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October 2016
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A step back or a great leap forwards? What exactly happened in 2015/16.

By Tony Attwood

I was very pleased to receive Fishpie’s article “Arsenal 2015/16: A Faltering Season with a Flattering Finish,” and to have the chance to publish it on Untold.  Not because I agree with what is said (I don’t in full, as I will explain below) but because it was a well argued piece that drew on evidence and which thus illuminated various issues.

That is what I have asking for, for years: that we draw on the evidence to consider what is going on.  And the fact that I am going to argue against his conclusions is only possible because Fishpie took the first step with a clearly thought out, well illustrated argument.

This is exactly what we need if we are going to explore the ins and outs of what is going on at Arsenal.  We not to put up ideas, with evidence, and see where they go.

Of course I recall that a lot of the time when we have put forward ideas which use a few statistics some have come back and said, “You can prove anything with stats,” while others have simply quoted Disraeli’s comment, “there are lies,  damned lies and statistics,” as if somehow repeating an old phrase made it true, or even apposite.

The fact is that statistics are useful, as they help us explore the underlying assumption of the argument, and get closer to the truth.   In the world of people who write in and say “it is obvious that…” there are only two sides to each argument – you either agree I am right, or you are a basketcase.  But once we bring in the numbers we can explore the assumptions.   Which is why I value all well argued cases with evidence no matter who makes the argument and whether I agree with it or not because each piece helps us edge closer to the truth.

To put it on a grander scale, we only know the universe is expanding at an ever faster rate because Einstein created a completely false formula involving the universal constant.  He was quite wrong in doing that (he later called it, his greatest mistake), but because he put forward that view, others could take the numbers and the evidence, and work on them.  We needed Einstein’s false assumption before we could make any progress.

I think the assumption here is that we can look back to previous years, see where we were in the table then, see how many goals our top scorer got, see where we are now, and then from that decide what we ought to do.

That notion is widespread, and indeed I have used it myself a number of times without examining the validity of it.  But it gives us a start point for further investigation.

Of the four teams that were expected to make up the Champions League spot, one ended up 10th, 31 points behind the leaders, closer to relegation than to winning the league.   This suggests to me that something very odd was going on which makes this past season which we need to look at.

Leicester won with 81 points.  In 2011/12 Man U got 89 points and didn’t win the league.  In 2004/5 Chelsea won the league with 95 point.  On the other hand in 1996/97 Man U won the league with just 75 points.  In other words how far Arsenal is behind a winner is a measurement of both Arsenal’s achievement and the unique properties of that season.  One season is not like the next.

Here’s another approach: it is impossible for a team from outside the top four one season to win it the next.   I wrote a whole article along those lines on Untold to prove that Leicester would not win the league.  It was an argument that had held true for 27 seasons, when Arsenal won in 1989, our having come sixth in 1988.  But it happened this year.

On 12 September this season with Chelsea 15th and Tottenham 16th, while Crystal Palace sat fourth and Norwich 8th, there were all sorts of funny thoughts going on about which club might achieve what, and it changed the way clubs played.  Chelsea became desperate and Mourinho went bonkers, and the more desperate Chelsea got the worse they played and the more bonkers the manager got.  Palace thought they had the magic formula and started to relax and played better – for a while, but a few poor results saw them tumble.

By 18 October West Ham were fourth and were being repeatedly tipped as a Champions League club.  By mid-March Palace were talked about as being in a relegation dogfight.

My point is that seasons have dynamics, and those dynamics change from season to season depending on multiple factors, which affect every team in different ways.

When we look at the league table yes, we were three wins and a draw from winning the League.  We scored three less than the champions but let in the same number of goals as Leicester.  We let in one more than Tottenham.   So we are right up there.

So looking at those figures, we see a defence that is pretty much among the best in the league.  And yet Fishpie’s conclusion was

In defence, I see our full backs too often only half-heartedly closing down and blocking crosses. I see our central defenders losing their strikers in the box. I see fast attackers running at an exposed back four, hitting unchallenged shots, from the edge of the box, low and hard into the bottom corner of the net.

I see our midfield losing the physical battle. I also see our midfield players giving the ball away needlessly, as though they are not focussed,

We are under pressure from more committed teams.

Now I am not getting at Fishpie here, for he has put forward a position, which then allows the rest of us to start to question it – without him I wouldn’t have done my own analysis here.   So I can now ask how can our defence be as bad as Fishpie says, when in fact we have the third best defence in the league?  Fishpie is not alone; lots of people have a similar point of view.  Hell, I’ve worried about the defence sometimes too.

Here is the league table written in defensive order… Leicester and Arsenal are equal.

So the comparative table of defences doesn’t reveal what Fishpie perceived in watching the game.  But what I do know from reading the blogs of other clubs’ supporters is that most clubs have supporters who say the same thing about their defenders.   Many supporters notice the mistakes of their own team because being nervous is a prime characteristic of watching your team (unless they are 6-0 up).  Most of us see Arsenal 19 times more than we see anyone else so we get more critical.

But let’s move on and try our forwards.  It is said that we need a 20+ goal a season striker.   This table shows our position in the league and the number of goals by the top striker.  The goals include all the major competitions (league, FA Cup, Europe, League Cup).

Season P W D L F A Pts Pos Top scorer Goals
1997–98 38 23 9 6 68 33 78 1 Dennis Bergkamp 22
1998–99 38 22 12 4 59 17 78 2 Nicolas Anelka 19
1999–2000 38 22 7 9 73 43 73 2 Thierry Henry 26
2000–01 38 20 10 8 63 38 70 2 Thierry Henry 22
2001–02 38 26 9 3 79 36 87 1 Thierry Henry 32
2002–03 38 23 9 6 85 42 78 2 Thierry Henry 32
2003–04 38 26 12 0 73 26 90 1 Thierry Henry 39
2004–05 38 25 8 5 87 36 83 2 Thierry Henry 30
2005–06 38 20 7 11 68 31 67 4 Thierry Henry 33
2006–07 38 19 11 8 63 35 68 4 Robin van Persie 13
2007–08 38 24 11 3 74 31 83 3 Emmanuel Adebayor 30
2008–09 38 20 12 6 68 37 72 4 Robin van Persie 20
2009–10 38 23 6 9 83 41 75 3 Cesc Fàbregas 19
2010–11 38 19 11 8 72 43 68 4 Robin van Persie 22
2011–12 38 21 7 10 74 49 70 3 Robin van Persie 37
2012–13 38 21 10 7 72 37 73 4 Theo Walcott 21
2013–14 38 24 7 7 68 41 79 4 Olivier Giroud 22
2014–15 38 22 9 7 71 36 75 3 Alexis Sánchez 25
2015-16 38 20 11 7 65 36 71 2 Olivier Giroud 24

Now we can see that in our three league winning seasons we had a top goalscorer with 22, 32 and 39 goals – quite a difference between each one.  In some seasons we came third and fourth we had top scorers with 30, 37 and 33.  So there appears to be little link between having a 20+ goalscorer and winning the league.  A top scorer with over 30 might deliver the trophy or a fourth (which, I am told, is not a trophy).

Indeed although having Henry at his prime was a sensational asset, having two scorers at 18+ each can be even more effective, because with top top scorers defences tend to get pulled left and right more often.  Arsenal have scored 80+ goals three times in the table above, shown in red.  In not one of those occasions did we win the league.  Our top scorers in those three seasons got 33, 32 and 19.

What’s more, a top scorer can be a danger.  Henry rarely got injured, but had he been done by a Stoke or Sunderland player, we would have have struggled.  With two or three scorers we can be better off.  But it is harder to recruit a top quality backup to Henry because a) Henry is always picked, b) he never gets injured.  Thus step by step it gets more complex to argue.

Let me leave you with the always hilarious Spanish League table, in which Villarreal qualified for the Champions League by missing relegation by just 26 points.  Yes once again in Spain we have a Champs League qualifier closer to relegation than to winning the league.

# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 38 29 4 5 112 29 83 91
2 Real Madrid 38 28 6 4 110 34 76 90
3 Atletico Madrid 38 28 4 6 63 18 45 88
4 Villarreal 38 18 10 10 44 35   9 64

Just look at the goals scored by the Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Now compare with Atletico Mad in third.   Atletico scored 47 goals fewer than Real Mad and 49 goals fewer than Barcelona.

So it is obvious.  If Atletico got themselves a forward line, they could win the league. Except Atletico were two points behind Real and three points behind Barcelona.  Not far off.   Ah so it must be the defence.  No, Atletico only let in 18 goals all season.

Well if it’s not the attack and not the defence what the fuck is it?

And therein lies the question.

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142 comments to A step back or a great leap forwards? What exactly happened in 2015/16.

  • WalterBroeckx

    The referees? 😉

  • Jan Hansen

    Always interesting reading, thanks.

    However not all goals are equally important (scoring our second goal to grab a 2-1 win is more important that Girouds third against Villa) and not all defensive ‘errors’ are equally catastrophic.

    I have a sense – not backed by data, obviously – that Arsenal are very good at making costly mistakes and to score less important goals.

    Would be interesting to see if data support this or not.

  • Agree entirely Jan. One way to start looking is how many victories by a single goal each club had. If I have time I’ll do it, unless yyou want to.

  • para

    Gabriel Audu Oyibo(Nigeria) the man who solved it.

    I do wonder why the other leagues are not the same number of teams as PL or more feasable why the PL does not reduce the games in PL.

    This will surely give UK teams better chances in Europe. Games do take their toll on players and our PL teams have to play so many more games than other leagues, sometimes with just 2-4 days in between.

  • Leon

    I think the scorers list is a little misrepresentative inasmuch as you include the total number of goals scored from all sources (for each player) and put the figures at the end of each line for that seasons Premier League stats. eg Giroud 24 this season from a total of 65. The correct figure for his PL goals is 16. This is repeated back through the list.
    I’m not attempting to discredit him or any of the others, but it looks here as though he scored more Premier League goals than he actually did.

  • Shard

    In broad terms surely this is a season of progress. Why? Because when we play well, show a desire and ability to play a great, coordinated style of football, but end up 4th, we are told that only the league table matters and not the rest. So why now is it important how we got to 2nd when it comes to judging ‘progress’?

    I went back and read Fishpie’s article. I think the point about our defense isn’t entirely correct. But only as a matter of emphasis. We do defend well generally, but even Wenger has called for a more ‘ruthless’ attitude to defending. The Liverpool 3-3 stands out in memory.

    But I think we need to look at our season as a whole. Till we had Cazorla in the middle, we could feel more secure about our play. Mostly because he’s a genius at keeping the ball and once he breaks through a line, to pass the ball forward. His loss was accentuated by the fact that we didn’t have Arteta (a great passer and distributor from deep), Wilshere (who can also dribble and go past people, though at a lesser level) and Rosicky (keeps the ball moving) at the same time. Is that poor planning on Wenger’s behalf or unlucky? We don’t know what information he had so I don’t know the judgment on that.

    Our season hinged on two calls by the manager. Trusting that Arteta could play another season. And that Walcott could play as a striker. Both of which were reasonable, but turned out to be wrong. Something to consider for next season certainly, but overall, I don’t think this season was the disaster it’s being made out to be. Lots of extenuating circumstances too, and we still fared better than all the other clubs favoured by the experts.

