The Untold ref review: Arsenal – Wolves

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Victory Through Harmony

By Walter Broeckx

Chris Foy was the ref today.  Let’s get it on.

OTHER/OTHER/GOAL: Wilshere is being tripped but manages to get the ball that rolls to Cesc who then scores. But before Cesc scored the ref had blown his whistle. This is one of those situations as a ref that you can kick yourself after having blown the whistle. But once you have blown nothing can be done. If he will look back now he will think that he should have waited for another split second. But he didn’t.  So how should I rate this: First of all there was a foul on Wilshere. 1/1 And to be honest I first thought that the ball was not going to an Arsenal player at first. So I can understand the ref blowing the whistle. 1/1 And then he had to cancel the goal.  1/1.

GOAL: Great pass from Cesc, and even better finish from Van Persie.  Nothing wrong with that. 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Clichy escapes one dangerous tackle as the ref let play continue. The second is a bit too much and the player kicks both ball and man. Definite foul and a lecture is his part. A lecture should be the last warning before a card comes out. We keep it in mind and give him the points for now and in consideration that this was the real tackle over the border  line. 1/1 and 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Two footed frontal tackle on Arshavin. The ref let play continue without giving the advantage signal. The thing that I try to understand is why he let play continue. This is a tackle that should be kept away from the football field. Always give the foul unless you see a clear scoring chance coming from it and always a card. In this case a yellow as the tackle was on the floor.  He gave nothing. 0/1 and 0/1

PENALTY: Djourou goes in with a challenge against a Wolves player. He didn’t get the ball and got the man.  This was a penalty.  A very lucky escape. I think the ref got fooled by the fact that Djourou was so strong in his tackles in the game that he couldn’t even imagine that he made a foul.  0/1

OTHER/CARD/CARD: Walcott races the length of the pitch and Zubar brings him down and gets a well deserved yellow card.  That should have been his second. If he would have been yellow carded he wouldn’t have risked this and Theo could have had a promising run. So a foul and the yellow card is correct. 1/1 and 1/1. But I have to take a point away from the ref as this should have been a second yellow. 0/1

PENALTY:  Arshavin goes between two players.  The first player tries to grab his shirt the second comes in from behind and catches right foot from Arshavin. Again this was a penalty for me. Is this a ref who doesn’t like to give penalties? 0/1

Half time

OTHER/CARD/CARD: Zubar comes in with a late kick and catches Van Persie on his knee. The ref gave no foul, gave no advantage signal. He just did nothing. This was a clear foul and this also was another yellow card offence from Zubar once again. He should have been off the pitch in the first half and yet again Foy does nothing and gives no second yellow card.  DO WE HAVE TO SEE A LEG BROKEN REF?  0/1, 01/ and 0/1

GOAL: I hear the pundits were at it again over there? The ball was played in the path of Walcott. Van Persie was in an offside position but didn’t take part in the game. So he cannot be punished. Walcott sprints forward and Van Persie follows him and stays behind the ball. And dear pundits: you have to be in front of the ball to be in a offside position. On the moment that Walcott gives the ball the linesman has to see if on that moment Van Persie is onside or not. And if he is onside on the moment of the pass from Walcott it doesn’t matter if he was offside before. So a very good decision from the linesman. The only decision he could make.  1/1

OTHER/CARD:  Ebanks-Blake is committing three fouls in a row on Walcott before he can bring him down. The ref gives the foul but when you keep doing fouls to stop a player and don’t let him go you should be booked. 1/1 and 0/1

OTHER: A corner comes in from Wolves and the ball goes in the air from Djourou. Szczesny is being pushed in his own goal but still can manage to put the ball over the crossbar. This is a foul on the keeper ref. And while I am at it also the fact that Wolves are building a wall around our keeper is illegal. 0/1

And then the game runs out and nothing really happens as both teams are satisfied. Arsenal with the 3 points, Wolves with just a 2-0 defeat.

So let us see what happens if I add all the one’s.

CARDS: 2/7


GOAL:  3/3

OTHER: 5/8

Total score: 10/20 (50%)

Sometimes you feel a bit sad when you look at the final score and today this is happening to me.  Because for the rest he got most of the fouls correct.  After a while I even stopped counting the not given fouls. As apart from the one I talked about in this review there hardly have been fouls he didn’t give correctly.

