdinand to bolster a squad that is thinning, in terms of talent, as Wayne Rooney’s head was of hair (pre-op). Personally I find Manchester United a bit of an embarrassment to the credibility of the league and hardly convincing as the de-facto jewel in the global brand that is the EPL – but that’s just me.
But don’t get me wrong, Manchester United [as SAF claims in his rather brass-necked rebuttal of Patrick Vierra’s claims of ‘Old Traffordish’ referee performances (giving the Red Devils the edge they need to ‘compete’)] don’t get it all their own way – on the rare occasions this season where they do have to show the ‘spirit of champions’ on a level pitch and/or play uphill they end up looking entirely ordinary and drop points… which is probably why they haven’t had to do that very much?
Part of me wonders whether football was always like this… another part of me knows it wasn’t. In recent history I can recall Manchester United having very good sides and winning titles in a way that you couldn’t really begrudge them being called champions – it all seemed to even out and their seasonal points tally was a fair reflection of the team (even if it didn’t always even out for their competitors); but now… no – it is ridiculous, they are an ‘old lion’ playing purely on their reputation.
Which takes me back to confidence and a concept that I would like to call Promotional-Doping; this is something that is really not new – it’s deeply ingrained in human nature in terms of socially held views of ‘hype’ on the credibility of status… it’s natural – the Alpha male among primates survives from day to day on reputation – it is only when his reputation clashes with an up and coming pretender that he will have to back it up with any kind of fight – and even then, disputes over dominance are usually settled with a lot of display and posturing… posturing in which ego, confidence, arrogance and a certain amount of believing in one’s own hype are key.
But what the heck has a bunch of apes thumping their chests over breeding rights with high ranking females got to do with premiership footballers?
Well we have to understand that, as a species and in the grand scheme of things, we are not all that more advanced than our primate cousins – of course we have iPads, and the wheel and all that marvellous sense of invention and expression in us but when you scratch the surface (or apply five pints of Stella) we find our nature and motivation is entirely animal. For instance – if it is widely accepted in the UK that Wayne Rooney is the most talented player in the world and that illusion is maintained by those whose job it is to inform – then in the mind of your typical EPL defender, who is undoubtedly skilled in his profession but not that perceptive out of it, might feel the pressure of intimidation when it comes to sticking a leg in. Just as when it becomes widely accepted that Arsenal’s defence are poor; as a journeyman striker – you might feel a little more inclined to try your luck, especially when those whose job it is to inform are also informing one and all of the potential weaknesses that might be exploited in a defence that “ain’t worth a damn” or a team that “don’t like it up ‘em”. The reverse is also true – i.e. when said player is in an international fixture and comes up against players who aren’t subjected to repeated images of his shouty face nor forced to inhale the vast plumes of smoke blown up his arse might approach their duties in a more utilitarian fashion against a player who is, well, spoilt.
You may have guessed that when I mention “by those whose job it is to inform” I am talking mostly about the media – but what they churn out is also aped, spun and oscillated by the blogosphere into the casual fan base and repeated ad infinitum over lager soaked pub tables and in discussion groups until it becomes established fact. These groups seem to rely on each other for information and opinion and they ultimately define the narrative of context in which our sport is perceived and judged.
While we have drifted onto the subject of the media; I read an article in The Sun the other day entitled “Wenger in a rush” that struck me as well, rather odd. The main quote of this nugget of *whatever* read thus:
“The Arsenal boss made a mess of his 2011 dealings and had to sign Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker on the transfer window’s final day.”
So The Sun informs us that Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker where what… ‘a mess’ – a bit of bad business? What? Are we to believe that Arsene Wenger is not savvy in the transfer market now? Where is there a mention of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in that ‘mess’ of a transfer window? I don’t understand what they are getting at – am I thick? Where is the story of all the ropey decisions going the way of certain teams, where is the investigation into bias and the referee selection process and the fact that it’s hardly credible to call professional English football a sport anymore? Where is the comparison with Arsenal’s transfer dealings with that of our competitors?