  • Hi Berry

    Leon…good point which goes to show statistics can sometimes be unreliable when not used correctly. I agree with Fishpie’s observations regarding the defence. It always seems to me that opposition full backs close down our wide players much more effectively than we do theirs…so many of our crosses are blocked for a throw-in. As a result we appear to have fewer crosses into the danger area when attacking but appear to be unable to prevent dangerous crosses into the penalty area when we are defending. As I said this is a conclusion drawn from watching matches and is not drawn from any statistical analysis. I wonder whether attacking the goal-line and crossing the ball is discouraged at Arsenal in favour of the possession game which encourages the sideways passing? Might the fact that we don’t attack the goal-line and cross the ball in training result in defenders who aren’t adept at closing such situations down?

  • Pete

    An interesting evidence-based article (for a change) on the BBC website. Seems only 4 of 30 pundits had Arsenal down to finish higher than 2nd.

    However, I did find this from him – he had us down for 3rd. So we outperformed your assessment eh, Danny?

  • Pete

    Sorry – omitted a sentence. I couldn’t find Danny Murphy as one of the BBC’s top 30 pundits so went trawling…

  • Stevo

    One other thing that should be considered is the fact that Vardy and Kane for example, both were penalty takers whereas I don’t remember Giroud having the benefit of adding penalty goals to his tally, assuming of course that one day we might have another spot kick awarded to us.

  • colario

    As has been pointed out many times here, what the players do or don’t do on the pitch is influenced by the representatives of the PMGOL.

    Would we have scored more goals, would our defense have performed better, would our midfielders protected the defense better and given better service to our strikers, with referees who were not members of the PMGOL?

    The evidence is there that the referees had a different Law Book for other teams to the one they used for our players.

    Surely this is a major factor we have to consider when reviewing the season.

    Yes the WOB and the aaa cry that when we lose we never blame the team we blame the ref and when we win we praise the team and never blame the ref.

    It does look like that until you examine individual games.

    Time and time again we have won but the referees performance has been abysmal and it has been difficult not to believe bias against our players. We have won despite the PMGOL representatives.

  • Jim

    Did we win the EPL after all the other so called major teams collapsed?…NO
    Should we have won it after they all collapsed?…YES
    Why didn’t we win it?…Because we haven’t progressed..we are still a half season team.

    Finishing 10 points behind Leicester with a total of only 71 points says we went backwards slightly.
    Blaming officials, media. fixtures, opposition teams parking the bus, and even our own supporters are not reasons for not performing consistently on the pitch..they are excuses..

  • Polo

    @ Tony, another great article, thank you.

    In relation to Atletico Madrid, could the reason why they are close to the top is because they probably won a lot of their match with 1-0 or 2-0? Hence why the goals for is low and goals against is low? They were tied with Barca on games won after Barca had a period of bad form ( I think lost 3 matches in a row) the 3 points difference with Barca was their lost in game 37 I think. However, they still would not have been champions because of goal difference.

    Having read your above article and Fishpie’s, I believe you are correct in saying that we look at our team more critically than other teams so we tend to be aware of it more, whereas if we watch other teams we don’t really care. A lot of the time watching Arsenal I do feel nervous with our defense because of silly mistakes and our defending of aerial crosses. And many times when we are up 1-0 we seem to switch off for a period of time during the match hence allowing the opponent to attack more. I think part of the problem is Gabriel positioning in defense because he haven’t played a lot of matches so there could be lapse in communication with the other defenders. I think given more time he and Kos will make a good pairing.

    I don’t blame us not winning this season entirely on the refs as I still believe we were not clinical enough in front of goal and had to many injuries to our key players which costs us winning matches. However, we were also unlucky with some of the refs decisions which also contributed to our lost in points, games like Chelsea away where we could have won or most likely draw, Ramsey offside in home match against Liverpool, Carrol should have been red carded at West Ham, Dier should have been red carded at Spurs etc.

    Injuries to key players played a large part in us not winning this season and prior seasons, some WOBs say this is a known so AW should buy more cover, however it’s a bit difficult if you already have a big wage bill and if you keep adding more players the wage bill will increase exponentially. They then say some players should be sold, it’s a bit difficult if they are still under contract unless there are agreements between both parties.

    Looking forward to next season, I hope we find a good striker to fill in for Danny, I think Chambers can fill in as CB and I hope he is given more game time, and maybe a DM and I think AW is targetting Xhaka. Other areas I think we are covered. Also, I hope AW give some of the youngsters the opportunity to play in some first team matches even if they are subs.

    New season, new hope, come on Arsenal!!!!

  • Nick

    Hi Berry
    Some good points there.We dont defend as a team as well as we should.You see the great teams press all over the pitch and close down the space quickly .We dont work as hard in that department and seems that it gets overlooked.
    When we do have the ball there isnt as much directness as say leicester and continually move the ball from side to side to work an opening.This allows teams to “park the bus” and get 10 players behind the ball.These sort of situations are where a plan b or c can come into play but im not sure wenger can coach an alternative type of play and as many have said we are predictable and can only play one way.Say for instance has anyone on here seen any of our players taking early shots from the edge of the box??Theres only elneny springs into my mind.Its called variation and keeps teams guessing.

  • Nick

    Oh and lets not get onto blaming referees again.There are a million and 1 blogs on that subject and is tedious and makes us look more like sore loosers and desperate for excuses.Every club thinks they are hard done to by referees not just arsenal.

  • Nick

    Polo with reference to our wagebill it looks like at least 3 of our higher earners have all finished at arsenal so we can use their wages and more to attract players.Most players are still under contract when they are transferred so that shouldnt be a stumbling block , i think our problems lie in the evaluation of a players worth.We have sold many players over the years for more than they were worth its about time we did the same to secure top targets that we need to win major honors.We have the money to do so !!

  • Pete

    Polo – Why do we need a DM? Already have Coquelin and Elneny. Why spend a huge chunk of our “war chest” on an upgrade there, if one can be found (difficult I think), when the money may be better spent elsewhere? A world class striker – very hard to find – would likely be £50mm+ and that, plus wages, would be the bulk of what we have. Could also look at Centre Back and need cover at right back – Jenkinson?

    Nick – Trouble with pressing all over the pitch is that it is very physically demanding. Two biggest exponents in UK were Tottenham and Liverpool. Tottenham couldn’t sustain for the season (and only conceded one fewer than us) and Liverpool performed it erratically conceding 50. Other two top defences (Leicester and MU) did not press all over the pitch. And Tottenham and Liverpool didn’t have CL to contend with either.

    As for your comments regarding referees – they are extraordinary. Firstly, I am not aware of any other blog or publication that investigates PL refereeing anywhere close to the depth of UA. Secondly, there is overwhelming evidence that Arsenal are dealt with far more harshly than other clubs. If you disagree, please show evidence to the contrary. Although – be warned – no one has yet managed this. Probably because it doesn’t exist.

  • Rich

    ‘Many supporters notice the mistakes of their own team because being nervous is a prime characteristic of watching your team (unless they are 6-0 up). Most of us see Arsenal 19 times more than we see anyone else so we get more critical.’


    If I trusted my emotional reactions on the day, I’d surely be a WOB. During the bad moments, West Ham game being a good recent example, I tend to believe (wail), ‘we have the most vulnerable defence imaginable; no other team is this vulnerable; woe, woe’

    The numbers, however, totally disprove that idea. A red flag is that when we are in the groove and successfully attacking I almost never think ‘ah, look how weak that opposition defence is; look how easily we’ve got through them and how powerless or vulnerable they are’. Nope, it just feels like the good and right thing is happening; that we are attacking well and, unlucky suckers, there was nothing they could really do to stop us.

    Far more often than not I don’t pick out any real mistake in the oppositions defence, or if I spot one it looks minor and was only exploited by good attacking play. Total opposite when we concede or come close to. Even if I don’t spot a big mistake from us there, the assumption is that there must have been. (has to be! Bad things can’t just happen sometimes can they!!…where…where would that leave us…)

    Highly recommend Daniel Kahneman’s excellent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, for all this and much else.

    This bit in particular seems relevant to this debate


    Two selves[edit]

    Kahneman proposed an alternate measure that assessed pleasure or pain sampled from moment to moment, and then summed over time. Kahneman called this “experienced” well-being and attached it to a separate “self”. He distinguished this from the “remembered” well-being that the polls had attempted to measure. He found that these two measures of happiness diverged.

    His major discovery was that the remembering self does not care about the duration of a pleasant or unpleasant experience. Rather, it retrospectively rates an experience by the peak (or valley) of the experience, and by the way it ends. Further, the remembering self dominated the patient’s ultimate conclusion.

    “Odd as it may seem,” Kahneman writes, “I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me

  • Jambug


    I do see where you are coming from, to a degree. I take your point that being open to all opinions is at least a starting point for debate.

    But specifically regarding Fishpies article I think you are being far to gracious.

    Basically he was just repeating, verbatim, what we read in the Red Tops, or hear repeatedly from pundits.


    We cant defend (we can, you showed that)

    We have to have a 25/30 a season scorer (we don’t, you showed that)

    Amongst other things:

    He says he ‘questions the Clubs ambition’

    WTF. We’ve just built a new Stadium to enable us to compete with the Uniteds of this World. How is that lacking ambition?

    He latches on to the medias favourite trick of dismissing our 2 FA Cup victories as a mere irrelevance, with:

    “And thus it’s fair to say that apart from the 2 very enjoyable back-to-back FA Cup successes, the extra player investment seen over the last 3 seasons, has not, as yet, seen a corresponding improvement of any significance in our results…”

    He dismisses our midfield without any statistical evidence, with:

    “Our midfield, as I recall the season, apart from when Le Coq and Cazola play together, I see an ill disciplined and dysfunctional deep midfield. Certainly when Ramsey and Flamini are playing I see them appearing in all and any kinds of positions and the opposition is passing through them effortlessly. I see our midfield losing the physical battle. I also see our midfield players giving the ball away needlessly, as though they are not focussed, conceding possession sloppily, struggling to move the ball into attacking areas. I see Elneny looking better on the ball, neat, more assured with his passing, steadier but not adept at winning the ball so much.”

    He dismisses out of hand the notion we get any worse treatment from referees, despite the Reviews, despite the Penalty/Card statistics, and tellingly, as is usual, fails to supply any evidence to the contrary.

    I give up.

    I was going to go through his article bit by bit but frankly he hardly has a good word to say.

    I’ve read more complementary musings from the likes of Howard and Reade, two of the most Arsenal hating media hacks you could ever have the misfortune to come across.

    Yes, he produces some statistics comparing season to season suggesting lack of progress but this is tenuous at best, because as you show, you can reach a certain amount of points and score a certain amount of goals one season and finish 3rd. The next you could attain less points and score fewer goals but win the league.

    Is that progress?

    In Fishpies analysis it isn’t.

    All the season to season comparisons are dependent on all the other teams.

    If we say spend £30, £40, £50 Million even, on improving our squad, but those 3 all spend £100 Million and finish above us pushing us to 4th, is that progress or regression?

    We may of moved forward, but others may of moved further forward. It’s all relative, and that is where his season to season analysis, which he uses to criticise us, falls down. The basic statistics lack context.

