Crystal Palace vs Arsenal: a match overseen by a home team referee.



By Bulldog Drummond

David Coote is the referee.  He awarded the highest number of fouls per tackle in games last season, excluding the three referees who only oversaw four games between them (Robinson, Smith and Madley).

He also saw 28% more of the tackles that he witnessed as fouls than referee Anthony Taylor, and awarded 65% more penalties than Taylor.  But also, rather oddly, gave out slightly fewer yellow cards per game than Taylor.  It just shows: different referees see different games.

But more to the point in this game is Coote’s bias towards the home team.  Now in this regard, we should remember that while referees previously generally showed a bias in terms of the home team, since the research programmes undertaken during the pandemic when no crowds were present, some referees have corrected this bias, and work hard not to be influenced by a noisy home crowd.

(Details of the studies into referee home team bias, with links to the original research can be found here).

Sadly the figures suggest that Coote is NOT one of these men who has sought to overcome his bias.  While others around him have changed the figures suggest he remains firmly a home referee.

In terms of fouls, we also see that Coote gave more fouls against the away team, saw the away teams tackles as slightly worse and gave 14% more yellow cards to away teams than home teams.

In the table below we can see that Coote gives 3.61 more fouls in an average game than Taylor and more against the away team than the home team…


Referee Games Fouls pg Fouls/Tackles Pen pg Yel pg
Anthony Taylor 30 19.87 0.57 0.17 3.80
David Coote all 21 23.48 0.73 0.28 3.67
Coote home 11,24 0.72 0.14 1.71
Coote away 12.24 0.74 0.14 1.95

So we can see that Coote gave 18% more fouls per game and 28% more fouls per tackle than Anthony Taylor.   Those are very significant differences to be added to his home team preference.   And please do remember this is not my opinion: I am simply using the statistics provided by WhoScored.

However, as we have noted before only two referees actually oversaw more away wins than home wins.  They were Taylor (33.3% home wins, 43.3% away wins) and Pawson (33.3% home wins and 47.6% away wins).

So we have a home-favouring referee.  But what of the two clubs and their approach to tackling and fouling and the referee response to that?   


Team Tackles pg Fouls pg Yellows PG
Arsenal 14.9 9.8 1.37
Crystal Palace 18.2 11.7 2.08
Palace v Arsenal +22% +19% +52%


In simple terms Palace put in 22% more tackles, committed 19% more fouls and got 52% more yellows than Arsenal last season.  Here is the relationship table.


Team Tackles Per foul Tackles per Yellow Fouls per yellow
Arsenal 1.52 9.8 10.88
Crystal Palace 1.56 8.75 5.63
Palace v Arsenal +3% -11% -52%


And here we see Crystal Palace’s problem:  last season they were the third-highest team in the fouling table at 11.7 fouls per game.  Only Leeds and Wolverhampton committed more.

Where teams like Palace get caught out is that referees are now penalising accumulated foul play more readily.  So Palace players can put in fewer tackles per card, because they are being penalised also for persistent fouling.   Arsenal commit 19% fewer fouls per game and so can commit over 5% more fouls per tackle.

So here we see the application of the “Caution” section of Rule 12 which says “Caution offences include … “persistent unacceptable behaviour (including repeated warning offences).”

Thus to be clear Palace are not being carded for the quality of the fouls but because they are tackling at a high level and a lot of those tackles are fouls.  If they want fewer cards, the answer is very simple: tackle less, use interceptions, and aim for keeping the ball.

Now of course Hodgson might be attempting to bring the players back into line with League rulings, and we shall see this if their figures change this season, but we can check this to some degree with regard to the one match played this season.  And I’ll come to that in the next piece.

3 Replies to “Crystal Palace vs Arsenal: a match overseen by a home team referee.”

  1. I suspect SkySports have been told to up their game by PGMOL.

    I didn’t see any shirt being pulled.

    I did wonder why Ayew was still on the pitch. All of the fouls he committed were certainly deserving of a yellow card, but Coote was mysteriously reluctant to punish Palace players.

    It’s always instructive to see the way that Arsenal “benefit” from rule-changes and new refereeing initiatives.

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