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The Untold Ref review: Tottenham 2 – Arsenal 1

With over 2000 followers: Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

By Walter Broeckx

The following review of the Tottenham – Arsenal game has been subject to some internal debate amongst the ref reviewing team.

The game was reviewed by Ref Reviewer 02 and then later on changed by me. The changes were made about the first goal from Tottenham. So if you have any comments about the way we have treated this decision you can aim them at me. Not at the ref reviewer.

The argument was on how we should give points when at the end of the day the ref made a decision that proved to be wrong but that he or his assistant could not see on the pitch. Should we give him the points because he was innocent when making the mistake or should we go for the reasoning that if the ruling on the field was not correct we should give him zero points.

As the head of the ref reviewers I had to take a decision at the end of the day. I have chosen to follow the path I had taken when starting the reviews and that is just judging if the decision was correct or not and give him points or not. But I do think that in this case the ref can have my sympathy because from his point of view he could not see that VDVaart used his arm to bring the ball down.

Min Type Foul from On C/NC Comment points weight
1 Offside Modric C 1 1
2 Other N/C Assistant gives a corner to Spurs but ball had not wholly crossed the line 0 0
4 Foul Song Adebayor C 1 1
10 Foul Parker Arteta C 1 1
14 Offside Adebayor C 1 1
22 Foul kabouyl Van Persie C 1 1
23 Offside VDV C 1 1
24 Other C Ref correctly stops play for a clash of heads 1 1
26 Foul VDV Gibbs C 1 1
26 Yellow VDV C He was late on Gibbs 1 2
31 Foul Metesacker Defoe C 1 1
31 Yellow Metesacker C Again a correct and appropriate cauition 1 2
35 Foul Modric Sagna C 1 1
38 Foul Song Adebayor C 1 1
39 Goal VDV NC From the replays we could see that VDVaart used his arm to bring the ball down. Goal should have been disallowed 0 0
39 YELLOW/RED VDV NC If a striker scores after committing a handball he should get a yellow card. This should have been his second. He also could/should have booked him for going in to the crowd 0 0
43 Foul Adebayor Arteta C 1 1
44 Offside Defoe C 1 1
Half time 15 17
CORRECT 75,00% 70,83%
YELLOW 2 3 66,67
RED 0 0
GOAL 0 1 0,00
OTHER 0 1 0,00
2 5 40,00
OFFSIDE 4 4 100,00
Second half
46 Foul Kaboul Van Persie N/C Ref is 6 yards away as Kaboul holds Van Persie forcing him back, no advantage indicated and none gained 0 0
46 Other Defoe N/C He was not offside, he commited no foul or handball, but ref pulled up play and neither I nor JD had a clue why 0 0
51 Goal Ramsey C Correct goal 1 3
53 Offside Adebayor C 1 1
56 Offside Ramsey C 1 1
57 Foul Arteta Modric C Giving the ref the benefit of the doubt here 1 1
60 Other Asso E C Ref correctly pulls uy a foul throw 1 1
62 Foul Gibbs VDV C 1 1
64 Foul Defoe C High feet in the box 1 1
67 Foul Gibbs Modric N/C No contact as Gibbs harries Modric and forces him to rush a clearance 0 0
72 Goal Walker C 1 3
73 Foul Parker Arteta C 1 1
73 Yellow Parker N/C Parkers foul was minimal contact, in the middle of the pitch, I do not see a caution 0 0
74 Foul Jenkinson Sandro N/C I do not see a foul here, Sandro kicks ball over Jenks and expects him to evaporate in front of him 0 0
75 Foul Kaboul Van Persie C TV does not show it so will go with Ref 1 1
80 Foul Adebayor Song N/C I thought this was a 50/50 tussle 0 0
86 Foul Sandro Arteta C 1 1
88 Offside Parker C 1 1
91 Foul Benayoun Modric C 1 1
91 Yellow Benayoun N/C This was as bad as VDV on Gibbs and denied Spurs a good chance to break into Arsenals empty midfield 0 0
93 Foul Song Walker N/C Ref misses a foul by Song on Walker 0 0
2nd half score
TOTAL 13 17
% CORRECT 61,90% 62,96%
YELLOW 0 2 0,00
RED 0 0
GOAL 2 2 100,00
OTHER 2 2 100,00
4 6 66,67
OFFSIDE 3 3 100,00
TOTAL 28 34
% CORRECT 68,29% 66,67%
YELLOW 2 5 40,00
RED 0 0
GOAL 2 3 66,67
OTHER 2 3 66,67
6 11 54,55
OFFSIDE 7 7 100,00
Correct calls For Arsenal 18 66,67%
For Spurs 9 33,33%
Total correct calls 27
Wrong calls Against Arsenal 6 54,55%
Against Spurs 5 45,45%
Total 11

The talking point will be the first goal.

