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August 2021

Untold Ref Review: Norwich 1 – Arsenal 2

“Making the Arsenal” – the book of Arsenal’s rebirth

Follow us on Twitter @UntoldArse

By Ref Reviewer 03

Arsenal travelled to Norwich where Phil Dowd officiated, picking up a hard fought 2-1 away win.

Min Type Foul from On C/NC Comment points weight
1 OTHER Van Persie Naughton C Fairly normal but perhaps used his arm 1 1
4 OTHER Koscielny C Push – advantage played 1 1
9 OTHER Barnett Gervinho C Holding 1 1
12 OTHER Song Hoolahan C Holding 1 1
13 OFFSIDE RVP C Just off 1 1
15 OTHER Johnson Arteta C Led with forearm 1 1
15 YELLOW Johnson NC Should’ve been booked 0 0
16 GOAL Morison C Didn’t feel he pulled Mertesacker back, Mertesacker also held Morison’s hip – goal okay 1 3
18 OTHER Hoolahan Arteta C Tug – advantage played 1 1
27 GOAL RVP C Goal okay 1 3
30 OTHER Johnson RVP C Hard trip – advantage played – he wouldn’t have made this challenge had he been booked earlier 1 1
33 OTHER Naughton Gervinho NC Stuck foot in as Gervinho tried to clear – not given 0 0
34 OFFSIDE Barnett C 1 1
34 OTHER Johnson Ramsey C Lunged in studs up to play ball at Ramsey’s feet 1 1
34 YELLOW Johnson NC This was Morison’s 3rd dangerous challenge, also whined about the call – should’ve been booked by now 0 0
35 OTHER Johnson Song NC Late to the ball, went through Song – not given 0 0
41 OTHER RVP Barnett NC Trip – not given, perhaps they thought Barnett had played the ball out 0 0
41 OTHER Hoolahan NC Raised hand to protect face, blocked ball – not given 0 0
42 OTHER Koscielny C Raised hand to protect face, blocked ball – given this time, but ref needs to be consistent 1 1
45 OTHER Crofts Santos C Pull 1 1
45+1 OTHER Naughton Ramsey NC Studs to boot after Ramsey had passed – ref missed it 0 0
Half time 14 18
CORRECT 66,67% 66,67%
YELLOW 0 2 0,00
RED 0 0
GOAL 2 2 100,00
OTHER 2 2 100,00
4 6 66,67
OFFSIDE 2 2 100,00
Second half
47 OTHER Arteta Crofts C Clipped his heel 1 1
47 OTHER Arteta Johnson NC Slid in a bit dangerously – not given 0 0
51 OTHER Vermaelen Hoolahan C Slight check 1 1
55 OFFSIDE Pilkington C Ref correctly allowed advantage to play, then Gervinho nearly scored when he rounded the keeper 1 1
58 OTHER Arteta Tierney C Trip 1 1
59 OTHER Martin Ramsey C Trip – advantage played 1 1
59 GOAL RVP C Goal okay 1 3
64 OFFSIDE Walcott C Assumed correct 1 1
66 OTHER Bennett Gervinho C Sliding tackle from behind 1 1
66 YELLOW Bennett C Dangerous tackle – yellow but could have been red 1 2
68 OTHER Crofts RVP C Trip 1 1
70 PENALTY C Unintentional handball by Mertesacker – correct non call 1 3
70 OTHER Mertesacker Holt NC Holt backed in, didn’t play ball – wrong call 0 0
72 OTHER Ramsey Crofts C Trip 1 1
74 OTHER Holt Mertesacker C Trip – Good call 1 1
75 OTHER Song Crofts C Hanging on him 1 1
80 OTHER Tierney Walcott C Intentional trip from behind 1 1
80 YELLOW Tierney C Deserved 1 2
83 OTHER Bennett Koscielny C Grazed Koscielny’s leg with his boot – was on a yellow, Dowd showed him mercy 1 1
86 OTHER Santos Naughton C Foul 1 1
86 PENALTY C Holt backed into Mertesacker and threw himself to ground – good non call 1 3
86 YELLOW Holt C Booked for simulation 1 2
90+2 OTHER Santos Holt C Fell easily but there appeared to be a little shove 1 1
90+3 OTHER Naughton Arteta C Push 1 1
90+4 OTHER C Injury Time: 3 minutes seems right because of substitutions, cautions, plus 30 seconds extra for late substitution 1 1
2nd half score
TOTAL 24 33
% CORRECT 92,31% 91,67%
YELLOW 3 3 100,00
RED 0 0
PENALTY 2 2 100,00
GOAL 1 1 100,00
OTHER 2 2 100,00
8 8 100,00
OFFSIDE 3 3 100,00
TOTAL 38 51
% CORRECT 80,85% 80,95%
YELLOW 3 5 60,00
RED 0 0
PENALTY 2 2 100,00
GOAL 3 3 100,00
OTHER 4 4 100,00
12 14 85,71
OFFSIDE 5 5 100,00
Correct calls For Home 14 37,84%
For Away 23 62,16%
Total correct calls 37
Wrong calls Against Home 2 22,22%
Against Away 7 77,78%
Total 9
Total fouls made by Home 18 60,00%
Away 12 40,00%
Total 30


In the first half, Dowd seemed reluctant to issue any cards at all and Norwich’s Bradley Johnson was lucky not to have picked up a booking or two. This lack of pulling out the cards hurt Dowd’s performance for the opening half and he only managed 66.67% for this period.

