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July 2021

RefWatch – Norwich City Vs Arsenal (19/11/2011 – 12:45)

Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

By DogFace

  • Referee: Phil Dowd
  • Assistant 1: Andy Garratt
  • Assistant 2: David Richardson
  • 4th Official: Michael Oliver

Good morning stat-fans and welcome to RefWatch… First of all – greetings to all new readers who may have come here off the back of the Everton article – also welcome those who were linked here from the Media Watch section of the official Arsenal Web site. This is RefWatch – where we take a statistical look at referee performance and model it in ways that helps us not only understand what kind of referee he is but also what kind of referee he is for YOUR team – know what I mean?

To do this we use a variety of established data streams from commercial football analytics organisations and the gambling odds information spanning all the major European and Asian bookmakers.

Let’s have a look at the Referee:

  • Full name: Phil Dowd
  • Date of birth: 26-Jan-1963 (Age 48)
  • Place of birth: Staffordshire
  • Resides: Staffordshire
  • EPL Referee Since: 2001/2002
  • EPL Games to date: 214

Phil Dowd
Alright Untold… easy on ‘t stats eh?

It’s Phil Dowd again… you remember him, the ‘Staffie’; he’s the one from that Newcastle game where we ‘threw away’ [sic] a 4 goal lead:

Ref Review Newcastle Vs Arsenal

And the Blackburn game after that:

Ref Review Blackburn Vs Arsenal

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Interesting… looking at those links we can see how Walter’s Ref Review articles have improved over time – as have my RefWatch articles; I hate looking at the old ones, they seem so crude now. One wonders, at the rate we’re going, where we will be a year from here and what we might discover?

Anyway – this week we have only half a RefWatch as Dowd has not yet officiated a Norwich game in the EPL – so we will have to make do with only his performances against Arsenal in our analysis.

Let’s check out his stats!

FPB = Fouls Per Booking (vertical axis)
BPM = Bookings Per Match(line width)
AHS = Asian Handicap Swing i.e. the deviation from the expected result(vertical axis)
PPG = Points Per Game(line width)
Therefore a high thin line for FPB/BPM would indicate a lot of fouls and very little bookings – and a low thin line for AHS/PPG would indicate an underperformance against the betting line and very few points taken.

Phil Dowd has had 17 games for Arsenal consisting of 9 wins, 6 draws and 2 losses.

Arsenal are currently in 2nd in Phil Dowd’s personal Points Per Game League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the English Premier, with an average of 1.94 PPG.

In Phil Dowd’s personal Handicap Swing League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the English Premier, Arsenal come 15th with an average negative swing of -0.06.

Arsenal are currently in 13th in Phil Dowd’s personal Booking’s Per Match League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the English Premier, with an overall average of 1.88 BPM.

In Phil Dowd’s personal Fouls Per Booking League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the English Premier, Arsenal come 20th with an overall average of 6.19 FPB.

OK looking at the graph above we can see that statistically our performance [the wobbly blue line] was ok under Phil Dowd until last season where it took a dramatic downturn both in performance against the betting line (the Asian Handicap Swing) and our Points Per Game. This is a good time for regular readers (in terms of the merit of this series of articles) to remember the games under Dowd last season and how they are reflected on the performance statistics in this graph. We can also see that since the 2009/2010 season, Phil Dowd has punished us more in the challenge than our opponents – the orange line rides high and thin while we [the red line] falls low and fat.

Let’s break that down in our next series of graphs:

The colour of the line represents the player type.
The position of the line against the vertical axis will indicate the average time of the booking and the thickness of the line indicates the average number of bookings of players in that position.
Therefore a high fat orange line would indicate that the referee often books the specified teams defence out of the challenge early, a low thin line or no line would indicate the opposite.  The number of minutes bottoms out at 100 to indicate no bookings.

Again we can see that is recent seasons Phil Dowd’s pattern against us has become ultra-punitive – you can see clearly from this breakdown that, from the 2009/2010 season Dowd has peppered our midfield and defence with bookings on average around the half way mark… and also bunged a few at our goalie and substitutes last season too.

