Arsenal v Porto: no one comments on the ref, so we can only hope…



A list of recent posts organised by areas of interest appears on the home page.

By Bulldog Drummond

The first leg of tonight’s game against Porto was extremely difficult for Arsenal and given the performance of the referee in that match Arsenal were lucky to get away with a 1-0 defeat.

It was more than likely that the astonishing number of fouls given against Arsenal in that match was on Arteta’s mind when he said (according to Reuters), “We’re certainly going to have to tweak a few things to generate much more than we did. It’s the level of the Champions League.  We have to make it happen. We’re going to have to be very good to achieve that. Every week, every opponent has their strengths and weaknesses and the way they play the game.

“We’ve played these games many times in the Premier League. We’ll just focus on ourselves and doing more. We need [the crowd] playing every ball with us and we need that emotional control as well. It’s a beautiful opportunity to live one of those nights.”

Everyone however is being diplomatic, for any mention of the referees wild and whacky behaviour in the first leg could lead to Arsenal being penalised by a Uefa organisation that appears to have looked at PGMO and seen it not as a warning of how football can go wrong, but as a rulebook.

As Martin Ødegaard said recently, “Straight after we knew what we had to do differently already. It’s the only game we didn’t win this year so that’s enough motivation.”

As for Porto, playing in the Champions League has been something that they have done each year since 2019/20 so they know the ways to win.  In their first outing that year they were knocked out in the third qualifying round, while the following year they made it to the quarter finals.  However in 2021/2 although they made it to the group stage they only won one of their six games and thus went out.  Last year however they got to the round of 15 going out after winning half their games.

So this game against Arsenal is a frontier for Porto, and for them to go through would be celebrated as a significant milestone in that club’s history.

Arsenal have of course gone much further in the past, but the away game gave the club a major reminder of just how different refereeing in Europe can be with Arsenal being penalised for fouls in a way that is simply not seen even with the variant refereeing in the Premier League.

Countering any doubts we might have is the fact that Arsenal have played three Champions League games at home this season (rather obviously) and won them all.  What is perhaps not always reported is the combined score of those games at 12-0.  A fourth home game without a visitors’ goal would be a first for Arsenal.

And there is another record in the offing.  Only one player in the history of the competition has both assisted a goal and scored a goal in four consecutive home games.  That was Karim Benzema in 2011/12.   However Saka has achieved the score and assist double in each of the three Champions League games at Arsenal Stadium this season, so he could equal the record today.

And he might well be encouraged in this regard by the fact that Porto, having played 22 games outside Portugal in the Champions League in their history have only won two away games after the group stages.

But as we have noted before, everything will be down to the referee.  For as we have pointed out before in the match in Portugal Arsenal were deemed to have committed 22 fouls.   Now according to Who Scored Arsenal have this season committed an average of 9.6 fouls per game in the Premier  League.

Does it seem likely, or indeed even possible that a set of players suddenly increases its level of fouling by more 120% (ie more than double) for a single game?   The answer is surely no.

Does it seem likely that a referee in Portugal could be biased?   Based on previous experience, yes.

Does it seem likely that the media in England would fail to report this statistic?  Yes – although I must say that even for the English media, missing such a basic fact is extreme.

More later.


7 Replies to “Arsenal v Porto: no one comments on the ref, so we can only hope…”

  1. The referee will be Clément Turpin. Well, how to put it mildly? Let’s just quote from a famous thinker, then: “Turpin is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get” …

  2. Talking of referees, I was bemused (but not a lot, he’s too predictable) by Garth Crooks’ comments in his BBC ‘Team of the Week’ diatribe. He says, trying to support his argument that Havertz should have been sent off, “The Germany international……….elected to dive in the Brentford penalty area in order to try to seek a clear advantage. However, what was more troubling was that referee Robert Jones refused to do anything about it, even though the Brentford defenders were waving an imaginary card in the air in an attempt to bring the incident to his attention.”

    Now I don’t put any stock by what Crooks says but his level of stupidity is beyond me. Ignore whether Havertz should have received a card for diving (I believe he should have but didn’t deserve his first one). Crooks has highlighted that, “the Brentford defenders were waving an imaginary card” but says nothing about the fact that such behaviour is a clear yellow card offence in itself.

    So whilst what Havertz did was open to interpretation, what the Brentford defenders did was not. Every single one of them should have been booked. It may have even been the case that the ref failed to book Havertz on the basis that he would have had to book half a dozen Brentford players too. Whilst technically correct to do so, this would have put the spotlight well and truly on the ref. Brentford deserved what they got.

    On the other hand, if we’d got what we deserved, then we’d have had at least two penalties.

  3. It seems Mikel has already presented his first line of Def rence , having requested we supporters lend our vociferous support to help the referee make the right decisions . Personally I hope there’s a wall of noise to dissuade any refereeing shenanigans.

  4. LE GALL Let’s hope the ref doesn’t live up to his 18th century namesake and rob us blind

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *