Arsenal v Nottingham Forest: the danger of the referee and the Arsenal line up




By Bulldog Drummond

Naturally, we will be hoping that Arsenal qualify at the end of this season for the Champions League next season, irrespective of how well the club does in the Champions League in the coming ten months.

But just in case something goes horribly wrong we might also note that there is a new format for the Champions League as it rises up to 36 teams for 2024/25.   For now, the two countries whose clubs have together performed the best in European competitions the season before will get an extra place.  I am sure that won’t be of interest to Arsenal as I’m certain we’re back into the regular top-four habit, but it might excite Liverpool who ended fifth in the last campaign.

Besides which, in five of the last six seasons the Premier League would have gained one of the two extra spots if they had been on offer at the time.

Anyway, let us now consider the issue of the referee.

For this game the referee is Michael Oliver.  He refereed 30 games last season and showed a real positive bias in favour of the away teams throughout the season.   He awarded more fouls against the home teams than the away teams, gave more penalties to the away teams, and gave a lot more yellow cards against the home team than the away teams. It really is an outrageous set of statistics: it looks as if he read our analyses of how referees are influenced by home crowds and instead of evening up his approach, he’s gone overboard the other way!

So to avoid picking up a load of extra cards Arsenal are going to have to be on their best behaviour and absolutely not notice when Forest get away with murder while them themselves are penalised for the most gentle and accidental push in the back.

Here is the data…


Referee Fouls pg Pen pg Yel pg Yel
Michael Oliver home 11.00 0.17 1.73 52
Michael Oliver away 10.33 0.20 1.17 35


Moving onto the lineup

90 Min suggest a team of


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Timber;

Odegaard, Partey, Rice;

Saka, Havertz, Martinelli.

Writing this on Friday (as we have to be up and away early on Saturday to get to London and give ourselves time to see if the electronic gadgetry works to allow us into the ground), the news is that the Brentford goalkeeper David Raya is joining Arsenal on initial £3m loan deal with a £27m option to buy.

It is being reported by Sky that, “David Raya has extended his contract at Brentford by a further year in order to facilitate this loan, and have given Arsenal the option to buy in one year’s time.

Pain in the Arsenal give us exactly the same lineup as above except that Trossard comes in for Martinelli


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Timber;

Odegaard, Partey, Rice;

Saka, Havertz, Trossard

Now there is a very interesting point here in that Martinelli is all about not just his sublime skill with the ball but also pace, and if he were to come in as a substitute on 60 minutes he could totally bamboozle the Forest defence for the last half hour.

Three added minutes give us the same line-up but they select Martinelli to start.

Sports Mole have one other variation


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Timber;

Odegaard, Partey, Rice;

Saka, Trossard, Martinelli

And that seems to be about the long and short of it all.  We’re off to the game.  A report may well follow when we get back assuming no one gets electrocuted by the admission system.


19 Replies to “Arsenal v Nottingham Forest: the danger of the referee and the Arsenal line up”

  1. I hope Tony gets in with the rest of the people. Kick off delayed with half an hour with an nearly half full stadium and thousands of people waiting outside to get in….

  2. Tony,

    this is what happens when you try to play around with the ticket on your phone app….. everything breaks down and thousands stand in line behind you ;=))

  3. I have seen reports that former referee Dean has identified Arsene Wenger as the most difficult of managers. He did, however, claim to have always got on well with Ferguson.

    Now, whatever could be the explanation for that?


    Well that’s a big fat NOOOOOOOOOO then. Joke.

  5. Curious…on replay, I don’t think Timber even touched the Forest player…an evening things up yellow.

  6. He didn’t he pulled out injurying himself GGG trying not to hurt the other player poodits talking shit

  7. HIlarious listening to the pundits talk. For the first 30 minutes they were talking about how clever Forest had set up to defend. After the first goal they were saying that Forest should stay the course and hope for a break in the second half. After the second goal they were saying that 90% of the time if you set up defensively against a team like Arsenal, you would lose…therefore you should just go for it and be brave…I’ve only seen politicians pivot faster.

  8. All in all a pretty good performance. Two miscues, one at the start and one at the end. I hope Timber is OK. Good thing we did make those purchases – we shall need the depth.

    Up the Guns!

  9. Not satisfied with his unbiased anti-Arsenal opinionated agenda, Richard Keys has now mastered the art of mind-reading from his safe haven.

    Is there no end to his talents?

    After being parachuted in to the German Super Cup final, Harry Kane has somehow contrived to mislay another piece of silverware.

  10. I was at the match and Timber was injured in the 8th minute by Danillo’s stamp on Timbers achilles knocking his boot off. It wasn’t picked up by Gillet on VAR (Expected from this Aussie cheat) . The injury eventually turned sour after a couple of knocks. The PGMOL appointment of their two most competent cheats almost got Arsenal to a bad start.

  11. I note that Ben White made no tackles and no fouls yet still ends up a yellow card. Meanwhile two players committed five fouls yesterday and only one of them picked up a yellow. It’s so gratifying to see such a level of consistency from referees. Well, they are consistently inconsistent……..

  12. Mikey

    Do you know what he was booked for then?

    Maybe this is the plan. We’ve cut out tackling and therefore the opportunities for referees to card us, so now they have these 2 changes in referees approach.

    Let the game flow: In other words 5 fouls are okay.

    Strict on dissent: Get a card for questioning how a player can get away with 5 fouls.

    Job done.

  13. Remember its the same Limited company and according to Hackett they report to the Board of Directors. Like the Board is Gods own football authority.

    This PGMOL Board is not elected or transparently appointed. What a heap of dung we have to accept as officials in what was the Beautiful Game.

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