The colour of the line represents the player type.
The position of the line against the vertical axis will indicate the average time of the booking and the thickness of the line indicates the average number of bookings of players in that position.
Therefore a high fat orange line would indicate that the referee often books the specified teams defence out of the challenge early, a low thin line or no line would indicate the opposite.  The number of minutes bottoms out at 100 to indicate no bookings.

Above we can see our opponents bookings, Phil Dowd has booked later and less in recent seasons with only a few bookings, on average, in the defence and midfield around the 60-70 minute mark – our opposition has also seen their strikers take a few cards too… which makes sense as Phil always seems to me to be heavy on the draw in our matches.

Let’s move on now to check out how Phil Dowd performs against selected teams in the EPL:

The ine thickness represents the average Points Per Game and the position of the line against the vertical axis represents the average swing againd the handicap.

OK now I have included the main teams here and bunged in Everton for the blue side of Liverpool who may still be taking an interest in our work. What strikes first me as pretty incredible is the rise of Manchester City in Phil Dowd’s figures going from blowing the bottom off the chart in 2006/2007 to blowing the roof off the chart in 2011/2012… which is interesting as Manchester City’s recovery in Phil Dowd’s figures seem to correlate with our fall – and you could also include Chelsea in that. One could conceivably then ask the question if this is somehow related i.e. could it be in the last few seasons that ours and Chelsea’s seasonal objectives have conflicted with Manchester City’s – or is this just a speculative stretch too far?

Something has changed with the way Phil Dowd handles our games in recent seasons and for us it’s not been good… with that in mind – the obvious question for this game and this season is this: do we pose a threat to Manchester City?

That is, of course, if we assume a causal relationship between our underperformance under Dowd and Manchester City’s over performance?

The Predictortron gives Norwich City a -0.562500 of a goal disadvantage – but seriously – he’s going to have to give Norwich an awful lot in the defensive challenge and many set pieces to pull a draw out of this one… isn’t he?

One other thing I would mention is that this is a highly exposed game – I’ve talked about the advantage of the 3pm Saturday kick-off [for the best team] before and look how it played out in our rare 3pm game this season with West Brom?

Phil Dowd is Untold Arsenal’s top performing ref this season; I really hope this continues and, win or lose, we have no complaints – but this is a 12:45 kick-off so keep your eyes peeled for all and any uncharacteristic underperformances on the pitch.

Arsenal are giving 3/4 ball on the handicap, odds:

Norwich pays 2.0
Arsenal pays 1.9

Untold Index
History Index
Making the Arsenal

46 comments to RefWatch – Norwich City Vs Arsenal (19/11/2011 – 12:45)

  • Gunzblazin

    i dont like phil dowd and mike riley, i believe these refs hav cost us many points and trophies, why we havnt won a trophy for 6 years is partly down to the refs making very bad decisions against us, teams like man ure and chelsea mostly get the benefits from refs, i believe the refs dont like us because we have a french mananger and they are racist, they dont like the french.

  • Anne


    Walter’s Newcastle ref review article was the first that I ever read on this blog, so good memories there for me 🙂

    But I was wondering where I could go to get some background info on all of this analytics and odds stuff. I always enjoy your posts, but at the same time, I never fully understand the details of the statistical aspects. Any suggestions on where I can go to get caught up to speed?

  • Reviewer 02

    I like the look of Dowd this season; he appears to be enjoying his reffing and seems to be a little slimmer than last season. He has been the ref whom has really asserted his authority on games and has taken little or no shit from the players. Let’s hope he continues as he has started and Untold can announce him Ref of the Year at the end of the season. After all the flack we gave him last season, it will be a validation of our methods and impartiality when reviewing.

    And no I am not doing this one. that priveledge lies elsewhere

  • Mahdain

    @reviewer02 i really hope thats the case but truth be told i really dont like dowd one bit..i wont be suprised if he was sent by riley to put a halt in our good run of form..the fact that we didnt win a single game with him in charge last season is a reason for worry..lets just hope im wrong and he is fair today

  • bjtgooner

    Good refWatch. However, I wouldn’t bet too much on Dowd having a good game today. What will he do if just after half time we are in the lead?

  • bjgooner

    Could be that the pressure we are putting on him might start to tell, and he could slip us something just to make sure.