The ref was in the right position where he should be. The body of VDVaart blocked the ref his view on the incident. The assistant was probably blocked by the defenders between him and VDVaart. So both could not see it. SO WE CANNOT BLAME DEAN FOR HIS DECISION ON THE FIELD.

But as the decision itself was wrong I had to give him no points for this. It is a bit sad in fact because I had the impression that Dean was doing his best to not be biased against Arsenal. You can see this in the wrong calls decisions that are nice shared between the two teams.

When I told our Ref Reviewer 02 that I would change his review he asked me to let you know that he didn’t agree with my point of view. And I must say that in this case I can understand him and as a ref I know that you can only punish what you can see. He couldn’t see it, so he couldn’t sanction it.

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This might be a time for Mike Dean to ask the FA to give the refs all the help they can get in order to make the correct decision on the field. Help like the 4th ref being able to review the incident immediately on TV and correct it if needed.

On a last note I would like to add the following thought. Mike Dean had an almost perfect first half apart from one incident where the assistant gave a corner to Tottenham when the ball clearly didn’t cross the line. The only other wrong decision was the VDVaart goal. For which he was not to blame as has been said before. But in the second half he made a lot more errors.

I wonder if this was down to the fact that maybe he knew during half time that he made a mistake? Could it have affected him? I know the last thing a ref wants is to start doubting a decision. Because once you start doubting and thinking: “was I right on that decision?” you can start losing your focus on the game. And this could explain that he made more wrong decisions in the second half.

So lots of debatable things and not just about the events on the field but also behind the screens of the Untold ref reviewing team. See you at the bottom of this article to hear what your thoughts are.

45 comments to The Untold Ref review: Tottenham 2 – Arsenal 1

  • cape gooner

    “On a last note I would like to add the following thought. Mike Dean had an almost perfect first half apart from one incident where the assistant gave a corner to Tottenham when the ball clearly didn’t cross the line.”

    Walter, the failure to give a mandatory second yellow for celebrating with the crowd was game changing. It is impossible that it wasn’t seen. It was a conscious decision to not uphold the rules, massively in favour of one team over the other.

    Am I wrong? Is the yellow card discretionary?

  • Rantetta

    Thanks Ref 02 and Ref 04. I’ve clicked many times every day to see this report, and I still haven’t ‘studied’ it yet.

    Re: challenge on Sagna – I’ve seen nothing written about it anywhere. Is it just me, or have I simply got it wrong? The ball was in the air, Sagna is running down the line at full speed, Ass-Ek charges at Sagna from the side and in my view, “makes sure he doesn’t pass” by shoulder-charging Sagna. I don’t think Ass-Ek was going for the ball.

    What makes me even more suspicious is that this challenge wasn’t shown on MOTD2, plus, the video link above was deleted (perhaps by Prem league). I’d first seen it via Arsenalist.

    Would an Arsenal player get away with something like this?

    If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But would you clarify, please.

  • Mandy Dodd

    sorry, off topic but hear Rooney is gutted at being sent off in the twenty seventh minute tonight.

    Thought for the most part, Dean did ok, as you say would but these things just seem to go against us at the moment

  • Rantetta

    … Pardon me, I wrote that the video link above was deleted. This is wrong. The Arsenalist video was deleted, from Youtube. (And I notice that most, if not all Youtube vids showing Arsenal players’ assaults are deleted/ reduced to a series of still-photo’s).

  • @Mandy Dodd – lol! Nicking that!

  • Phoenix Gunner

    Not a ref but I agree with your view Walter that points must be deducted for the first goal… I appreciate that the ref couldn’t see it but I think if the entire refereeing team (ref, linesman and technical ref) fail to be positioned to see how a pretty standard cross into the box is controlled then points need to come off.

