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What’s going on with English Refereeing?

What’s going on with English Refereeing?

Tim Charlesworth

I love all things ‘Untold’, with one exception.  I find myself constantly disagreeing with the analysis of refereeing.  Unlike many readers of this site, I don’t see any evidence of a systematic refereeing bias against Arsenal.

I certainly see a lot of mistakes, and I have some sympathy with Tony’s view that PMGO standards are poor (the self-assessments are risible).  I also feel frustration at the mistakes (Ramsay Liverpool, Bellerin Newcastle).  However there are a number of reasons why refereeing may appear to be biased against you:

  1. If you are a team like Arsenal which generally dominates possession, you will be the victim of more fouls than you mete out. This is because most fouls are committed by the team without the ball.  If the referee makes mistakes with a fixed percentage of fouls, he will fail to award you a foul more often than your opponents.
  2. Similarly, if you do most of the attacking, you are going to be unlucky with penalty shouts and offsides more often than your opponents
  3. A lot of fans watch home matches live, and away matches on TV. Referees are generally biased against away teams, due to sub-conscious crowd influence.  They make most mistakes in favour of the home team.  If you are watching on TV with the benefit of replays, analysis etc, you will easily see the mistakes made against you.  It may not be so obvious that the same thing is happening to your opponents when they play at the Ems and you are watching live with 55,000 like-minded friends.
  4. Arsenal’s style is a difficult one for referees. A lot of our players deliberately try to draw players in to a tackle and then play the ball after the opponent is committed to the tackle (I call this the ‘offload pass’ after the similar tactic in rugby).  This is an effective tactic, as it creates space for the player receiving the pass.  It also, inevitably leads to late tackles, which may be made worse by the fact that the passing player is concentrating on making the pass and not preparing for the impact.  This is basically what happened with Coquelin and Mitrovic.  Coquelin didn’t evade the descending boot because he was focussed on the pass.
  5. Perception bias (see below)

In my life, I have been involved in a number of institutions such as political parties, companies and football teams.  All of them, without exception, see the world as biased against them.  This in not always a bad thing as it promotes cohesion.  Maureen goes to great lengths to create the ‘us against the world’ spirit at Chelsea.  The fortress mentality  also did us a lot of good during the ‘2 point deduction for fighting at Man U and Tony Adams imprisonment’ season (1990-91).  We won the league comfortably.

I think the root cause of this perception bias or ‘bias paranoia’ is mostly to do with perspective.  When we are emotionally invested in something, we tend to see the world differently.

For example, over the last ten years, Wenger has tried to play a fast paced passing game.  We fans, therefore see this type of game as ‘real football’. We see those who play a physically aggressive form of football (Stoke) as playing ‘the wrong way’.

As a result, when we see referees allowing Stoke to rough us up in an attempt to disrupt our passing game, we think the referee is biased against us.  Without spending time on Stoke blog sites, I am pretty sure that they think referees are biased against them because they:

  • ‘over-protect’ namby-pamby southerners
  • Protect the ‘big teams’ (who are more likely to play the passing style game)
  • Are influenced by Stoke’s reputation even before a ball is kicked

In reality, the referees are picking a ‘middle way’ between allowing Stoke to play their way and protecting Arsenal from physical abuse when they try to play the beautiful game.  Both sets of fans perceive bias because neither team is being allowed to play the game exactly as they want to, and believe that it should be played.

It is interesting to note that things look a bit different so far this season.  The most extraordinary aspect of the season, so far, is that away teams are doing well and home teams are doing badly (Arsenal are a good example, not the exception).

This is interesting, in particular, because most home advantage arises from subconscious intimidation of referees by home fans.  Is it possible that PMGO have become aware of this, and are making a deliberate effort to counteract it by being hard on home teams?

This certainly looked like the case against Newcastle.  I wasn’t there, but I understand that the referee came under incredible pressure from the disgruntled home fans, but resisted it.  Marriner was consistently carding the home team for violent conduct right from the start of the game.

Usually, referees allow this kind of fouling to go unpunished.  They seem to think that players are still ‘adjusting to the pace of the game’, when in fact, they are deliberately assaulting their opponents.  They are usually particularly generous with home players in this regard.  This kind of refereeing laxity is particularly dangerous at the start of the game.  It sets the tone for the match, and leads away players to expect to be fouled every time they touch the ball, thus restricting their play.

Newcastle appeared to be trying to carry out something that has become a pretty standard tactical approach for non-top-four teams at home against Arsenal over the last ten years.   That tactical approach is what I call ‘hometown roughing’, a variant of the old ‘kick em off the park’.

Basically, you persistently rotationally foul Arsenal, particularly in the first ten minutes.  You are trying to make them uncomfortable on the ball.  You hope that this makes them pass too quickly, miscontrol the ball, or take their eye off the pass recipient to look at the incoming tackler.  This should lead to mistakes or misplaced passes.

This is particularly effective if you are the home team, because the home crowd will prevent the referee from giving too many cards and fouls against you.  Fergie invented this tactic, in desperation, at the end of the 49 game run.  It was much admired and widely copied (Bolton were its earliest imitators).  It is interesting that Wenger never seems to comment on this tactic (perhaps he doesn’t want to encourage it).  Diaby, Eduardo and Ramsay all suffered their injuries during away matches.

The tactic didn’t work on Saturday because the referee was on top of violent conduct right from the start.  Is this just a coincidence or is there some concerted effort by referees to address the home advantage problem? Is this why away teams are doing so well in the Premiership?  Is this a sign of things to come?

