Manchester City against Arsenal: the home team ref v Arsenal



Manchester City v Arsenal

By Bulldog Drummond

  • Referee: Michael Oliver
  • Assistants: Stuart Burt & Ian Hussin
  • Fourth Official: Craig Pawson
  • VAR: David Coote
  • Assistant VAR: Eddie Smart

Michael Oliver is the second most active referee in the Premier League who has overseen 25 games this season.   In terms of giving out fouls he is 12th in the league of referees and in terms of the number of tackles that result in fouls he is 15th.   He is 11th in terms of giving out penalties but with just 2.96 yellow cards per game he is 21st in the league of referees.

Unfortunately in terms of the referees who have overseen 20+ games this season his figures are frightening for Arsenal.   While a referee such as Anthony Taylor has only refereed 29.2% of his games as home wins, Michael Oliver is on a whacking great 56% of his matches being home wins.   Only 28% of Oliver’s games end up as away wins and 16% are draws.

To show how influenced this referee is by the crowd let us compare this season with 2019/20 when part of the season was played behind closed doors.   


Referee Games Home Win% Away Win% Draw%
Michael Oliver 2022/23 25 56.0% 28.0% 16.0%
Michael Oliver 2019/20 32 34.4% 40.6% 25.0%


Thus when there was no crowd in the ground for just part of the season, Oliver’s home win bias dropped by getting on for a quarter, while the chances of him overseeing an away win or draw rose correspondingly.

The fact is that with a crowd present as it will be for this match, and with that crowd making a lot of noise and being very positive about its team, as it will also be for this match, Michael Oliver is much more likely to favour the home team over the away team.   Which is the same for almost all referees in the Premier League.  Thus Arsenal look to be heading for a very difficult game.

As usual, we are looking at the two teams ahead of the game in terms of their records with tackles fouls and yellow cards.  But this time we have added some details of the referee…


Team Tackles Fouls Yellow
Arsenal 14.9 9.3 1.47
Manchester City 12.7 9.5 1.23
M. Oliver home ? 10.96 1.72
M. Oliver away ? 10.44 1.24


As we know Arsenal and Manchester City are the two lowest-tackling teams in the league.  This is a big change for Arsenal over the Arteta years, when (as we have shown in other articles) he needed to regain control of games from PGMO, and did this by taking Arsenal from the most yellow-carded club in the league to one of the least, through reducing the number of tackles.

Arsenal have not yet reduced their tackle level to that of Manchester City, but (although you probably won’t hear any mention of this on the TV commentary – unless the researchers have been reading Untold again) Arsenal have managed to cut the level of fouls down to below that of Manchester City.

However such is the way of referees Arsenal still get more yellow cards per game than Manchester City!

To put some figures on this, Manchester City commit 2% more fouls than Arsenal, but Arsenal get 20% more yellow cards than Manchester City.  You are most welcome to find some logic in that.

Unfortunately, we can’t obtain the data on the level of tackles in games Mr Oliver oversees broken down by home and away.   But many thanks to WhoScored for all the data we do have that allows us to do those calculations above.

Here are the regular ratios…


Team Tackles for foul Tackles per yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.60 10.14 6.33
Manchester City 1.34 10.32 7.72


Arsenal are able to put in more tackles than Manchester City before having a foul called by the referee, but the difference is small, and when it comes to how many tackles a team can put in before a yellow card is called both clubs are on very similar ground.   But still referees have the propensity to see Arsenal fouls as more worthy of a yellow card than Manchester City fouls.

But we should also note the success of the Artetian revolution at Arsenal in terms of yellow cards.  When he arrived Arsenal were the most carded team in the league.  This season we are 14th in the yellow card league – Manchester City are bottom, as they are most of the time.

Top of the league for yellow cards are Nottingham Forest currently with just on twice as many cards as Manchester City.  We might also like to note that Tottenham are on 65 while Arsenal are on 47.

6 Replies to “Manchester City against Arsenal: the home team ref v Arsenal”

  1. It’s not so much Oliver ,who,dare I say it,has improved immeasurably over the years.It’s VAR & David Coote.Now here is a “ Homer” with quite a few question marks against him.In both reffing AND Var decisions this season.He is the one I worry about.You may want to do some research,if not already,on him.I think you’ll be suitably concerNed.

  2. Tony,
    Michael Oliver with a 56% home team win bias but is not that bad. Only 6% past a 50-50 chance. There are many PGMOL refs who would be much worse for Arsenal than Oliver. Your own tables reveal this. As Vikrant Dogra points out, Arsenal have won all the matches Oliver has overseen this season, including the away match. The more worrisome appointment, as Positive Pete points out, is Coote on VAR. again, your own tables show he is less than friendly to the Arsenal. Hold onto your hat if the match comes down to VAR.
    Even a draw helps, depriving City of 2 points and keeping the lead at 5 points. A stomach churner for sure!

  3. I can’t help but feel that the use of statistics in this article is done so to suit the intended narrative – that Arsenal are the victims of something unsavoury. That may or may not be true, but your use of stats here is totally flawed and skewed, and serves only to highlight your own bias and sense of victimhood.

    Simply comparing W/L/D percentages for a ref across different seasons, or comparing 2 different refs, is only correct if you also use the same fixtures for the comparison. This of course assumes that all things being equal the same team would win the same fixture, which simply isn’t true. The presence of a home crowd is also purely subjective, and while it could influence the ref, it could just as easily influence the players, both home and away.

    You should really qualify this if you’re going to use these kinds of numbers to make a point.

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