    Sorry Fishpie, sorry Tony, I said before, I thought it was a terrible article and I still think it is a terrible article.

  • Pete

    Oh, and we are now 10 League games unbeaten (5 wins/ 5 draws). Not outstanding but a solid basis for next season.

  • Nick

    Im sorry but where you get a few people together to analyse the refereeing decisions on games and whom mostly support arsenal it then becomes an opinion not evidence !

  • Nick

    Oh Pete
    How has your last statement got any bearing on the start of next season.Im all for looking for positives to take onto next season but that is just clutching at straws.
    Jambug we didnt win the league because the team and manager werent good enough to do so.We must be better!!We lost 7 games in the league Leicester lot only 3

  • Pete

    Nick – When the Referee’s Decisions website was up and running a couple of seasons ago – reviewing a broad selection of matches, not just Arsenal games, and with independent (i.e. non-Arsenal suporting) referees, the conclusions on Arsenal games were even more one-sided!

    If you disagree with the reviews then I challenge you to go back and identify the key decisions where you believe the reviewers were unduly generous to Arsenal. Otherwise I won’t be able to take you seriously in this respect.

    I am not clutching at straws. My glass is more half-full – but you seem to think this season has been a disaster. It has not.

  • bjtgooner

    Nick @ 10.22 am

    “Im sorry but where you get a few people together to analyse the refereeing decisions on games and whom mostly support arsenal it then becomes an opinion not evidence !”

    You have not offered any evidence to support your comment, therefore your comment would appear to be be your opinion and nothing more than your opinion.

    In other words you are doing exactly what you (wrongly) accuse others of doing.

    Lets see you counter the analysis of the referee decisions, point by point, before you come out with that drivel.

  • Mick

    What about the Debatable Decisions site who’s findings agreed with Walters efforts, and the three papers who did alternative league tables taking into account questionable and wrong decisions. All these independent analases came to the same conclusion with Arsenal top of their tables.
    Were they all biased in Arsenals favour?

  • Mick

    You people make me laugh.
    You all dismiss out of hand the possibility of referees being biased, either consciously or subconsciously, but then accuse the review team on Untold who are all qualified refs of showing bias.
    You can’t have it both ways.

  • Fishpie

    Tony, thank you for acknowledging my attempt at reason and evidence and I’m sorry it wasn’t enough to convince you entirely, or even at all.

    Looking at some of the early comments you’ve received on this post, your hope that one hypothesis, whilst not entirely correct, can at least lead to further ideas and investigation would appear to be bearing fruit. e.g. @ Jan.

    I don’t want to halt the thrust of such responses but I hope you don’t mind if I quickly nip in and respond to a couple of points in your article above.

    You argue that assessing our performance this season by comparing it with past seasons is not a valid way to judge progress; at least, not by focussing on the number of games won, drawn and lost and the resulting points accumulated. Each season has its own dynamics and this renders direct comparison difficult. I would have agreed in principle with this had it not been for the fact that when I originally started this series of Fishpie articles before the season started, I discovered there was a reasonable consistency across the previous 10 years (in which City and Chelsea had joined Man United as the primary contenders for the title) in that in 9 of those 10 years the Champions had won the title within a narrow band of points, between 86 and 91 : averaging out as 87 points. There had been, if you like, a new norm established, by the new elite. And as it happened Chelsea won the title in the previous season on exactly 87 points.

    I acknowledged at the time there was no guarantee this pattern would continue but it might help us set a target which, if we could attain it, might see us making a serious challenge. So, sod’s law, the dynamics this season were very different in a number of ways, not least, as you point out, Chelsea. Despite these different dynamics, Leicester ended up with 81 points (principally using a strategy that avoided defeat – just 3 in fact). Now call me “straw clutcher” if you want, but 81 points isn’t so short of 87. It’s in the ballpark. And more to the point, we were well short, again, of being in that ballpark. Champions,in the modern era, appear to become Champions by accumulating over 80 points, regardless of the season by season dynamics. We, on the other hand, in 9 out of the 10 previous seasons achieved between 67 and 79 points averaging 73 points over that 10 year period, consistently (apart from one season) below the above 80 points of Champions and this, regardless of the season by season dynamics.

    So, yes. the dynamics vary season by season, different teams react to the prevailing circumstances as they unfold, but a similar bigger picture gradually emerges both for the champions and for us.

    Arsene knows each season what he is likely to face, which teams will play which way, which teams will press and defend, which will attack, which Managers will favour what systems. For sure, he can’t predict the exact degree of new impact that new players and new Managers to the league will have, neither can he predict luck and bad ref decisions but he is not inexperienced. He has, has he not, seen it all.

    So far, equipped with greater financial resources, Mr Wenger has still not found a way of building a team that it is capable of playing consistency enough to attain the points tally of Champions in the modern era. No? Yes?

    As to the reasons for this, I see flaws in his team (potentially exaggerated, as you say Tony, by my heightened fear of conceding a goal or missing a pass). But I trust my accumulated experience of seeing past Arsenal teams and knowing the difference, when I see it, between a persistently solid defence and a one that is prone to occasional flakiness. Leicester’s defence struck me as being a persistently solid defence (supported by the fact only once in the whole season did they concede more than 2 goals). We on the other hand conceded more than 2 goals four times and lost 10 points as a result in matches where our defence wasn’t good enough to either hold on (Liverpool) or not cave in (United, Southampton and West Ham). I have no idea whatsoever how to create a solid defence. I am not a coach of one match , let alone 30 years. I’m not saying its easy, even for an experienced coach. But it is possible. At least, it should be for a man who has 30 years experience and who created a defence that went through a season undefeated.

    Re: the Spanish league. I agree the goals for and against are in of themselves not a real guide to much in terms of progress. The amount of goals scored in any 90 minutes is influenced by so many variables, almost anything can happen. However, the stats accumulate over the season and in this case at least they kinda support/confirm what we see when the teams play: Barcelona and Real are particularly good at attacking and score lots whereas Athletico’s strategy is to accumulate their points by defending well, hence fewer for and fewer less. In the end, the difference in the effectiveness of these different strategies was minimal. Right up to just a game or so before the end of the season, any one of these teams could have won the league. To me just losing out by 3 points is genuinely competing; sustaining a close challenge to the last possible moment. So I don’t agree Tony that finishing 10 points behind the leader, as we did, is as you put it, “right up there”. Especially when our challenge actually faltered many weeks, even months, before the end of the season. Furthermore, as I pointed out in the second chart in my piece, Arsenal have typically finished 14 points on average behind the eventual winners over the last 10 years, suggesting a pattern. And my recall is, in many of those seasons, our challenge would often falter many weeks before the business end of the season. Another pattern. And regardless of each season’s internal dynamics overall , our own dynamics seem to perserve in a relentless and dogged fashion: injuries, defensive lapses/collapses at critical or unexpected moments, loss of form/confidence, loss of hunger/drive.

    Sorry this is long. Chaps and Chappesses, here’s to seeking the truth with empirical proof using the scientific method! Amen

  • Nick

    Pete and bjt gooner.
    You might have the time to try and scrutinise every refereing decision ,i have not.You and a few others on here may think you are right with your conspiracy theory about Arsenal being hard done to more than any other team and are cheated out of winning the league ,but you are in a minority.It does your website no credit when posters say that we would be on 100pts this season and we would of won the league if it wasnt for the referees.Ok i do understand that games like chelsea away we didnt get the rub of the green with the referee and he made mistakes gifting the game to chelsea,but to say it everytime we get beat is wrong.If you have clear evidence then you should take this up with the relevant authority starting with reporting to Arsenal fc.Im sure that stan has the money and power to take the clear evidence forward and get justice.Good luck with that.

  • Rich


    Simple and, I think, fair request here : can you tell us what your immediate reactions, thoughts and emotions were after (a) Cahill’s foul on Sanchez last year; (b) Carroll’s foul on Kos recently (+ no second yellow for clear elbow in front of refs snout), (c) Rooney’d dive in game 50 and the overall performance of Riley that day.

    I’ve never detected a genuine trace of anger from you towards those or any big calls against us and, if I’m right on that, it takes us into strange territory indeed.

    I’ve yet to meet in person football lover who didn’t get very animated, passionate, angry, etc over the big calls in big games. Even if they are, of course and inevitably, very often wrong, quite often outrageously so (that’s not the issue here).

    So did those moments stir you greatly, were you angry, did you feel very hard done by? Try to replay that slo-mo of Cahill’s outrageous challenge, the ref just a few feet away, which could so easily have removed our key attacker from the whole of last season. How does it make you feel even now? It was a red. Had to be. Any time, any game, any ref. Had to be. But wasn’t.

    Taking the time to answer this simple request will go some way to proving you are genuine and hope to achieve something through debate here.

    My theory, you see, is that there is only one circumstance in which a fan of a team does not even engage with the idea of refereeing decisions, or might, in extreme cases, actually even flip it and ignore when his own team is wronged and instead focus on where they have got away with something : a fan does this when they are so fed up with the team and/or manager that they have basically stopped supporting them.

    In that scenario either they literally don’t care about what’s happening any more, or they care very much but in a limited way. Specifically, they are either fixated with the removal of the manager or intend to remain in a bad or negative mood towards the team until the very moment they achieve whatever said fan defines as the only measure of success/ thing which isn’t failure.

    In our case that would be a title or Cl glory

  • Chris


    nice piece. About the Spanish table, I remember reading somewhere I believe it was Ozil saying (in essence…can’t quote him, too far back) : In the spanish league, when a team are down 2 zero to Madrid, game is over, they just don’t fight anymore. That was the ‘meaning’, sorry for lack of exact words.

    I believe that in Spain, with Madrid and Barcelon, this is what we see. The difference is just too big and I can imagine teams not fighting as hard against these 2 teams if and when they are down. Agains Athletico maybe this ‘psy’ effect does not work – yet. And they fight till the end. And maybe the squad of Athletico has it to score 1.6 goals per game, and are less ‘talented’ than Madrid(2.89/game) or Barcelona (2.94/game) with their (plethora of) strikers.

    Would be an explanation for the large figures in goals for the first 2 teams.

    As far as explanations about our defense, don’t know if we could somewhere find stats showing when the yellow cards/red cards have been given against us and what the scoreline was at the time. Same for penalties and for the same offences punished for the team we were playing. I’ve always been left wondering about the adverse effect the timing of such decisions could have. 2 Yellows against our adversary in added time do not count as much (yet make it look like balanced refereeing) as 2 yellows against us in between min 60 and 70 while we are defending a 1-0 lead.

  • Zedsaunt

    Variables in a season?

    Police Sergeant Howard Webb of the South Yorkshire Police, also known as Technical Director, Professional Game Match Officials Board.

    Referee selection in the second season of the Hillsborough Inquiry?

    Twelve referees used for Leicester City, 20 to pick from?

    The English do not do corruption. Repeat…

  • Rich


    You say you don’t have time to scrutinise refereeing decisions (yet you feel totally sure you’re fit to judge the work of those who do take the time to do so?!!), well, take just one week off from your normal comments and use that time- ten mins here, ten mins there- to try make something of your own.

    If it takes two weeks, or three, or six months, so be it.

    Wouldn’t it be nice for you to break out of the usual rut and know people look forward to seeing what you’ve come up with?