Also in the media this week we have many tales of a cull in the Arsenal ranks – this is not backed up with any sources but it is a story that has wings in terms of engineering expectations in, and a wave of “get rid” and “dead wood” style pontifications from the, Football Manager generation.
Firstly I would like to say that I find the manner of the feedback from how these articles are received in the Arsenal fan base mildly offensive and self-destructive in terms of the mentality it could engender in the squad and reserves… remember we are animal in what drives our decision making process and if we have no sense of loyalty to our clan, our team, our players in terms of their own best interest in combination with the best interests of the whole then what subconscious paths does that lay in the minds of the players coming through our ranks other than distain for the fans and to look after #1 first?
If a player is good enough to play first team football at another club but is not showing signs of stepping up sufficiently to the level to break the first team at Arsenal – then very well, it’s time to think about what is the best course of action for both parties. We have a responsibility to do what is right both as a club and as fans. The wholesale writing off of players as ‘shit’ is not constructive in my opinion and can further affect the confidence of a player trying to find form and belief – it is also dehumanising to refer to someone as ‘dead wood’, remember these guys are still wear the shirt, train with the club and will remain very good and loyal friends with those they leave behind on their wobbly pedestals.
Unfortunately this micro examination and search for flaws in *whomever it may be this month* seems to be sadly lacking in the way we view the match officials and protectors of our game – where is the gasp of horror emanating around the ground for every misplaced whistle and blind eye from a referee having a shocker and thus making life hard for us? Where is the debate in the pub post match that such and such a linesman or referee is ‘dead wood’ and where is Mike Riley to drop him to the bench and get another ambitious young official to step up when he cannot perform his duties effectively?
It seems that there is an overriding culture in football to not question the official in any way shape or form – it is taboo and there have been various official and media drives to re-enforce the desire to ‘respect’ without question. While I agree that the referee’s word on the field of play should be obeyed without question by all those on the field (not excluding requests for clarification and explanation) I do not agree that this culture should persist once he steps off it.
On the contrary – the referee’s performance needs to be scrutinised and evaluated in a transparent way and used as a means for assessing performance leading to promotion or demotion as needs be. We should all be able to look at a referee’s stats and say with confidence that he is a ‘good ref’ who we can trust to give a fair performance and we must give him the benefit of the doubt… I would like to hear Alan Shearer on MOTD state that such and such had an excellent game that he can be proud of with very few mistakes and his stats bear that out (cue graphic), after all – he is but one man, fallible and effectively in control of a multi-billion pound global gambling market.
Something needs to be done to restore the credibility of professional refereeing at the highest level among the ever growing restless cynicism of the fans or the fans will, well, no longer have any confidence in it.
It really is that simple… if this is not done then what are we as consumers of this ‘product’ supposed to read into that – we must surely suspect the worst when a manager is publicly made an example of for privately expressing his displeasure and demanding an explanation from a referee post match and/or we see teams like the 2011/2012 Manchester United squad take the EPL Title?
Let’s check out the markets – remember, it’s a 3pm game today so while they are not massive in Asia, Arsenal will be on a lot of peoples coupons for the multiple – the ‘coupon buster’ being Blackburn vs Manchester Utd… although Howard Webb is in charge of that one so we will watch with interest.
Asian Handicap (betting line) market:
|2.225||3/4 – 0||1.750|
The Under/Over market:
Let’s have a look at the Referee:
- Full name: Mike Leslie Dean
- Date of birth: 02-Jun-1968 (Age 44)
- Place of birth: The Wirral
- Resides: Cheshire
- EPL/ECH Referee Since: 1999/2000
- EPL/ECH Games to date: 316
Mike Dean – Sod the lino, I reckon that’s a nailed on peno. *troll face*
It’s Mike Dean again… you remember him for all the wrong reasons, I’m sure, and also from the excellent referee review series:
|2011/2012||80.000%||Manchester City 4 – 0 Swansea City|
|2011/2012||83.330%||Chelsea 4 – 1 Swansea City|
|2011/2012||68.290%||Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 1 Arsenal|
|2011/2012||54.550%||Arsenal 1 – 1 Fulham|
|2011/2012||77.370%||Blackburn Rovers 0 – 1 Chelsea|
|2011/2012||70.450%||Newcastle United 0 – 3 Chelsea|
|2011/2012||69.700%||Manchester City 3 – 0 Stoke City|
|2011/2012||62.500%||Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 0 Sunderland|
|2011/2012||73.680%||Manchester United 2 – 3 Blackburn Rovers|
|2011/2012||76.000%||Arsenal 1 – 2 Manchester United|
|2011/2012||73.530%||Manchester City 3 – 0 Fulham|
|2011/2012||74.140%||Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur|
Let’s check out his stats!