Norwich opened the scoring with a bit of a controversial goal by Morison. Per Mertesacker tried to protect a bouncing ball, but Morison sneaked in, won the ball and put it away past Szczesny. Some people, including Arsene Wenger, felt that Morison had fouled Mertesacker, and there did appear to be some minor contact. However, Morison didn’t seem to pull Mertesacker back. Our panel of 3 judges voted on the incident and decided that the ref made the correct decision (2 votes to 1).

The second half was a revelation for Phil Dowd who barely missed a call, getting 24 of 26 decisions correct. He made good decisions in allowing advantages, including the play from which Robin Van Persie scored his delightful chip from a through ball by Song.

Grant Holt entered the match in the 68th minute and immediately started making things difficult for Per Mertesacker. Instead of playing the ball, Holt would back into Mertesacker and then sometimes fall down. The ref fell for it in the 70th minute, giving Norwich a dangerous free kick, but most importantly the ref got it right in key decisions in the 74th and 86th minutes when Holt would deliberately run into Mertesacker to gain an advantage. The 86th minute incident was when Holt threw himself to ground in the penalty area. Fortunately this Phil Dowd was on top of his game and didn’t fall for it and booked Holt for his unsporting behaviour.

Wrong calls in the first half favoured Norwich by a 6 to 1 margin. The second half only had 2 wrong decisions, 1 going against each club.

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Dowd’s performance in the first half was a substandard 67%. However, his second half performance was an outstanding 92%, pulling his total score to a rather good 81% of all decisions correct. (Note from the editor and getting 100% of the important decisions correct in the second half!!)

65 comments to Untold Ref Review: Norwich 1 – Arsenal 2

  • cupsui

    One of the better performances from a ref in the EPL in some time of my watching, and i thought dowd was incompetent!!
    I agree fair call on the goal. Mertesacker should have done better

  • bob

    Ref Reviewer 03,
    With reference to Norwich’s goal in the 16th minute. In your earlier posting on this, you say: “from the replays that were shown, Morison didn’t appear to pull back Mertesacker in any meaningful way.” I wonder which view you re-viewed to make this judgment.
    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.

  • bob

    p.s. In this posting you say about Morrison “there did appear to be some minor contact” and then say “However, Morison didn’t seem to pull Mertesacker back.” I implore you to look at Arsenal Player bitesize view at 0;24-0:33 (the last of the replays of that “minor contact” and explain how that is not even “seem” to be “a pull back.” From that view, if you saw it, I cannot believe a) you would not call it even a pullback; and b) as to your earlier posting today, you would not even call it a “meaningful” pullback. And c) why in your earlier posting do you say it was not a “meaningful” pullback, where in this posting, your review, you say that it was not even a pullback. Did you see the last of the Bitesize views of this non-call? Please explain.

  • mas brow gunner

    bob… spot on… two tumbs..

  • gunz

    On the 34th minute entry you mention “This was Morison’s 3rd dangerous challenge…”. Where is Johnson’s (NC) Red Card entry, that he should of got, for his second (NC) Yellow?

  • I’m not convinced by Norwich’s goal. I said in the comments yesterday it’s OK in England but not by the rules (in my view) so I’m surprised by this decision. Fair enough if a majority of reviewers supported your call Reviewer3, though!

    Just a quick question – how did multiple not-given yellow cards work in the weightings? One isn’t the end of the world, but if a ref fails to give two or three that’s the equivalent of failing to give a red. I presume the system takes this into account, but I’m curious!

  • Reviewer02

    I think this is a fantastic review and as i saw the game. What you have to understand is that a ref interprets the laws of the game and rule 12 in particular. Dowds interpretation was that Morison did not impede, pull, trip, Mertesacker. I agree with that interpretation. Mertesacker was slow in playing the ball clear, i touch too many, in the EPL that is not an option.

    In interpretation, some decisions are easy, and some are hard, but some fall into a grey area, this was one of those, it is why being a professional footballer you do not put yourself in those situations and you move the ball quickly, or protect the ball, for their goal Per did neither, resulting in a challenge that really should not have happened.

    I reviewed Norwich for Blackburn game, and they are a tenacious team who scrap for everything, they have a mischievous side that will serve them well in the EPL. I was delighted Holt was booked, he dives too much, Dowd spotted the main one and cautioned him. All in all I felt Dowd had a good game and his final score reflects that. Sadly no matter how much you want it not to be the case, the ref is entitled to apply opinion in grey areas, as is the reviewer!

  • bjtgooner

    @ Reviewer02

    You are correct in that the ref and the reviewer are entitled to their opinions, but so are the rest of us. In my view Mert was fouled and the whistle should have been blown! However, I do agree that Mert should have cleared the ball just before he was fouled.

    @ reviewer03

    This was an excellent review, although as stated above I don’t agree with Morrison’s goal being allowed.

    Regarding the “push” on Holt in minute 90+2, Santos did push Holt slightly, but if he had used sufficient force to make Holt fall, Holt should have fallen on his face, instead he fell on his back. Looked like dive number 3 to me.