I doubt it.  Even if there is a new PMGO initiative, most such initiatives peter out, maybe with a little lasting effect.  The home advantage bias is embedded in most sports around the world.  If it is to be eradicated, I find it hard to believe that PMGO is the institution to finally root it out.

It would certainly be to Arsenal’s advantage if there was a crackdown on violent conduct and ‘hometown roughing’.  This would probably also advantage the other top teams, as high quality teams will tend to pass the ball more, but Arsenal might benefit the most, as the most extreme example of a ‘passing team’.

‘Hometown roughing’ is a tactic that gives the smaller teams a chance against the more skilful teams.  If it were to be eradicated, the league might become slightly less competitive, and a bit more like the Spanish league.  I get the firm impression that the lesser teams are not allowed to rough up Real Madrid and Barca.

And this brings me to my final point.  The performance of English teams in Europe is inexplicably poor compared to their financial muscle.  Money is not everything in football, but other things being equal, it is a big advantage.  I suspect that the relatively lax attitude of English referees towards violence is one of the major factors explaining the poor performance of English teams (lax compared to Spain, strict compared to 20 years ago).

I think that English teams are playing more ‘tough’ games than their CL opponents.  A close game, say a 1-0 is more tiring than a 3-0 because the close game will be played at 100% right to the end.  In a 3-0, both teams will ease off towards the end.

Also, physical contact is tiring.  Players use a lot of strength in preparing for and receiving ‘a hit’ and the blunt force leads to muscle fibre damage (that’s why boxing is so incredibly physically tiring).  This effect is also cumulative over a season, and so the form of English teams seems to deteriorate as the competition progresses (note also how poorly Premiership players perform in World and European cups – its not just the English ones – Per and Mesut were probably the most disappointing performers in Germany’s World Cup winning team.)

As a result of the close matches and the physical contact, English CL players are less physically fresh than their Spanish opponents (Real and Barca win most of their games by several goals, as do Bayern Munich).

There is also a consequence that the physical conditioning of English players is not quite right.  English teams are built to withstand Stoke, not Barcelona.  There is too much emphasis on strength, and not enough on agility.  As a crude generalisation, heavy muscling, particularly in the upper body, will make you stronger, but less agile.   This means that in CL matches which are not refereed by English referees, the English teams give away too many fouls and struggle to match Barcelona’s speed of movement.  Note how much Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott seem to have ‘bulked up’ in recent times.

So, if the PMGO really are coming down hard on ‘hometown roughing’, you can expect a few things to happen:

  1. Arsenal should benefit at home and in Europe
  2. The Premier League may become less competitive
  3. English teams will do better in Europe (Premiership players may also do better in World Cups).


Today’s anniversary

3 September 1988: “Never take too much notice of the first home game” was etched in the minds of supporters as Arsenal lost the first home game of the season: Arsenal 2 (Marwood, Smith) Aston Villa 3.  After five games and two defeats Arsenal were 7th.

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119 comments to What’s going on with English Refereeing?

  • apo Armani

    Tim Charlesworth,

    You have made some very interesting points, in a very well written article.

    The issue still (in my opinion)is that the rules of the game MUST be applied fairly and no concessions from the officials made to take into account the ‘styles’ of play. Rules are rules…and they must be enforced. I stand corrected but am sure there isn’t any clauses in the rule book which say, if a team playing possession football and the other can’t so will play more physical; hence the official must try to be more lenient on the physical team…because thats the only way they know how to play – regardless of the fact they may commit a dangerous foul or FOUR.

    So officials are seemingly labeled biased because they don’t call the offenses they should and must do.

    Failure by officials to call the correct offense is the problem!!

    Having said that…I find this part of your article very accurate: “As a result of the close matches and the physical contact, English CL players are less physically fresh than their Spanish opponents (Real and Barca win most of their games by several goals, as do Bayern Munich).

    There is also a consequence that the physical conditioning of English players is not quite right. English teams are built to withstand Stoke, not Barcelona. There is too much emphasis on strength, and not enough on agility. As a crude generalisation, heavy muscling, particularly in the upper body, will make you stronger, but less agile. This means that in CL matches which are not refereed by English referees, the English teams give away too many fouls and struggle to match Barcelona’s speed of movement. Note how much Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott seem to have ‘bulked up’ in recent times.”

  • apo Armani

    I will add that officials have no right to be influenced by the home crowd either…in fact they should shut the crowd out of their minds…if they can’t then they should wear ear plugs! 🙂

    Wether a a team is playing at home should not give it advantage or disadvantage (depending on what PGMO has issued as a directive).

    The rules of the game must be applied no matter where the game is being played.

  • apo Armani

    “Whether or not a team is playing at home should..”

    my bad 🙂

  • apo Armani

    Wales is about to bunny hop England in FIFA world rankings; take a look at the National teams above England – the vast majority play possession style football as opposed to physical.

    Our officials are part of this drop in rankings.

  • Clockendrider

    Referees should apply the rules as they are written. Consistently. What we saw last weekend, not just in the Arsenal game but in several others, was just that.
    All the talk about perceptions is I’m afraid just Jesuitical sophistry. When Arsenal were a physically stronger team than others, we had players sent off regularly and were called out by the media for over physicality. Eventually the manager changed the style. And then clubs were allowed to kick us all over the park; Man United, Chelsea, Bolton, Blackburn, Stoke. And then this was just the English style of play.
    No I’m afraid the stats collected by those that run the website don’t lie.

  • para

    Great Article.
    Brings the necessary BALANCE to the ref discussion. This article makes many good points, many which have been singly posted right here on Untold, but all together they bring the right balance.

