Arsenal v Southampton: Simon Hooper is the ref, which means…


Strange Premier League referee behaviour 

By Bulldog Drummond

Simon Hooper, the referee for Arsenal v Southampton, is one of 14 referees who have overseen 13 or more Premier League matches this season.

Only one referee in this elite group awards fewer fouls in a game, and as we might expect Mr Hooper is considerably below average in terms of yellow cards per game.  He is also very light on seeing tackles as fouls – he sees 20% fewer tackles as fouls than, for example, his fellow referee Michael Oliver.

That of course doesn’t matter too much unless Arsenal are playing a team known for their reliance on tackling.  For in such a case, the opposition is going to be able to indulge in some fearsome tackling without any action being taken.  So let’s do the normal basic comparison


Arsenal are running at 14.9 tackles per game, the second lowest in the league (behind Manchester City who are still putting in over two tackles per game fewer than Arsenal.   Southampton however are averaging 19 tackles a game.  The only teams who put in more are Chelsea and Leeds.  So having a referee who is lenient on tackles can only benefit Southampton – and that is not good news.

Southampton are in fact on 27.5% more tackles than Arsenal, match after match and so they can only be encouraged on hearing who the referees is.   The question therefore is – are Southampton being punished in the same way as other clubs?


Southampton are the fourth-highest-fouling team in the league with only Leeds, Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers above them.  They are currently having 21% more fouls awarded against them, game by game than Arsenal.

Yellow cards:

However, Southampton are not getting as many yellow cards as one might expect given their high level of fouling.    They are on 57 yellow cards this season compared with 46 for Arsenal.

What this means is that our regular table carrying all three sets of data looks like this


Club Tackles pg Fouls pg Yellow cards pg
Arsenal 14.9 9.5 1.48
Southampton 19.0 11.5 1.84


And the ratios…


Club Tackles per foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.57 9.5 6.41
Southampton 1.65 10.32 6.25


As is so often the case with teams from lower down the league Southampton is allowed to get away with more tackles before a foul is called and more tackles before a yellow is shown than Arsenal.  However, Arsenal can get away with slightly more fouls before a yellow is awarded.

But the net result is that Southampton will tackle more, foul more and get maybe one more yellow cards than Arsenal through the course of this match.

Data for referees comes from WhoScored and this shows that as for Simon Hooper himself, 65.2% of the matches he has overseen this season have ended in home wins.  Only Stuart Attwell has a higher percentage of home wins at 66.7%.

In terms of away wins, only 13% of Hooper’s games have ended in an away victory, compared for example with 47.4% away wins overseen by Craig Pawson.   However if Simon Hooper doesn’t get his favoured home win, his second best shot is a draw with 21.7% ending up that way.  But that is nothing like Peter Banks for whom a crazy 43.8% of matches end up on draws.

So, for once, the referee benefit heads Arsenal’s way – this is clearly a home win referee.   But it is typical that when getting a home-win referee does happen, it is actually in a match in which Arsenal will almost certainly not need the benefit of a friendly referee, because this is a case of top v bottom.

Where Arsenal could do with Simon Hooper is when playing Machester City at home.  (When the game is away, Craig Pawson is obviously the man we want).

It is these vagaries in percentages of home and away wins between referees that is one of the main reasons why we have spent years calling for PGMO to increase the number of referees, so that if it is important to PGMO to employ referees who always like to see home wins (for example) at least each club will only see each referee once at home and once away.

But no, not only will PGMO not enter into any debate on this issue nor will the media.  Indeed, just compare these insane figures…


Referee PL Games HomeWin% AwayWin% Draw%
Stuart Attwell 21 66.7 14.3 19.0
Craig Pawson 19 31.6 47.4 21.1
Peter Bankes 16 50.0 6.3 43.8


Such figures are beyond the bounds of reasonable possibility other than conscious or subconscious bias.   And what makes the situation so frightening for a team wanting to break into the top echelons of the league is that no one in the media is ever willing to discuss them.

Why is that?

2 Replies to “Arsenal v Southampton: Simon Hooper is the ref, which means…”

  1. No doubt we get a referee from the greater Manchester area for the City match. Arsenal can’t afford to drop a single point and hope City do. Unfortunately, I think City takes it by the 4 points lost in the last 2 matches.
    Let’s hope we don’t go up 2-0 early on v. Southampton, lol.

  2. While we should win this one outright , they still are the youngest team in the EPL , and the gung ho attitude of their cannot be discounted. Then again , as most of the tension of our chase is off , we should be able to wrap this one up , with a few goals helping in our goals for column .
    Up the Gunners !

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