Arsenal v Chelsea: the team and the referee (and what he normally does)



By Bulldog Drummond.

The referee for tonight’s game is Simon Hooper.   VAR is Peter Bankes.

Simon Hooper is one of the elite group of a dozen PGMO referees who have each overseen 15+ Premier League matches this season.  In fact this will be his 22nd game of the season.  Details are taken from figures provided by Whoscored.

To help with seeing the variety of refereeing in the Premier League we have reduced the dozen referees who have seen 15+ PL games this season to half a dozen including tonight’s referee.

And what stands out is the incredible variation in the way referees handle games.

Fouls seen per game vary between 20.81 (Oliver) and 23.15 (Madley).    A variation of 11%.

Fouls per tackle vary between 0.57 (Oliver) and 0.70 (Robinson).  A variation of 23%.

Penalties awarded per game vary between 0.05 (Madley) and 0.52 (Taylor) which shows Taylor is giving 10 times as many penalties as Madley.  In effect if Taylor is refereeing your team, push forward into the opposition’s area all the time, and have your defence do everything under the sun to stop the opposition getting anywhere near your own area.  It’s crazy, but knowing which referee you have affects how the teams set out to play.

Yellow cards per game vary between 5.13 and 3.13 among the refs – a variation of 64%.

In short, any manager with team selection and an understanding of what PGMO is up to, will rotate his team not just because of the opposition BUT BECAUSE OF WHICH REFEREE IS IN CHARGE.

A centre-back who is known to do a bit of pushing and shoving for example will be dropped (if the manager is receiving any data) when Taylor is in charge, but picked when Madley is running the game.   That is the logical approach – but it is not how it should be.

So today it is Simon Hooper who, it turns out is pretty much mid-range in his approach to all offences, so no special instructions are needed for the team.


Referee Games Fouls pg Fouls/Tackles Pen pg Yel pg
Anthony Taylor 23 22.22 0.64 0.52 5.13
Michael Oliver 21 20.81 0.57 0.24 3.86
Simon Hooper 21 22.43 0.65 0.10 4.62
Andy Madley 20 23.15 0.62 0.05 3.90
Tim Robinson 20 22.90 0.70 0.25 4.25
Samuel Barrott 15 20.13 0.63 0.20 3.13


Now the results of games under various referees, and again these figures are just for referees who have overseen 15+ Premier League games this season.  Highs and lows are in red, and Hooper’s results are in brown.


Referee Games HomeWin% AwayWin% Draw%
Anthony Taylor 23 39.1% 26.1% 34.8%
Paul Tierney 22 31.8% 45.5% 22.7%
Simon Hooper 21 57.1% 23.8% 19.0%
Robert Jones 19 57.9% 15.8% 26.3%
Jarred Gillett 18 38.9% 50.0% 11.1%


Simon Hooper has a record of home wins – 57.1% in fact for matches he oversees with 23.8% away wins.   So that habit of his should be helpful to us, especially if the crowd does its job.  I’m in the upper tier so my voice is unlikely to reach him, but I might encourage him to stick by his traditional ways just in case it helps.

But let’s note once again the ludicrous range that we see here.  One ref sees 31% of his games as home wins while another sees almost 58%.  It’s crazy.

So what of the team?  Timber is our only injured player, but according to the BBC Chelsea will “be without Cole Palmer, who has been suffering with illness” while “Malo Gusto and Ben Chilwell will be assessed” and “Christopher Nkunku, Robert Sanchez and Lesley Ugochukwu have all returned to light training.”  (Why do lights need training? I just turn them on and off).

The Standard offers us


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Odegaard, Jorginho, Rice;

Saka, Havertz, Martinelli

And Sports Mole offer the same.  The Metro however has a variation by putting Kiwior in.


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior,

Odegaard, Jorginho, Rice,

Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

Sporting News manages another variation with Trossard up front.


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko

Havertz, Rice, Odegaard

Saka, Jesus, Trossard.

The last few bits…

Arsenal have stopped the opposition from scoring in 15 games this season, five more times than any other club has managed, and Trossard has scored nine goals this campaign, his best ever.

Chelsea always let in at least one goal in their away games (well in each of the last dozen) but they have also scored two or more in their last six matches.   But having conceded 27 away goals so far this is their worst away defensive run in over 33 years.  (By comparison, Arsenal have conceded 11 away goals this season and 15 at home).

Oh yes, and Mauricio Pochettino has never won an away league game against Arsenal.

14 Replies to “Arsenal v Chelsea: the team and the referee (and what he normally does)”

  1. Big article in today’s Telegraph on referees and their club affiliations. Todays ref is a Swindon Town fan who played for the club before being released aged 16. It would be nice to get even handed refereeing with no bias against either team but I wouldn’t bet my house on it.

  2. So did the Telegraph suggest the Pig Mob take that into consideration when assigning refs? Cancel that. What a ridiculous thought.

  3. On the general question of referees and fairness, it is interesting to note the media reaction to Forest, which is universally hostile. Forest are “questioning the referrees’ integrity” – how terrible and shocking. Shame on them. How dare they?

    My view, if indeed Forest are questioning the PGMOL collective integrity, is yes they are and so they should, and let their evidence be examined rather than be ruled out without being considered.

    Would any of us question Mike Riley’s integrity? Yes, without doubt.

  4. But apart from a shi*t referee…. what a brilliant performance from our lads!

  5. That was a confident, controlled performance. Impressive. Arteta’s squad building is bringing results. He has options in players and tactics. It struck me watching the match how many he’s brought in from PL teams. Even the record breaking purchase of Rice seems a bargain.

  6. As already mentioned, the Caicedo tackle on Tomiyasu was a certain red card. It didn’t have such a devastating affect on Tomiyasu as the infamous Shawcross on Ramsey or Taylor on Eduardo leg-breakers but it could easily have done. Tomiyasu played really well even after, thankfully and that is a testament to him. But you would think that when the match is reviewed properly, that a red card will be given retrospectively. That was criminal.

    Nevertheless, what an amazing performance. Chelsea played the better against City and lost, so for them to crumble like this wasn’t only a reflection on them but we were clinical most of the time and apart from the tackle, it was an amazing performance and the perfect derby primer before Spuds. Winning your previous game 5:0 whilst your next opponents lost 4:0 can give us real hope that we get a win. If both Teams play their best, we will surely win. And hopefully get off to an early start, to keep the baying mob quiet.

  7. Is it any surprise that Jackson’s assault on Tomiyasu was not punished but a similar one by Trossard on Cucurella received a caution. Inconsistency again.
    Ferdinand got it right but pathetic Joe Cole tried to defend Jackson.

  8. What is missing from the ‘new’ crop of PIGMOB refs is the blindness when seeing a really bad tackle & then punishing it accordingly. I remember Terry, Arnautovic and a few others getting their straight reds for tackles like Jacksons 1 last night. I would like to hear Howard Webb defend this 1 or probably spout the same rubbish as after the City game when he said the ref was trying to keep a ‘fair’ contest going by not giving Kovacic a 2nd yellow. As if that makes up for the rules about fouls and their punishment. When we have this selective decisions it reminds me that Wenger said VAR in Britain will NOT improve the decisions, but add another layer of incompetence.

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