The Untold ref review: FA Cup time Arsenal – Leeds

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By Walter Broeckx

The first FA cup game and leading the teams out was ref Phil Dowd.   How was his game ?

OTHER: A Leeds defender comes in with a frontal tackle and blocks the ball with one foot but goes in with the other foot and hits Chamakh on his ankle.  A typical case of a ref not looking for the second leg or foot coming in. Playing the ball does not mean you don’t make a foul. As I have told you a few times before frontal tackles are always dangerous and the ref should take care of them and certainly when there is contact with the other foot.  So 0/1 for not seeing the foul.

OTHER/CARD: Eboue is starting a run on the flank and is being brought down a bit cynically. No chance for the Leeds player to play the ball there. 1/1 and 1/1

OTHER: An Arsenal attempt is going goal bound and the keeper is beaten. A defender comes to the rescue and clears the ball right on the line. Good decision from the assistant not to give a goal. 1/1

OTHER: Eboue makes a dive in his own penalty area. Dowd doesn’t want to know anything about it. Correct from the ref. 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Rosicky is trying to shield the ball out but Sanchez Watt (the Arsenal player playing for Leeds) is a bit quicker. As the ball runs out Rosicky gives a small push. Dowd gives a foul but to give a yellow card for that looks a bit harsh. The ball was running out of play and there was not a dangerous attack (with the ball going out there was no attack at all). It was a foul, but this card looks a bit silly in my opinion. If you want to give a card for every push we will end up with not enough players on the pitch. 1/1 and 0/1

Half time in a real cup game.

PENALTY/CARD/GOAL: Denilson goes in and brings the Leeds player down in the penalty area. Penalty, no doubt about it. Dowd gives no card as there was not a goal scoring chance and it was a foul that you can see a few in a game. Just a bit clumsy. So no card has to be given. Snodgrass shoots the ball in goal. Nothing wrong with that. So this leaves us in total for this: 1/1, 1/1 and 1/1.

PENALTY: Was there a foul on Bendtner?  O’Brien came in from behind but from the angles I could see it  he clearly nicked he ball away from Bendtner. For me there was no foul. He stuck out his foot between the legs of Bendtner without  touching Bendtner.   So a correct decision from the ref. 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Howson from Leeds comes in late and from behind on Cesc. Foul and a yellow card. Correct decision. 1/1 and 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Rosicky with a tackle on a Leeds player. No chance of playing the ball. Should have been a yellow card and this would have been his second. I think Dowd by then realized how silly the first booking was and compensated on this occasion.  I think he admitted it to Rosicky before the second half as they were having a chat just before kickoff. This is why you don’t give stupid yellow cards. So you don’t have to be inconsistent later on in the game. 1/1 and 0/1

OTHER/CARD: Denilson with a strong challenge on Johnson and he gets a yellow for this. Correct decision. 1/1 and 1/1

PENALTY/OTHER/CARD: Walcott goes down after he played the ball to Bendtner who was in an offside position when the ball was played to him. A lot of confusion going. Did Dowd blow for the penalty? Did he give anything? Well at the end of the day he gave a free kick for the offside position.  So a lot to analyze in this situation.  The most important question: was it a foul?  I have seen the incident a few times and it wasn’t clear if Walcott was touched or not. But after the game there was a courageous statement from Walcott who apologised and said that it was a dive.  So the decision from Dowd was the correct one. And one has to applaud him for not giving the penalty. And as there was no foul it was offside from Bendtner so this also was a correct decision. 1/1 and 1/1. The only little thing is that if he thought it was a dive he should have given a yellow card to Walcott. But I think that Dowd will have had his doubts on the incident at the time itself and so let the card in his pocket.  But when he didn’t give a penalty he should have given a yellow and he didn’t. 0/1

OTHER/PENALTY/CARD/GOAL: Walcott is being played in and when he passes the last defender he gets a pull from the defender. Walcott is clearly outbalanced but attempts to play the ball but he can only put in a soft attempt. The ref waits a long time and when he sees that the attempt from Walcott is blocked he decides to give a penalty.

This was an example of good refereeing. There was a clear pull which brought Walcott out of balance. He could have blown his whistle  immediately but as there was chance of Walcott scoring right away the ref waited to see what would happen. As it was clear that Walcott couldn’t shoot as he would have been able to do without the foul he came back to the first foul and gave the penalty. A correct decision and a decision from a ref with some experience in football.  So for both decisions (waiting the advantage and the penalty) he gets the full marks. 1/1 and 1/1. But one thing was overlooked by the ref: as it was a goal scoring chance for Walcott he should also have given a red card.  But I think in the heat of the moment he forgot about this. But over here sitting in my comfortable seat I don’t so I have to take a point away for this. 0/1. Cesc scores the penalty in the last minute and nothing wrong with that. 1/1

Even after that Arsenal still  had 3 chances to win the game but after  that the game ended at 1-1.