He tried to play the advantage when possible and was unlucky in the first minutes when he didn’t. But I will not blame him for this. Such things happen when you are a ref.

I do have a question if there is someone out there who can tell me how many penalties ref Foy is giving in a season. I think he will have a low number. Somehow I feel that he only wants to give penalties when he is 200% sure. If he is consistent in this, then fine. Today he was consistent in not giving them but I think both were fouls and should have been given.

I do think that he was a bit lucky with his not giving some cards. I think Zubar was the only player on the pitch who really should have been sent off. He made too many bookable fouls in this game.  If the ref would have been consistent in giving the cards he would have won a lot of points and saved some players from some dangerous kicks.

A strange coincidence is that in the last game we had Foy I also had the same remarks about his final score.  I really think it is down to being more consistent in giving his cards. But I can only give the score like I wrote it down.


  • Brighten your Sunday: the most bizarre eccentric and downright odd blog on the internet.  Not about football (its about toilets), but for a Sunday it is worth a look.
  • Making the Arsenal. Not about toilets – actually about Woolwich Arsenal and 1910, but still quite bizarre
  • The Untold Index and the History Index
  • Coming up shortly: more on why so much refereeing is so bad in the Premier League

38 Replies to “The Untold ref review: Arsenal – Wolves”

  1. The problem I had with this ref was that he wasn’t booking players for professional fouls. This happened a lot in the last game and is the single biggest offence by the refs in our games. They seem all to happy to book our players when they deserve it (and sometimes when they don’t!) but the fact that newcastle finished with just 2 bookings, and wolves with only 1 is a joke.
    These teams purposefully foul us regularly in our matches, and when the refs don’t book them, it’s just a licence for them to do it again and again. I really don’t blame players for doing this. It’s just a part of the game now, but refs have to book them. It’s a simple fix to the problem.
    What’s worse, dowd and foy didn’t show bookings for dangerous tackles, and that just encourages more dangerous tackles. As you mention in the report, Walter, this is only increasing the risk of another horrible injury. If he books these players early on, they’ll know they have to be careful, and the risk of something like that happening is limited. They’re really playing with fire, and for no good reason.

  2. there was also an elbow tackle on wilshere, totaly deliberate imo (i think it was miljas) – a yellow card minimum imo

  3. This was a difficult performance to assess. I agree with your commnets about ‘Suck a Zub Zuber’. His bad tackle on Arshavin was missed because Foy Boy committed the cardinal error and was following the ball instead of keeping his gaze for a split second or so on the challenge. This was a low key game and because players did not react to the things Foy handled poorly, he got away with his inconsiistencies. I also felt that he tried to play far too mnay advantages. This is ironic given his cock up early in the game. He seems to think possession and advantage are the same.
    I did not see any mention in the report when RVP was deliberately taken out in an off the ball incident in the second half. The assistant bench side signalled; Foy Boy gave a foul but no more. Not sure who the defender was, but this too was an obvious caution.
    I do not like Foy Boy as a referee. In my view he is too casual and inconsistent. From a technical point of view I felt he was poor yesterday.

  4. A spot on review of Foy’s performance. One thing I always wonder is that the ref, or every PL ref, seems to too easily give foul to our opponent when the ball is played in our half. It’s just frustrating!

    @Red Jessie
    I think it’s Elokobi who fouled RVP. That foul deserved a yellow card.

  5. Walter, I think you miss the incident in Arsenal’s box . Djourou tackled Wolves offence and they got no penalty. The incident is very identical with Denilson’s tackling in Leeds game.

  6. Ficky,
    I did mention it.

    I have two “penalty” calls in my review. One for Wolves and one for Arsenal. Both teams should have had a penalty.

  7. I thought that if he would have called the first foul from Zubar (two footed challenge on Arshavin) and given him a yellow card that Zubar wouldn’t have carried on like he did. Unless he is a stupid player of course.

    Doing fouls is “part of the game” in a way. It is up to the ref to call them and to give the cards when needed. Fact is that the ref got an almost perfect score when he called a foul. With Mason and Dowd in the last two games when I was doing my reviews after a while I was getting more and more frustrated because of seeing a lot of fouls just not given or seeing them wrongly given (RVP when we was 2-0 up against Newcastle????).