  • dan

    Oh God not this plonker!

    Phil Dowd – Defo FA fix up, ready for the after match negatives?

    Wenger should punch this in the face.

  • bjtgooner

    @ Tony

    Hope you are right!

  • Rodelero

    and there it was, Mertesacker has a player jump on his back in the box and there we go: goal!

    Phil Dowd has called EVERY contact as a foul regardless of whether it was, until the one time it mattered for us. Thanks Philip.

  • dan

    Dowd is doing his best, but Arsenal needs to be more decisive in front of goal should be 4-1 to us.

  • bjtgooner

    Yes!!! Good win, great team performance & once again the away fans were superb!!

  • walter

    I haven’t reviewed it of course 5 minutes after the end of the game but I think by my views from the game it is fair to say that Phil Dowd did it again. And I mean this in a positive meaning as like he did his games for the rest of the season.
    Oh and also will not be the reviewer of this game. 😉

  • Very interesting from Dowd. Our winner was a great advantage from him – that he easily could have not given.

    Of course Mertesacker was fouled for their goal, but such things aren’t given in England so we can excuse Dowd and call that one a mistake that most refs would have made.

    Looking forward to the review, but seemingly good stuff from Dowd out there today.

  • walter


    The interesting thing is that when I start a review I have to kind of erase my memory of the ref and start from zero. I think this goes to all our reviewers in fact or better said that is what I noticed so far.

    But I can understand other fans hating Dowd for his antics in the past. But as a ref reviewer I have no problem with saying a ref (whatever he has done to us in the past) has had a decent or good game.

    But I will stop now to talk about the ref because otherwise I would pressure on the ref reviewer 🙂

  • Sammy The Snake

    Decent refrying today!
    What a pleasant surprise.
    Go Gunners!

  • Sammy The Snake

    Decent refreeing.

  • dan

    Mike Dean for Utd, a banker if there ever was one.

  • bob

    Lest Dowd now be sanctified after so justly vilified, a few off the top of my eyeballs questions arise:
    Was that not a dodgy call, that last-ditch Norwich free kick?
    Also, where did the extra time 3 minutes come from?
    Also, why did the extra 3 minutes reach 3.5 minutes?

  • bob

    Dogface, Anne,
    Not to be too pedestrian, but I too would like (and once asked) for a primer so that people like me who are more statistically challenged could have a clear and simple set of working definitions as to the meaning of each your acronyms and a sample chart or two as an explanation. Dogface, please, how about some hand-holding – a primer – an extra posting next week – to be a bit more inclusive, mate?

  • RedGooner

    I thought the Ref was extremely fair today even if nothing will ever excuse his performance against newcastle.

    Even on the norwich goal to be honest it was all about indecsion on our behalfs, I wouldnt slate metersacker either .
    Just a little more focus and communication will do to keep us on track.

  • Arun

    @ Bob, the freekick ,according to me, was a correct decision as it seemed that Santos shoved him with his elbow in the back and during the taking of freekick, for nearly one minute play was stopped justifying the 45 seconds after the 3 minute added time.

  • bjtgooner

    @ Arun

    Just before the last ditch free kick RVP seemed to be fouled at the other end of the pitch – but no foul given, the contrast in reaction from the officials between the two incidents is probably the reason why the second foul is questioned.

    I think (not entirely certain) that the linesman who did not see the foul on RVP is the same gentleman who did not see Vidic’s hand ball at the Emirates last season.

  • bob

    But where did the 3 minutes really come from?

  • bob

    well spotted! — what’s his name, this mr. see no evil?

    bjtgooner, Walter, Dogface,
    I’m glad bjtgooner brought this up, because I think that some of the ref reviews and previews ought to mention (or readers make your crew aware of) significant past sins (calls/non-calls) by these ref assistants when they are part of the present match’s gang of four (or six). These guys can also turn games, as we all know. Indeed, I recall this season that one of the “extra” goal line assistants (in lieu of video replay) called thay phantom penalty on Vermaelen that hurt us. Surely it would be interesting to know, for example, whether that fellow turns up to officiate in some manner at our next CL match at Dortmund, etc. etc.

