Arsenal v Luton Town: the referee and his recent performances




By Bulldog Drummond

Arsenal Mania have not only posted the note that the referee for the game is Craig Pawson but also the rest of the officials, which is very handy since I am currently travelling, and writing my preview a little more pre-match than normal.

  • Assistant Referee: Marc Perry.
    Assistant Referee: Steven Meredith.
    Fourth Official: Simon Hooper.
    Video Assistant Referee: Tim Robinson.
    Additional Video Assistant Referee: Daniel Robathan.

But they have also added that the referee’s “most recent match involving Arsenal was the 6-0 win away at West Ham United in the Premier League in February when he showed 4 yellow cards, all of which were shown to the hosts.”

Which all sounds rather encouraging.

Craig Pawson has overseen 13 Premier League games this season so we can compare him with the other PGMO regular hitmen (sorry referees) for the key metrics.  Data from WhoScored.


Referee Games Fouls pg Fouls/Tackles Yel pg
1.Anthony Taylor 20 21.95 0.64 5.15
2.Michael Oliver 19 20.95 0.56 4.05
3.Paul Tierney 19 22.05 0.65 3.42
4.Simon Hooper 19 22.21 0.64 4.63
5.Tim Robinson 18 22.78 0.68 4.28
6.Robert Jones 18 23.00 0.68 4.39
7.John Brooks 17 22.65 0.61 4.35
8.Andy Madley 17 23.65 0.63 4.41
9.Chris Kavanagh 16 21.75 0.54 4.19
10.Jarred Gillett 16 20.94 0.56 4.75
11.Samuel Barrott 14 20.21 0.62 3.07
12.Craig Pawson 13 22.15 0.67 4.46
13.Stuart Attwell 12 20.67 0.62 5.00
14.David Coote 12 24.50 0.73 5.17
15.Michael Salisbury 11 24.00 0.66 4.09
16.Peter Bankes 10 21.30 0.60 4.90


Referee fouls per game range from 20.67 for Stuart Attwell to 24.50 for David Coote – a variation of 19%.  Craig Pawson is mid-range between the two.

The number of fouls per tackle (where obviously 1.00 would mean every foul is a tackle) ranges from 0.54 to 0.73.  Mr Pawson is slightly above mid-range at 0.67 but not excessive.

But the number of yellow cards ranges from 3.07 per game to 5.17 per game.   Now since PGMO referees can see the same team six or more times a season, any club that gets Coote six times is going to be suffering since he hands out 68% more yellow cards than Craig Pawson is at the lower end.of the range.

Indeed his sort of range really is bonkers.  How can anyone call it fair when one referee is handing out 68% more cards per match than another?  And what sort of so-called independent media do we have where universally they will not mention this fact?

But the one most positive thing we can say about our referee for this match is that is home and away figures are pretty much near the average for the Premier League as a whole.

46.2% of his games end as home wins, 38.5% as away wins and 15.2% are draws.  So it seems unlikely that he will be doing us down.

Arsenal as we have noted are bottom of the yellow card list for fouls, and one from the bottom when all reasons for yellow cards are considered

Indeed at the moment of writing Arsenal are sitting on 30 yellow cards for fouls and 11 for other reasons.   We might like to compare this with Chelsea who are on 45 yellow cards for fouls and an astonishing 39 for all others reasons.

Now I don’t go and watch Chelsea play (obviously) so I can’t give an independent reason for this but the Guardian did run the headline over Christmas saying that this high number was “not down to indiscipline, claims Pochettino.”

These cards for non-fouling reasons can be handed out for all sorts of things including to members of the coaching staff for going out of their area or being abusive to an official, for diving, for dissent and so forth.  So pretty much, indiscipline.

Pochettino explained the high Chelsea number saying, “it’s representative of the fact that we play for Chelsea, we are a big club and you feel the pressure.”   OK, so that would make Arsenal… well either a VERY BIG CLUB where the players have got over the effect of playing for a big club, or maybe Arsenal are bribing the referees.  I haven’t actually seen anyone suggest that either this season or the season when Arteta arrived and Arsenal were top of the league for yellows.

It is interesting that at the moment of writing Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool are not only the top three in the league but the three least yellow-carded clubs in the league on 41, 46 and 49 cards respectively.

One Reply to “Arsenal v Luton Town: the referee and his recent performances”

  1. Hey Bulldog,
    If most in the media avoid most of the facts, maybe the other 17 clubs should look the the UA Yellow Card Table. The bottom three teams in this table are the top 3 teams in the PL. It seems there is a correlation between fouling less and getting carded less and winning. It’s obviously not the only factor but it seems an important one. I enjoy the research, charts and data UA provide. Keep up the tireless, but appreciated, good work.

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