Mike Dean has had 3 games for Queens Park Rangers consisting of 0 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses.
Queens Park Rangers are currently in 34th in Mike Dean’s personal Points Per Game League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an average of 0.33 PPG.
In Mike Dean’s personal Handicap Swing League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Queens Park Rangers come 32nd with an average negative swing of -0.94.
Queens Park Rangers are currently in 12th in Mike Dean’s personal Booking’s Per Match League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an overall average of 1.67 BPM.
In Mike Dean’s personal Fouls Per Booking League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Queens Park Rangers come 14th with an overall average of 7.20 FPB.
It’s pretty clear that, with only 3 matches, we really don’t have enough data on QPR under Mike dean to really comment in any depth. What we can see though is fairly normal FPB/BPM figures for both QPR and their opposition and a pretty shabby return of points from a general trend of underperformance.
Above is a seasonal breakdown on how, when and where Queens Park Rangers took all their bookings under Mike Dean.
Above is a seasonal breakdown on how, when and where Queens Park Rangers’s opposition took all their bookings under Mike Dean.
Mike Dean has had 31 games for Arsenal consisting of 14 wins, 10 draws and 7 losses.
Arsenal are currently in 4th in Mike Dean’s personal Points Per Game League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an average of 1.68 PPG.
In Mike Dean’s personal Handicap Swing League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Arsenal come 21st with an average negative swing of -0.15.
Arsenal are currently in 30th in Mike Dean’s personal Booking’s Per Match League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an overall average of 2.13 BPM.
In Mike Dean’s personal Fouls Per Booking League (for teams with a minimum of 3 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Arsenal come 32nd with an overall average of 5.48 FPB.
This is Dean’s fifth appointment for an Arsenal game this season so we have lots of data and can look to draw some conclusions – It’s clear from the FPB/BPM lines that Arsenal get a lot less leeway in the challenge than their competitors under Mike Dean and are carded more readily. It’s also clear that we have severely and regularly underperformed under Mike Dean – the only exception being the 2008/2009 season where we saw a good return of points and an average over performance. This season things have improved a little after the 5-2 thumping of Dean’s darlings – but we are still showing a slight average underperformance and a very low return in the way of points.
Above is a seasonal breakdown on how, when and where Arsenal took all their bookings under Mike Dean.
Above is a seasonal breakdown on how, when and where Arsenal’s opposition took all their bookings under Mike Dean.
Let’s move on now to check out how Mike Dean performs against selected teams in the EPL:
The fat Chelsea streak remains firmly in place in Mike Dean’s figures despite the loss to Manchester City. Manchester City’s numbers have jumped to be top performers of the big teams this season yet there is no real consistency in their numbers. Arsenal’s anaemic blue line shows how poorly we perform in the way of points yet our result over Tottenham has actually placed us above them in terms of the average swing against the handicap. Tottenham, as you can see, have done very well in terms of points under Dean since the arrival of Harry Redknapp.
The Predictortron gives Queens Park Rangers a 0.071429 of a goal advantage but sod the Predictortron – it’s on the fritz… truth is that I started fiddling with it and it’s never been the same since – I’ll get back to it one day but for now I’d just take it with a pinch of salt and use your own Preditortrons i.e. you minds. The brain is a fabulously complex machine and it will work everything out if you just let it – you have the data, you have the overall picture – you know what Dean can do, what QPR can do… what Joey Barton can do and what this Arsenal team can do when they refuse to lie down and be written off in matches like this.
So predictions in the comments section please!
If you would like to go with your gut instinct, with the full understanding that you can never beat the bookie, then please feel free to place bets here.