    Good luck with that.

  • Fishpie

    I see the debate (as it often does on this site) has shifted back to the refs and their biased and mistaken decisions. And I am accused of completely ignoring it in my flawed analysis. I cannot deny this. I do indeed ignore it. For which I apologise, especially to those who take what must be some considerable time each game to do the analysis. I assume that across the season most bad decisions kind of get evened out across all teams and that refs, whilst human and prone to mistakes, are professional and honest. I also assume that analysis done by a team’s fans is possibly biased or at least will be seen to be so. I have not paid the respect to those guys on this site that have tried to seek the truth about refs and who are bold enough not to make any lazy assumptions in the way I have.

    If anyone would be prepared to, would you provide a link to two or three articles/reports on this site which sum up or best illustrate the analysis undertaken. Thank you in advance, if you are .

    Also, has any of this analysis been forwarded to the Club and/or to an Arsenal-friendly journalist to see if they might use it to challenge or expose the authorities? I’m not aware of the Club having a campaign as such. Are they convinced of the case? Have they raised this as an issue?

  • Pete

    Nick – I do not have the time either. Fortunately Usama and Walter are prepared to make sacrifices to do this. I skim all their reviews when they are published and try to tally their verdict on major decisions with what I felt at the time. I have queried one or two at the time but in general they seem pretty accurate (so you are aware, I played at a decent level, am a qualified coach and have watched many hundreds of Arsenal games live and a load more on TV. I am also planning on qualifying as a referee later this year having already done dozens of games as an unqualified volunteer). I acknowledge that to be 29 points better off is a bit of a stretch as no teams get all the decisions they should. But we are certainly far behind where we should be. In addition, the penalties awarded/conceded since 2009 (when Riley took over) are so out of alignment that the chances of this arising by chance are infinitesimal. That is not a matter of interpretation, that is a matter of fact. We are about 4 points a season worse off than we should be just due to the imbalance in penalties! So add in all the other decisions we don’t get and it will start to mount up. Rapidly.

    Nevertheless, if you look at one of Andrew’s recently published tables of where we have lost points – and then go back and review the reviews of those games – just the major decisions – I doubt that would take you too long (15-20 mins per game?). If you genuinely believe you are right then this is your chance to prove it. And it would be an interesting debate. Genuinely!

    As for taking it up with the authorities that is a very good question. But if there is bias, and I am sure there is, the PGMO will clearly not be interested in listening to a fan blog. They are being accused of incompetence at best, corruption at worst.

    It is a good question as to why the club aren’t overtly pursuing. Maybe they are behind the scenes? Mandy makes this point all the time. But I don’t know the answer to that!

    I look forward to reading your opinions on the reviews of even a couple of games.

  • insideright

    @Stevo – excellent point. Vardy for instance scored five penalties one of which he dived for against us. Giroud (not a diver by nature) got none and scored none. Even if he had scored only the same number of spot kicks as did Vardy he would have been a 20+ EPL scorer and all this rubbish about replacing him would probably not be happening.
    Anyway – against packed deep-lying defenses a Giroud-type CF works better than an Henry-type speed merchant who relies on space to run into. See Walcott for proof.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    I am interested in the discussion about our defence. I thought Fishpie’s initial comments were interesting. They were obviously an impression rather than hard facts. The impression is one that I recognise, albeit I thought Fishpie overstated his case a bit.

    Our defence certainly did look exposed on occasions, but this was more to do with our midfield (particularly after Coquelin’s injury) than any failing of our full backs. Full backs are rightly reluctant to attack wide players aggressively if they are not confident of the cover behind them. When they are less confident, they will stand off and jockey. This minimises the risk of them being beaten and exposing a lightly covered defence to a clear scoring opportunity. You will often see full backs look behind them before they engage in a tackle, for exactly this reason. The standing off can lead to crosses coming in that don’t look like they were challenged. Bellerin also occasionally got caught too high up the pitch, but this is the downside of his wonderful attacking threat.

    I also thought that the comments about our centre backs were a bit harsh. Certainly they are not dominant in the way Campbell or Keown were, but this is a tough comparison with two exceptional players. We must also consider the generally improved level of attacking talent in the Premiership. Defending is further made harder by the emphasis now on attacking runners from midfield instead of the obvious ‘front two’ that centre backs used to be able to latch on to.

    Koscielny and Gabriel are not aerially dominant. This leads to them taking risks sometimes on positioning with crosses, that can leave attackers loose. Mertesacker is aerially dominant, but lacks pace and agility. This leads him to ‘stand off’ sometimes to reduce the risk of an attacker burning him off with pace. He can also be prone to losing his attacker in close quarters when he is outdone on the ‘agility’ front.

    Gabriel also seems to be still error prone, and this doesn’t help the impression of ‘losing attackers in the box’. The causes of Gabriel’s errors are unclear. Communication/language? lack of familiarity with the rest of the team and system? confidence issues? concentration problems? Maybe he is just an ‘error prone’ player? (I hope not, but he is taking a long time to eradicate the mistakes)

    My overall view of our defence was that the full backs were mostly excellent in difficult circumstances. The centre backs did less well, but were far from a disaster, as Tony points out.

  • Mick

    Fishpie 11.47 am

    ‘I assume that across the season most bad decisions kind of get evened out across all teams and that refs, whilst human and prone to mistakes, are professional and honest. I also assume that analysis done by a team’s fans is possibly biased or at least will be seen to be so.’

    In the light of this statement would you care to comment on my 11.12 am and 11.18 am points.
    Maybe Nick would like to comment too.

  • Pat

    Tony, Jambug, Rich – I enjoyed the read. Thanks for taking the time to argue the case based on evidence.

  • Pete

    Fishpie – interesting comment.

    I observed in an earlier thread that with the progressive TV money distribution there has been/will be a levelling up. I suggested that this may lead to a more level playing field where the big teams are less dominant. Following this through I speculated that this would mean that the points required to be champions might consistently come down. I also made a prediction that next season’s champion would not get to 85 points. This may also be one reason for Arsenal’s points decline in the last couple of seasons?

    I agree that, all else being equal, we are consistently short of the champion’s points total over the last however many seasons. Two ways of bridging this gap would be (i) have unbiased refereeing and (ii) see our injury incidence return to average (typically we have two fewer first team squad players available each week than the average). However neither of these situations have significantly improved over recent seasons (in fact the refereeing seems to be getting slightly worse while the injuries are showing a slight improvement).

    On the other hand, if one looks at recent champions, I would speculate that they typically have fewer injuries than average AND have better refereeing outcomes than average. Although I can’t produce immediate evidence for this.

    What else can we do to bridge that gap? A couple of astute purchases may help. But fixing the injuries and refereeing would probably be the easiest way to the top…

  • Pete

    Talking of injuries, it struck me that all the punditry I heard on Newcastle’s relegation (and there has been a lot) NO ONE has mentioned their catastrophic level of injuries. Far worse that Arsenal (and everyone else).

    To me, it is blindingly obvious that Newcastle went down primarily because they typically had an entire team in the treatment room all season.

    So that just demonstrates that the pundits are, collectively, useless in terms of adding value to the watcher/listener.

  • bjtgooner

    Nick @ 11.23 am

    “Ok i do understand that games like chelsea away we didnt get the rub of the green with the referee and he made mistakes gifting the game to chelsea,but to say it everytime we get beat is wrong.”

    Just to clarify – an analysis of the ref decisions is carried out after every game and very often we have won despite the ref making major errors in favour of our opponents. In such circumstances the ref errors are still identified.

    Your point about taking the analysis further is interesting. You should realise that the analysis of each (Arsenal) match is published on this site and has never been challenged by the PGMO – the same PGMO who are supposed to carry out a post mortem on each and every match, but whose findings are never published – your comment would better directed to the PGMO along with a request to publish the minutes of their analysis.

  • Polo

    @ Nick,
    ‘reference to our wagebill it looks like at least 3 of our higher earners have all finished at arsenal so we can use their wages and more to attract players.’

    Hence, why AW say he’s looking at three players to bring in.

    ‘Most players are still under contract when they are transferred so that shouldnt be a stumbling block.’

    No, it depends if the player want to move otherwise if the club dismiss the player from the club by breaking the contract then it will be up for additional costs and vice versa.

    @ Pete, I thought it through before I wrote about the DM position, I did think we had Elneny and Ramsey and maybe Flamini if he is still here next season, but because I think Elneny and Ramsey both have an attacking mentality therefore it might leave our back line expose. Also, I think Elneny might not be physically strong enough against physical midfield players, therefore could lose out on the ball easily. I think Elneny is more of Cazorla type player, good at transitioning and passing. Although Flamini did a good job filling in for LeCoq when injured, his partnership with Ramsey left a lot of space in midfield which allowed the opponent to easily mount counter-attacks. Cazorla and LeCoq is an excellent partnership, and if say Xhaka came to Arsenal, I wonder if an Elneny/Ramsey and Xhaka be a good combo too. Whether we get a DM or not I’m not overly concern but a striker to fill in for Danny is more important.

  • Jim, your comment has nothing at all to do with the piece I wrote. Indeed it just states the opposite, but without a single scrap of evidence. I don’t think my article blamed anyone – at least not the people in the list you wrote.

    In fact what you have done is created a list of excuses and labelled them excuses – which as long as they are presented without any evidence, is what they are.

    In other words, you have created a perfect circle.

  • Andy Mack

    As I’ve mentioned on here before, scepticism of the total points lost from the ref reviews on here is completely understandable.
    But to think we wouldn’t have a higher points total than Leicester just through very clear mistaken calls from the refs suggests either a lack of understanding of the rules of the game or a real problem with eye-sight.
    I’ve found the best way is to watch the game a second time on TV when you can be more objective. We get lots of important calls against us and very very few that go for us.
    If you just write down the ones that go for us then you won’t need to sharpen your pencil more than once a season…
    Does that mean we’re a perfect team, hell no. There’s many things need changing or adjusting, but less than the loud minority moan on about.
    A bit more ‘Form’ from Alexis and/or Theo and/or Ox and/or Ramsey and/or others (just a single extra goal each at the right time), or a bit more luck injury-wise and we’d have the points necessary despite the officials.
    Other teams suffered injuries and lack of form for their important/scoring players and didn’t get 2nd place.
    Not a great season but certainly not a disaster.

  • Andy Mack

    polo, flamini is a B2B player at heart and he does let that get the better of him at times, which is when he gets out of position. He was the same in his first stint with us but no longer has the legs to do that. However he’s a surprisingly ‘efficient’ passer and a good motivator which is something the team has lacked at time. I hope he moves on but his presence in the squad seems to have a positive effect, so if he stays and rarely plays, so be it.
    The rumours about Xhaka have been going a long time and there may well be fire with this smoke, but we’ll see. He appears to be a very good footballer and I’d be happy if we got him. However Chambers and Hayden can both cover the DM role, although with our luck they’ll only be needed in the most important games…

  • Mick

    Regarding the probable (so it seems) signing of Xhaka.
    He apparently has a very short fuse and loses his temper easily, he likes a strong tackle and has received 3 red cards this past season.
    Sounds to me as though he could spend a lot of time suspended given our referees.

  • Cy

    Completely pointless website , not willing to discuss the real issue of why Wenger is no longer the man for the Job….In Wenger We Rust……Goodbye, as i’m sure I will be banned from site. …Wenger & Regime Out.