    Now I could agree with most of his calls. I think the smaller fouls as one could call them he got almost a perfect game. But the dangerous ones is where he made a few errors.
    I think if he would focus on those more dangerous tackles and give the neede cards his score would be much higher

  8. @walter

    I’m not so sure either were penalties. I think Doyle jumped on his own when he saw Djourou’s outstretched leg..And Arshavin had a bit of a jump into the defender too.. That was my opinion, though I haven’t seen many replays. And you’re the ref so I won’t dispute it too much 🙂

  9. What sickens me is that Zubar flipped RVP almost 360 degrees after striking his knee and then goes down as if hit by a sniper because RVP’s boot catches his shoulder lightly on the way down.
    This is the worst kind of simulation in my book. A player makes a dangerous challenge, hurting the opposing player and then pretends to be injured themselves to try to implant a mental mitigation in the referee’s mind.
    It works far too often for my liking.
    However thank you Wolves for the 6 points.

  10. Thanks Walter. I have to confess that the “offside” goal was making me think…and to be honest I’m still not sure. I put it down to the fact that Theo was in his own half, the linesman couldn’t keep up and he’d missed the fact that Robin was offside as Cesc’s pass to Theo was made. Surely we’ve seen many examples of the ball coming back to a player who’d originally been offside and thus subsequently gaining an advantage?

    I don’t know about the penalties that Foy doesn’t give but for sure, he’s the least likely to give out red cards…5 PL since the start of season 08/09 and not one this season in 24 games.

  11. well, at the look of the last 2 games, Chris Foy is a king =D

    as for penalties, Foy actually missed the Djourou’s fault but saw it and that’s why he didn’t give anything to arsenal minutes later, fair play, great play I would say, at least it was a real 50/50 in his game, bare me the missing cards

  12. By the way, I must commend you for being so impartial wrt the djourou penalty incident. I could feel myself desperately trying to think of why that wasn’t a penalty (the ball ran away from the attacker etc.) but the more I watch it, the less valid any of my excuses become. Djourou almost got the ball, but the attacker moved it away from him. It should have been a penalty, but we were lucky that the attacker pushed the ball in the direction it probably would have gone had JD got the tackle in. I think we’re due a little fortune given our last game, although it shouldn’t be at wolves’ expense.

  13. I saw someone saying that Foy was the ref last season when he awarded a silly penalty against us and maybe after that he said to himseff that he would not do such thing again and only would give a penalty when he was 100% sure?

  14. I admit I didn’t hear whistle after foul on Jack so I thought he really messed there.

    But it really surprises me low evaluation Foy got on the end. Not that I don’t agree with you, when you explained all mistakes, it perfectly have sense, but at first watching, it didn’t even looked such bad. Though I believe if van Perise is lad from two years ago, he would jump up and do same thing as Diaby and we ll again be one player less in pitch what would for sure change impression of Foy arbitration this game.

    I rare agree with anything commentators say on TV but yesterday they said at last on ESPN, van Persie goal is clear as tear, but someone in FIFA should sort it, or do more effort to explain even some managers what does passive offside rule mean and how it affect game.

  15. @Terence
    It was the same thing the Barton creature did last week after he stamped on Diaby. When the camera went back to the incident, he was rolling around on the ground next to Diaby. And yes, it’s a disgusting bit of manipulation – a terrible tackle or downright assault can suddenly look like an ‘honest’ clash between players.

  16. Hi walter,
    it’s always a pleasure to read your reviews but today I don’t see eye to eye with you. For example Arshavins penalty claim was no penalty for me. I believe it was more of dive than a genuine foul. In fact I believe every player should get a card for fishing penalties in the box – no matter who the player is.

  17. Thats interesting…i didn’t think the ref had a bad game as the final 50% statistic seems like.

  18. Dark prince, when I started my ref review with a white page on my computer I was thinking he would get a higher score. I never had the feeling that he was trying to tilt the game in one or the other direction. So after what we have seen in the last weeks this was a very big progress.

    His handling the cards is the thing why he got such a low score.

  19. great to read your reviews walter.
    thought zubars tackle on RVP was similar to the one that nearly put ramsey out of the game.
    why haven.t purple nose and his b***hes been on telly telling us how honest a player zubar is?

