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The Untold ref review: Arsenal – Wigan

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Victory Through Harmony

By Walter Broeckx, the surprised ref

Today we had a débutante in the Emirates for Arsenal as Dog Face announced in his inimitable column yesterday.  Was ref Kevin Friend still my friend after the game? Let us start our search.

OTHER: Song gives an inch perfect ball to Cesc who is level with the last defender. The assistant gives offside. Wrong decision. 0/1

OTHER: A clear foul on Nzogbia by Song around the Arsenal penalty area. The ref gives nothing.  This was a foul and should have been given. 0/1

OTHER/CARD: Foul on Fabregas just outside the penalty area. The ref gives the foul but keeps the card in his pocket.  He does calls the Wigan player over but when you give the foul you should give the yellow card also. 1/1 and 0/1

OTHER: Walcott commits a foul on a defender. The assistant signals it immediately as the ref is far away from the scene. Good work from the assistant and this is what he is being paid for. If you remember my ranting at the assistant in the Leeds game who did nothing when Arshavin was fouled you’ll know what I mean. This is how it should be done. 1/1

OTHER: Foul on the Wigan keeper. The ref gives nothing. Lucky it didn’t come to a goal as this would be against the laws. 0/1

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OTHER/CARD: Caldwell comes in and puts his foot on the foot of Fabregas. The ref gives the foul but again keeps the card in his pocket. This is somewhat week from the ref as he does nothing to protect the players.  1/1 and 0/1  And who is this eccentric co-commentator on as he clearly is as blind as mole as he was saying that Fabregas went down too easily.  Even the Dutch commentator who I had when I saw the live game had seen it.

GOAL: Lovely ball from Song to Van Persie who is not offside. Great finish from the man from Rotterdam. 1/1  He even seemed to apologise in the direction of the few  Wigan fans! No need to Robin.  (Walter, maybe he had been watching the living art show in which the stewards represent the sea and the meandering Wigan fans represent the land – as reported in my column in the last article.  If so, he was apologising for disrupting the art – and I think one should always do that.  Tony)

OTHER/CARD: Some rotational fouling from the Wigan players on Cesc. The ref gives a few of the fouls but keeps the cards in his pocket. 1/1 and 0/1

OTHER: Fabregas is judged offside as he tries to head the ball over the keeper. Correct decision this one. 1/1

OTHER: Cesc wins the ball with a tackle from behind. But with his second foot he catches the Wigan player. Should have been a foul. 0/1

OTHER: Walcott judged offside and this was correct as he was marginally offside. 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Foul on Fabregas given but yet again no card comes out of the ref his pocket. It was clear to see for everyone who wanted to see (and this does not include the commentator) that the Wigan players were practicing the rotation fouling tactics against Cesc.  1/1 and 0/1

In we go for half time. The ref has not given 4 clear fouls on Arsenal players and 2 on Wigan players. (Wigan player on Cesc, Song on Nzogbia,  Wigan player on Cesc, Wigan player on RVP (in one move), clear foul on Cesc,  foul on Wigan player).

OTHER: Song commits a foul but the ref plays the advantage. Good from the ref. 1/1

OTHER: Nasri gets a kick on his Achilles but the ref does nothing.  0/1

PENALTY: Djourou is being held with both arms after a corner. It was a foul and if it would have been an attacker who keeps his defender like that most refs would have given a foul. But to be fair to the ref he couldn’t see it as Koscielny and another Wigan player were between him and the foul on Djourou. But it was a penalty so have to take a point off the ref. 0/1

GOAL: Lovely pass from Cesc to Van Persie who scores a great goal. Nothing wrong with that finish. 1/1 Even Beckham seems to like it. And for once I agree with the co-commentator: why did we have to see Beckham more in the picture than we have seen Van Persie in the picture?

OTHER/CARD: Cesc comes in late on a Wigan defender.  And I think Fabregas wanted to give something back from all the kicking he got so far. He should have had a yellow card for this. But then again no yellow cards so far so the ref was consistent with himself but this was poor refereeing I think. 1/1 and 0/1

OTHER/CARD: Once again the co-commentator on proves that he knows nothing of the laws of the games. He cannot understand that the ref gives a yellow card for a frontal tackle with an outstretched leg against Sagna. Please Arsenal take that microphone away from him. He thinks it was a good challenge as he didn’t touch the player.  Well, Mr. Robson this was DANGEROUS and only because Sagna saw the tackle coming and jumped out of the way no contact was made! If I jump to you with my foot in the direction of your face and don’t touch you because you can jump out of the way would you also think this would be a nice gesture from my part?  So the ref was absolutely spot on and please hold your breath when it comes to refereeing as it is clear to me after listening to you after one game that you never have been a ref. And if you are or have been a ref I never would have wanted to be a player on your pitch as I know I would get no protection from you.  1/1 and 1/1

PENALTY/CARD: Foul on Fabregas who was passed the last man. Penalty and a red card. Correct decisions.  1/1 and 1/1.