    Just before this incident (about 30 secs earlier) RVP was pushed/obstructed at the far end of the pitch but no foul called. Can you comment on this incident?

  • Reviewer02

    yes but with the greatest of respect, there is qualified and unqualified opinion.
    The objective of these reviews is to quantify a bias through qualified opinion.
    Yes anyone can have an opinion (as Pete Townsend once said) but the only opinion that mattered was Dowd’s, his conclusion had validity! So the reviewer supported him.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    My qualified opinion is that Morison did impede Mertesacker from behind but only marginally and it was a 50-50 call on Dowd’s part. Dowd likely felt that a big defender would clear the ball away or head to the keeper and might have expected Szcesny to come out and pick off the ball, so he waited to see what might transpire. Many refs will do this hoping that no foul occurs, in order to keep play going. It is a risky approach and backfired on Dowd this time.

  • bob

    Reviewer 02 (and Reviewer 03),
    You have not put this non-call to rest.
    You invoke rule 12 and add: “Dowds interpretation was that Morison did not impede, pull, trip, Mertesacker. I agree with that interpretation.”
    I ask how you cannot see a pull (or pullback) at all?
    You may not like that Per is not playing it the way that an EPL defender ought to play it, but is that in your realm of interpretive powers? or is the job to enforce the rule. And if the rule says that no pull is allowed, how is it that you can look at that footage (Bitesize 0:24-0:33) and not see a pull? Or, are you saying it was not a “meaningful” pullback, then?, with “meaningful” meaning as played in the EPL but not necessarily by the letter of the rulebook? That is, there is a gray area that is finally decided by the Referee’s opinion of how the game ought to be played rather than as a matter of rule? And I look forward to hearing Ref Reviewer 03’s voice is in these comments?

  • bob

    Are you allowed to come out and play re. Rule 12?
    Your Walter-voice is sorely missed on this.

  • 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.

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    @gunz @Phil Gregory – as the ref hadn’t officially given Johnson (not Morison) a card, I didn’t feel I should say that he should be sent off for a yellow card offense just because the ref didn’t book him earlier.
    If I thought he should have already been booked earlier and then he made a hard yellow soft red, then I might say he should be sent off.
    Mostly what I wanted to show here was that if Johnson were on a yellow card he probably wouldn’t have made the reckless tackles on Van Persie and Ramsey in the 30th and 34th minutes.

  • Shard

    As regards the Norwich goal. I am perfectly satisfied that it wasn’t deemed a foul on Mertesacker, because I think that is generally how the games are called in England. But I do think, having watched it again, that it should be a foul on the basis of the rules. Per was pulled back by the shoulders and this made him fall over backwards, and let the Norwich player get in front. It wasn’t much, and the commentators will say he should be ‘stronger’ etc, but it should be a foul. Even though, as I said, I’m ok with it, provided that standard is maintained throughout.

  • Mick

    I think you could argue that there were many fouls called during this game where players went down with as little (or even less) contact as was applied to Mertesacker (eg Holt two or three times, and he got the fouls in his favour) and on that basis I think Arsenal were unlucky not to have been awarded a foul. You can bet that if their attacker had gone down under a similar amount of contact the argument would be that contact was minimal and yes he went down easily, but it was still a penalty.

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    @bjtgooner – Regarding the Van Persie incident at 90:55, it was clever play by the defender. Robin was using his arm to try to hold off the defender and the defender clasped Robin’s arm with his. Then he used his position to let the ball fly harmlessly over their heads.
    While it could be considered a foul, it wasn’t an obvious hold and not something that is usually called. Certainly Robin would have liked a free kick at that time and at that spot while holding on to a one-goal lead, but if he hadn’t appealed for it, I don’t think anyone would have noticed.

  • bjtgooner

    @Reviewer 03

    Many thanks for your reply; strangely the Sky commentator noted the RVP incident!

    Probably the foul on RVP would be considered a soft one, but so was the one 30 secs or so later by Santos on Holt. One was given and one was not.

  • Ref Reviewer 03

    @bjtgooner, yes, you’re right, both could be considered soft fouls, and really Holt seemed intent on conning the ref from almost the minute he stepped on the pitch in the 68th minute.
    In the 70th minute he didn’t try to play the ball, but waited and drew contact from Mertesacker. Then he went down like he had been elbowed in the head or something.
    And regarding Holt’s going to ground deep in injury time under the challenge by Santos, obviously if he had stood on his feet, the ref wouldn’t have given the foul. It definitely would have been controversial had they scored from the free kick.

  • bjtgooner

    @Reviewer 03

    Many thanks, I appreciate your opinion.

  • pires

    Another good day at the office, another good win, RvP is simply world class. Glad to see Wenger coming out and rubbishing more rumours that the Arsenal-hating media in this country love to pounce on. Anthing to take the gloss off our recent performances and neg us out. Well stuff you lot. Wenger is commited to Arsenal – end of. Glad to see Theo forcing more humble pie down the throats of his critics as well. Let the good times roll and the good results continue

  • MK

    He had two hands up and did pull Mertesacker back and anywhere else on the field or if the situation were reversed (defender doing that to a striker) it would have been a foul.