    “When we are emotionally invested in something, we tend to see the world differently.” 🙂

    “In reality, the referees are picking a ‘middle way’ between allowing Stoke to play their way and protecting Arsenal from physical abuse when they try to play the beautiful game. ”
    I really do not think this is happening though.

    “The tactic didn’t work on Saturday because the referee was on top of violent conduct right from the start. ”
    This should really happen both home and away. Players and Refs can only get affected by it if they are less than 100% focused on their job/game, and then it serves them right.

  • mk

    A bias against Arsenals style of play has the same end result as a bias against Arsenal?

    However i would point out that other teams playing possesion based attacking football have not had the consistent bad decisions against them that Arsenal have especially in the allowance of dirty tactics to stop their style of play.

    If the type of home team fouling you mention is only allowed by referees against one team (probably influenced by the media’s ‘Arsenal don’t like it up them, catch cry) then that is itself a bias against Arsenal so i don’t see the point in making the distinction?

  • Pat

    There is an answer for the teams that still depend on a physical game as Newcastle tried to do against us: play football the other way.

    With so many coaches and players who come from outside Britain, this is probably the trend anyway. Hopefully the referees too are re-educating themselves. A few new ones would help with this process.

    Our academy players prove that English youngsters are just as capable of playing football the Arsenal way as anybody else given the right training.

    Maybe Steve McLaren, trained as a coach under SAF if I remember rightly, came back to England thinking things hadn’t moved on. Maybe they have. I hope so.

    However, those who say the refs should referee according to the rules of the game are absolutely right. That is all Marriner did (largely speaking) in that match.

    In this very interesting article, I do not however agree that Untold is mistaken in perceiving an anti-Arsenal bias. The figures prove otherwise.

  • Mick

    You can try to dress it up however you like, but your attempt to excuse biased refereeing with the use of pseudo psychological bullshit will not wash. The McNair foul on Wilshere last year was inexplicably not given by Dean and all your pontificating about our style of play, home team bias etc does not excuse the fact it should have been a simple decision but it was not called. Bias against Arsenal was shown in Walters reviews week after week irrespective of whether we were playing home or away, what style of football was played by the opposition, where the opponents were in the table etc. Man City play a similar style to us but do not suffer the same consequences we do.
    I stick with the bias theory.

  • finsbury

    However you approach the topic of referees in football in an era when an uncapped teenager costs £35M, when so much money depends upon the outcome there is no senisible, rational or reasonable consideration that could be given to explain the lack of technical aid for the officials in the sport.

    Anything else would be unbalanced (or disingenious).
    Because as anyone who has played with Lego will understand a structure that has been designed for failure will ultimately break down and collapse.

    I wouldn’t spend my time trying to defend a cowboy builder.
    Or the pgMOB.

  • finsbury

    Mick, when the numbers have been so consistent over such a long period fair to say it’s not a story but an easily observable pattern 🙂

    Not an opinion. A pattern.

  • ob1977

    Good piece but surely it is not up to a ref to let a team play how they want, it is up to a ref to ensue the laws of the game are adhered to, and if they are not then punish accordingly… Was listening to managers, and pundits alike moaning the other day that referees had ruined matches by dismissing players, surely the players had ruined the matches by getting themselves sent off… Also on the point of Arsenal getting fouled more often and in attacking positions so the percentage thing, that would not explain our until last year appalling penalty count for the last 10-15 years…

  • ob1977

    Oh forgot to say that I believe the away record has a lot to do with teams as before setting up to counter but now with the added finances (better players) are better equipped to nick goals, make counter attacking or even better possession…

  • blargh

    I find your point 2 about penalties a bit weird. The more attacking team get more wrong decisions since there is more decisions to make. How do you explain that Arsenal in 5 seasons in a row had more penalties given against them than for them? (Last season was the first season in 6 years this was not true) Shouldn’t the more attacking team still get more penalty decisions in their favour?


  • nicky

    In turn, you attempt to decry Tim’s case that systematic bias against Arsenal by referees does not exist.
    In the second half of last season, I felt that decisions by officials were beginning to favour Arsenal…..or at least becoming more equitable (as they should be).
    And the recent match against Newcastle more than supports this view.
    I think we must be careful not to become historically paranoid over meticulous examination of Arsenal games by Untold experts in refereeing. That is not to say that Walter and his colleagues are not men of the highest integrity.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    I think there is a bit of ‘black and white’ thinking in the comments above, suggesting that referees should ‘just apply the rules’. Those of us who have played the game (poorly in my case) know that football is a contact game, and referees need to exercise judgement. Some fouls are obvious (such as the Bellerin penalty shout against Newcastle or the McNair foul on Wilshere). When they are not given the referee has made a mistake In my opinion this is usually the result of a genuine error rather than bias. Everyone I have spoken to, failed to spot the Bellerin foul on first viewing, and Bellerin seemed to be just about the only player at St James’ Park who realised what had happened. None of the other Arsenal players seem to have noticed what was quite a dangerous foul (if they did see it, the lack of outrage is difficult to explain). However, most foul play falls into the ‘grey’ area. Little shirt tugs, nudges and obstructions are overlooked in favour of continuity. If you watch them closely, Le Coq, Monreal and Bosscielny are excellent proponents of this kind of ‘dark art’. Referees have to decide when a ‘nudge becomes a push’ or a ‘shirt tug becomes shirt-pulling’ or an obstruction becomes sufficiently serious to be a foul. Similar judgements are required for ‘intent’ in the case of hand balls and ‘degree of violence’ for red and yellow cards. It is no good to pretend that such judgements are a case of ‘just applying the rules’. It is cultural factors in the interpretation of these judgements which largely explains the different styles of refereeing to be found in different countries.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thank you Tim, really interesting read, some excellent points well articulated.
    I would agree with most of what you have to say, the English style does handicap us against the Europeans.
    But, I believe there is something else going on. You touch on Fergie developing this tactic, but I think he had a lot more going on , not only with the refs, but also with the home grown contingent of the LMA, the media and perhaps even the higher football establishment. the way Riley ended our run was beyond hometown roughing up. The way a top ref who upset him would be stopped from refereeing his games. The way his teams always seemed to get an unhealthy rub of the green. Perhaps it was nothing systemic, maybe he was just a one off, successful, long lived, influential powerful bully, but what he bought about was corrpution of a level, and if he can do it, the worry is others can as well. No wonder the two subsequent Utd managers have struggled.
    I believe most of our refs are honest, trying their best in difficult circumstances, possibly with little at least overt support from Riley, but some worry me , and I am not just referring to performances involving Arsenal.