GOAL: Finally Van Persie gets his hat-trick. Walcott played a very big part in this by shielding the ball and allowing VanPersie to have a shot with his right foot. As the ball was in his reach he was allowed to shield it. So nothing against the laws. 1/1

And then the game finishes and we can look at the final score of the ref.

CARDS:  2/7


GOAL:  3/3

OTHER: 10 /15

Total score:  16/27  (59 %)

I think the ref had a difficult first half. And he let go too many fouls. Also fouls that Arsenal made and which he didn’t punish. He also kept his cards in his pockets too long to my liking. The rotational fouling on Cesc warranted a booking in the first half. But then again as he let go too many fouls he was not doing it like he should be doing it.

But to be fair to the ref in the second half he did a much better job and was much more in control of the game. He ran the game, rather than continuing as in the first half when the game was ran by the players.  Was he a bit nervous in the first half? I don’t know but the good thing is that he was capable of lifting his game in the second half a bit. Not enough to get a satisfaction final score but enough to keep him at around 60%.

As it was his first game at the Emirates I can forgive him a bit and I liked the fact that in the second half he did produce the cards when needed for the dangerous tackle (that is what it is called Mr. Robson) on Sagna and the penalty and the red card.

So I will be having an eye on this ref in the future when we see him and I will be able to compare his game with this one.  If he punishes in the early stages of the game the little niggling fouls that he let go too much he will have a more fluent game after a few minutes in which you have to give a lot of fouls. But once the players know that you will let them get away with it, they will stop those fouls and the game will become faster from itself.

And talking about pundits…I must say that I was very disappointed with the bullsh*t the Arsenal co-commentator was producing at times.  Maybe he knows a few things about football and tactics, but I do know that he doesn’t know much about the laws of the game and how a ref should look upon the laws of the game.  But I must say I was a bit shocked at times with the rubbish he was saying.


Speaking of the laws of the game – do you know how the offside law came into being, and how one Arsenal player became the person who exemplified how to use the new law?  The full story is on the Arsenal History site

Football stewarding as art

Life as football

24 comments to The Untold ref review: Arsenal – Wigan

  • Karthik

    The tackle on Sagna was horrible! I half thought it would be a straight red! Would that have been in compliance with the laws of the game?

  • First?

    How did he score so high? I’m sure you missed some occasions out Walter. That man was a real enemy.

    Kindly provide a link so we can share your reviews.

  • walter

    9jagunnerdoc, I do try to look at this as unbiased as possible and do look at each decision itself without getting myself carried away with former decisions in the game.

    I didn’t mention it in this article as it was already a bit long I thought, but having a score of below 60 in the EPL is not good enough IMO.
    Everything higher than 80 is good and above 90 is excellent.
    Between 80 and 70 is an okay game and between 70 and 60 is just acceptable.

    So his final score is not that good at all. And certainly in the first half he was having a poor game IMO. In the second half he was much better and so he got the final score of 59% but in most exams this is good enough. In my ref review and for EPL refs this is a weak performance.

  • Second.

    Well done Karthik

  • Dark Prince

    I’m really thinking- the 3rd goal in which Walcott was ‘shielding’ the ball. Can he do that according to the laws??

    I’m asking this bcoz he was using both his out-stretched hands to prevent the defender to come ahead. Isn’t using ur hands/arms intentionally in any manner considered a foul??

    I’ve seen this done by defenders to shield the ball while its rolling out of the line…and even there, isn’t it a foul to use ur out-stretched arms?? What happens if a player falls down after colliding with that out-stretched arm??

  • RedGooner

    Walter a good analysis as always.
    I think though that the Ref really needs to toughen up when you dont give cards early players can get injured, the niggly stuff really needs to be stamped out I was amazed Cesc wasnt hurt yesterday and if he had been it would only have been one persons fault.
    Cesc could even have gotten himself sent off lashing out with frustration from lack of protection later on in the game.

    No ones perfect but it was a poor performance on the day.

  • Karthik

    Thank you, but what did I do?


    I read in some blog that ” They showed Becham more than they showed Szczesny in the match” that shows our dominance in the match. Go gunners. Gunner for life

  • Red Jessie

    Hi Walter

    As I forecast yesterday we did have a red card but not quite as I imagined. I think you have been rather generous to referee Friend. In the first half, in particular, he missed a number of off the ball incidents. RVP and Cesc were continually targeted in a cynical fashion but nothing was done. We also had a referee who does not know the difference between ‘advantage’ and simple possession. I felt he was out of his depth and would not be able to control a more testing, competitive game.

  • 10K Lakes Gooner

    Walter I thoroughly enjoy your ref reviews and look forward to them after every match. Can you please explain the van Persie penalty take? It seemed to me that the keeper clearly moved several meters prior to Robin striking the ball. In fact, I believe that Robin, who was aiming for the right corner of the goal, was quite distracted by this and when he saw the the keeper was going to be there in time to save his shot he tried to adjust his strike, causing him to blaze the ball over the bar. Please watch this again. The keepers’ pronounced and very early movement (first to his right, then to his left, seem quite illegal to me, but I would love to hear your impression. Keep up the great work!