  • Andy Mack

    Fishpie, you say “Leicester’s defence struck me as being a persistently solid defence”, but I saw a defence that should have given away at least a penalty per game when Huth was involved. At set pieces the guy plays like a rugby lock and spends more time rucking and mauling than the Harlequins number 4.
    That isn’t something any Arsenal player would ever be allowed to get away with.

  • Nick

    Rich i do get animated when i see decisions go against us but unlike you and a few others on here i dont see it as the main reason why we have failed again.Surely its not the fault of referees that we fail year on year to get past the last 16 of champions league.And surely its not the referees fault that at the business end of the season when the pressure is on to perform we fold like a deck of cards.I think the majority of blame for those failings lie with
    1.The person who manages the team
    2.The person who picks the team
    3.The person who buys the players
    4.The person who dictates the tactics
    5.The person who makes the substitutions.
    We all know who that is but somehow he is absolved of any blame on here.Its now ,as this season has proved that more and more fans are realising this and want change.

  • Tom

    “A step back, or a great leap forwards?”
    Arsenal did what they usually do in the league with two or three months to go , they fall away.

    Likewise in the CL. The defeat to Barca was no great disappointment , but their performance against some of the other clubs during the European campaign was.
    3 wins out of 8 is a poor return by any standards.

    FA cup loss to Watford was especially disappointing, since by then, March 13, it was pretty obvious Arsenal were out of the contention for the league title down by 11 points. The chance for a historic three peat was squandered against less than average Watford team at home.

    Like you said , you are a glass half full kinda guy and I respect that, but for my money, I’ll go with the sentiment expressed by virtually every Arsenal player and Arsene Wenger himself- this was a season of disappointments, mainly because of who the champions are.

    Leicester dispelled a couple of important misconceptions along the way readily championed by some on here.
    ” you can’t compete against the big spenders ” was one of course, chamioned by the likes of Jambug, and ” you can’t integrate more than one or two new players into the squad without effecting its stability” , this one expressed by you .
    Leicester did no fewer than 4. Okazaki, Kante, Huth, and Fuchs, although to be fair, their system of play is much simpler than ours so there’s this distinction,but still.

    A lot has been said on here about the referee bias that cost us – this I agree with.

    A lot has been said about the media bias – agree as well, although it has to be said there are special considerations why there perhaps should be a different standard for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger then other clubs and their managers.

    Why should a manager of six months in the job with no signings of his own
    ( Klopp), or a manager of two years with a few signings ( Pochetino) be judged the same way as Arsene Wenger, who’s been in charge for 19 seasons and had a full control of signings since 2006-07 season when Bergkamp retired?
    They shouldn’t.

    How disappointing was this season?
    Two of our best players are hinting at exit from the club, that’s how.

  • Andy Mack

    Nick, you say “If you have clear evidence then you should take this up with the relevant authority starting with reporting to Arsenal fc. Im sure that stan has the money and power to take the clear evidence forward and get justice.”
    I’m pretty certain the club make regular representations to the PMGO and the PL but it’s such a secret society where everything is dealt with in private and no recourse available.
    Basically The PMGO answer to no one other than the PL. The PL is run by it’s marketing operation as the Corporation of the PL is purely a money making operation.
    Provided their ringmasters (PMGO) keep the ratings high, they won’t shake the tree.

  • Nick

    But surely if you have hard evidence that arsenal are being cheated the F.A must be notified and the premier league.And that should be done through Arsenal F.C If the club arent interested that surely tells you something about your hard evidence!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Taking it up with the authorities…
    The fans of many Italian teams felt like we do at Untold for many years. They felt something was wrong but couldn’t put their finger on it.
    Then there was an Italian prosecutor who started an investigation behind the scenes and start tapping phones and then… found the whole picture.

    So Untold is just the first step. After that we cannot do anything or we would be stepping out of the laws.

    Oh and most Italian fans of other teams not active in calciopoli were called all kinds of names by other supporters. Sore losers and well you know the rest of the things as you use them against us also.
    It took the Italian authorities many many years to find what was wrong and how it all worked. But in the end they found it. I’m sure a lot of Italian football supporters will have felt vindicated after it all came out.

    But we are just at the pointing out phase in the PL.

  • WalterBroeckx

    It is up to the authorities to come up with hard evidence by using the means they have and we haven’t and are not allowed to use. If they don’t do this then it is them who don’t do their job.
    We can only do our job and present the things we noticed.

  • Rich


    That’s part of the reason it makes so much sense to me to have more midfielders in general, especially those with good defensive attributes, than seems necessary.

    The argument against having too many good players is a strong one – players want games and become unhappy when not playing enough; and the most successful teams tend to have a very settled team (plus good players cost a lot and our money is finite)

    However, i’d argue for exceptional circumstances in our case : (1) we always seem to lose at least one big midfielder to a big injury each year, and now have three players with bad (Jack), worrying (Ox) and patchy (Ramsey) injury records; (2) more than most teams we need flexibility in our system (we face more buses than anyone else, so need strategies for that and for other, different challenges); and (3) our defensive midfielders or midfielders with defensive responsibilities receive bookings very easily.

    Personally, I thought Edu was a hell of a good player back in the day, and someone who could seamlessly slot in without us losing much even when the player being replaced was as great as Viera (13 yellows, one red Invincibles year)

    Counted yesterday and Viera, Edu, Gilberto and Parlour (four with strength plus excellent battling and defensive qualities) racked up 31 yellows between them that year. I think that sort of depth is required in there and dramatically reduces the ability of the refs to derail us.

    There’s nothing that can be done in situations like the one where Coquelin made that rash 2nd challenge against Spurs, but it’s a lot easier to bring off Coq for Elneny, or vice versa, or some new guy for one of those two, than it is for a player who offers less defensively and changes the team more.

    Long term, the numbers wouldn’t work if you add another player to Ramsey, Coquelin, Elneny, Wilshere and Cazorla, certainly not if everyone stays healthy, but short term I believe it can be managed. Edu and Parlour’s stats for 2003-4 underline that for me .

    12 starts, 17 sub for Edu; 12 starts, 10 sub for Parlour. Each made a serious contribution that year and, though I have little memory of how the games played out, I bet they were judiciously used to try avoid 2nd yellows and reinforce the team when needed.

    Heard a nasty rumour yesterday suggesting this Xhaka would be in place of Coquelin. That better be bullshit is all I can say, as a Coquelin exit would be madness in my opinion and hurt me more overall than any of the big name departures.

  • Nick

    Walter If the Italian authorities found out about the corruption by”They felt something was wrong but couldn’t put their finger on it”,the authorities in this country surely will take notice when you hand over your hard evidence.
    Also if i had hard evidence that someone had commited murder and i passed that evidence over to the police they would have a duty to follow it up.It doesnt matter where it came from.

  • Pete

    Nick – You have been asked by several of us to point out where the refereeing analysis is deficient. You decline to do so even to a very limited extent. Therefore your subsequent lines of attack in your comment of 1.44 are invalid apart from the CL observation. The Monaco and AC Milan exits were disappointing, but the other 4 last 16 exits in the last 6 years were against one of the best two teams in the World at that time.

    Of course Wenger makes mistakes, but I still believe he is by far the best manager we could have for our club at the current time.

    Your “more and more” fans may be correct – but I would suggest a pretty small proportion of the total as evidenced by the laughable “protest” at the Norwich game (and earlier marches, demos etc).

  • Fishpie

    Walter, have you supplied your analysis to Arsenal? There’s nothing illegal or dodgy about that is there?

  • Polo

    It’s AW fault that the ref gave a critical wrong decision when Arsenal played Barca at the Nou Camp?

  • Polo

    I guess it’s AW fault that his players get long term injuries due to opponents reckless tackles?

  • What a bizarre post Cy – but of course I am always willing to oblige.

  • Shard

    It’s exactly this roundabout ‘debate’ on referees that made me give up on moiving forward with any discussion here on Untold. A site very close to my heart because they were the first (and for many years the only) ones to express and make attempts to verify the very same doubts and thoughts I had from watching the games.

    If those dissenters who disagree with the premise want to come on and state their point of view, fine. But surely they must add some value. The evidence has been put forth, but the dissenters don’t argue against the evidence, simply against the conclusions. Obviously there is going to be no progress on the subject unless they take the time to put forward something concrete. Or contend that they have no interest in doing so, but that by ignoring this aspect the rest of their analysis has certain gaps.

    You actually don’t have to dig very deep to see that refs are skewed against Arsenal. The stats suggest it, and so does the ‘eye test’. The fact that there’s apparent refereeing chaos in the rest of the league and for other teams is not a counter argument against it. In fact it should make all football fans more concerned about the effect that refs have. Not less.

    Thanks to the work of Untold, it is no longer widely considered a ‘conspiracy theory’ that refs hurt Arsenal every season. Even sites where the bloggers and commenters, on balance, veer towards feeling Wenger should go and that the club isn’t doing enough, often still agree with the ‘fact’ that referees affect Arsenal’s chances of winning.

    There’s no contradiction in that stand. It’s a lot more reasonable than those who would deny the evidence simply because it is inconvenient or too difficult to measure and quantify.

  • Shard

    Oh, and the idea that the club has the full capability of taking on the PGMO, and by extension the PL and the FA (and perhaps Uefa and fifa) is ridiculous. They have a lot to lose, with the prospect of being given a fair hearing virtually non existent. They aren’t going to be heard by an independent judge, rather by a vested interest, who is basically also the accused by implication. In such a scenario, even if Arsenal were to look at some recourse, it would likely have to be internal rather than making a song and dance about it. Law and justice aren’t always the same thing.

  • Rich


    If I can try answer that one.

    As someone who holds my view about referees- something is badly wrong with them- there are only two possibilities: I’m right, or I’m wrong (could always be partially right, but we’ll stick with the binary.

    That being the case, there are subsequently only two possibilities should I be right : the club also believes things are not right, or it doesn’t.

    In a way it is the great challenge to holding my views. If things are as rotten as I believe, it is wholly improbable that the club, certainly the manager, could fail to see things in a similar way.

    The challenge therefore comes from trying to explain the lack of any proof that they have done anything to address the situation. However, that is quite easily explained. How on earth would we get to see any complaints the club makes?

    So the real problem for me is explaining how Wenger himself could possibly put up with it for all these years? Should it be as I believe it is, and Wenger see it the same way (as I believe is utterly inevitable if I am right in the first place), how can he tolerate that situation?

    To me that is a great mystery, and nothing else has the same power to make me question these views of mine.

    Nevertheless, I do not believe being unable to provide an answer necessarily destroys good questions.

    We can only go up to a point with our referee reviews, opinions, statistics, etc. It is absolutely not enough to dynamite pgmol into oblivion or even to obligate relevant parties to investigate.

    Quite possibly, Arsenal are in a similar, albeit better informed position themselves (they’ve even got their own stat company to check over all these things now). Opinions, convictions, experiences, statistics. They aren’t enough. They aren’t the dynamite.

    As for explaining why Wenger would be willing to put up with it (quiet now, with your answer of 8 million reasons), maybe he really is as stubborn as they come, or as optimistic…who knows.

