West Ham v Arsenal. The biggest danger for Arsenal in this game is the referee



By Bulldog Drummond

Simon Hooper is the referee for today’s League Cup fourth-round game between West Ham and Arsenal.

He is in the top ten in terms of Premier League appearances but has only overseen five league games so far this season which suggests he may have been hauled off for “re-training”.  The most active referee this season at the moment is Anthony Taylor who has run nine league games.

In terms of fouls per game he is pretty much mid-table calling out 22.60 fouls a game on average.  But the range among referees is huge – from an average of 18 fouls a game to an average of 27 fouls a game.   Which clearly shows some referees perceive tackles as fouls a lot more than do others, when really at this level that should not be the case.

The yellow card figures per game are even more varied.  For while some referees are handing out 50% more fouls per match than others, with yellow cards the difference (excluding those referees who have only handled under five games this season) is between 5.86 yellows per game, and 3.40 yellows per game:

That difference is 72%, meaning that for example a club getting Andy Madely as referee is 72% more likely to get a yellow card than a club being refereed by David Coote.

Which makes the point very clearly: getting fouls against a team or yellow cards for team members depends, very much on who the referee is.

So let us delve a little more into Simon Hooper this season.   Here we can see that the number of fouls called against the home team across all his games this season (12.40 per game) is 22% more than the fouls called against away teams.    

And yet really oddly, the away team get more yellows and reds than the home team!  44% more in fact for yellow cards.   What we show below are tonight’s referee’s figures for home and away teams, but then also Andy Madely’s figures for away teams by way of contrast.


Referee Fouls pg Fouls/Tackles Yel pg Red
Simon Hooper home teams 12.40 0.73 1.80 0
Simon Hooper away teams 10.20 0.63 2.60 2
Andy Madely away teams 14.43 0.78 3.43 0
Madely/Hooper difference for away teams +41% +24% +32%  


Of course Arsenal don’t have Madely tonight, but the figures are presented here just to show how different each referee’s position on the away team can be.  Madely gives 41% more fouls against away teams than Hooper, and sees 24% more tackles as fouls than Hooper.  As a result of this more aggressive stance he gives 32% more yellow cards against away teams than Hooper.

As a result of this any club manager worthy of his job must approach each game by looking not just at his team but at which referee is involved and adjusting the play to meet the foibles of that referee – and that surely cannot be right.

Results according to referees

So far this season 43% of games have ended as home wins, 21% have been draws and 36% have been away wins.  If we look at the statistics of Anthony Taylor, the referee who has overseen more Premier League games this season than any other referee (nine), his figures are very close to this.  He has overseen 44.4% home wins 22.2% away wins and 33.3% draws.

But what of Simon Hooper, our referee for tonight?   He has overseen 60% home wins, 40% away wins and no draws.

Of course there are going to be variations – not every referee is going to be overseeing games that give the exact statistics of the average overall, but Hooper, with his figure of 60% home wins is extreme. 

But let us also consider Simon Hooper’s figures for last season.  In 2022/23 he oversaw 29 Premier League games, and then gave 55.2% as home wins and just 17.2% as away wins and 27.6% as draws.

We might compare this with Craig Pawson who took control in 21 Premier League games last season, and these resulted in 33.3% home wins, 47.6% away wins and 19% draws.   Thus yet again we see that which referee each club gets has a huge influence on the result.

Now obviously most clubs are not run by idiots and so just as we look at referee results so do the clubs, and they then adjust their performances accordingly.   In fact, the only people who don’t bother with this fundamental issue within the Premier League, in terms of the results, is the mass media, who utterly and totally refuse to consider the notion that any referee might have an impact on the final outcome.

Fortunately for us, Arsenal do clearly note who the referee is and adjust their style of play accordingly.

4 Replies to “West Ham v Arsenal. The biggest danger for Arsenal in this game is the referee”

  1. Great title to this article.

    Been reading some of the stuff on here, you Gooners really are the most arrogant, blinkered fans in the Premier League – bar none.

    Obviously we only beat your reserves last night, we’ve been total garbage in our last 3 games but the 2nd half last night was an absolute stroll, Sheff Utd gave us more problems.

    Apart from the chant telling Declan he should have ‘signed for a big club’, the other massive laugh was watching the Gooners players after the final whistle going to applaud their away ‘fans’ – there were more players than fans, you lot had all cleared off about 10 mins before the end – hilarious.

  2. Phil, thank you for your email. You open by saying, “you Gooners really are the most arrogant, blinkered fans in the Premier League – bar none,” and yet you give no evidence of that. Of course it could be that you are making the error of taking one game as somehow representative of a wider period of time – for example the quarter of this season that has been played, or indeed the whole of last season, in which Arsenal ended up with over double the number of points that West Ham got.
    Accusing other supporters of being arrogant is of course something that can be done – as you have shown – but then logically in order to make that claim you have show that you are not arrogant. And the way this is done is normally twofold. One is by using moderate language (and the use of “total garbage” doesn’t really fit into that) and the other is through the provision of evidence.
    That evidence could be for example, a review of the league table this season, showing Arsenal having 10 points more and a 16 goal better goal difference, after just ten games.

  3. Hi Tony,

    My email actually opened by saying, ‘great title to this article’, not as you quoted.

    ‘The biggest danger for Arsenal in this game is the referee’ – this could be the evidence of arrogance you’re looking for?

    My comments were not designed to compete for an English language or logical thinking award, I’m just enjoying my time in the sun mate.

    Yes, I realise we’re several points behind you in the League and yes, I fully understand that the gap may increase as the season rolls on but I’m a West Ham fan and most of us don’t take ourselves too seriously.

    All the best for the season (only joking)

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