  • walter

    10K Lakes Gooner,
    I agree that the goalkeeper seemed to make a forward movement on the moment the penalty was taken.
    I have seen the penalty again but the problem is that they only gave replays of the main angle which we usually have from the halfway line and one from behind the other goal taken from the camera in the clock end. Camera which I sit next to when we come to the Emirates or very close next to it.

    But unfortunatly the angle to be 100% clear about a situation would be from the camera on the penalty area or on the goal line. And as far as I know they didn’t show any replays from those angles.

    So as I couldn’t see it from there I left it out of my review. I do like to work a bit with the principle: if I cannot see for the 100% that a decision on the field was wrong I will not go against it.

  • A Casual Observer

    @Red Jessie

    The off the ball stuff would be down to the 4th Official Lee Probert who no doubt dragged down Kev’s final score. You should not underestimate the influence of the 4th Official – especially with a new/young ref.

  • walter

    As was shown in the documentary ‘Kill the referee” it is incredible how much the refs speek with each other during a game with their headsets

  • walter

    A little bit off topic but still on topic: I just have seen a statistic from the Utd – Birmingham game and Birmingham has committed just 5 (five) fouls in the whole game. They are destroying their reputation like that. They are just some soft who don’t like it up ….. wel you know……..

  • 10K Lakes Gooner

    Thanks, Walter. You can get another look at the penalty take here ( if you like. Also, the ref is only looking at van Persie until he strikes the ball. Is this the correct thing for him to be doing? What should the ref be looking at during a penalty take? The keeper, the penalty taker, other players possibly entering the box too soon? Curious as to what his primary responsibility during penalty kicks. As always appreciate the help and value your insights!

  • Wrenny

    “I just have seen a statistic from the Utd – Birmingham game and Birmingham has committed just 5 (five) fouls in the whole game.”

    Walter, I think that could form the basis of a very interesting article (or series of them).

    Investigating the number of fouls committed by say, the likes of Stoke, Blackburn and Birmingham (what you might call Fergie-friendly sides) when they go up against Man Utd, and compared their fouling habits against Arsenal and other top sides.

    From that we could analyse not one but two theories – that these teams take it a little easier on Man Utd than they do against Man Utd’s competitors, and also whether these teams really do go out to ‘rough up’ the Arsenal a little more than the sides around us.

  • 10K Lakes Gooner

    Interesting topic, Wrenny. Would love to see a statistical analysis of that.

  • Yommex

    Good review, but what else does one expect here? Well, I have noticed that whenever we’ve had to take a penalty kick this season the other players are never focused on the kick. They are always too relaxed for my liking as you will see them sometimes chatting away. Only one or two of them will be around the penalty box and these never follow the ball up unlike their opponents. I think more attention is required at such times.

  • walter

    10K Lakes Gooner,

    It is the assistant his duty to keep an eye on the keeper and to see if he moves forward before the ball is kicked.

    The ref should keep an eye on other things like: the place of the ball, the penalty taker and if there are players entering the penalty area before the ball is kicked.

    Now the keeper is allowed to move on his line before the ball is kicked. He can run from post to post if he wants to do this.

    I have seen it a few times now and yes it could be that the keeper is already moving forward a little bit just before the penalty is taken but I don’t think he was that far from his goal line on the moment RVP kicks the ball. His movement before is no foul as he stayed on his line.

    I will give him the benefit of the doubt, even after seeing it back a few times now.

  • Armin

    Very professional Walter, as it would be expectable that Arsenal supporter evaluate ref “under” which we lost lower than one where we won, but our Unfriendly Friend got lower than most of ones when we lost. And honestly he deserved it.
    I have feeling we were extremely lucky as Fabregas still can walk, and RvP ankles and knees are undamaged. As our dishonest friend would not pay attention to what happening even if someone leg fell off.

  • Karthik

    Can the question I posted first be answered please? 🙂

  • C4

    Excellent suggestion Wrenny. I’m VERY, VERY curious about that myself. I strongly suspect we’d find a pattern in there. Looks to me like manure are receiving a little push now and then from several directions. Might have something to do with the sharp increase in competition at the top, so a little assistance may be being rendered to ensure the status quo is maintained. Way too many suspicious decisions and performances for my liking. I really hope we snatch the tilte this season, for the sake of justice as well as the joy of lifting the silverware.

  • C4

    Oh, and although very few manure fans will admit it, some have come out and said that they can see they’re beng helped too. I actually find that manure fans are bit more silent than usual this season, I guess bragging is not as much fun when the achievements aren’t genuine, eh?

  • walter

    As it was (if I remember correct) a sliding tackle over the ground with only one leg a yellow card was enough imo for this one.
    If it would have been two footed a red was the only card possible. But he kept his leg on the ground so a definite foul and yellow card. If he would have raised his foot or leg it should have been red.
    And sorry for the late reply.