  • Gord

    Unless the officials are capable of reading minds, they can’t rule on circumstances they can’t observe. If Dean suspected VDV handled the ball, he could have had a word with him at some point. But I don’t think Dean even suspected this, otherwise how could he ignore VDV improperly celebrating?

    On the subject of officials, Collina was in the news about criticizing referees.
    How I read that, is that there is too much criticizing of referees. But I don’t think any referee is of the opinion that they should never be criticized.

  • Tee Song

    VdV’s handball once again opens up the debate regarding video replay and additional match officials. Quite frankly, the governing bodies’ intransigence over this matter speaks to rather more shadowy motives than the desire to avoid delays in the flow of the game or to keep all levels of competition similar.

  • cape gooner


    He actually got the ball – we were awarded the throw.

  • Phoenix Gunner

    @Gord – your point may well be true, but to go to an extreme for illustration, if we’re judging a referee who walked around with his eyes shut the whole game, don’t you think we might be justified in marking him down for missing things?

    The mark-down may come from a positional shortcomnig and is more directed to the technical ref + linesman than the ref on his own – you would think one of the three would have managed to position themself as the cross came over…

  • Reviewer 02

    Yes many e mails were exchanged before Walter made his decision; I feel the review is harsh on Dean re the goal. Unfortunately refereeing a game of football often leaves the man in the middle in an impossible situation, Spurs opening goal was one those occasions.
    Those of you that think the ref should have seen it, I can only say how? UEFA have acknowledged the blind spot on the pitch for referees, it is the zone from which VDV scored. we now have 5th and 6th officials in CL games to cover the blind spot, it will eventually happen in EPL.
    @ Rantetta on first watch I felt the same as you, but in reality Sandro was a stronger than Sagna, and Sagna went down. It was the impact of his ankle on the astro turf surrounding the pitch that caused the break, and not hitting the hoardings as I first suspected. Had the challenge happened in the middle of the pitch Sagna would have got up and thought nothing of it.
    I honestly thought Dean had an outstanding first half, I bet he walked in at half time thinking he had a good 45 minutes. He would be gutted about the first goal, it tarnished his performance through no fault of his own, and I am sure he saw that at half time, which as Walter explained was probably playing on his mind in the second half and explains some strange decisions, the booking of Parker was astonishing, as was the decision not to book Benayoun

  • bob

    How do you know that Dean would have been “gutted” at missing the call? I feel that making that judgment is not part of your mandate. If he did a good job, good – he should, it’s why he’s paid. But there is a massive history about Dean that would give most of the fans who have paid any attention to his body of work vis a vis Arsenal great pause to think of him being “gutted” to have learned of a missed call with that consequence to Arsenal. You may or may not be right; but you, as I, are in no position to know this; and I find your attribution of “gutted” to buttress his reputation or professional is not appropriate in your current position of trust. If you have a basis for making that statement, then please come out and provide it. That said, I think your disagreement on this with Walter is principled and that both of you are right. All of which augurs for a video ref and showing the video replays to the TV audience from the pitch itself. Cheers.

  • Phoenix Gunner

    Ah, yes, no technical ref in PL… my mistake!

  • bob

    p.s. Ref02 – the above was in reply to your comment.

  • Phoenix Gunner

    @bob, harsh but fair, but seriously, pretty harsh!

  • bob

    Tee Song and Ref02,
    Tee Song is absolutely right about the EPL’s intransigence on video replay etc. There is no ethical reason for blocking the obvious need. As for Ref02, I find your enlisting for a 5th or 6th referee as in the CL a complete smokescreen. We don’t need that. Nor would it prevent awful calls by one of them – as in our first match this season against Udinese against Vermallen. The need is for video replay or a video ref – not a 5th or 6th. You are, in my view, circling the wagons, in a subtle but evident way against the bringing in of video to monitor the refs, and I can only side with Tee Song’s sentiment on this and urge you to take a soul-searching look at why you don’t call for a video solution. There’s a serious problem at work, whether you wish to see it or not at this stage.

