West Ham United v Arsenal: how will the referee behave?



By Sir Hardly Anyone

Craig Pawson is the referee for the game away to West Ham United.

I’ve put the data from various referees below but here are a few key points to note.  Pawons sees 15% more fouls in a game than his fellow referee Barrott.   But when it comes to penalties Taylor sees more than double the number of fouls as penalties per game, than Pawson.

But so weird are these numbers that Referee Simon Hooper has overseen 14 games and not given out a single penalty!!!

In terms of yellow cards Pawson hands out 50% more yellow cards in each match than Sammuel Barrott.     But he is still not top of the yellow card league.  Taylor hands out 15% more than Pawson.

Pawson is also in the top group of referees who use the red card.   While Robinson has not handed out any reds at all Pawson has handed out three.  Only Coote matches him for this.


Referee Apps Fouls pg Pen pg Yel pg Red pg
Anthony Taylor 17 22.35 0.59 5.35 0.18
Tim Robinson 15 22.93 0.27 4.40 0.00
.Michael Oliver 14 21.00 0.29 3.93 0.29
Simon Hooper 14 22.64 0.00 4.93 0.21
Craig Pawson 11 22.27 0.27 4.64 0.27
David Coote 10 24.50 0.40 4.80 0.30
Samuel Barrott 10 19.30 0.20 3.10 0.10


West Ham are obviously delighted to have Pawson in charge.  Indeed on their website it is said that he is, “One of the top-flight’s most experienced officials, Pawson has been a part of the Select Group of Referees since 2013.”

What they very carefully don’t tell us is that he is one of the penalty giving yellow card wavers.  

So it will be interesting to see how he gets along.     Here are the figures on referee related issues per clubs.   Yellow cards here as above include all yellow cards for all offences, not just for tackling.  Data from Whoscored.


Team Yellows Reds Possession% Fouled
Chelsea 73 3 59.2% 233
Tottenham Hotspur 55 4 60.1% 322
West Ham United 48 2 40.8% 220
Liverpool 42 5 59.4% 244
Manchester City 38 2 65.2% 233
 Arsenal 37 2 60.4% 241


So we can see that West Ham are fairly low in the yellow card stakes when we take into account yellows from all reasons, although not as low as Arsenal.    Arsenal are in fact continuing to run at around half the level of yellow cards that Chelsea get.     If the referee behaves in the average way of referees overseeing these clubs Arsenal would expect to get something like three cards to West Ham’s four.

But the oddity from our statistics is the lowness of the West Ham possession ratio.  In that give or take a fraction of one percent, an average game between these two teams would mean Arsenal having around 60% of the possession, and West Ham obviously 40%.

There are four other teams with lower percentages of possession: Luton Town, Sheffield United, Everton and Nottingham Forest.  And this rather suggests that West Ham have perfected the counter-attacking approach to a game, in the way that the lower table clubs haven’t. 

They are ninth in the league in terms of goals scored against seventh in the league table, so it is working out for them.  They are eighth in the table of goals scored, so it looks like they are seeking the security of mid-table.

But we should also acknowledge that they won their group stage of the Conference League with five wins and a draw against Freiburg, Olympiakos and Backa Topola.

But back to our question in the headline.  What will the referee do?

The answer is he will see an above average number of fouls and hand out an above average number of yellow cards.

As for West Ham, they will retreat, let Arsenal have 60% of the possession, and then go for the counter attack.


One Reply to “West Ham United v Arsenal: how will the referee behave?”

  1. Can you imagine if this bunch of inept, possibly corrupt, unaccountable Prem Refs let loose with blue cards. Carte Blanche to affect match outcomes.

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