  • Mandy Dodd

    One more thing, thought Ozil was excellent in the WC final!

  • finsbury

    Tim we are aware that there are different codes and rules for football:

    Rugby Football
    American Football
    Ozzie Rules Football
    Gaelic Football
    Association Football
    pgMOB Rules Football

    Just becasue you are in a different climate or different culture (i don’t understand how or why that should impact*) does not mean that the officials should make up the rules depending upon their mood.

    * you will not find a sport more affected by the differences in climate and therefore what some might call culture then Cricket. Yet the rules appear to be applied consisitently in Western Australia, in the Windies, in the Indies, and in dear old Blighty too. And they have also been giving aid to their officials these past twenty years. same as every other high profile sport (including many of the Football codes above).

  • Mick


    ‘In turn, you attempt to decry Tim’s case that systematic bias against Arsenal by referees does not exist.’

    Well of course I do, I don’t agree with him.

    I think there is bias against Arsenal and I think Walters reviews show it to be so. Similar conclusions were drawn by the Debatable Decisions web site as well.

  • apo Armani

    September 3, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I go along with all that!

  • NuttnTiddy

    A good article with plenty to think about. I have been for a while a bit concerned about this idea of “bulking up”. When Arsenal sign a player someone is almost bound to comment “he’ll be OK when he bulks up a bit” in spite of the fact that he was a top player at his previous club which is why we bought him and at the end of a match when players strip of their shirts to swap they look like a bunch of body builders rather than footballers who have to run around for ninety minutes and twist and turn like a lithe gymnast. I do hope that the bulking is all legal.

  • nicky

    @Mandy D,
    You make an extremely valid point about the welcome retirement of the dishonest Ferguson lessening the bias decisions of corrupt referees, particularly at OT.
    Riley is still about, unfortunately, but some of the others (and they know who they are) are no longer influenced by the corruption spread far and wide by this shady former manager. 😉

  • Mick

    @Mandy Dodd
    If, as is almost universally agreed, the PGMO were capable of bowing down to Ferguson and bestowing refereeing favours on his team then they were/are equally capable of doing the opposite to Arsenal.
    Even more capable if such anti Arsenal treatment was instigated by Ferguson to start with.

  • insideright

    An excellent and well argued piece to which, if I may, I’ll add three thoughts relating to Arsene Wengers long term tactical contributions that have, maybe, ‘confused’ referees.
    Firstly (and almost immediately on his arrival at the Club) AW introduced the concept of playing in exactly the same style home and away. In his first two complete seasons we were unbeaten in the league away from home and it took a surprising amount of time for everyone (including perhaps refs) to get used to this. Opposing managers resorted to playing their away (destructive) tactics at home and opposing fans couldn’t understand it.
    Secondly, again from very early, players were encouraged to use their ‘wrong’ foot in order to increase their comfort on the ball wherever they were on the pitch and to increase the speed with which they could release the ball when under pressure. ‘Late’ tackles on us increased.
    Lastly we are seeing Arsenal reaching new heights in their strategy of giving away as few free kicks as possible. Only two were conceded in the whole game against Liverpool and the much noted non-hassling of the ref against Newcastle I’m sure is all part of the same ‘don’t get involved’tactic.
    Actually refs should welcome all of what Wenger has tried to do but it’s probably needed all of the ‘old school’ (SAF influenced)refs to retire and a whole new school to come through. It could all be very beneficial for Arsenal and the game in general if it works.

  • apo Armani

    inside right…you make very valid points and what also (Mandy did too); about SAF’s terrible influence on the PL ‘system (including the majority of refs) – continued! Some other managers tried to copy these dirty tactics!

    All this goes back on PGMOB; they have to play the whistle correctly and by the book (if they don’t like to be called biased) and not as they feel like or as the circumstances/agenda dictates them to!

  • apo Armani

    insideright (autocorrect) 🙂

  • Clockendrider

    All this revisionism needs a considerable amount of tempering. Just because the second half of last season and one notable game this season have shown referees to be capable of protecting Arsenal’s skilful players, let’s not get carried away extrapolating that out to get the conclusion that the disgraceful, partial refereeing of Arsenal and media treatment didn’t happen. It did. And the excellent statistics and analysis provided by this website prove it.
    And if that is now in the past then so much the better. But time will tell. And those of us capable of remembering clearly will continue to point out where revisionist nonsense is being put forward as fact.

  • Peter

    A very good article with many well argued points many, but not all, that I would agree with. I would just add the following to the debate.

