I shall start by making it clear that I’m 99% behind Usama , Walter et al in their referee analyses (well nobody’s perfect) and the article on the Crystal Palace game triggered me into doing a little more research.
In that article, the question was asked, “But still has there ever been a season in the history of Arsenal where we were not awarded a penalty at home???” So I thought I’d check because in all honesty, I’ve been beginning to wonder whether we’ve ever had a damned penalty!! So I just thought I’d point out that we actually didn’t get a home penalty in 2011/12 either, sorry boys!
I’ve only looked back as far as 2002/03 and before we put too much stock by our own apparent misfortune, the Spuds actually went two consecutive seasons (2011/12 and 2012/13) without a home pen. Maybe it’s just a north south divide in terms of refereeing!
However, given Mike Riley took over before the start of the 2009/10 season it’s interesting to note some anomalies since that date. For example, I have taken a cursory look at the ‘traditional top four’ of Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs in seven seasons Riley has been the Godfather. (I’d like to have done the whole league but gathering facts is incredibly time consuming as others will testify……although very worthwhile as it makes unsubstantiated opinions look very silly sometimes.)
Anyway, between them the four clubs have been awarded 177 penalties in the premiership under Riley. So by my reckoning, given we’ve constantly been in the top four whilst the others haven’t, if it all evens out we would have got 25% of those i.e. 44.25. In fact it’s actually just 31. That’s far fewer than the second lowest which is Man U at 43 (and in fairness they’ve had a couple of abysmal seasons during the seven seasons in question). Meanwhile, the other two have both had over 50 each……yes that’s 60% more than us.
It gets worse though. I thought I’d have a look at the penalties awarded against the ‘top four’ to see whether that told us anything. Not unnaturally given they do more attacking and less defending you would expect them to concede fewer than they commit.
And so it transpires. A total 96 in fact. That’s an average of 24 each. So (as everything evens itself out in the end) we’ve had just 24…………..sorry, my mistake, we’ve actually had 35. That’s over 50% more than the second highest at just 23. Well that doesn’t seem to all even out in the end so I dug deeper.
Now I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories but I am a believer in conspiracies. And as a team with close to the highest possession stats and best territorial advantages I find it quite inconceivable that the following table for penalties for and against could actually exist unless we’re doing something terribly wrong. So I looked for evidence. The pens for and against though, looked like this.
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Pen. Disparity|
|Arsenal FC||31||35||– 4|
|Manchester City||51||20||+ 31|
|Manchester United||43||18||+ 25|
So the others are all getting twice as many for than against but we could not even break through the 50/50 barrier.
But based on my perception of possession etc., how could this be? Perhaps I was wrong. Well not really the average possession over the seven seasons is pretty even. (There is a slight anomaly with Man U I admit, so I have to guess that the reason that Man U has a relatively low number of penalties to possession ratio is because they’ve barely crossed the half way line since SAF retired!).
So the average possession over 7 seasons is as follows. The opposition have had the ball less against us, so one pointer to the fact that they might be awarded fewer penalties……….
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Pen. Disparity||Possession|
|Arsenal FC||31||35||– 4||56.7%|
|Manchester City||51||20||+ 31||55.1%|
|Manchester United||43||18||+ 25||55.7%|
So next I thought we’d look to see if there’s a correlation between the number of fouls committed and penalties awarded and also fouls conceded and penalties conceded. (Please keep at the back of your mind though that all these fouls and penalties are what the refs actually gave rather than what they could/should have given!)
So, now with the average fouls committed (according to the refs) per game over seven seasons added
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Disparity||Possession||Fouls|
|Arsenal FC||31||35||– 4||56.7%||10.5|
|Manchester City||51||20||+ 31||55.1%||11.6|
|Man United||43||18||+ 25||55.7%||11.1|
So clearly the penalties conceded per foul is way off track. We’ve actually committed fewer fouls than the others (some 300 fewer than Man City in fact).
When we look at that the number of fouls committed for each penalty conceded it looks like this.
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Disparity||Possession||Fouls||Fouls per pen|
|Arsenal FC||31||35||– 4||56.7%||10.5||79.6|
|Manchester City||51||20||+ 31||55.1%||11.6||153.7|
|Man United||43||18||+ 25||55.7%||11.1||164.5|
So basically, under Riley we have conceded about twice as many penalties per foul than either of the Man U clubs even though we are committing far fewer fouls…………….that all evens out in the end then!!!