    Maybe he epitomises the If geezer most of us would like to think we are but aren’t quite

    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools

    Who knows.

    Maybe I’m wrong, after all. I’ll never deny the possibility of that. But ,in practice, all I can do is act for the most part as if I’m right.

  • Shard


    Wenger’s reasons are likely the same as ours when we keep coming back to watch. We love doing it, and we live in hope that ‘good’ can still triumph.

    If we were purely analytical about it, we would simply stop watching because that makes more money for what we must believe is a corrupt regime. I came very close to it after the Mike Dean Chelsea fiasco. I think the bosses up top felt that outpouring of public emotion too is why they acted quickly to overturn the red card decisions. They may have limited the damage to their reputation globally. But the damage to Arsenal remained and continued.

  • Amos

    Some more stats to play around with. Based on playing time last season OG had a head or foot in an Arsenal PL goal (scoring or assisting) every 110 minutes, Vardy every 109, Kane 130 and Aguero 91 minutes. Based on goals alone that would be OG every 151 mins, Vardy 131, Kane 135 and Aguero 99 mins – BUT take away the penalties each has taken (not unreasonable in measuring effectiveness surely) then on goals alone it reads OG 162 mins, Vardy 165 mins, Kane 168 mins and Aguero 119 mins. Throw in assists and the numbers lean further in OG’s favour. So the question is this? While it seems definite enough for Aguero how do we see OG on an individual basis as less effective than JV or HK? We would benefit from a better striker, more flexible, adaptable and mobile, without doubt but we are also pretty blinkered when comparing our ‘failures’ with others ‘successes’

  • Al

    Thank you for the response to fishpie’s article. I had not read it and was about to after reading Tony’s, but after reading your comment I don’t think I will.

    No disrespect,Fishpie, just that I avoid publications such as the telegraph, the daily mail etc, for they always seem to focus on negatives when it comes to Arsenal. Negatives they’re more than happy to turn a blind eye to when it comes to other clubs. That’s the reason I come to UA, and I had a sneaky feeling your article was going to be more critical than praise. And I am just not in the mood to have that negative spin fed to me when we just achieved our highest finish since 2005, when billionaire clubs who outspent us (remember the ‘Arsenal are the only club not to sign an outfield players’ mantra?) are languishing 9 or 10 places behind us but nothing gets said about that.

    I am quite confident all my faculties are in perfect order and therefore I can come to my own conclusions regarding who had a good/bad/poor season, and don’t need anyone tell me otherwise.

    If we had such a poor season then what kind of season did City, Utd, Liverpool or Chelsea have? The excuses that are reserved for these sides for their poor season aren’t used in our case. Yet they were all being lauded as potential champions because they had invested wisely, while we didn’t. Why don’t people just admit they got it all wrong, and Wenger got it right by not spending on any outfield players? (even though that’s it entirely true as we got a couple of youngsters). Instead the same people, instead of admitting they were wrong , are going on to write articles to prove the man who didn’t see any need to sign anyone got it so wrong. It’s ridiculous to say the least.

    To the naysayers,
    I find it laughable people dismissing referees contributing to the final standings, and pointing to that we finished 10 points behind Leicester. When three papers did their own research they all came to one conclusion, that Arsenal are the team who were most hard done by poor refereeing decisions. Yet I still read stuff like people on here like blaming refs, people on this site believe in ref conspiracies…. Unbelievable.

    Some individuals just love blaming Wenger. For example, if say the telegraph went and did some research which showed incorrect decisions cost Arsenal 20 points they’d still be blaming the manager. What’s the point of debating with such individuals? Pointless if you ask me.

  • Pete

    It is incumbent on anyone who disagrees that the referees are not biased – when there is overwhelming evidence that they are – to come up with their own proof that they are not.

    And even where it could be argued that the reviews are subjective (which they could be to an extent) no one has yet demonstrated that. No one at all! In all these years… But the statistical evidence on penalties and, to a lesser extent yellow cards, is totally objective and factual. It is as clear as the day is long, if you understand statistics at all, that there is bias against Arsenal. If the penalties and yellow cards are biased against Arsenal then why would not everything else be?

    That, I am afraid, is the killer fact.

    As to why this should be, why Arsenal aren’t doing more about it and so on, I just don’t know.

    One argument for Arsenal not doing more is that if they expose the Premier League as being corrupt it would do enormous damage to everyone involved, including Arsenal. I remember when Italian football was THE League in Europe. It is now 4th with declining attendances, weak revenues and little attraction to top players. I am sure that calciopoli had a lot to do with this decline.

    But I don’t know.

  • Rich


    3 excellent posts there

    ‘Wenger’s reasons are likely the same as ours when we keep coming back to watch. We love doing it, and we live in hope that ‘good’ can still triumph.’

    That’s pretty much my take,too.

  • Nick

    Like i said earlier i havent the time or effort to scrutinise every refereeing decision like some have on here partly because i dont think theres a conspiracy by god knows who to stop us winning trophys .I would rather focus on the main reasons why Arsenal are falling short every year.Instead of blaming everything from the supporters to referees to journalists for our failings why cant you see that there are other factors that are stopping us winning the league.And this year you can cross oil money off your list as well, as that excuse has been put to bed.

  • Polo

    It’s ironic that at start of the season pundits, WOBs and media say AW must spend if he really want to challenge for the EPL, now when Leicester was about to win the title, it’s the same people now saying you don’t need to spend big to win the league, it’s getting the right players, working as a team blah blah blah. They really have a change with the wind mentality.

  • Pete

    Nick, as I wrote earlier, the main reasons why we didn’t win the League are:

    1. Refereeing bias.
    2. Too many injuries.

    Yes, there are other areas that can be improved, but these are the main reasons.

  • Gaz

    Surely if there’s going to be any real validity put into these claims that the officials cost us the Premiership we must also make a detailed analysis of every other side we face/faced? I think we’d find that every one of these sides will have had decisions go against them during the season that might have invariably cost them points too. I’m also guessing that every one of these sides supporters will bemoan the officials and suggest a conspiracy against them. Perhaps if someone had the time (*joke*) to make this detailed analysis we could then net off the ‘points’ every side lost to bad decisions in a bid to see who the ‘real’ Champions are? Until this happens nobody can confidently suggest that the officials cost us the Premiership or of any conspiracy against us. Unless that is you honestly believe that we’re the ONLY side that suffers from these bad decisions which just sounds, to be perfectly blunt, a little crazy.

  • Shard

    I’d agree that there are ALSO other factors, and factors also worthy of discussion, because there is definitely an internal factor to it and that is important. But the only reason it becomes mostly about referees is because people like you deny that is a REASON rather than an excuse. You claim it is an excuse, and then use false (or no) evidence to support your contention.

    Such as your last sentence. Leicester winning the league is literally a 5000-1 shot. It doesn’t disprove that it is almost always the teams with the biggest budgets that win. You want proof? Look back at years…actually decades of evidence across all leagues. It has the single biggest correlation with results. and blip…and you discount all of that. Why??

  • Gaz – we did exactly what you say, a couple of years ago, and we refer to it regularly. The details are on the Referee Decisions website

    So when you say

    Until this happens nobody can confidently suggest that the officials cost us the Premiership or of any conspiracy against us.

    yes we are with you. We believed that, and Walter recruited a team of referees to prove the point.

  • Al

    “Like i said earlier i havent the time or effort to scrutinise every refereeing decision like some have on here partly because i dont think theres a conspiracy by god knows who to stop us winning trophys .I would rather focus on the main reasons why Arsenal are falling short every year.”

    Your last sentence suggests you’re say refs aren’t the main reason for our failures, yet your first line says you have not had time to look into this. How then can you discount something you have not analysed as being the main reason for a certain outcome?

  • Al

    “Surely if there’s going to be any real validity put into these claims that the officials cost us the Premiership we must also make a detailed analysis of every other side we face/faced? ”

    The Sun, The Telegraph, and the Metro, all did just that, this season, and found Arsenal ARE the team that suffered the most from incorrect refereeing decisionsor, mistakes if you prefer to call them that, more than a these other sides. So there, can we all agree now that the officials cost us the title?

  • Fishpie

    So let me get this straight. The evidence clearly suggests (proves even) referees are biased against Arsenal? And there is nothing the club or anyone can do for fear of being ridiculed or even worse upsetting the apple cart and bringing the whole thing down? Blimey. All those Arsenal fans who turn up innocently hoping for the League Trophy. With no idea we have no chance. I guess that means the club, assuming it knows, is taking our money under false pretences. Mr Wenger says we wanted to win the title and wants to go one position better next season. But he can’t mean it can he? If he knows the refs cheat and, each season, they deprive Arsenal of the 10-15 points it needs to win the League, he’s just saying it to build up hope and encourage those season-ticket sales. Blimey. And what do any new players believe when they come to the club? Do they mistakenly think they are playing for the title? Is that what Arsene tells them too, to get them to sign? Is he, if he knows about the refs, conning the players too? Blimey.

    In the meantime Mr Wenger should.. what? Carry on regardless? I mean, actually maybe it explains everything. What is the point of trying to build a team that can actually win the title when the refs will systematically prevent such a thing happening anyway? Might as well just get a team together that can entertain a bit, enough to get us on the box a lot and play the matches, make them as exciting as poss and gradually lower expectations, educate everyone to just enjoy the match, you know, for its own sake, like going to the theatre. Blimey.

    We are all being conned. What do you think, should we share this with the other Arsenal bloggers? Tell them to spread the word that Arsenal knows it has no chance of winning the league trophy but won’t tell any of us because it doesn’t want to de-rail the gravy train or expose the League or lose all those sponsors. Blimey. Don’t know, should we?

    Tell you what, you guys are dangerous. You’re a threat. You know too much. You better watch your backs Untolders. The ref mafia and the Premier League will send in the heavies while you sleep.

    Bugger, Tony’s got my email. They’ll find out who I am too. They’ll be after me. They’ll think I know too much. Jesus. Better not renew the season ticket.

    No wait, I get it, its the Untolders, they are trying to scare me off. They are fabricating this whole conspiracy thing to scare me enough to stop me going to Arsenal. They want shot of me and the likes of me. Yeah, that’s it. Blimey. There’s no ref bias. Its just a ruse. Tony, Walter, Pete, Shard and especially Mick, he’s really out to get me.

    I’ll have to play along. Pretend I still don’t believe it. That’ll fool them.

  • Pete

    Fishpie – who knows? You may be right. I have had similar thoughts. The fact is that the referees are biased.

    What we don’t know is:

    What Arsenal are doing about it, if anything.

    In my view, what Arsenal should be doing is going to Scudamore with the penalty analysis – as that is 100% factual – with the view of a professional statistician of the likelihood of it arising by chance (almost zero), stating that they know this is the tip of the iceberg, and demanding change. The problem then arises if Scudamore calls Arsenal’s bluff and dares them to go public or litigate.

    But we all know that a lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes, in all walks of life, that is unedifying to say the least. Why would football be any different? In fact we know that referee corruption (indeed many other kinds of corruption) has occurred in football, although not recently proven in England. FIFA. UEFA. Conmebol. Concacaf. Calciopoli. Marseilles under Tapie (as Wenger had direct experience of). Greece. And many other countries.

    England has the richest League in the world. An awful lot of money sloshing around. Why should it be clean?