    However for whatever (historic) reason in the English game if you use your arms to pull at a Centre back and get past them without making it ‘too’ obvious, it is considered good form as the centre backs should be strong enough to deal with it.

    You can’t really blame Mertesacker either as in Germany or an international match that would have been called as a foul and he would not have been ready for it. Hopefully he has learned his lesson now without costing Arsenal any points and will be wary of this uneven application of rules of the English game.

    Just to add that I am not against the additional physicality and different interpretations of the English game (as long as the rules are applied consistently), as it is most likely one of the reasons it is more exciting/popular across the globe than other leagues.

  • Donnyfan1

    All I know is this– if an Arsenal player had done that to any CB in the league– 9 out of 10 refs would have disallowed the goal. And if Song had done that to anyone, in any position on the field, The Dowd would have booked him. Dodgy stuff, despite your excellent appraisal.

  • Johnny Deigh

    For a tall German lad, he doesn’t seem to be that strong in the challenge. When he comes up for Arsenal corner kicks, he often gets out-muscled out of the play. Maybe he has always relied on his height advantage, but in the English league it is not enough.

  • bob

    MK, Donnyfan1, Johnny Deigh,
    I agree with you three together, and that imo well sums it up. I don’t like the inconsistency that would surely have been applied to an Arsenal striker who did what Morrison did and to that degree; and I don’t like the EPL interpretation of the gray area on the basis of an EPL defender should have more strength. The fact is he doesn’t have the strength and he was still soft done by the ref – yes, admittedly, THIS ref – not calling it by the rules. AND, let’s face it, IF, pray not, that Norwich’s last free kick had gone in and that crap call, we’d have had a VINTAGE DOWD performance. That was the thin line, and I do not believe that The Dowd is no longer The Dowd. He’s precision cobra.

  • WafflingWenger

    I don’t think the physique of a player should come into account as to whether or not a foul should/shouldn’t be called. “oh he’s a big strapping boy so he should have been stronger and not fallen over” is a load of crap and fairly discriminatory.

    It’s an interesting discussion though, especially in light of Charlie Adam’s ‘tackle’ on Mikel last night, which in my view was far worse than the Per example. In both cases a Brit tripping up a foreigner.

  • Flavour

    After washing the replay it was a pure foul against Per. He came from behind, had a hand by the neck and pull the German over. At the place of this incident it should have been called by the Ref. Excellent review, a great fan but I disagree with the 2 Ref review and stick with the one that says it was a foul. Thanks

  • Tee Song

    I usually agree with the overall conclusion of the ref reviews but not this one. For me, this was a typical Dowd performance. There were several late, reckless challenges by Norwich which didn’t get called at all or if they were, didn’t get the necessary caution. Two late, studs up challenges on Ramsey at the end of the half and Arteta weren’t called. And a scissors type of challenge which the Norwich player was called for but not booked.

    Vermaelen’s foul on Hoolahan around the 50th minute was a dive by Hoolahan which wrongly resulted in a dangerous free kick for Norwich and if Mertesacker wasn’t fouled on Norwich’s goal then Santos didn’t foul Holt in stoppage time, which again resulted in a free kick just outside our penalty area. Holt’s intention to “win” free kicks was most evident by his blatant dive in the penalty area–a dive so obvious that even the commentators agreed with the call which Dowd was forced to make. Reckless fouls on Arsenal players not awarded or not drawing cautions and dubious free kicks awarded to the opposition are hallmarks of Dowd’s officiating in Arsenal matches. The only thing missing from a vintage Dowd performance was the lack of multiple, early bookings for Arsenal.

  • davi

    When I first saw the morrison goal, I didn’t see anything particularly wrong, but on the replay, when Alan Smith says “that’s not a foul”, I can’t help but laugh because you see morrison with his arms around mertesacker’s shoulders and neck, and then pull him to the side. It’s clearly a foul. As someone else said, if mertesacker had been the forward, and Morrison the defender, everyone would have said it was a penalty.
    I was VERY happy with the ref for booking Holt for the dive near the end of the game, though. This has happened to us so many times in past seasons, the most recent incident being the Lucas dive into eboue at the end of last year. This was exactly the same, and I was pleased to see that the ref was wise to it, and gave the correct decision.

  • Shard

    I have to agree with Tee Song. This WAS Dowd being Dowd. Except Arsenal were prepared for it, and basically never gave him much of an opportunity to harm us, unless he wanted to make it even more apparent than at Newcastle.. I think we deserve even more credit for the victory over Norwich because we never gave the referee a chance to screw us over, even if we did give Norwich a chance and a goal.

  • Shard


    I wouldn’t say the ref was wise to it..This one was near impossible to give because it was a poor dive. The ball was clearly going away from the direction that Holt moved in, and was some distance away. If his dive had been a bit ‘better’, I’m sure Dowd would have given it. Even as it is, the Arsenal players were worried it would be given judging by their fervent appeals. In fact, I think for a second some of them thought it was given when Dowd blew his whistle. If you think we’re wary of Dowd (amongst others), I bet the players are even more so.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Maybe, just maybe Dowd has been thinking this summer….
    Maybe, just maybe Dowd has been reading Untold this summer…
    Maybe, just maybe Dowd has been thinking about it this summer…
    Maybe, just maybe Dowd has decided to not get his name connected with such idiocy like in the Newcastle game…

    Maybe, just maybe Dowd has been freed this season from “duty” after doing his job last season and is now a free ref?
    Maybe this was a one off….but time will tell us if it was or not.