  • Reviewer 02

    @ Bob
    He is not gutted at missing the call, I suggest he is gutted that he feels an excellent 45 minutes is tarnished by circumstances beyond his control, he knows it impacts on the game, and he knows both he and his assistant could do nothing about it.
    Every ref knows what it is like to walk off at half time having had a good game, I am sure Dean felt that way, no other explanation for some of the decisions in the second half.
    And I don’t think anyone on this site needs lecturing about Dean, however if we want to retain integrity, it is important that we are commend him when appropriate, sympathise with him when necessary, and question him when the need arises.
    On this occasion I for one sympathise with him

  • I have to say that – as I was watching it, I thought Dean was doing alright in the first half – but then there was the blatant handball that led to the first goal… well blatant to me watching it on telly with the video replay; although I still reckon that even if you can’t see it you can see that the control of the ball from that angle with the chest was rather unlikely to impossible but rules is rules and I also agree with Walter. It matters not what is seen and what is not seen – you have to review the game on correct/incorrect calls regardless. In theory this should “all even out at the end of the day”

    The other thing is that I have seen games in which calls are made by the ref even though he hasn’t seen it – almost as if someone has video access and is on the mic to his earpiece… I remember once an Arsenal player getting sent off despite the ref looking the other way and no signal from his assistants – was it Webb?? Dah – the incident escapes me!

  • bob

    Phoenix Gunner,
    Sorry the harshness has offended you, and, yes, I can see it in my tone in that comment. And, to be honest, it’s partly fueled by my annoyance at Ref02’s easy reassurance about the “eventual” coming of a 4th/5th ref when video replay is needed now. So, if you’re interested, see my next posting on this; and, whether you agree or not, you’ll at least see where my harshness came from. Still, that said, perhaps consider something on what you found “fair” about my slating Ref02 for taking the view that Dean was “gutted.”

  • To be fair nobody can tell what Dean was thinking… including you bob!


  • Rantetta

    @Reviewer 02 + Cape Gooner

    Thanks for clarification re: Sagna incident. I need an extra pair of specs, I fear.

  • Reviewer 02

    @ Bob
    please you know nothing of my opinions on video replays, 5-6th officials, global warming or pre marital sex. I state that 5-6th officials exist in the CL because it is a fact. It started in UEFA league and has progressed to CL. for me it is a case of natural progression to the EPL. However you know nothing of how i feel about video replays so i would appreciate if you did not lecture me on the matter.
    I guess ultimately my position when I review a game, is to look at it from the point of the referee, not a fan (and I am one) nor a player (I played semi pro football) and especially not as a Gooner (and again I am one) but to look at a game with a refs head on, and see it from his perspective. You may not like it, but it is a qualified opinion and one reached at after hours of deliberation and consideration.
    as for the gutted sentence, yes it is presumptuous but hardly defines the review or the outcome. It is a simple expression, surely in the workplace we are all sometimes victims of circumstance beyond our control, and these circumstances were beyond Deans control.
    What i would consider commendable would be if you qualified as a ref, then did a couple of hundred middles, and then offered your services to the review panel. It would appear you have much to offer.

  • marcus

    Prescient Mandy…you were back to front tho….72nd not 27th

  • marcus

    Re the handball….it was deliberate tho….therefore should have been yellow and off.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think what our ref reviewer meant was the feeling that every ref knows every now and then. And I think we as ref reviewer try to put ourselves in the place of the refs. We presume that the ref on the field is totally bias free.
    And when you start from this thought you go further and you put yourself in the place of the ref.
    And then you think how you (as the ref) would feel if you walk off the pitch thinking you had a great game so far and then suddenly you hear that you missed a big and important decision totally because you couldn’t see it.

    I can tell you that in the refs dressing room you can find refs as if they won the CL final but you can also have refs who have scored an own goal in the final minute of the CL final and lost the game.

    This happens to every ref in his career. It happened to me, I think it happened to ref reviewer 02, 03, 04 and whoever will join us.

    The great feeling you get sometimes but also the lows when you realised you missed something that was a game decisive moment.