  • Shard

    Guess we know which fish that pie was made from

  • Gaz

    Tony-with all due respect whatever angle you and Walter come at this from it will always be a biased opinion because obviously you’re both Arsenal supporters. You say Walter recruited a team of referees to look at this ‘evidence’? Was this evidence submitted by Walter? Or was it evidence submitted by him AND supporters of each of the other sides involved in the Premiership? And were these examples of games only involving Arsenal or were they across the spectrum? What I’m suggesting is that if you went to a rival site and asked for their opinions on dubious decisions they’d highlight decisions that no Arsenal fan would be even aware of. And why should we? We don’t watch every second of every Liverpool match do we?

  • Fishpie

    Sssh Shard…keep your head down…you don’t know who’s reading the posts….

  • Fishpie

    Pete, why Arsenal.. each season…by more or less the same points each year? Why not change the bias each year to avoid suspicion and detection? Shit, someone’s knocking at my door? ……………’s ok, it’s the neighbour…….. with a package (gulp).

  • Rich


    Scudamore was one of the original directors of pgmol and remained there until quite recently. He might be the worst person of all, short of Riley, to take any complaints to.

    Another nice tidbit I turned up once (Simon Jordan’s book) was that the chair of the committee who decided Scudamore’s bonus for his main work, negotiating tv deals, was David Gill. It’s a very small world up there.

    You wouldn’t need a smoking gun, more cctv from many angles, witnesses,etc. Even then Scudamore wouldn’t be the man to go to.

  • Rich


    Confusing. I recognised your name and thought of you as regular, though I didn’t have a great idea of how often you visited your site.

    After your reasonable article today, you seem to have reacted terribly to some of us making the sort of points we often make here. Nothing new from us, though maybe it feels different as your article was the starting point this time.

    I guess you don’t visit the site as much as I thought.

  • Pete

    Fishpie – Again, all good questions… and I don’t have answers to that.

    Rich – So who do you go to? Scudamore doesn’t obviously have a boss and clearly got away with the sexist comments so is probably somewhat bullet proof. Put the evidence in front of him – he can’t deny it – and demand change. Starting with the exit of Riley (things were far better under Hackett even though Scudamore was the boss then too). Clearly there is an implied threat there…

    But I am with Fishpie in thinking what is the point of spending hard-earned money on supporting Arsenal if we are competing with one hand tied behind our back?

  • Pete

    Why doesn’t someone ask Gazidis at the upcoming supporters Q+A this question…? I’m sure he would give a politician-type answer but they way he does that should be somewhat revealing.

  • The website is up there, and you can check, but here is the quick summary

    Referees and ex-refs were recruited and each had an allegiance to clubs other than Arsenal, and they worked on all sorts of PL games and we published the results. So it was quite independent.

    It is possible you have not read up on Calciopoli nor on our Type III match fixing theory that comes out of this. And it is possible that you have not read up on our reports on PGMO. So let me set it out.

    1. PGMO is set up in a very curious manner, quite unlike any other major league in Europe, in a matter of the very highest secrecy which again is not the case elsewhere. I won’t spell out all the strange things they do, since it has been said so many times before, but you can go back and check. The net result is that instead of minimising the likely effect there would be if there were to be a bent referee, they have (unlike other ref associations) set matters up so that the impact would be maximised. The question remains why they have set themselves apart from refereeing in the rest of Europe and why they have done so in a way that if anyone were bent, the bent ref would be able to inflict maximum damage where paid to do so.

    2. Calciopoli did happen, and was extensive. Policies need to be in place to stop it happening here, but we see the reverse happening. Why is this? Calciopoli is very, very hard to spot, so it is vital that policies are in place.

    3. While other leagues have tested out and approved video ref facilities PGMO have resisted. Why?

    4. Since the mid-1970s questions have been raised about the way TV coverage is manipulated in filming PL matches. This was one of the key points in Calciopoli. But nothing is in place to consider this.

    5. It is very difficult to find any serious newspaper coverage of PGMO and the way it operates, and yet the issue of referees is one of the most discussed issues on phone ins and among supporters. Why?

    All of that is mere background to the reviews on Referee Decisions.

  • porter

    It’s been done before and severely upset the F.A’s hierarchy . Also he’s been head to head with Polland Webb. They just close ranks and take their revenge later.

  • Rich


    I put my hopes on us creating a team so good that this crappy refereeing won’t be able to stop us.

    On a game to game basis, I’m able to keep looking forward to the matches because I know the games might not provide them with opportunities to do us- classic case being the first Utd game this year. We were irresistible. Taylor was given no chance to tilt things.

    It’s a precarious business, because there are so so many opportunities for referees to influence outcomes, but it’s just enough for me.

    Most importantly, I believe there is plenty of room for the team to improve and bring us up to a level which would make us harder to stop.

  • Fishpie

    Rich, if you could see me, you’d see a twinkle in my eye rather than a surly sulk on my face. I was, attempting but failing to use a cruel and mean kind of Randy Newman humour, to pursue a logic that was emerging from the posts that if the evidence is so convincing, Arsenal itself is kind of complicit in the conspiracy by allowing Ref bias to continue unchallenged. Pete sums it up. What is the point of us spending our money if our own club isn’t protecting/looking out for its own fans.

    For instance would Untolders who clearly believe there is a strong case of unfair bias, be prepared to threaten to not renew their season tickets unless the club invites them in to reassure or prove their fears are unfounded.

  • Fishpie

    Tony, Walter, Rich, Shard et al, So for instance, if any of you are there at the up and coming Gazidis Q&A, would it be an opportunity to ask for a meeting to voice your concerns, present the evidence and seek the reassurances all Arsenal fans would want before they spend any more money on “fixed” match outcomes?

  • Fishpie

    Opps sorry Pete, see you’ve already suggested a question to Mr Gazidis might help. Perhaps not in the public forum. He might appreciate a quiet word.

  • bjtgooner


    Sometimes if you are not naturally funny it is better not to try too hard. 🙂

    But @5.42 pm you question (possibly with disingenuous intent) why Arsenal time after time would be the target of poor decisions. However, this is a good question.

    It further questions whether or not there is a deliberate campaign against Arsenal by the PGMO and by implication for what purpose and the identity of who is really behind it.

    What the Untold ref analysis shows, in match after match, is there are ref errors, some match changing, in each match and that these errors are almost universally to Arsenal’s detriment. These errors do not even out over the season. Why?

    Also, why is the PGMO reluctant to introduce technology to help its error prone referees?
    Why do the media ignore the ref errors – every week?

    There are a number of theories as to what may be going on behind the scenes, but as Walter pointed out earlier it is for those in authority to investigate the irregularities and put right a number of issues which are currently very unsatisfactory – and which are detrimental to the development of the English game.

  • Fishpie


    Don’t worry, lesson learnt.

  • finsbury

    “I see our…I see our…I see our…”


    Cognitive bias. Evidence of. End of.

    This is why those who attempt and fail to argue against the simple data presented over long years now upon this site won’t provide any contextual or relevant data of their own.

    Because they can’t.

    There is no rational or logical or even reasonable explanation that can be supplied in order to attend to explain why aid for the officals is ten twenty or thirty years behind other contemporary athletic sports which have all shown the way. So you won’t “see” one. Or hear it either. It might happen in the future but that gap will take some explaining! That will be doomed to fail the old logic test.

  • finsbury

    Here’s an interesting quote:

    From former professional player, Aston Villa manager and well known Tottenham fan John Gregory:

    “Arsenal Football Club represent the best in English Football.”

    They most certainly do.

  • Al

    Gaz 5:25pm
    There’s no need to go to any rival club’s site for their views on favourable decisions. In my earlier post I said 3 independent British newspapers did an analysis of how incorrect decisions cost clubs some points, and all 3 found Arsenal were the team that benefited the least from incorrect decisions.

    Surely these are papers that have no loyalties to us, nor are they inclined to see things from our angle. Ok, you could choose to dismiss work done by Walter here or other referees on the website Tony mentions, for whatever reason, but how would you explain 3 different papers all coming to the same conclusion? The same conclusion that Walter and other independent refs reached?

  • Pat

    Shard, nice to see you back.

  • thierryhenry22

    I did not enjoy Fishpie’s article at all. He even states above that he assumes all refereeing decisions even out over the course of a season and so doesn’t like to address them. He’s buried his head in the sand and written an article from there. To me, as a very grounded person, it’s totally naive and dangerous (in everyday life) to think this way.

    May as well do away with all authoritative bodies as there is ‘nothing to see here’.

    My feedback for this site as a loyal reader is to avoid these articles and writers. There is honestly enough stuff like that read all over the web, we don’t need it here- one of the very very few pro-Arsenal, Arsenal blogs.

    Nothing at all personal against Fishpie, CY and the similar others above- I respect your opinions, I just think they’re weightless.

    All the best

  • thierryhenry22

    OK just seen the later, more condescending comment from Fishpie regarding Untolders being out to get him and Untolders should watch out for the mafia.

    Jesus Tony, how did you let this guy write an article for you? I respected his opinion before, but now he seems like an idiot.

  • Menace

    Nick – I’ll let you borrow my soap box….really. You need something to stand on because your arguments are baseless.

    You can never show me anyone who has won several trophies, built & funded a stadium gone 49 matches undefeated & then won trophies again while keeping his team in the Champions League every season apart from Wenger. There are those that are intelligent & those that are not. Which group do you belong to & what evidence is there to show it?

  • Menace

    Ooooops Tony I almost forgot. What the fu^k is it?

    I’m talking about the Man in the Middle
    I think its time to make a change
    He doesn’t really need a whistle
    maybe it’s time the FA rearrange?

  • Pete

    Rich – yes. But why should we have to endure a double-figure point penalty every season? To be blunt, it is cheating.

    In the good old days I didn’t even know or care who the appointed ref was for games. Yes, they made mistakes but there was little sense of systematic bias. As noted, things really turned sour after Hackett was replaced by Riley. Therefore, while I wouldn’t trust Scudamore as far as I could throw him, and causation doesn’t necessarily imply correlation, my strong suspicion is that Riley hates Arsenal – from when he was an active ref (see Game 50) – and has made that clear to his motley crew. As they are nearly all northerners – another horrendous weakness of PIGMOB to add to Tony’s list above – I imagine their gut instincts are anyway neutral towards Arsenal at best. We also know that refs get slaughtered for giving Arsenal the benefit of the doubt on anything – while egregious excesses in the other direction go unremarked on in the main.

    During his ref career Riley was infamous for favouring MU (remember all those van Nistelrooy penalties?) and Arsenal were their main rivals during this period.

  • Jambug

    I have no doubt from what I see with my own eyes that we are treated extremely harshly by referees.

    We have many many Referee reviews, carried out in the main by Arsenal affiliated, current and ex referees, but also by non affiliated, and they all confirm what I see.

    We have other sources carrying out similar analysis and they too come to the same conclusion.

    Yet people still insist on coming here and dismissing it all out of hand, calling us conspiracy theorists, and of being paranoid, yet they NEVER produce a SINGLE scrap of evidence themselves.

    Some of them are so irked by our conviction of the Referees bias they seem to spend a hell of a lot of time on here berating us, but strangely when asked to spend some of that time more wisely by putting there own evidence together, they claim not to have the time.