    Last season I “hated’ Dowd and Dean very much for the way they treated us. But as ref reviewers we have to get over this when we review a game and start with an empty memory. Memory that comes back and we can use after the review is done to reach some general conclusions.

    Dowd will never be an Arsenal fan and give us nothing. But his decisions were most of the time fine in this game and this is what we have to give him credit for.

    Some people commented and said that he could have screwed us with some of his decisions.
    Some people commented and said that the players were prepared for him and I agree with this. I had the impression that the players knew what to expect from Dowd (learned from last season) and that they did all they could to not get in to situations where he could harm us.

    Would he have harmed us if he had the chance? Looking at the Holt trying to get a penalty I had the impression that he wasn’t really out to get us this time.

    Time will tell what it was: a really strong performance of the ref and a completely different ref compared to last season, or Arsenal just been strong enough mentally and physically to not give Dowd any chance of harming us.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Maybe Wenger told his players to read my Newcastle-Arsenal review of last season and prepared the players for the ref with this ?? 😉

  • Paul Collins

    Walter – I think the players did a much better job of playing to the referee. That seems to be something that Football players have trouble with. In North America you are taught at a very young age to “know the umpire”, “learn the umpires tendencies” etc etc. Every umpire, referee (whatever you call them) is different. Some hate diving, some hate time-wasting, some hate this, some hate that. To know the tendencies of the referee gives one a huge advantage. So it is emphasized hugely from your early years and repeated ad nauseum.

    I rarely see such profesionalism and study with footballers, which is a pity as it could be of such a benefit. Dowd has certain tendencies, he is actually one of the refs who hates any form of retaliation, which is what led to Diaby getting sent off last year at Newcastle. He DOES play advantage and DOES book diving. He lets a lot of other stuff go though. He likes to be in charge and have his ego massaged. He does not like to have his authority challenged. Against Newcastle last year we failed miserably to deal with Dowd as a referee and it cost us. This time we seemed well aware of who was refereeing the game and what tendencies he had. TV seems a huge influence in that regard, on a couple of occasions he was chatting and laughing with Dowd. That is what you need to do. TV is just fantastic. He is the Captain, no matter who is wearing the silly armband.

  • WalterBroeckx


    some great remarks there. Maybe Arsenal is doing this now? Maybe with the influence of the Americans it is filtering through?
    I think you are right about those things that Dowd doesn’t like and those things you must avoid when you have him.

    I must say I kept an eye on Song. As he and Dowd did not get along last season. Sending off at Sunderland and in other games where Dowd was very strict for Song.
    Now with the hand shakes before the game Song was doing a prince charming with giving Dowd not just a handshake but also patting him with the left hand on the handshake as some kind of “hey you my old friend great to see you again”.
    Song also didn’t react when Dowd gave two fouls against him during the game (something Dowd hates).

  • Paul Collins

    Walter – and also Mertesacker could have chased Dowd all over the field after the goal complaining, but didnt. He accepted it and moved on. That is certainly something that Per brings. I criticise his pace and strength, but he is a calm and composed presence at the back and brings huge experience. That shows clearly.

    Great point about Song as well.

    Is it just a case of our team growing up? We are no longer a team of kids. TV, RvP, Per, Kos, Song, Arteta are all experienced pros. Even the likes of Theo and Aaron, though still young, have been around for years. We seem calmer, and more composed. I credit TV for that, but should probably give more credit to the TEAM as a whole for that. There no longer seems the chance we will implode.

  • bob

    Once more with feeling:
    What is your view of the Morrison/Mertesacker Affair and Rule 12’s application? Was it a non-called foul on Morrison or a legitimate goal by Morrison?

  • bob

    Tee Song, Shard,
    Yes – it was Dowd being Dowd – that has not changed, however wishfully-thinking others may be after a victory (this time)

    Paul Collins, Walter,
    Yes – the boys seem to be able to work Dowd as his ego may demand, and they may have been able to wrest from him enough of a margin of restraint to help us get by; but Dowd would have screwed us had that last free kick gone in. He did his part against Arsenal with that call; but Norwich didn’t do its part to drop the other foot and complete the task.

  • bob

    Granting that Mertesacker should have done better; the question still remains, was he fouled?

    Ref 03,
    Let me ask you: did Mertesacker try to grab Morrison’s attire before or after he was hooked from behind by Morrison?

  • davi

    The dive by Holt was no better than the one by lucas last year, and that was almost universally considered a correct penalty decision. There was no pressure for Dowd not to give that penalty, particularly considering it was at Carrow Road, I just think it was a good decision. I don’t think he was great overall, and as I said, I thought the Morrison goal should have been disallowed, but I didn’t think Dowd was biased in this game.
    I think last season the refs only started screwing us badly after the new year. This happened in the 07/08 season as well. Will be interesting to see if that happens again.

  • Paul Collins

    Bob – No, that last free-kick would NOT have been a case of Dowd screwing us. It was a marginal call, but those are given all the time.

    What would have screwed us had Norwich scored from that free-kick would have been our poor finishing. That is why the game was close.

