Chelsea v Arsenal: The referee and the home/away difference



By Bulldog Drummond

If you are a regular reader you may recall that we take a look with some interest at the way in which some PGMO referees favour the home team and some favour the away team.

Chris Kavanagh, who we see in today’s game, is one of the referees who gives the lowest number of home wins and the highest number of away wins to his name last season, which may auger well.

His figures last season when he oversaw 13 games were for 30.8% of his games to end as home wins, 53.8% to end as away wins and 15.4% to end as draws.  For referee stats in general see WhoScored).

The range that we see for referees with 13 games or more last season was

  • Home wins: 72% (Attwell) to 29.4% (Gillett) to 
  • Away wins: 53.8% (Kavanagh) to 4.8% (Bankes)
  • Draws: 33.3% (Bankes) to 15.4% (Kavanagh)

Using these figures one can get a clear idea of how each game is going to pan out before the game starts, once one knows which referee is in charge.

Of course, the stats are not definitive.   Almost one-third of games that Kavanagh oversees in the Premier League do indeed end in home wins.  It is just that this is very different from the results we see for many other referees.  What’s more, with Kavanagh over half (a very large number in terms of this statistic) end as away wins.

However this season until now he has only refereed two PL games – one a home win and one an away win.

To explain what is going on here we have to return to research that we have considered many times on this site, concerning the impact of the crowd.  This was revealed in the Covid-interrupted season in which many football matches were played without crowds present.and it was found that the results changed dramatically.  (If you would like some background, you might like to start here).

Since then we have come back to the norm of most teams winning more at home than away.  But curiously last season this did not apply to Chelsea and Arsenal



Pos Team/venue P W D L F A GD Pts
15 Chelsea Home 19 6 7 6 20 19 1 25
1 Arsenal away 19 12 3 4 35 18 17 39


Quite what caused Chelsea’s demise at home I’m not sure, but the last home league game they won last season was on 4 March: a 1-0 win over Leeds United who went on to be relegated.


Date Match Result Score
18 Mar 2023 Chelsea v Everton D 2-2
01 Apr 2023 Chelsea v Aston Villa L 0-2
04 Apr 2023 Chelsea v Liverpool D 0-0
15 Apr 2023 Chelsea v Brighton and Hove Albion L 1-2
26 Apr 2023 Chelsea v Brentford L 0-2
13 May 2023 Chelsea v Nottingham Forest D 2-2
28 May 2023 Chelsea v Newcastle United D 1-1


They have been doing better this season – but leaving aside Liverpool in the league and Brighton in the league cup (with Brighton not having a particularly strong second string to play league cup games) the home form, although better, has remained patchy.


Date Match Res Score Competition
13 Aug 2023 Chelsea v Liverpool D 1-1 Premier League
25 Aug 2023 Chelsea v Luton Town W 3-0 Premier League
30 Aug 2023 Chelsea v AFC Wimbledon W 2-1 League Cup
02 Sep 2023 Chelsea v Nottingham Forest L 0-1 Premier League
24 Sep 2023 Chelsea v Aston Villa L 0-1 Premier League
27 Sep 2023 Chelsea v Brighton and Hove Albion W 1-0 League Cup


As we know Arsenal were the best away team in the league last season and this season have won all three away games, not conceding a single goal.  

So what is the cause of Chelsea’s problems at home?   One of the most common issues for clubs that do badly at home is the crowd, who get on the backs of players leaving the players happier to play away.  But exactly what Chelsea’s home problem was last season one can’t be completely sure.  However the final table confirmed that there most certainly was some sort of problem.

Home games only – Premier League final table 2022/23


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
15 Chelsea 19 6 7 6 20 19 1 25
16 AFC Bournemouth 19 6 4 9 20 28 -8 22
17 Leeds United 19 5 7 7 26 37 -11 22
18 Everton 19 6 3 10 16 27 -11 21
19 Leicester City 19 5 4 10 23 27 -4 19
20 Southampton 19 2 5 12 19 37 -18 11


Our final preview appears next, looking at the possible Arsenal team for the game.

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