So let us take a look at the final score from the ref.

CARDS:  5/8


GOAL:  2/2

OTHER:  9/10

Total score: 20/24  (83 %)

In the former games from Dowd we had this season I have been critical at times on the performance and some decisions he made. As I felt that he deserved it at the time. But when he does good I will give him credit for this and I think he deserves credit today.

So today he had a good game. On a (for Arsenal)  more lucky day with another ref, he  could have given us 3 penalties (not that many refs do give 3 penalties a lot to the same team in one game) but he didn’t got fooled and got the decisions right at the end of the day. He ignored the shouts from the players and the crowd and did it his way.

And like I said in the review itself the way he handled the decisive penalty decision was good refereeing. And believe me this isn’t always easy to make.  I can testify from my own experience that many players and supporters have difficulties in accepting such a waiting if there can be an advantage or not. But he did it and this was a fine piece of refereeing.  Something to show in courses for young referees. Something to show in courses at the start of a new season to show how to act when you want to give advantage in the penalty area and when the advantage does get lost as a result of trying to give the advantage at first.

But as we do stay critical after the game (as this is my job) I do would like to ask him not to give a silly yellow card like the first one against Rosicky too much.  But I think he knew it already during the half time that this was a bit soft.  But later in the game it could have meant that he had to sent Rosicky off with a second and deserved yellow card this time.

But we can forgive him this as he had an excellent game in my eyes and like I said before: no ref can get a 100% score in a football game.

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45 Replies to “The Untold ref review: FA Cup time Arsenal – Leeds”

  1. Thanks for the write-up Walter. Only query is surely if Eboue dived in his own penalty area, that’s a yellow card too?

  2. Hi Walter

    I agree with much you have written and I thought Dowd had a pretty good game. The only criticism I would add which you have not mentioned relates to his fitness. He is not the fitest or most mobile referee. he compensates for this by running a very narrow patrol path meaning that he rarely ventures from the centre of the field of play. During this game and especially once Cesc came on, Dowd got caught up in play on at least three occasions. On two of these Cesc had to play the ball square rather than forwrad because Dowd was doing a better man marking job than the Leeds defenders. Fitter, more agile referee, who not have got himself into this awkward positions.

    I would also have liked to see him take a firmer line on time wasting. Why was Schmichel not cautioned for booting the ball away by some 60 metres or so when Arsenal scored. This was blatant dissent as he kicked the ball deep into the crowd. Dowd had his back turned to the incident. He should not turn his back so quickly when a goal is scored.

    Technical points maybe, but important. nevertheless a good performance from the man in black.

  3. Berbetovs pen against Liverpool was no different to the Van Persie freekick decision against Brum, it was ‘minimal’ contact (but contact still as all Arsenal fans were claiming!) and both Van Persie and Berba ‘chose’ to go down so dont start all your “United always get the decisions” crap as that would be typically hypocrital of Arsenal fans.

    You know for a fact if that was Arsensl you’d all claim it was contact at the end of the day (abeit minimal) so its a foul.

  4. Red Jessie, thanks for bringing this up. One of the negative sides from not being able to be in the stadium is that some of those things are not always visible on TV.
    But it is a fact that when a goal is made you should always keep an eye what is happening around the ball. Certainly with a late goal it can happen that there is some kind of fight to get the ball back as soon as possible. So you must keep your eyes to the ball. I do agree with you that he turns his head away sometimes from the players. Something you have to avoid as much as possible.

  5. mandy dodd, when I turned on my tv after some 20 minutes play I was thinking: will I see Webb at OT again?
    And hey, what a small surprise…. it was.
    Then I was thinking: who would have scored for Utd and how? Then I saw a replay and what a small surprise…. it was a from a webalty.
    And then the red card… tell me if it would have been the other way round, the chance of him let the game continue would have been very big.

    You can see that the united players know that they can afford whatever they want to do with Webb in charge.

  6. A webalty is in the special rule book they give refs in the EPL and it means the penalty you must give United at Old Trafford during a game. 😉 Named after… well you know

  7. Good write up Walter and I especially agree with your Rosicky point, Dowd should of just had a word with the captain. I think the yellow card affected Rosicky’s game. It feels like we have had Dowd too many times this season and I agree that Dowd seemed to be in the way of play a few times too. However it was over all one of Dowd’s better performances.