    You cannot blame Dowd for the number of chances we missed.

  • Dan

    Perhaps there is a new highest bidder for the services of Dowd and Arsenal are no longer the number one target? Perhaps when our fantastic run continues for another 10 games we might see a change in attitude towards us again.
    I really can’t help thinking that the refs have been so much better overall in our games this season, is this just due to our bad start? Have we not been considered a threat so far? Time will tell.

  • Paul Collins

    Dan – Walter and I were discussing this earlier and we both feel that it is much more a case that our team just seems so much more mature and calm these days, compared to previous years. That maturity is obvious, and the referees wil be seeing it as well. In recent years we havent helped ourselves with petty complaining and reactions to decisions. Cesc and Nasri were often bad about that, but Song was also guilty of reacting poorly often.

    TV seems to be a very calming influence, as does Per Mertesacker. The whole side seems a bit more calm and that makes a huge difference. I know this site likes to talk about refereeing conspiracies, but I really havent seen anything in recent years to suggest we get it worse than anyone else. I think we have been our own worst enemy at times in recent years. We have been petulant and petty and annoying at times, and I imagine that we were probably not among the referees union favorite teams.

    On Saturday I actually got the impression Dowd ENJOYED refereeing our game. He seemed to have a back-and-forth (in a good way) with a few of our players (especially TV). That makes such a difference.

  • walter

    A strange thing I noticed was the fact that the 4th ref didn’t had a headset on during the game. Most of the time the 4th refs are wearing this during the game…

  • bob

    Paul Collins,
    If you haven’t seen anything tilted or untoward from Refs vis a vis Arsenal in the last few YEARS (did I get that right?), then I have to seriously ask us both to truthfully answer which planet from the sun (no, not The Sun) do we each inhabit?

  • Paul Collins

    Bob – I have seen some poor refereeing decisions and some poor performances by referees, but if you go onto EVERY single clubs fansites you will see the exactly the same type of stuff from fans. “Refs have bias against us”, “Refs screw us” etc etc. Every set of fans think refs have an agenda against them. Like I said, I have seen nothing to suggest there is any kind of organized bias by refs (and on that front I completely disagree with this websites view) but rather general incompentence by referees on a recurring basis.

    Like I said, I also think we have been our own worst enemies on many occasions. I think Cesc had a very poor reputation among refs, and as our captain, I think his influence rubbed off on the rest of the players (like Utd when Keane was Captain and for a short time they took to chasing refs and being aggresive towards them – until Fergie stamped that crap out). I think on many occasions we were a moaning and complaining team in recent years, and refs HATE that.

    I used to referee Rugby, and there was nothing that I hated more than moaning and crying about decisions. I tried not to allow it, but looking back I can see it DID affect my decisions on many, many occasions. 50/50 decisions went AGAINST the team moaning etc. Incidents were I might have let something slip turned into harsh punishments etc. Refs are human. It happens.

    This year the team is more experienced and it shows in our relationship with referees.TV and Per are huge influences, but Song seems calmer and there is no comparison between Wilshire and Arteta when it comes to petulant looks and complaints (as much as I love Jack he can learn a lot from Arteta).

    Besides, no set of fans thinks there is a refereeing bias against them more than Utd fans, and Fergie as well. Now, as Arsenal fans, do we really think there is refereeing bias against Utd? You shouldnt need to answer that question. So imagine what other fans think about Arsenal fans complaints, especially after seeing Cesc and Nasri moan and complain all game long and after seeing our defense collapse yet again to drop points? What do you think they think when Arsenal fans then start with “refereeing conspiracy!!!!”

  • @PaulCollins – I don’t think you’ve done your research… most other clubs fans moan about the referee not having a conspiracy against them per say – but rather giving decisions in favour of the ‘big clubs’ – this is part and parcel of being a fan of a non ‘big club’ – and to some extent I agree with them as referee/club bias seems to centre around the money clubs.

    Contemporary Manchester United fans are a truly deluded bunch who seem to expect every decision to go in their favour… but that is not to say that they are not robbed on occasion – I recall Dean giving them a rough time against Spurs and Atkinson mugging them blind against Chelsea. SAF is particularly vocal when he doesn’t get the referee appointment that suits him and the fan base/sympathetic media respond accordingly.

    Arsenal in the past have seen a fairly easy time from referee’s – but that time has passed and that has become a legitimate concern for the supporters – I would ask you to respect that and the research we are doing here rather than attempting to belittle it.

  • Paul Collins

    Dogface – so Utd fans are deluded for having complaints but Arsenal fans have legitimate gripes? Come on, get real.

    And “respect the research we are doing here”? It is Arsenal fans conducting referees assessments. That is hardly what I would call unbiased scientific research. There have been many occasions when I have disagreed with the referees reviews here, based on my own view of the game. But that is fine. It is all opinion. That is what these sites are for. You can’t start to think that the opinion of Walter or any of the other reviewers is any more scientific than the opinion of any “deluded” Utd fan. It is all just opinions by fans. It is fun, it is crazy, it is stupid. That is what we all sign up for when we become football fans.