  • bob

    p.s. the “phantom” penalty on Tommy V. that I’m trying to recall was versus Udinese in the CL.

  • bjtgooner

    @ bob

    I think it was Andy Garratt.

  • @bob – the referee assistants just do as they’re told – I sit on the line and I’ve seen it – flag starts to go one way, finger to the ear, and it goes the other way. Referee’s may have their favorites, of course, but (and to use that tired old cliché) at the end of the day it is the referee’s desicion – not the assistants…

    …it might be worth keeping an eye on things though – you know, if we can put pressure on the selection process (if it seems driven by an agenda) then we should.

  • Gord

    @some people

    The only time keeper of a football match is the referee. The referee typically appreciates assistance from his/her assistants in keeping time. But the referee is not obligated to follow suggestions from any of his assistants.

    Any spectator is welcome to try and keep time. The only official time keeper is the referee. If they differ, the only official timekeeper is the referee. If a 4th official posts N minutes of extra time, what that means is that at the end of 45 minutes of real time, he/she thinks there is N minutes of time needed to be added on for stoppages. This suggestion is always an integer. Hence, if the indication is 3, what it means is somewhere between 2 and 4.

    In the normal course of events, this means extra time will run between
    N-1/2 and N+1/2 (minutes). But, the only official time keeper is the referee. He/she may feel that more time is/isn’t needed, or that less time than the 4th official has suggested is needed. Once extra time starts, it is only the referee that times things, there is no (official) help from outside sources (assistant referees or the 4th official).

    At the end of the day, to say there is 3 minutes of extra time, means that there should be between 2.5 and 3.5 minutes of extra time. And time could be blown down slightly before or slightly after, because the people keeping time, are not in synchronization with the referee.

    @people with a heart
    A referee in the Bundesliga, was unavailable to officiate a game today. It is thought that he attempted to commit suicide. Referees do take their job seriously, and while this isn’t something a person wants to see of professional conduct, it is understandable.

    I hope this referee recovers, and that he/she receives council-ling such that his/her inclination to end the pressure driving him/her into depression enough to consider suicide goes away. And it is always possible that this person did not commit the acts on themselves. In which case, I hope the authorities can find the instigators quickly.

  • @Gord – I would suggest that the referee in question got into some deep shit.

    But who are we to attribute motive… Have you got a link?

  • Gord

    The last I looked, there were 2 news articles in Google about this (one just before I posted this). Google adjusts its result according to where the person is posting from. If you or others can’t find links, I can find them again (they are in my cache).

    But, the referee was in the bathtub and there was blood all over. Looks like suicide, but who can tell? Whether it is suicide or not, it is not a nice thing.

  • Found it in The Grauniad – the police have suggested ‘attempted suicide’ as there was no sign of a 3rd party present:

    Or that could just be media speculation…

  • WalterBroeckx

    About what Gord said about a ref in Germany it was the ref who had to do the game Koln – Mainz. He was found in the the hotel where the ref team was staying before the game with his wrists cut open.
    He survived his suicide attempt. The game was cancelled.

    He was under some pressure after a few bad decisions a few weeks ago. He is also a fifa ref.

    That is what I know for the moment.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And off topic but I do think that the refs are just afraid to do anything against Barton

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    Review is finished and has been sent to Walter.
    @bob – Of the three minutes of injury time, 2 minutes came from the 4 substitutions made during the 90 minutes. Phil Dowd also stopped play several times to either caution players or call them over to have a word. So the three minutes seemed right. Then in injury time, Arsenal made another substitution, replacing Walcott with Djourou. This added another 30 seconds to the clock.

  • bob

    Walter, Ref Team, All,
    I finally got to watch the Bitesize of the match on Arsenal Player. The several replays of the Norwich goal shows Per in good position to screen their striker from the ball, when the striker reaches over Per, pulls him back and shoves him off the ball, then goes on to score. I find this non-call to be highly questionable at the very least. I watched the entire match and the TV presenters went over and over again saying how Per is terrible, and that Arsene (who was remonstrating) had no beef at all, none at all, with the ref, so why does he (angry Arsene) keep having a go at the poor sideline official about it, when his REAL beef should be with his own lousy player (Per). This mantra went on throughout the entire first half. I’m soooo eager now for the Ref Review, because, to my lights, the replays show at minimum borderline foul play and a questionable non-call by Dowd – NOT a total cock-up by Per. I invite all to have a look at the Arsenal Player replay and call it your way. All ears on this one, mates…

  • bob

    Ref Reviewer 03,
    Thanks for the explanation, that seems fair to me now. My argument with Dowd now goes back to Norwich’s first goal, which I rant on about just above.