    My overriding niggling feeling though is that we mugged Leeds whom were the better team. There were some positive individual performances yesterday, such as Johan Djourou – who was my MoTM and I can see with each passing game why Wenger let Toure go. I think that there will probably be a few more departures at the end of the season, but until then we the fans should back the players.

  8. Deleted, as the post had nothing really to do with the article, which was about the ref.

    I seem to say it each and every article, it is a matter of simple common courtesy to write about the issue the writer has written about. The other articles are still available to comment on, and if there’s nothing you feel fits your view, then just write an article of your own and send it in.


  9. So come on then muppets who talk about the “Webalty”….please tell me the difference between Berbas ‘minimal contact’ penalty and Van Persies ‘minimal contact’ freekick against Brum???

    Ill tell you what the difference is mugs, its the rose-tinted glasses you all wear to cover your on teams failing yesterday to beat Leeds, even though you actually got a very soft (but still a pen) to save your team from losing!

    So stop being typical hypocrites as most Arsenal fans are just cos your cant handle the fact your team struggled yesterday.

    And please dont even claim the red card for Gerard was wrong as the whole world and its mother saw him LUNGE in with TWO FEET ofg the ground with his studs showing, you know for a fact that if that was against an Arsenal player you’d be screaming deserved red card!….but of course noone expects you fickle Arsenal fans ti see it that way as you all only see what you want to see and when it suits you!

    Pathetic mugs

  10. I hate Dowd, I am not sure whether it’s cos he looks like fat sam or just the bad decisions he makes, he has screwed us over many times.cant really blame him for arsenals performance my only gripe is that if fat sam was at old trafford and it was our player he wouldnt have given the leeds penalty no matter how stone wall it is

    I just hope it is a wake up call for the squad players they should have been itching to get a game but they took the opposition too likely which is a bad trait to keep

  11. Howard Webb is a disgrace.
    Maybe if Steve G had drop kicked the player in the stomach/ sternum – then Webb may have let him off?

  12. @Hypocrites

    I dont think any one is disputing arsenal played badly it sounds like you have some pent up frustration if i was guessing i would say you were a chav fed up with the relegation form you have showed recently

  13. @Hypocrites (read ManU)

    Any Arsenal supporter would find it much easier to respect ManU more only if it’s fans weren’t so blind and bigoted. There is no doubt that you guys generally get all the big calls in your favour. Explain to me how the penalty you gave away against WBA was Rio Ferdinand’s first foul of the season.. Even if he has missed a few games, that stat for a CB tells you all you need to know. Gary Neville should have had a red card earlier in the season against Wigan I think it was, and one against WBA. Rio should have been sent off against us. And ManU players all get away with screaming at and pushing the officials more than anyone else. You would probably admire them for this, which makes you the hypocrite.

    Walter never said that the Gerrard tackle wasn’t a red. Only that most likely, if your player had done it it wouldn’t have been given.

    And about the Van Persie free kick. Firstly it’s not the same thing as the Berbatov one because Berba actually ran a step then decided it wasn’t worth it. Secondly, an isolated incident shows nothing. Look at all the decisions that have gone against us the past few years. No other team has suffered more broken legs than us cos of the so called hard men that your manager and players encourage (eg Poor Shawcross)in other teams through cronyism. If your argument is that we get decisions in our favour just like you, then your simply not worth talking to because that’s a bare faced lie.

  14. You lot

    Deleted – in order to be reasonable to the writer, it is a rule on this site (as stated clearly in several places, and repeated at least half a dozen times a week) that the comments must be related to the article in some way.

  15. Hey Hypocrites, The Webalty is gonna be world famous soon a welll known remark just look back at the peno given against us in the theatre of crap earlier this season ? yeah when Nani kicks the ball against the arm of clychy on teh ground.

    You lot would have lost half the leagues you won without the webalty’s Its great someone like Walter finaly came up with a word for that disgrace of a referee.

  16. On another note did anyone read ArseBlog today the bit about Glen Johnsons attack on merson ?

    You should really have a look a disgrace but the reply at the end was really funny.

    I finaly got to watch the match late last night It looks like while many of the so called reserve team may be low on confidence through not playing as many games as they would like, but that the defence looks pretty decent.

    Djorouh Gibbs and Wazzy we may have the makings of another future great defence, back four and keeper there. There is so many talented players comming through the academy usualy attackers its nice to see the defenders comming through now more often.