    I am not belittling the refs reviews at all. I think they are great. I think Walter has done a fabulous job of organizing it and keeping it going for over a year now. I think it brings up some fantastic talking points and brings up some great interpretations of the laws of the game that sometimes we fans forget. I think it adds immensely to the quality of this blog. I dont know why you would think I have, in any way, “belittled” the work he and his fellow refs have been doing. As a former referee myself I appreciate it immensely.

    But that doesnt mean I have to agree with it all does it? Or go along with this “Arsenal are victimized” idea, does it?

    You can’t say other sets of fans are “deluded” and then say “Arsenal fans have legitimate concerns” without appearing slightly ridiculous. But that is fine. We are all ridiculous in our support. For years my father and I followed the exact same half-time toilet routine on the North Bank in the ridiculous belief that it would affect the game. Thousands of other fans have similar stories. We are ridiculous.

  • I only ask once Paul… and if you have no other argument than ‘I reckon’ then you should keep it to yourself – it is fine to disagree but to repeatedly state that something is ricidulous simply because ‘you say so’ is not going to win you much in the way of respect on these pages. Do your research and prove us wrong… go on – otherwise just say you don’t agree but please accept the fact that you have no other evidence than your hunch or the anecdotal smatterings from other fans.

    please read

  • Paul Collins

    Dogface – What evidence do you have that YOU are right? It is your opinion, just as it is mine. I am freely admitting that we are all ridiculous as fans, including myself. What evidence has been presented on this blog besides the “hunch” of Walter and the other contributors to the ref reviews? We all see the game as we want to.

    You are making your view known – i.e. that refs have an agenda against Arsenal – and yet when someone else makes their opinion known you say “keep it to yourself” or “prove it”? There is no “proof” either way. Walter and the other ref reviewers base their views on their years watching the game. I base my views on my years watching the game.

    Relax, have fun, exchange ideas. It is all just our opinions as crazed fans. We all base our opinions on “hunches” and “anecdotal smatterings from fans” (that is exactly what these refs reviews are after all).

    Besides, a statement like “I have seen nothing, in all my years as a football supporter, to support the idea that there is any kind of refereeing consipracy against Arsenal” does not need proof to back it up anyway. It is actually the alternative argument, that there IS a refereeing conspiracy against Arsenal, that needs proof.

  • @PaulCollins – I take it that you didn’t read the link I posted… shame.

  • Paul Collins

    DogFace – I hadnt read it, apologies. I didnt see the link. I just finished reading it. There is no proof there of any organized conspiracy. There is simply statistical analysis showing that Liverpool and Arsenal have, in recent seasons, appeared, by purely statistical analysis, to have gotten on average more fouls, bookings etc and gotten less points per game when certain referees are in play than Chelsea and Utd. Of course one also has to admit that Utd and Chelsea have been far better than Arsenal in those years.

    I find it hard to see how you make any concrete assessments of “proof” based on that statistical analysis. One could also say that such analysis simply shows that the big clubs seem to be treated better than smaller clubs, but once again there is no proof of that and could simply reflect the fact that the bigger clubs have far better players, maintain possesion better (thereby conceding fewer fouls), dominate pressure in games (leading to bookings etc), and score more goals (leading to wins and points per game).

    Statistical analysis shows trends very well, but the interpretation of statistics has always been controversial. As they say, 5 different people could come up with 5 different interpretations of what those statistics are saying.

    It was great work however, big time kudos, even if it did nothing at all to alter my own opinion. Nice try, but I still wouldnt consider that to be “proof” of anything other than the fact that you put in a huge amount of work to present some fantastic statistics and trends for people to mull over. It adds to the debate, but doesnt prove anything.

  • Paul – it shows a statistical significance that proves that it is more likely than not that bias exists among referees… this would seem to tick the ‘unbiased scientific research’ box you claimed earlier that we didn’t have?

    We have no photo’s of brown paper envelopes being passed (or whatever it is you think we should gather before we even consider the possibility of corruption) yet we have statistically proved that bias among referee’s is more likely than not…

    Your counter argument is based either on denial or an agenda that our work should be treated as something to ‘mull over’ and held in equal weight with what you reckon off the top of your head – or, indeed, to contrast and compare with the pundits on Match of the Day?

    Am I correct? And is it also correct that you find any other research we do to investigate this statistical significance to be a [to paraphrase] ‘bit of a waste of time’ because you don’t agree with it and/or understand it?

  • It seems some people see this as an either/or type thing. It isn’t. There’s quite clearly a bias either against certain teams or for certain teams (it isn’t clear which) but there is no hard and fast evidence that provides a reason for a bias to exist.

  • bob

    Paul Collins,
    You are the re-incarnation of a former indefatigable poster hereabouts named Dark Prince. The same old tired and content-free arguments that simply asserts that your data-free claim of ref incompetence needs no proof, whereas the data-backed claim (with the methodology linked to!) of a strong possibility (to date) of some kind of ref bias “needs proof” Why one and not the other? Because you say so. I’d say you were a coincidence theorist if you advanced a theory; so I’ll just leave it as you are a true believer in coincidence which allows us all to remain fans having “fun, …crazy…stupid.” Your world: “That is what we all sign up for when we become football fans.” Sorry, but for a fair number of we football fans, that is NOT “all” that we sign up for.

  • Shard

    Paul Collins

    Same old same old. All fans feel their club has been wronged, ergo no one is correct and all clubs are treated fairly, or at least as fairly as the vagaries of this fun, stupid, crazy, ridiculous life will allow.