    I think it was projecting that feeling you can know as a ref what our reviewer 02 was meaning when he said that Dean would be gutted. That is how reviewer 02 would have felt. That is how I would have felt. We can hope that this is how Dean would have felt. Otherwise if he would have enjoyed it…. better not think of that because that would be unthinkable.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mandy Dodd, SPEECHLESS!!!! LOL!!!!!! 🙂

    You only got the minute wrong…. LOL

  • Gord

    @Phoenix Gunner

    The way the game flows, I there are likely times that if we had two officials for every player on the field, there would still be situations where nobody had a good point of view. They wouldn’t happen very often. But when I was refereeing, all I ever had for officials was a linesperson from each team (club linesmen). Sure, I made mistakes. But, most of the players made more mistakes than I did. All very amateur.

  • weedonald

    As a retired pro official I can assure everyone on this site of two things; the handball was almost impossible to see and would likely have been missed by a 4th or 5th official as well since it happened so fast and VDV was so ¨professional¨ in executing it.
    The idea of Dean being either destitute or indifferent at halftime is a moot point. When a ref is ¨in the moment¨, he or she knows they are having a good game and even if they are informed by someone that they missed a crucial call, they take that in their stride as the worst thing any official can do is assume that their past performance(s) will guarantee their future one(s).
    This entire review brings us to one conclusion and that is the desperate and undeniable need to use video replay and goal line technology to even the playing field in the EPL. The 5 official system doesn’t hold a candle to the technology solution so the sooner that is instituted the better.

  • Kentetsu

    I can sympathise with Reviewer 02 that Dean was not to blame for the first goal, but I believe the ref reviews should only judge whether decisions were correct or not. The handball was a wrong decision, even though not Dean’s fault. In fact, it took a couple of replays from different angles on TV to get a conclusive proof it was a handball. I am not sure a fifth/sixth official or video ref would have made a difference. For the former, the moment was very brief and difficult to spot during play. For the latter, he will need time for multiple replays while FIFA don’t want play to be delayed for more than a second. I think the video ref should have ample time – up to say one minute, that’s how long it roughly takes for play to resume after a goal is scored – to review contentious decisions. But as FIFA is already unwilling to introduce video technology in the first place, let’s not ask for too much at this moment.

    For the VdV celebration, the review says he could/should be booked for his celebration. I am aware that the exact rules are vague regarding celebration, but what do you, Reviewer 02 and Walter, think? While I’m not a ref, I think VdV should have been booked.

  • menace

    My opinion is that Dean might have missed the handball (has to be deliberate to be handball and is not necessarily a card). He did not miss the celebration that should have seen VDVart off the park with a Red following a second Yellow.

    My opinion of the 5th and 6th officials is that their purpose has not been clarified as they come on to the pitch with dildos and in most cases appear to do nothing apart from prance about like spares. There has been the occassional interaction by these officials but by no means has there been consistency.

    Tecnology must begin with the officials radio communications being available to the fans as in Rugby.

  • Mandy dodd

    Why did I not put money on that!

  • bjtgooner

    Having rewatched the VDV goal several times my impression is that the linesman would have had an unobstructed view of the incident. VDV jumped with his arms away from his body and in front of his chest, as the ball came to him he moved the right arm out of the flight line and used his left upper arm to help control the ball. Dean was behind VDV and so would not have had a clear view, but the movement of VDV’s arms would have been visible and should have aroused suspicion, sufficient for Dean to at least check with the linesman. (I realise that the linesman my have been having, once again, temporary blindness).

    What makess everyone suspicious is that with Dean we lose yet once more.

    Whether Dean was gutted by his own incompetence at half time or whether he happy that Arsenal had been shafted yet again only he knows.

  • TC

    Did you see Dermot ‘doughnut’ Gallagher on SS News when he reviews the weekend decisions? He said that it was not hand ball – he could not see any evidence to suggest handball – I’m serious.

  • Shard

    What are the ref reviews about after all? How does it matter what Dean felt. What he saw or didn’t see. Isn’t it his job to see everything, impossible as that is. Are ref reviews really carried out on the basis of sympathy for a referee? Sorry. If the call is wrong, it is wrong. Nothing else should matter, and as much as it is necessary to be fair, I don’t see why it is an issue at all. The evidence of this exercise, will not come from subjective thoughts on the ref’s state of mind. It is ONLY about the decisions. Or at least I would think and hope so. Handball. Wrong decision. Another notch to the count of big decisions that have gone against Arsenal, this season itself. On to the next game, and perhaps the next referee we can have sympathy with while we, and everyone else, bemoan the team we love…

    And yes, I realise that in the end, the actual review does record it as an incorrect goal awarded against Arsenal.

