West Ham v Arsenal
In our last piece we looked at the referee and his propensity for giving out fouls and cards. But what about the results? In the table below we look at all the referees who have overseen 10+ Premier League games this season, and select the ones at the edges of the numbers.
Home win percentages for referees range from 26.7% to 63.%. Away win percentages range from 14.3% to 54.5% and draws range from none to 30% Figures from Whoscored
These are phenomenal variations between referees. If there was no individual bias going on, most would be clustered around the average results, but they are not. If Tierney referees a match, you can put money on it being an away win. It if is Atwell, or Coote, go for a home win.
The number of games that end up as a home win, away win or draw is fairly consistent through each season, apart from when games were played without crowds present during the pandemic when the result profile was turned upside down. The explanation, proven through a series of academic research programmes at London University, is that referees are highly influenced by the crowd.
But this new referee variation appears to suggest that some referees have seen the research and are pushing themselves to overcome it. There are links to the relevant articles on this research at the end.
Here are the average figures
|2020/21 (no crowds)
|2021/22 (with crowds)
|Craig Pawson 2023/24
Our referee for this game Craig Pawson, shows from his figures how much he favours the home team – the explanation being not that he is actively favouring one team as such but that he lets the crowd sway him – as most referees do.
Here are his figures against some of his fellow referees…
So we have a referee who favours home wins. The one thing that we can hope for, and indeed which seems to have helped Arsenal, is that when we point this out, it reminds the referee that we are watching and we have his numbers. So the referee tends take much more care not to be biased by the crowd.
It is of course appalling that we should have to explore this data… I am never suggesting that all referees should fall exactly in line with the data from when there were no crowds present but really we should be looking at a national average of the same sort of percentage of home and away wins throughout the season.
So let’s go on to the usual data of fouls, tackles and cards for fouls. I’m including the number of all yellows for the clubs this time so we can see just how much referees are adding on for other infringements, real or imagined.
|Yellows for fouls
What we see is that Arsenal has reduced its yellow card rate below that of Manchester City in terms of overall yellows, but is still being judged by referees to be worthy of yellow cards for fouls more often than Manchester C.
The key to reducing yellow cards is still the number of tackles and once more we see the oddness of the Tottenham approach, putting in over 56% more tackles per game than Manchester City.
In terms of this weekend’s game West Ham put in 7% more tackles than Arsenal, and have 9% more of their tackles called as fouls than Arsenal. And this is pretty silly since it all means that 33% more of their fouls are given yellow cards than is the case with Arsenal.
|Tackles per foul
|Tackles for yellow
|Fouls per yellow
So as we can see Arsenal can now put in more tackles than West Ham and Manchester City before getting a foul called. Only Tottenham can put in more, and this because they are putting so many tackles it appears that the referees don’t feel able to call each one. They are putting in over 54% more tackles in each game than Manchester City.
But when it comes to how many tackles a player can put in before a yellow is shown – a vital statistic for defenders for once the yellow is brought out it means to the player that a) the referee is watching him and b) one more false move and he’s off) Arsenal are clearly doing well. They can put in 25% more tackles than West Ham before the yellow card is waved.
West Ham also suffer in terms of the number of fouls that lead to a yellow card. Arsenal can put in 22% more tackles before getting a card than West Ham can. Arsenal are still not at Manchester City’s level of tackling without getting a card, but we’re getting there.
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- Without crowds away teams do so much better
- How far down might these points deducations take clubs?
- Big clubs that foul less lose fewer players of their own to injury
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England
- Didn’t appreciate KO time, M1 is a disaster, but watching Arsenal is a joy