    So if Arsenal get bad decisions against them, it is because we were reacting poorly, and our captain had a bad reputation among refs. (The factors, and biases, that go into making a reputation must also be considered) If Arsenal players have suffered more broken legs in a shorter space of time than any other club, it is because we are too soft, or our style of play which is the underlying cause. If it is ok to call Wenger all sorts of names, it is only because Wenger doesn’t endear himself and share a glass of wine with the other managers like any traditional British manager would. What does all of that get us? A world where it is incumbent on the ‘victim’ to adjust to the demands of the ‘perpetrator’?

    I can live with there being biases, as part of the human element in the game. I think Arsenal had that bias both against them, and for them, in seasons in the not recent past. The big club/player bias is one we benefit from and it happens across all sports that I see where CLOSE calls are made in favour of the big team. In a sense, it can be seen as a right that has to be earned (Like Shaq did in the NBA)

    I for one couldn’t care less if it is corruption or ineptitude that is ruining the game. I pay my money, I invest my time and emotion to watch a sport played between two teams. Anytime the referees start deciding the outcome of matches on as regular a basis as now, it ceases to be a sport. So I don’t care whether Dowd gets some extra cash, is just an egomaniac, or is just fat and poorly trained or motivated to get it right. What I see on the field is that Arsenal over the past few years have been the victim of ridiculous and costly decisions. This is not to say other clubs don’t suffer it, maybe more so than Arsenal. But I have noted a pattern to these decisions often favouring a certain team (whose fans’ standards of ref bias are completely different because they have been spoilt), in the coverage of these decisions on Sky and in the media, and the fact that there is so much money floating around football and so little accountability makes the idea of corruption probable, not just possible.

    I share your mistrust of statistics. The problem I find with them is that they cannot quantify everything. Thus they cannot account for everything. Just like the league table. It is just a statistic, and it does lie occasionally. More so in recent seasons.

  • Shard


    I just want to put it out there that in my observation, last season’s ‘fix’ was abnormal. Usually in the 2 or 3 years before that, the ‘strange’ ref decisions started later into the season, towards the end (again following a pattern). Last season they started virtually from the time the season kicked off. In my opinion ManU was a poor team and it might have been to ensure they stay in the mix come the business end. That last bit is just an attempt at rationalisation of my observations (despite the best attempts of Sky to hide or distort those observations)

    So even if the referees are playing it fair, or being at least less blatant about it, I would still remain vigilant.

  • Shard


    “The dive by Holt was no better than the one by lucas last year, and that was almost universally considered a correct penalty decision. There was no pressure for Dowd not to give that penalty”

    The dive by Holt was no better than Lucas’ is exactly my point. The situations might be similar but the dive was poorly executed by Holt. One difference was that in the Liverpool match the ball had been cleared and was bouncing away with the two players chasing after it when Lucas jumped sideways into Eboue. In this case, Holt had touched it and the ball was on the floor which made Holt’s decision to barge into Mertesacker rather than chase the ball even more apparent.

    I’ve been trying to find videos of both incidents but I can’t find the Holt dive except on Arsenal player where I looked at it again.

    Also, I think you are wrong about Lucas’ dive being almost universally considered a penalty. In fact even the Sky(?) commentator said he’d dived then (which is a rarity in itself) Plus, Dowd most certainly would not want to be noticed for his performance again after Newcastle last season and as such there is pressure on him to not be as blatant about it.

  • Anne

    @Paul Collins:

    Throwing all of my usual professionalism and courtesy aside, I just have to say this:

    You are a t***. Please shut up.

    And to any other Untold readers and/or innocent bystanders that may have been offended by the above, please allow me to apologize in advance for my regrettable loss of temper on this occasion. I generally appreciate all comments, and I assure you that it won’t happen again 🙂

  • Anne

    Maybe I’m lucky that most people have stopped checking this thread 🙂

  • Anne

    Ok, damn. I’m already REALLY wishing that I hadn’t said that. Sorry everyone. Sorry Paul 🙂

  • bjtgooner


    I didn’t know that “twit” was a bad word!

    @ Paul

    You do seem rather inconsistent with your comments!

  • Anne


    I actually hadn’t read your comment before I posted the above, but now that I’ve read it, it’s kind of funny… Why, you ask? This is why.

    In my entire time as an Untold commenter, there has been only one other occasion where I lost my temper and insulted someone in response to a comment…. And the commenter on that occasion was Dark Prince 🙂 I hadn’t thought about it, but maybe there’s a pattern in terms of the type of comment that causes me to lose my temper….

    But anyway, if the past is any indication, I can now look forward to apologizing to Paul Collins somewhere around 150 times in the future (which, if I’m recalling correctly, is the approximate number of times that I apologized to Dark Prince after leaving a similar comment to him 🙂 ). In fact, I’ll go ahead and start now.

    @Paul Collins:

    I’m really, really sorry for what I said. I lost my temper and didn’t really mean it.

    So, that makes two… Sigh. Only 148 to go 🙂

  • Anne


    Yes, twit is what I meant to say. (Dammit, why didn’t I think of that? 🙂 )

  • bob

    Could it be that…I mean…the selfsame…hmmm…baaaaack?