    We have seen a huge financial investment in football by the TV companies, who it would appear, believed that the brand of English football appealed partly because of its more physical nature. It might be that they are at last realizing that because of the physical nature of English football that our teams are doing less well and changes need to be made.

    The fact that BT Sport now has an ex referee commenting on live game decisions, may be an important indicator. It should help ensure that the rules of the game are correctly implemented and help counterbalance and check the views of old died in the wool professionals, from a previous age, who previously were the only arbiter of what and what was not a foul.

    I would suggest that if anyone has managed to influence the changing in refereeing style we may be witnessing this season (especially the Newcastle game) it is the TV companies who want to maximize their return on their investment and are at last realizing that the old product is no longer fit for purpose. I can only hope that this is true and continues for the rest of the season.

  • Samrat Jha

    with regard to your surmise that if the overtly physical style of play in the PL is countered PL will be less competitive, I have only one thing to say that the bottom clubs in PL have far bigger budget that bottom clubs in any other league. So PL can still be competitive enough.

  • Usama Zaka

    I am sure that in the coming weeks The Telegraph will use this article, rephrase to it their agenda and some how find more ways to defend the pgmo’s incompetence.

  • apo Armani


    Refs and their assistants will know now that there is someone called Webb, with a bunch of screens in front of him – going live and scrutinizing their decisions. I posted something o that affect here on Untold on the day of the Newcastle game.

    That is very welcome and I agree with the rest of your post!

  • Peter

    A further thought to my previous post. It might be that BT has taken the lead in this issue as they have invested heavily in the exclusive rights to European matches and will suffer the most if English teams continue to perform poorly. I assume that they will not get many viewers for the semi finals and final if no English teams are involved.

    Sky on the other hand may have a vested interest in maintaining the existing model. It will be interesting to see how Sky responds and if BT brings in any other initiatives in regard to refereeing and in ensuring that the English clubs in European competitions are not disadvantaged by getting their best players injured during the season.

  • Pete

    Tim – Interesting article.

    apo – Peter’s comment is not mine! A popular name, obviously…

    Re penalties, my research here remains valid:

  • apo Armani

    We also should not ignore UEFA club rankings and the relationship they have to where teams with possession football styles stand and where the CLOGGERS (physical) teams stand. The exception in the first 10 on the list MUST be Chel$kie, who not only have a bad tendency to be physical, but also park the bus.

  • apo Armani

    Sorry Pete…was my typo 🙂

  • Al

    With all due respect this is a typical view of someone who reads and believes all they see/hear in the media. Sorry but I lost interest after reading “our players deliberately try to draw players in to a tackle”…., sounded like one of those neville thugs talking. No player is ever going to try and play in a way that can result in an injury to themselves, and the argument that refs view different teams differently again is another flawed English media way of allowing thuggery on a football pitch against certain teams by repackaging it as an ‘in their faces’ approach nonsense. As many have pointed out already, rules are rules, and they should be applied/enforced unselectively regardless of whether the player plays for Arsenal, Stoke, Torquay United, or is black, white, blue,…..

    How would you feel if cops started letting some drivers off for speeding because they look and drive in a certain manner, while punishing others for the same offense because they don’t look or drive in a certain manner?

  • apo Armani

    September 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    People who own sports cars; should be allowed to go well beyond the limit!!! I mean these fellas payed a lot of money for their super cars – on the other hand the guys who have modest cars and drive with in speed limits should be arrested for not getting out of the way fast enough when a speeding car is behind them… 🙂

  • Usama Zaka

    Well it’s refreshing to see new points being raised by Tim. But if I to disagree about there being lack of evidence related to bias against Arsenal.

    Walter surely knows about it for the past 2 seasons after analysing the each of Arsenal’s games. But from what I have seen this season in the first 4 games, I can only the bias is still strong.

    In every game there is an average of 2.5 Major Decisions going against Arsenal.

    Vs. West Ham – 3 major decisions, (wrong goal against Arsenal, no red card against Noble, no red card against Tomkins)

    Vs. Crystal Palace – 2 major decisions (No penalty for Sanchez, no penalty for Giroud)

    Vs. Liverpool – 3 major decisions (wrongly disallowed Ramsey’s goal, no red against Mignolet, no penalty for Giroud)

    Vs. Newcaslte – 2 major decisions (No penalty for Bellerin, no red card against Thauvin)

  • Menace

    Good article. I have some reservations with regard to officiating in England. The PGMO appears to be racist in its lack of representation of peoples in the sport. The lack of transparency leads to fear of corrupt practice. There are several other aspects that can be mentioned but I’ll concentrate on one match.

    When Arsenal visited Newcastle, the first booking (Sissoko) was for a studs first tackle on Monreals foot. It was deliberate & should have resulted in a straight red card. The foul by Mitrovic was also a red card offense. McClaren needs to be careful with his interpretation of the Laws. A stamp is a red card – little stamp or mistimed. Thauvin ‘stamped’ on Bellerins heel – not seen by the Professional Officials. Thauvin fouled Coquelin studs first he was shown a yellow card. Thauvin got away with several fouls & should have been off the pitch following his foul on Coquelin. Collocini also fouled Coquelin. There were several fouls on Coquelin. The Professional Official should have warned the Newcastle captain early in the game that serial fouling would result in straight red cards to the subsequent perpetrators.

    Following on from Mariners performance, I can see Coquelin, Cazorla & Alexis being serially fouled in most matches starting with the next home match at the Ems.

  • khitb77

    An interesting article.

    I’ve long thought that the perceived referring bias against Arsenal is a load of rubbish.