  20. Hi Dark Prince

    Me thinks that you may not undertsand some of the finer points of refereeing. Foy Boy missed heaps yesterday and was far too casual. Walter is pretty accurate in his assessment. As I left the ground I commented to a friend that I was disappointed with Foy Boy. In my mind I had a mark of about 53

  21. Am I correct in assuming after all these reviews that the refs almost never get any decisions wrong when Arsenal are the perpetrators?

    Will you do a summation of: major mistakes benefitting Arsenal vs major mistakes benefitting opponents?

    It gets impossible to understand whether you are simply reviewing the opposition or both teams.

    Because it is well known that your starting premise is that Arsenal are discriminated against. Which makes dispassionate analysis hard. Trust me, scientists are the same. They frame the hypothesis wrong.

    The one you need is: ‘Are referees making correct decisions?’ not ‘Are referees biased against Arsenal?’ Because with the former, the answer ‘No’ gives you what you need, but you have not reached a conclusion until AFTER you analysed the data. And in science, you usually need to do a double blind, which would only be possible in football if you could dub the content to remove shirt colour or evidence of stadium location, then provide data on ‘Team A’ and ‘Team B’ to third parties to do the stats. The best way currently is three independent assessors for each match then sending in details on ‘Decisions against Team A and decisions against Team B’ without revealing the games, merely using a code not known to the data analysers. It is incontrovertibly the case that you could never take part in a scientific study as you have a fatal conflict of interest. So, although your study might highlight the need for a rigorous one, by declaring your colours for Arsenal, you remove your ability to be seen to be non-partisan unless two other, non-Arsenal supporting referees do identical but independent analyses which back up your findings. Sorry and all that. The rigor of proper studies and all that……

    If you go back and read all your reviews you will understand how an independent person would see it…..

    There were a few other ludicrous mistakes made at our end when the ref gave corners not goal kicks. I don’t know if it’s obvious on a video. But at least two in the second half yesterday…….quite appalling decisions both of them.

    By the way, does anyone analyse YOUR performance in this way and will you publish the results if they do?

    It’s easy to trash others when you’re not the subject of evaluation yourself you know……

  22. I’m not a referee so I’ll bow to your superior knowledge but neither looked like a penalty to me. The Wolves one looked like a dive at the game and watching it again on ATVO it still looked like a dive as there was a delay between the tackle and the player’s exaggerated fall. He actually went up before he went down. Arshavin certainly didn’t look for anything when he went down, it was more the crowd calling for something.

  23. Woah there Rhys! Easy there dude!

    This is football from an Arsenal perspective. I doubt the reviewer would suggest to be anything other than an Arsenal fan first, but still try and be kist a little bit even handed in his analysis!

    Lover the fact your ID face has a monocle BTW!

  24. rhys jagger is right,
    To show bias it would be helpful is walter collated a table showing how many fouls each team gets away with as it sows both the level of performance of each ref / ref team and also as bonus shows bias if it exists.
    Also it would help that if walter missed anything, we call him on it and point it out so that there can be a revision of the scores- it only helps the analysis.
    I also think that we should try and devise a system which gives a score to how much a missed / wrong call hands the advantage to the opposition. a typical example would be the non punishment of fouls against defenders e.g the foul against arshavin in the build up to Leeds’ goal at their place.

  25. I think we got away with the JD pen because of the exagerated dive and I’m not sure AA should have had a pen, also looked like a dive to me.RvP was onside for the 2nd as he was inactive for the pass, spot on Walter.

  26. Still havent seen the game yet, But its interesting to note the trend with Foy and cards.
    Keep up the good work.

  27. Rhys,

    First of all in my reviews I review the refs.

    I don’t know if I ever have said that this work is the ultimate study on football refs. I do know (or think) that we are the only blog in the football world who is having these kind of reviews done by someone who is not only a supporter (yes I am – guilty) but also a ref.

    If someone can correct me with the rule book in hand that I made a mistake I will accept it or defend it with the rule book in hand.