    Cant they see what a good idea it would be if they spent a little less time on here giving us their ‘opinion’ and used more productively in compiling some ‘evidence’?

    Or maybe they think there opinion is so important it negates any need for evidence?

    They should try that in court and see how far it gets them.

  • Nick

    Dear me some of you on here are bonkers.And menace you are one of the maddest.I bet you to ask anyone, any fan of any other team and ask them why arsenal did not win the league this year and if anyone responds that it was the referees who stopped arsenal i will give you £1000.You can bet the majoritys answers will be Arsene Wenger..Everyone on the planet except a few die hards on here will state its the managers fault!!

  • markyb

    I think you have firmly nailed your colours to the mast Nick, off you go to Le Grove old chap

  • WalterBroeckx

    there was a time when apart from a few die hards everyone said the earth was flat.
    Why would any other fan of any other team be interested in how many decisions went against Arsenal? After all it was them who gained from it most of the time. So they don’t care.

    But if they listen to the media they sure will blame Wenger.

  • ob1977

    I was meant to make this comment on fishpie’s article but is equally valid on here as it forms part of your first retort.

    Fishpie mentions fullbacks failure to stop crosses, and fast attackers allowed to run free on goal to get shots away, and males this sound like a weekly occurrence, now for me what he has done is remember two damaging results and simply paint them over the season as the norm, whereas I think there results stick and matches stick out as they were far from the norm.

    In the 3-3 away to west ham our full backs (FB’s) or team definitely failed in topping west ham’s FB’s getting crosses in to Carroll and I would say cost us 3 points, we controlled much of the game, but failed to deal with that aspect of the match and ultimately failed to deal with their FB’s, and Carroll. Arsene even stated after the match that we hadn’t prepared to face Carroll.

    I was disappointed that on the pitch we couldn’t work out or stop the fact that they started to overload the midfield in order to get FB’s in the match to hit Carroll, i don’t blame the manager as no matter how we set up you can pretty much guarantee he didn’t say don’t stop crosses, and all players know Carroll’s strengths… even still he scored with deflections, or lucky bounces, and a draw a west ham is not a terrible result.

    Then we have the fast attackers free run on goal point, I would say this is the Crystal Palace (CP) match, where we got caught on a counter, failed to deal with a 1 on 1, and Cech was beaten too easily at his near post, yes this happened a couple of times throughout the season, but every team gets caught on the counter, just more often than not the defence holds up or deals with the counter, the keeper saves, or forward misses, this time we missed out as a player who hadn’t scored for over 3 months got it right for once.

    Over all two damaging results, 4 big points dropped, with situations that should’ve been dealt with, but nobody is perfect.

  • finsbury


    You are of course entitled to your Opinion. As are the petty discredited plundits that you choose to listen too.

    However the observable and recorded experience of the Arsenal support during a match when some 55,000 people were inside a giant stadium appears to indicate that only a irate sociopathic minority agree with yourself. And the plundits that they quote. This is not an opinion but an observation.

    The attempt to claim that most Arsenal supporters are “Venga out” has been thoroughly discredited and debunked and anyone using that line to support their Opinion will only further undermine their buckling posture.

    a significant proportion of the population of the U.K. do not believe the gibberish that they read in or “see” in funny papers. For good Reason.

  • Andy Mack

    Nick, there was supposed to be a stadium protest but it turns out that it’s the loud minority (not the majority) that think it’s that manager fault.

  • Nick

    Why do you assume that I listen to petty discredited pundits??Do you think I have to listen to others to come to the conclusion that once again we have failed again to win major honors.ive watched every game bar 2 this season so I think I’m entitled to make judgement with what I’ve seen.
    Some of our failings I have seen not just this season but many before.We should no longer be a club that just strives to get into the top 4 but like a club of our stature (as one of the biggest and richest in the world)we should be challenging for top honors..That is something we haven’t done for over a decade sadly.
    Answer me this if it’s the premier league referees that are stopping us winning the league why doesn’t our brilliant team not go any further in Europe when it matters?

  • Pete

    Nick – you have ignored all the rebuttals to your earlier comments. Therefore it is pointless trying to engage you in debate.

    Regarding referees, your opinions remain entirely evidence-free.

    So, please put up or shut up.

  • Nick

    Can you show me some evidence that there were only a few that wanted wenger out ?from where I was sat quite a considerable amount of fans made a protest.A lot of fans who also want change stayed away from the game .some also kept quiet for fear of being assaulted.I saw 2 scuffles started by pro wenger supporters.
    There were nowhere near 55000 in the ground.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nick, not challenging for honours over the last decade??? Did you watch Arsenal play in that period?
    2007-2008? Kicked out of the title race by thugs and allowed by referees who had the strangest of decisions going against us. Offside goal against Sunderland ruled out when a back pass was made is still one that sticks in my brain.
    2012-2013 longest period of being top of the league of all the teams
    this season we challenged but had to face too many mistakes again from referees that cost us a lot of points.

    We did challenge.

    But be honest, it’s not about challenging isn’t it? The only thing that really matters is winning.

    In the CL? The sending off of RVP when we were qualified in Barcelona in an attempt to tilt the match from the referee…It sure worked as Barcelona could beat us with 10 man. RVP missing the qualification goal against Milan in front of an open goal… probably you will lay the blame for this at Wenger’s feet also… I could point at the refusal of the referee to give us a penalty at Barcelona this season but that will again be Wenger’s fault.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Just to add: if I remember correct the last time we lost (on away goals) to Bayern Munich we had to play over one hour with 10 man in our home match. Probably Wenger who said : get yourself send off.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    “The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.”
    Noam Chomsky.

  • Yellow Canary

    Consolidation, consistency or stagnation. I can’t make my mind up where we are right now. Every season seems to be similar to the previous one with the exception of the FA Cup which I took great pleasure in seeing us win twice.

    Regarding ref evidence, I’m afraid an individual sitting down reviewing a ref’s performance is not equal to actually being the ref. It’s easy to judge from an armchair and with access to replays. Again it’s simplistic to suggest that just because, for instance, Wilshire’s goal against Pool would have stood we would then have won the game as he scored in the fist fifteen minutes. Would Liverpool have just given up and gone home then?

    I thought Fishpie’s piece well argued and I tend to agree with his assessment of the season.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    With a negative mindset you only see negative things happen, yet positive things happen all the time. Alter your state of mind to see them.
    – Jerry Corsten

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Surround yourself with people who talk about visions and ideas, not other people.
    – Akin Olokun

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Things take time. The seeds planted do not sprout the next day, but that doesn’t mean they never will. Be patient. Things will unfold for you.
    – Unknown

  • nick

    As i’ve stated earlier that I haven’t the time to trawl through games scrutinising every game. Every credit to the ones who do ,but until this so call hard evidence is verified by the club or relevant authorities it is only speculation and opinion.
    Finsbury why does me wanting a change of manager make me an irate sociopath??I want Arsenal to be the best it can and I think after 2 decades in charge its time for a new manager ,young dynamic with new fresh ideas on tactics and how the game has moved on .Im sure even with the toxic atmosphere that has been on display the last few home games 8million pounds could get us someone with those attributes. You think referees are to blame for our failings ,I think its the boss.

  • nick

    Your last post reminds me very much of someone clutching at straws making every excuse it can for why we have failed

  • Brickfields Gunners

    While I never like to get personal , some of you seem to be keen in setting very high standards here . Hope your life , jobs , dreams , spouses and kids are all keeping up to those expectations too.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nothing is ever “too good to be true.” If it came into your life, it means you have earned it. Simply enjoy it.
    – Akin Olokun

  • Pete

    Nick – Once and for all, the disparity in penalties awarded and conceded since 2009 is NOT speculation and opinion. It is a statistical certainty that the penalty outcomes over this 7 year period could not have arisen by chance.

    You said you watch most games. Take a recent one from Andrew’s hall of shame and check the major errors (a handful a game so not many – and the times are meticulously recorded) against your memory (or highlights from Arsenal player) and report back. It shouldn’t take that long.

  • finsbury

    “Answer me this if it’s the premier league referees that are stopping us winning the league why doesn’t our brilliant team not go any further in Europe when it matters”

    The only rational conclusion can be that the author of the above quote had their eyes thoroughly wide shut during the recent home match against BarcaBunga FC when even the most obvious Venga Out individual I sit near (they stand out because they are such a small MINORITY) could not pretend that the official wasn’t tilting on the pitch before us.

    In case you are in denial this match is available to watch in full from various sources.

    Just to be clear: there was no doubt for MOST inside the stadium regarding what they were witnessing. Tony Atwood also wrote an article in the dichotomy of what was happening inside the ground, people’s comments inside the ground, and the reportage from the Alan Partdrige Idolisers.

    To be absolutely clear: the above quote was disingenuous insincere and bares no relation to what has been witnessed upon the pitch: that would be the Football.

  • finsbury

    of the Differential > in the dichotomy

  • thierryhenry22

    From Nick (lol)

    ”I bet you to ask anyone, any fan of any other team and ask them why arsenal did not win the league this year and if anyone responds that it was the referees who stopped arsenal i will give you £1000”

    OK everyone stop! Let’s go home now! Here’s our concrete evidence! Thanks Nick! Genius

  • thierryhenry22

    Finsbury, Brickfields, Walter, Pete (and similar others who i’ve missed)..

    So much substance in your comments. Actual games. Actual dates. Actual figures.

    The replies to counter these arguments are actually pathetic. Keep going #COYG!

  • Menace

    Nick – please send me my £1000. My friend Peter is a Sheffield Wednesday supporter & he says Arsenal were robbed by the referees. I am sure there are many non Arsenal fans who visit this site & agree that referees have robbed us of victory.

    Our next banners are going to be funded by Nick.

  • Menace

    Nick – NICK NICK where is my money? Your £1000 for your stupidity. You made a written offer & I have satisfied the criteria. Are you a PGMO cheat in disguise? You have a legal obligation & I will chase you till you settle your debt.

  • Polo

    @ Menace, be careful Nick is somehow more intelligent than AW on football so he could be right but then maybe not.

    This site believes Arsenal after game 36 would be at the top by 1 point, Arsenal didn’t lose the next two match so they would would have won.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think Nick should visit the link given by Polo and hand out his 1000£ to Polo.
    Just to make sure I will repost the link

  • Polo

    @ Walter, I would like that £1000 to be used for the next Arsenal banner.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nick could give another 1000£ to Menace of course 🙂
    Never knew visiting Untold could be costly for the bank account….

  • Menace

    That is another £1000 for the banner or for subsidising Gooners comeing to the Ems.

  • Ste

    Peter the sheffield wed fan eh!!Your telling me theres a fan of another club as batty as you lot on here Not possible.It is probably you menace getting one of your indian slaves to dress up in a shef wed shirt and offering him money .
    Isnt it funny though WALTER that as soon as MENACE made the post to belittle me you were there right by his side to back him.Why isnt that the case when he makes horrible homophobic remarks and threatens posters with violence.If that was me or any of the other so called AAAs our comments would be put into moderation and barred.Many posters have made complaints about him and steptoe OMGARSENAL but surprise surprise nothing has been done about it.Is it possibly because he does your dirty work and the leading backer for your cult like beliefs.