  • Laundryender

    My beef for the goal is with Metersacker not Dowd, he had time to play the ball and invited the challenge. Per has definately brought something to the team but this was not his finest moment. He will learn that in the EPL and especially away from home, you cannot be indecisive defending infront of your own goal.

  • Cape Gooner

    Mertesaker was far less at fault for the goal than TV. TV was a few yards away and stopped running, presumably because he thought the foul by Morison was clear cut. If he had carried on running, he would have got to the ball before Morison.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Fouls on a defender in possession are almost never given, the idea being that it makes football more interesting. Instead it just holds English football back as hardly any English defenders are interested in retaining possession.

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    We actually put Norwich’s goal to a vote amongst our ref reviewers as to whether or not we felt it was a foul by the defender or if the ref got it right. One of us thought it was a foul, but the other two sided with the ref.
    We felt that even though there was a little contact between the two players, Morison had a right to play for the ball, and from the replays that were shown, Morison didn’t appear to pull back Mertesacker in any meaningful way.

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    @Dogface – It’s interesting that you wrote about how Dowd has usually waited until the 2nd half before pulling out the cards because that is what he did against Norwich.
    Johnson was practically begging to get booked, first with leading with an elbow on Arteta while challenging for a high ball and later in the half when he lunged in studs showing to play the ball from Ramsey’s feet.
    In this second instance Dowd was even motioning to both the Norwich player and manager that Johnson had lunged in and gone over the ball. This kind of challenge almost often results in a booking of some sort, and when you also take into account Johnson’s throwing his toys out of the pram in reaction to the call, he really should have been booked.
    Phil Dowd performance in the first half was somewhat poor. However he had an exceptional 2nd half and a good score overall.

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    In my post at 11:45 am above, I meant to say whether or not we felt it was a foul by the attacking player.

  • bob

    Ref Reviewer 03,
    You say: “from the replays that were shown, Morison didn’t appear to pull back Mertesacker in any meaningful way.”
    Look at the view on Bitesize from 0:24 – 0:33.
    Do you really call that pullback NOT a “meaningful” pullback. Morrison comes in on Per from behind, then over his shoulder, then uses his leg as a wedge, and throws Per to the ground. I would really like you to spell out WHY that is not a “meaningful” pullback. I want to learn how a Ref who makes that a non-call actually reasons that it is not “meaningful”. Finally, did you see the view that is shown on Bitesize; as I must point out, I did not see this very view on the telecast that I watched, which showed it from other angles that did seem not meaningful. But THIS view to my repeated viewing continues to look meaningful. So please spell this out from your POV so I can learn something in the process as to the meaning of meaningful in this instance.

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    bob, the way I see it, Morison used his right leg to play the ball, and then his left. Mertesacker then tried to grab Morison by his hip or shorts (notice Mert’s hand on Morison’s hip) and then went down on his own accord. See the replay at 42:27.
    Also note that on the other hand, one of our refs did think it was probably a foul, so it is a debatable call.

  • Gord

    Hurt referee news.

    I suppose I polluted the thread by posting about the German referee (apparently a banker in real life) who tried to commit suicide.

    Well, in a game in Spain on the weekend, it seems a young person had his umbrella disassembled by the weather, and the part of the umbrella that escaped hit a referee’s assistant and cut him. Game abandoned.

    The article says about 60 minutes had been played. Where I did some referee’ing before (western Canada), I think enough of the game had of been played that the results will stand as is. No replay.

    What happens in other jurisdictions? How much of the game needs to go by, for the results to stand as is? Are their reasons to not follow this rule where you are?

  • Anne

    @DogFace & Walter:

    Sometimes things just make you want to cry…