    About the bias thing I can let you know that I really keep an eye on myself. How biased that can be of course. So I check if I am not to soft for a ref when we win. Because after a win most fans forget the ref and be happy with the result. I have on many occasion shown not to be happy with the ref after a win. On the other hand I have shown to be happy with the ref after we lost. So I do keep a record of my average score between winning and losing. So my average score when we win is around 61% and the average score when we lose is around 56% for the moment. So a margin of 5%. And I could accept that this could be my “bias margin”. I was planning to come out with that at the end of the season to show you and the rest how I tried to be as unbiased as I can be because me also being a supporter.

    I would also come out at the end of the season with how many decisions going our way or against us. But as we are not yet at the end of the season I cannot give you them. But for the moment the score doesn’t even itself out. A preview of the final review. 😉

    About my own performances: If there is a qualified ref out there who want to analyse my performances I would welcome it. And I would publish them if you want. But in the group of referees where I do my games our Fa is not that interested anymore. We just do our games and as long as they don’t get complaints about me (or the other refs) they think we are doing good. I think this is not a good way of handling things. But this is criticism to the way my own FA is handling our internal matters. I don’t know if many people on Untold Arsenal are interested in this. If so, let me know and I can write a dozen articlesc about what is wrong in football at certain levels and with the referees in Belgium. But I bet this would drive a lot of people out of here. So I will not start something like that if you don’t mind.

    About some decisions that were wrong and that I didn’t mention. This will always be a problem. I have to rely on the images broadcasted from our sports channel. And believe me the times I sit here swearing at my tv because they are showing the face of a manager who is clearly watching the ball in play without me being able to see what is happening with that ball and the players drive me crazy. I also try not to go too much in detail about things I really cannot see or judge completely. Be it because they didn’t show the live images because I had to see Beckham sharing a chocolate with one of his sons or because they have to show a supporter that has fallin asleep. So as long as I am not able to control the images myself completely I will always have to leave some things out. To my regret, believe me.

  28. I think Rhys’s comments make sense, but Im not really sure how anyone can dispute much of what Walter has said about Foy’s handling of the game.

    I think Walter’s reviews are always very fair. He mentions the Toon goal which was wrongly chalked off for offside last week, the penalty Wolves didnt get yesterday. Facts are, in the Wolves game there were several challenges which Foy didnt punish with the correct sanction, the vast majority of which came from Wolves. I dont remember seeing any Arsenal player leave his feet and commit a dangerous tackle which warranted comment, or do any agressive acts towards a wolves player. Thats not a biased view, its just what happened in the game.

    I think one of the current squads’ problems is that they aren’t agressive enough so they tend not to get involved with flying tackles and argy-bargy, unless they get wound up to the point of extreme irritation at a) opposition roughing them up, and b) ref doing nothing about it. Very rarely will you see an Arsenal player instigate a violent moment in a game, and even rarer that they get away with it. Im also usually impressed by Arsenal fans and their honesty towards their own players when they do stuff wrong. Have we learnt the Gallic shrug? Its not a trait i see often in other fans.

    I thought Foy was typically easy on the aggressors again. His lack of action means that opposition players usually get a “free one” against us, before the 2nd one draws a yellow. Often the “free one” deserves a red card. Its daft. The vast majority of European refs would be sending off the opposition players regularly this season in our games.

  29. Rhy’s to be honest when it comes to corners and kick outs. The lines man usualy has the better view of who the ball came off last. I think you would find it hard to justify the Ref is responsible for every decision.
    Walters reports on the whole are reasonable anything else is picking holes in something.
    Maybe you spotted something the BBC and Walter and MadDog missed if so please share.

  30. I hope Nasri is 100% fully fit and all the Arsenal players just so there are no excuses after the battering. Sometimes Arsenal think they are the only team who’s players get injured. Can’t wait for the exhibition!!! I take it Barca will play the dominant role in this one haha.

  31. Walter, I want to ask a question relating to the Utd City game. The ball was crossed into the box. Vidic rose and headed it away. However, he raised his arms so that they were at right angles to his body and elbowed a City player in the face causing an injury that required stitches.

    Was this a foul?

  32. Hi Walter

    Don’t know if you know but Mike Dean is the referee for the League Cup Final!!

  33. Cape Gooner – February 14th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
    Interesting that you mention that Vidic elbow in the City match. I saw it and yelled foul to my tv. He does it very often, from the games I’ve watched, and frequently catches his opponent or they are forced to back-off to avoid injury. Didn’t know the City player had to have stitches but Vidic is a dirty player who is unjustifiably lauded. But what do you expect from the ManUtd-loving media!