  17. @Hypocrites (read ManU)

    MAN U GET MORE THAN THE RUB OF THE GREEN LIKE THE SILLY PENALTY you got at old trafford your team is crap that why your reading arsenal blogs and being bothered to comment. I think you know your team is on borrowed time and the refs wont be able to save you for much longer and if the fixture list wont save you third rate team your not as good arsenal even if you go onto win the league teams in italy have won the lge b4 with help doesnt make you a good team youre gonna end up like ac milan

  18. I wonder if you were a bit harsh on the ref on the Walcott “dive” incident. The ref was clearly uncertain whether it was a foul or not, thinking the linesman had flagged for a foul, when in fact he had flagged for the offside. Thus, I don’t think the ref could have been sure enough either way to give a card to Walcott. Harsh to say he should have realised it was a dive – something that no one else picked up on even after numerous replays.

  19. Deleted by the editor. As always, commentaries which consist of abuse against other writers, and little or no logical argument or constructive comment get cut. There is a page on all this if you want to have a read.

  20. Deleted by the editor. As always, commentaries which consist of abuse against other writers, and little or no logical argument or constructive comment get cut. There is a page on all this if you want to have a read.

  21. Keep …

    Deleted by the editor. As always, commentaries which consist of abuse against other writers, and little or no logical argument or constructive comment get cut. There is a page on all this if you want to have a read.

  22. And…

    Deleted by the editor. As always, commentaries which consist of abuse against other writers, and little or no logical argument or constructive comment get cut. There is a page on all this if you want to have a read.

  23. Apparently Ryan Babel posted a picture of Webb in a manc shirt on twitter. Good one Ryan. Seems Arsenal players aren’t the only ones fed up with playing against twelve men.

    The FA aren’t amused at all though and are investigating the issue.

    Haha. The FA is a joke.

  24. A little editorial reminder – it is perfectly possible to have debates with supporters of other clubs which don’t just become line after line of abuse.

    I am sorry it didn’t happen today with the Man U fan and I have cut some of his more abusive posts. Because I was out a lot today i didn’t see the whole discussion develop, so to try and make sense of the discussion I’ve left his original post in, and the replies, and then cut some of the subsequent posts, which just descended into name calling.

    Including or not including posts is difficult – especially when one comes to the subject late on, but the general rule I try to observe is

    a) Stay roughly in touch with the content of the original post
    b) Make debatable points, not just abuse.

    That’s what I try to stick by – but it all got a bit muddled today. Sorry.

    Anyway, Huddersfield away in the next round. But first a little matter of ipswich

  25. I seem to recall that it was only a couple of years ago that Webb went public to sing the praises of some fat boy called Wayne Rooney. Whatever Webb’s views he should keep them private. By going public he shows naievity and stands the chance of being accused of being biased. It would be interesting to see an anlysis of how often he has refereed Man U and how many cards he has issued in these games and how many penalties he has awarded to both Man U and their opponents.

    I did not see the game today, but I saw an interview with Giggs after the match in which he said he did not see Gerrard’s tackle and that he was too far away, so was umnable to comment. In a video clip that followed, it was interesting to see that one of the first Man U players to chase after Webb was none other than Giggs. Now how is that for being a nice honest guy???

  26. Hypocrites

    I think its commendable that you feel the need to defend your team with such intensity on a rivals site. However, One could argue you doth protest too much.

    The difference between a “penalty kick” from 12 yards and a “free kick” from 25 yards is patently obvious.

    You have made your point, there’s no need to use disparaging remarks, it weakens your argument .

  27. I personally thought that Dowd gave Leeds a lot of confidence early on in the tackle – don’t get me wrong, Leeds were well up for it and they weren’t up for kicking us in the air, but there was a lot of small stuff to break up the play – there was also a swinging elbow that pissed me off as well as the trailing leg ‘tackle’ that looked very much like intent.

    This frustrated our team a lot and they lost their cool, which in turn gave Leeds more confidence less afraid to stick their legs into everything – for most of the first half I thought Leeds were hanging on the ropes, the second half the lads just lost their heads a bit and made it hard work for themselves… I am also losing trust in Squillaci – he has smacked of kelong in a few games with some suicide passes, inconvienient ‘slips’ and half arsed tackling and positioning – Wenger needs to get on that asap and sort it out.

    All in all a fair result given our inability to put the ball in the back of the net in the last few games – and some great saves of course. I still hate Dowd and his smug fat pie-munching face as he walked off after 90 minutes…. also – Walcott – FFS, he’s not exacly media-savvy is he?!

  28. I was thinking of writing and publishing a “man uniweb” rule book on the world wide webb with new names that one should keep in mind when watching Webb and United. I think Hypocrites would like it. 😉

  29. I think Hypocrites got a little bit agitated of what was just a joke in fact. In Dutch there is an idiom that is saying that “it is the truth that is hurting the most”.