    People can throw all kinds of stats to back up their theory but if you ask the Palace or Newcastle fans after our away trips this season they both feel aggrieved with the way the referee showed bias toward Arsenal, these of course will not be isolated incidents as all “smaller” clubs feel that the top four sides get all the decisions.

    A lot of what is written on here is unfortunately subjective, rather than objective and as such the research is flawed.

  • Menace

    Al – I agree with you totally. ….and as for cops (with bias or vile tendencies)? They do pick on some people & not on others. There are case loads in recent history.

    apo Armani – LOL hahahahaha.

  • bjtgooner

    An interesting article, however it does not stand up against the evidence provided by UA in almost every ref review published over the last few years.

    Such evidence has not been challenged never mind refuted by the PGMO, probably because they cannot.

    My interpretation of the UA evidence is that that there is a deliberate and very obvious bias in ref decisions, which have at times has cost us points and possibly silverware – wheras some other teams e.g. MU and Chelski have benefitted directly and indirectly from repeated wrong decisions in their favour.

    So Tim, I would be disapointed if you join the apologists for the PGMO – there are too many of them out there already.

  • Mick


    There is a big difference between a fan feeling aggrieved because he feels his team has not got the decisions he thinks they deserved as opposed to something shown conclusively to have been wrong after analysis by a qualified ref.
    It is funny how people dismiss the stats resulting from Walters reviews as worthless, using the ‘stats can be made to mean anything argument when it suits them to do so.

  • Pete


    Sorry, but you are wrong.

    Refer penalty stats above – how much more objective do you want it to be? Ditto cards/foul stats in previous articles.

    The ref reviews must always be slightly subjective. But I’m sure Usama and Walter would be delighted if you wanted to critique them decision by decision.

    I also note the ref review from a couple of seasons ago, covering around half of all PL matches, where non-Arsenal supporting referees were used.

    Statistical evidence is extremely powerful, unlike anecdotal evidence.

  • ClockEndRider

    What are you on about? Palace plated Arsenal at home!
    Secondly, are you suggesting games should be refereed according solely to the whims of the home crowd?
    As for the evidence being flawed, please put some of your own forward rather than patent nonsense. bizarre comments.

    I should get back to the Telegraph sports desk now. They’re clearly missing their gopher.

  • apo Armani


    🙂 🙂

    I really wonder sometimes what we need to do to convince people that Arsenal are being cheated upon from angles!!!

  • apo Armani

    HOLD ON…second thoughts!!!

    Do Nothing hahahahahahahahaha

  • apo Armani

    Perhaps PGMOB should subsidize AFC for expenses in having to sign triple the amount of played and pay their salaries in full…due to their incompetence and BIAS causing season/carrier ending – GET IN THEIR face type fouling??!!!

    Welbeck OUT…yes the the scouzer (who caused the injury) was sent off in April, but how many have been let to stay on the field and continue to injure others??!!!

    This is now another way of cheating; Make them sign more and more players to cope with the lack of protection they have – because they play possession style football??

    It is becoming very predictable – what PGMOB are up to!

  • Bergkampisgod

    This debate about bias is a little bit boring. Its a very minor part of what governs the success of our team.

    I think the better debate is the complete lack of respect and class with which they announce Wellbeck will be undergoing a knee operation and be out for months.

    After refusing to sign a replacement with a squad place free.

    With 200m in the bank.

    This is just negligent management of the club.

  • apo Armani

    Le Grove is here hahahahaha

  • Bergkampisgod

    apo – so do you think that knowing that a player needs a knee operation. Not signing a replacement and then announcing it after the transfer window shuts is classy? Good management?

    We have one fit forward. One.

    And if Giroud gets injured? What then?

  • apo Armani


    who did ManUre sign to strengthen there strike force???

  • Bergkampisgod

    apo – whats that got to do with Arsenal?

  • apo Armani

    The 80m wonder kid you will say???

    who did we sign in June…do you know…do you know what we paid…did you watch him play??

    Is he an outfield player?

    Is he named in our CL squad??

    think about it!!!

  • Bergkampisgod

    And you didn’t address the question:-

    I having one fit striker in your first team squad the right way to go?

  • apo Armani

    It has a lot to do with it…its Wengers way to pick out gems!!! Thats what he is there for!!!

    And he doesn’t pay 80m for them either!!

  • apo Armani

    I have well and truly answered your question.

  • apo Armani

    Your and the Media Mantra that we didn’t sign an outfield player/striker goes out the window together with MU’s 80m as Wenger quite rightly pointed out!

    We as Arsenal have back ups to call back!!!

  • Bergkampisgod

    So you’re saying having a youth player with no premier league or champions league experience in the squad is a good thing?

  • Bergkampisgod

    Can you name me the last gem that was picked and worked out?

  • apo Armani

    Coquelin springs to mind as does Belerin

  • apo Armani

    ohhh and Benzema has ZERO PL experience too

  • apo Armani

    nor does Cavani

  • Bergkampisgod

    Do you mean Bellerin?

  • apo Armani

    Personally I am more then Happy with what Wenger is doing…and I have been watching Arsenal since 1970!!!

    I know what the differences are between real life and FIFA 15 (I play the game with me 17 year old son)…

  • apo Armani

    September 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Is that your problem…or the fact that you don’t accept he is a gem Wenger discovered?? which is it??

    The spelling error??

  • Bergkampisgod

    Ok – so your argument basically is:

    1. Having a youth team player in the team is good.
    2. Having Benzema and Cavani in the team would be a bad thing.

    That seems a little….. odd.