    I also think that Ekotto on Sagna was a foul. It wasn’t meant to break his leg of course, but I thought he pushed him with more force than was the natural result of their collision.

  • Reviewer 02

    Ah well whilst I am here, my discussion with the other reviewers this week has been based on the following

    It is called Ref Review, therefore we are reviewing the ref, not the impracticalities of dealing with the dynamics of the game, but the ability of the ref to manage those dynamics, and often they are out of the control of the Referee, or the Referee cannot respond to what he may suspect happened.

    For example i was taught as a Referee, if you do not see it, you cannot make a decision.

    So if we are marking Referees, and deliberating on the ability or inability of a Referee, the we must also take into consideration the circumstance of situations and the capability and expectation of a Referee to deal with it.

    I argued that it was unfair to mark Dean negatively for the goal because he could not have been expected (according the guidelines of position issued to Referees) to see the handball.

    We can say all we want that Arsenal were hard done by, and that may be true, but not by Dean, and he is the Referee we were reviewing.

    However I was outvoted and that is fine, we retain credibility as a result of the honest and frank discussion that took place and the criteria that have been set.

  • Reviewer 02

    @ Shard

    And as for the Sagna incident, I simply disagree with you, FIFA, UEFA and the FA state the refereeing a game is a matter of interpretation, we differ on interpretation on this incident.

  • bjtgooner

    @ Reviewer 02

    Regarding the Sagna incident, I have to support Shard on this one. Ekotto did get the ball, but my impression was that he went into the challenge determined to stop Sagna even if he missed the ball. I am not suggesting that there was a deliberate intention to injure Sagna. Sorry to disagree.

    On a slightly different subject, Sagna seems to have been targeted with a number of ugly fouls over the last year or so; can anyone suggest why this might be?

  • Reviewer 02

    @ btj gooner
    i felt so too initially, but after a number of viewings concluded that the Spurs player (I thought it was Sandro) was just stronger than Sagna and that Sagna was unfortunate to have landed heavily on the synthetic surface surrounding the playing surface.

    dinner awaits. pheasant breast and a bottle of Rioja yummy!!! and a very beautiful lady whom I am neglecting


  • Shard

    “Last season in the Premier League 98 per cent of offside decisions were correct. Two per cent of so-called mistakes attracted huge publicity”

    David Elleray, FA referee’s committe chairman

    Firstly, HAH!! to that claim, but if 98 percent were correct, surely the 2 percent were incorrect. Then why are they only so-called mistakes? Is he himself hinting that they weren’t the results of mistakes? 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    Now that is an interesting remark Shard. Will write an article about it 😉

  • finsbury

    Reviewer 02, Shard & btj.

    On the clash between Sagna and Ekotto:

    I don’t really know, but the collision could be what a racing steward might term a ‘racing incident’. At a proper ground with real pitchside grass etc. (not the concrete/astroturf composite floating above the swampy bogs at WHL – see the new Arsenal Stadium), Sagna could’ve been OK.

  • finsbury*BVZkk_/3741178.jpeg

    Can’t really understand why the Tinies haven’t extended their pitchside turf right up to the stands. At the least more then we can see in the photos above. I thought a part of the, um, ‘appeal’ of the Tiny stadium was the distance from stand to the actual pitch/grass.
    Extending the pitch/grass just a meter past the touchline is dumb (and cheap).

  • Reviewer 02


    I have walked around the outside of WHL with the groundsman, (Darren, he is a gooner by the way, it is a long story) I can assure you it is the same absorbant astro turf that now features around most EPL stadiums, including the Emirates, it does not, sadly in Sagnas case absorb impacts the way natural turf does.

    I am gutted about Sagna, he is the best RB in the league, we will ms him very much.

  • FunGunner

    Agree with Shard that this ref review should be done on the same basis as every other ref review. That the ref was not in position to see something is an explanation of why he got a call wrong – it does not mean that the call was not wrong. The review confirmed my impression of a very even-handed game, well handled but marred by a couple of wrong calls. Apart from the goal, one of the better performances.