  30. All in all, i thought Dowd had a good match and it was refreshing to play against an honest and brave side with a fair referee once again! ManIOU with your cronies (such as Mr “Webbalty” himself) and Mancini with your Mercenaries, take note!
    On Theo being honest and apologising for diving, when he was under no obligation to do so, i actually think it will be positive rather than counter-productive, according to some naive people. It implies that he’s never dived before and it will highlight those that still do so; although it still appears that ManIOU will continue to get away with it!
    It was also good to hear Cesc say after the match that Denilson’s penalty was “not the kind of penalty that a professional should give away”! If Denilson wants to keep improving himself, he’ll take it as positive constructive criticism! It’s good that Cesc’s starting to show his leadership on and off the pitch and making it obvious what he now expects from the squad!

  31. One point Walter that nobody has picked up on,5 seconds before Gerard gets sent off Raphael does a two footed challenge on Morales albeit not jumping as far but both feet clearly leave the ground.Needless to say this was not even considered to be a foul.

  32. Spot on Walter- Dowd was good- but this is not a league game which could challenge Sir Red Nose for the tile! Ironically- the more they help us in the cup- the harder it is to win the title perhaps! One to watch!

  33. The bias of officials in favour of Man U- especially at OT has been going on for so long that Many ManU fans can be excused for thinking that getting every 50/50 decision and a penalty per game is normal and is theirs by right.
    English refs decison making appears to be influenced by the crowd, by the intimidating bully that is Ferguson and by the biased media in Britain.
    If ManU are as good as their fans think they dont need the help they are getting every week from English refs.
    It is high time that the best non-English refs refereed top games between English sides.

  34. Goonergaz, just what I mean. I noticed the Rafael challenge also just before that and Webb saw nothing wrong with that. The Liverpool player went out of the challenge as he saw it as dangerous for his legs.

    And most footballplayers are not blind or dumb. They know it and then suddenly like in Gerrards case the lights can go out and then they rush in and give Webb the chance to give a red card.
    In fact this is just part of what Webb wants to achieve. By letting one side do anything they want you create frustration and it is that frustration that allows you to send players off.

    and when this goes on and on and on, each game again with always the same ref in charge, players already know what they will face again and when they see it happening once again the frustration takes over and then it is simple as a ref to give the red card.

    But I will be talking about such things later on this season when I get the time.

  35. Donnyfan,
    you are touching something that I had noticed. I didn’t want to mention it in the article as I wanted to wait a bit to see how it develops. But I do have the impression that in the cup games the refs are doing better than in the PL.
    Dowd had 50% in his first game, then 59% in his second game. And now he has this impressive 83% in this cup game. And he did something that only real good refs do with the penalty.
    But to see if there really is any difference between the league games and the cup games… I need more games.

  36. And another fine example of a Webalty was the penalty 2 seasons ago when tottenham was winning 2-0 at OT and Gomes came out, cleanly pushed the ball away but Webb gave the penalty which turned the game around and United went on to win it. How I hate it to bring this one up but the truth has to be said. Even when involving Tottenham. They were webbed in clear dailight that day.

  37. Webb and Dean, the Laurel and Hardy in ref land….if it wasn’t so painful to watch them perform and costing so many points

  38. But Mr “Webalty” is wearing their jersey from last season lol i know! I think for one referees have to much power over the outcome of a game watched by too many people. Technology should be brought in so that the ‘good feeling’ of the premier league would remain. Its all well and good now but when the general public start to catch on to these biases/faults of referees then the EPL would loose its value and appeal.
    love the arguments and kudos to all that participated but i would like to ask does the replay mean that Sagna would now be available for the Westham game (and if so maybe a conspiracy on our own part, lol Up #theArsenal)

  39. @Donnyfan1

    Dowd, of late, actually seems to swing more to the blue half of Manchester.

    His data reveals that he is one of the worst referees for Manchester United in terms of ‘luck’.

  40. I really couldn’t wait to see how you will credit Dowd for this game.. I was a bit afraid that you may get subjective and rate him lower than he deserved (deserved for this game, in general, he is not my favorite one). But you did job well Walter (same as Dowd did),

    Though I am still in doubt was Bendtner really in offside at penalty incident. Anyway there is no too much to complain about his job this time, especially comparing to what “primus inter pares” done on Old Traford.

  41. Just for reference, consult this webpage on 365 about Webb’s last 10 ‘performances’ at OT:,17033,8750_6648615,00.html

    Need more to be said? So many penalties given to ManUtd, and so many denied against the Mancs.

    I hope with this furor over his performance, there will be no more Webb at OT for the rest of the season, and see how the Mancs perform against Chelsea, and City.

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