  • Bergkampisgod

    apo – they both haven’t had a full season in the first team.

    Let’s see how it goes before classing them as gems.

    And getting Bellerin from Barcelona’s youth team hardly constitutes as a hidden gem does it? Same place as Cesc and Messi?

  • apo Armani

    You must be a young lad…I have spent enough time and plenty to argue my case…

    The answer to your final question is this; I believe in our manager and believe in the squad he selects…the rest is bla bla.

  • Bergkampisgod

    And you still haven’t directly answered the question, do you think one fit forward until January is a good thing?

  • apo Armani

    I have answered plenty whilst you have made errors…one being your case with Bellerin (correct spelling); he was found by Wenger and his scouting team, he was bought for very little and he has performed at all levels…YES or NO?? Now you answer!! or don’t ask me to reply to you!

  • Bergkampisgod

    apo – don’t be patronising. I am in my fifties and supported the gunners my whole life.

    So for me, I don’t have the strange fixation that some do for AW. The club was here before him and will be here long after him. I’ve seen a lot of managers.

  • apo Armani

    Ok my apologies about your age Bergkampisgod!!

    I stand by my belief, and my passion for the team…and Wenger is the best man we have!

    Lets not then argue who’s right or wrong – we are on the same side but with slightly different opinions.

    We have a manager – if you don’t like what he is doing – fair enough, but please don’t expect me to agree with you…I WONT!

  • Bergkampisgod

    apo – he was in La Masia. At Barcelona. And he cost 350K at age 16. I like him, a lot. But until he plays a full season against the top players can we evaluate how good he really is.

  • apo Armani

    September 3, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    If we keep chatting an hour or so in the end we will agree…Wenger finds potential GEMS and doesn’t pay over the top…he believes in what he is doing, and that in my mind is commendable – we should all be behind his project!!! NOT AN EASY ONE!

  • Pete

    Well, we have Giroud and Walcott for starters. There are also strikers on loan who can be recalled (Akpom, even Sanogo…).

    I remember how much abuse the club/management got for signing Welbeck…

  • jayramfootball

    @Pete – well Welbeck wont be much of a talking point this year that is for sure… the club found out last week he would need surgery. He is out for another 3 months ro so.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    About purposely drawing in tacklers closer before releasing the ball…hard to say whether AW has coached his team to do this. I was never coached to do that but then again I did not possess the requisite skill. It is, however, something that is coached in other sports. In basketball we coach a ‘slow first part of a shot fake’ and a ‘faster second phase’ where you pull the ball down and either pass or dribble. This allows the opposition player to bite and defend your shot.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    @BergkampisGod…I know no Gooner who is happy that Welbeck is out and I imagine that would include AW. I also imagine that AW tried to bring in another forward. Clearly, he was unable to get someone. Calling this incompetence or some synonym is unfair. You mentioned two players who play at very rich clubs who we didn’t sign. What if they didn’t want to sign? I have turned down job offers in my life… I have been on the other side of the fence, too, during an economic boom and we could not get ‘qualified’ workers. Lots of of average workers were available to be overpaid but the really important technical people were just not available without breaking our budget. And, nobody was happy…fortunately we knew our competitors were in the same boat. Let’s all row together, eh?

  • esxste


    If, for some insane reason, Wenger was sacked tonight; who would you recommend that should come in and replace him?

    Wenger is one of the best managers in the world, no matter how much you might like to belittle his achievements.

    There are few, if any, other managers who could have done the job he has, in the circumstances he has done it. And theres fewer still that would have taken on that challenge.

    You might be in your 50’s, you might have watched the Arsenal all your life. But you still haven’t learnt how to be a supporter.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Can we call back Podolski?

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    No hes gone.Gala perm.contract.
    ps cheers Pete for the nod the other day…

  • apo Armani

    Yes as Kenneth said Mandy…gone on a 3 year deal with an option of extension to 4.

  • Menace

    How many strikers do we have? We have several – in fact all our players play as strikers. The goalkeeper has to refrain from crossing the field of play but all our players attack. Why does an Arsenal supporter not know that!!! Arsenal players move to different positions during the game & create several chances for goals. Giroud plays furthest forward but is a holding player. He also scores when he can. All our players do that – score when they can.

    Arsenal are a fluid football team. The movement & passing is what makes them a joy to watch. The PGMO are an abortion in the Beautiful Game. They do not allow growth nor do they appreciate the Laws that just happen to safeguard skill & demonize player contact before the ball.

    McClaren the idiot laughs off a leg breaking tackle as light & miss timed.

  • Pete

    Jayram – my point is that the club spent £16mm this time last year on Welbeck who is not better than what we already had – but he filled up a squad slot and provided experienced cover for Giroud and Walcott (who were both injured at the time). We also hoped Wenger could work his magic and develop him. Jury out still due to his injury. £16mm is nothing for City, Chelsea and Utd – but is significant for us.

    Perhaps spending that £16mm (+ wages) prevented us going the extra mile this time around?

  • Pete

    Can’t remember who wrote that Mitrovic’s tackle on Coquelin was a harsh red card? Are you serious? That was a disgraceful foul and deserving of a red card and a long suspension. A really disgusting way to treat a fellow pro and one of the worst fouls I’ve seen for a long time.

  • bjtgooner

    “A lot of our players deliberately try to draw players in to a tackle and then play the ball after the opponent is committed to the tackle”

    I am not sure this is a sound point. It implies our players are trying to induce a foul in which they are often hurt or injured. It cannot be the case.