  34. Walter I was at the game and was surprised by your assessment, I thought Foy had a half decent match. I always look for how close a Ref is to the decision he makes, and Foy was certainly keeping up with play. Being a qualified Ref, and a subscriber to ATVO, I decided to go through the game very slowly and mark the Ref, just to see how my assessment would compare with you. It took me 3 hours, using the replays, and looking at every decision a number of times.

    Here is my assessment, taking out the non-event decisions like throw-ins, corners, and goal kicks, mainly made by the assistant, and the clearly non contentious offside’s.

    I was surprised at the trend that emerged, it had some similarities with yours, but Foy would have got well over50% were I assessing.

    Foy made 20 decisions in each half
    18 in Arsenals favour
    22 in Wolves favour

    He made 9 errors out of 40 decisions

    These were as follows

    Time Error Team favoured
    3 Failure to play advantage Wolves
    10 Missed foul by Koscielny Arsenal
    28 Missed foul by Zubar Reckless challenge Wolves
    41 Missed foul by Djourou Possible penalty Arsenal
    48 Wrong decision foul against ArshavinRef was wrong side to make decision, Assistant gave no decision from right side. Arsenal had a break on Wolves
    60 Failure to caution Ref gave foul for off ball obstruction, Should have been a caution according to laws Wolves
    81 Missed foul on SzczeneyWolves player clearly jumped into goalkeeper with no intention of playing ball, gave corner to Wolves Wolves
    89 Foul on BendtnerRef clearly saw thisBut allowed play to continue Wolves
    92 Wrong decision foul against Fabregas Ref gave foul when impeding took place Wolves

    Surprisingly the Ref played 5 advantages, 1 when Zubar was booked for the foul on Van Persie, One other to Arsenal and 3 to Wolves. The crucial advantage he missed in the 3rd minute.

    I did not think Arshavin`s was a penalty, my reaction at the game was he went down too easy, video confirms he was off the ground at the slightest touch. Foy to his credit was on the spot.

    Foy was also on the spot for the Wolves penalty shout, I feel he got this wrong, but he was only two yards away so well done to him. He probably felt that the Wolves player had touched the ball too faraway from himself, which looked to be the case.

    There was two reckless challenges in the game, both by Zubar, one on Arshavin and one on Van Persie. I agree with you, had he cautioned the first the second would not have happened.

    Foy did get most decisions right, it was in truth an easy game to Ref, not too much going on between the players. I am sure he left the pitch thinking he had done a good job. Wolves though will be feeling that they should have had a pen at 1-0 and then it could have been so different.

    Two other contentious decisions were for a foul on Clichy, It was a strong fair challenge that the Ref called correctly. Then the decisions to call back a quickly taken free kick, taken by Arshavin, for a rolling ball. The ball was just about moving, although this was down to the speed at which Arshavin placed it. Foy was over fussy here, the game was begging out for an injection of pace, and the ball was only just moving. But he was, as Refs often are with the silly details, technically correct.

    What did concern me was that as last week, every decision of contention went Wolves way in the 2nd half, and they were allowed to impede the goalkeeper with the ball in the air. Imagine what could have happened had this been at a noisy Molineux.

  35. arshavin pen??? there was a little holding but he just dived. i would not like that sort of pen if given against us.

  36. Laundryender,
    thanks for your assessement of the game and my ref review. I have been focussing on the major incidents in games this season. But this is not complete and this is why I will change the system from next season on.

    I am thinking of a few scores.
    The overall score like you say 31/40 or 77% looking at all the decisions.
    The big decisions score: my score of 10/20 or 50%

    Because just like you I had the feeling that he did allright in this game but because I focus on (possible) game changing incidents he got the low score.

    But I will be using all kind of parameters from next season on. Once I have made up my mind I will let you know how I will rate some decisions. Because I think a red card decision should have a bigger impact on the score of the ref than a foul for a little push by a striker against a defender somewhere in midfield.

    I also take two points for some decisions now (foul and handing out a card). This can result in losing or gaining two points in one incident. And this happened to Foy in this game on two occasions.

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