So what about the bad side of our opponents’ game? How many fouls have been committed against us on average per game (according to the refs)
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Disparity||Possession||Fouls by||Fouls per pen||Fouls against|
|Arsenal FC||31||35||– 4||56.7%||10.5||79.6||11.4|
|Man City||51||20||+ 31||55.1%||11.6||153.7||10.0|
|Man Utd||43||18||+ 25||55.7%||11.1||164.5||10.7|
So clearly the Manchester clubs are fouled far less but still do well on penalties.
So how many times are each team fouled for each penalty they get? Let’s see now, will that even itself out?
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Disparity||Possession||Fouls by||Fouls by per pen||Fouls against||Fouls against per pen|
|Man C||51||20||+ 31||55.1%||11.6||153.7||10.0||52.2|
|Man Utd||43||18||+ 25||55.7%||11.1||164.5||10.7||66.2|
So yet again we see how difficult it is for us to get penalties whilst those clubs which are being fouled less (whilst actually committing more themselves) are up to 87% more likely to get a penalty. Well that even’s out then….NOT.
So maybe it’s because we put in more tackles per game and consequently there are more opportunities for it to go wrong. So average tackles per game made by each club over the last seven seasons.
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Disparity||Possession||Fouls by||Fouls by per pen||Fouls against||Fouls against per pen||Tackles per game|
|Man C||51||20||+ 31||55.1%||11.6||153.7||10.0||52.2||19.7|
|Man Utd||43||18||+ 25||55.7%||11.1||164.5||10.7||66.2||19.6|
So clearly that’s got nothing to do with it. So I wondered whether it maybe about how bad the fouls are? The only indicator I could think of for measuring this was the number of cards received. (Again we must bear in mind the arbitrary nature of cards given e.g. Kos got a red and Costa never even committed a foul at the Bridge earlier in the season!!)
I know there are different ways of calculating the worth of a red card but I’m going to keep it simple and count a yellow as one disciplinary point and a red as two. Hence over the past seven seasons how did the teams do?
Well at the time of writing AFC have played one more game than CFC and MUFC but still we have received less disciplinary points than both those teams. Aha! I hear some dissenters shout…so we’re not as hard done by as is claimed……..I’ll come on to that.
So disciplinary points over seven seasons:
|Club||Pens for||Pens against||Disparity||Possession||Fouls by||Fouls by per pen||Fouls against||Fouls against per pen||Tackles per game||Discip pts|
|Man C||51||20||+ 31||55.1%||11.6||153.7||10.0||52.2||19.7||472|
|Man U||43||18||+ 25||55.7%||11.1||164.5||10.7||66.2||19.6||440|
So on that basis our fouls are no worse than anybody else’s which suggests they warrant a card (and given we actually seem to get one or two for breathing in the direction of an opponent!!). In fact we are considerably less malicious than two of the other three (and bearing in mind a Man U player is more than likely to just receive a ticking off unless a machete comes into play, I’d suggest we’re better behaved than all of them).
So what about the idea that if we receive fewer cards, we must be receiving reasonable treatment from the refs (assuming they get all their calls right and any mistakes/bias evens out at 50/50……yeah right!).
Well let’s look at how many fouls we committed and how many cards we received (or disciplinary points in this case). Well the number of fouls committed and number of points is as follows.
- Arsenal 2785 fouls for 439 points
- Chelsea 2960 fouls for 472 points
- Man City 3074 fouls for 472 points
- Man U 2960 fouls for 440 points
I’m sure you can see where this one’s going. Whilst we are committing the fewest number of fouls we are still picking up cards at a faster rate than any of the others. We get a card every 6.3 fouls whilst Man U gets one every 6.7. And whilst this doesn’t seem like much of a difference it still makes little sense (and we have to consider at what point in a game we get those cards too which makes a considerable difference).
Now in conclusion, I will reiterate that I am not a statistician but there are a lot of facts here. (NB for those of you who only deal in opinions, facts are what are needed to give an opinion some credence and will help you to be taken more seriously).
Yet despite the number of facts, I do accept that none of this is conclusive evidence of anything. I would however suggest that having looked at this subject from quite a few different angles, the facts do tend to strongly support the argument that there is a degree of bias against Arsenal by the PIGMOB and that Riley is a Muppet (although the evidence for that was overwhelming before I chipped in).
I’d be hugely interested to debate this with anybody who wants to put the work in to find several facts that would support an opposing view. That could be help the wider debate.
I’ll leave it with you.