    The proper way to look at this situation is that our players try to move the ball forward at pace (to get past a parked bus) and often the oposition deliberately try to stop us by deliberate fouls, or they do not have the skill set to tackle cleanly, or as we saw from Newcastle – they deliberately (and illegally) tried to rough us up in the expectation the ref would let them get away with it.

    In other words our players are not trying to attract fouls, rather they are, as we always maintained, the victims.

  • Bergkampisgod

    esxste – Ancelotti? Klopp? Both without clubs right now. Only point I’m making is that Arsenal will be here long after Wenger’s gone. That’s all.

    I’ve seen a lot of managers, some good, some bad.

    Unfortunately, like Clough, AW has stayed too long… It’s a shame, but is what it is.

  • Bergkampisgod

    Menace – how do all of our players play as strikers? I’m confused.

    Why do teams pay a premium for strikers if everybody plays as a striker? That’s a very odd thing to say.

    Considering our top scorer this year is Own Goal.

  • Mick

    Unfortunately some commenters stay too long on this site as well.

  • Bergkampisgod

    Mick – aimed at me?

  • apo Armani

    September 3, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I’ll tell you where that (it was a harsh red card) started from – the Media – the parrots who continue it are just that…

    That was potential leg breaker season/career butcher hack in any book!

  • apo Armani

    “…season/career ENDING – butcher hack in any book!**

  • apo Armani

    This on going Le Grove thing is boring 🙂 hahahahaha

  • Mick

    Obviously. You are boring.

  • apo Armani

    These Le Grove types spend too much tome on playstation/FIFA manager I feel!!

    Obviously it has no age limitations!!

  • Al

    True 🙂

  • Bergkampisgod

    apo – how am I a FIFA player? all i wanted was the striker and DM most normal people see that we need to compete for the title. as that’s what i want, us to win a title.

    first time in 11 years.

  • Pedro

    Slightly off subject ….arsenal results in 2015….city 0-2 arsenal… u 0-1 arsenal……arsenal 0-0 Chelsea……man u 1-1 arsenal ….. Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool…..arsenal 1-0 chelsea……..arsenal 0-0 Liverpool….. That’s 7 games undefeated and only 2 goals conceded since cocuelin got in the side and they say we are crap against top sides and need a defensive midfielder.

  • Bergkampisgod

    Pedro – which of those are cup games? Which EPL?

    And the whole point is that Coquelin (yes that’s his name) is good. When he’s injured or not playing, what is the record of the team when Arteta or Flamini is playing?

    Can you share that?

  • Pedro

    It doesn’t matter whether they are cup or prem games. The results show how we have improved since cocuelin (don’t give a toss if spelling is wrong) became a first choice in midfield.

  • Pedro

    I think it’s obvious that the results were pretty dire against top sides before cocuelin got in the side.
    The point is that we now have the stability in midfield that allows the rest to play and when Gabrielle becomes a first team regular we will be even stronger. The results in 2015 against the top sides do not lie.

  • Bergkampisgod

    Well it does if Coquelin (and yes if you have zero idea of his name, kinda means you don’t know much) wasn’t plying in those games – really reduces your argument to irrelevance. So check he actually played those games.

  • Bergkampisgod

    And in that run we lost to the scum and swansea. And West Ham at home.

    Not sure of your point?

  • apo Armani

    Le Grove talk hahahahahahaha

  • Gunz


    Check out

    You might recognize some familiar names!

  • Al

    Thanks for the link. Shocking, to say the least.

  • apo Armani


    Nothing new to me!!

  • bjtgooner

    Good link Gunz, that Jayramasshole who comes on here pretending to be a concerned fan was, on that link, showing a major part of his true character – a real two faced creep.

  • Good article.could the premier leagues teams poor performances in Europe also be partly due to doping being prominent in European team’s particularly Spanish team’s?

  • apo Armani

    How the internet protects GITS…

    come face to face…??

  • apo Armani

    jay ram…whatever, show your face again!!! do you have a face?? where is it?

  • Jimmy Jackson

    A nice article, but I think it’s a bit presumptuous. Football wasn’t born yesterday, so for me ideas like the PGMO possibly having only just caught onto the idea of home crowds subconsciously affecting referees seem a bit ridiculous.

  • Jeremy

    Great article with some interesting and valid points. Regarding possession stats and number of fouls if I remember correctly untold did a breakdown of this a while ago and Arsenal seemed to be the only team to gain no benefit from playing at home and even taking into account the Arsenals possession game were picking up cards at a faster rate than even more physical teams. Appreciate the post and hope it’s not the last one from the poster.

  • Pedro

    Bercampiscod…. Not sure of your point either. I think your saying if coquelin is injured then our replacement is not good enough and we should have bought a £30 million replacement. That could apply to city and Chelsea. If ya ya toure is injured who comes in, obviously someone inferior.. If matic is injured who comes in, someone inferior. Get my point…

  • Mick

    Lets go back to pre Coquelin days. The clamour was for a defensive midfielder so lets pretend that instead of coming through the youth system Wenger had bought Coquelin for £25 million from Lille and he slotted in and did a terrific job. Presumably everyone would have been happy with Arteta and Flamini as back up under those circumstances as the clamour was for the one DMF not two. So why the demand for another DFM, is it because Coquelin (who has outperformed most of those others Wenger has been harassed to buy) came through the youth system that Arteta and Flamini are suddenly not acceptable any more. I don’t get it.

  • Gord

    Two days after a 3 day article stopped receiving comments. It is lovely you provided another category (or two) for errors to fall in to. No means of estimating them. Your entire article is handwaving. I look forward to your providing an article to put meat to your claims.