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July 2021

Untold Ref Review: Arsenal 3 – 0 Aston Villa

Today’s referee is Phil Dowd –

MATCH REVIEW DETAILS – Phil Dowd (2012-03-24)
Period 1
Min Type Foul from On C/NC Comment Weight
1 OTHER Heskey Djourou N/C Heskeys timing was so far out,he was so under the ball,only one outcome,Djourou got clattered 1
1 YELLOW Heskey C I felt at the time it was at least a yellow, but having looked at it many times,I am going with the Ref and it was just an unfortunate accident,lets face it, Big Emile is, well, BIG!! 1
5 OFFSIDE Ireland C 1
10 OTHER Heskey Djourou C 1
14 OTHER Petrov Arteta C 1
14 YELLOW Petrov C He jumped in recklessly 2
15 GOAL Gibbs C was it an own goal? 3
17 OTHER Vermealen Collins C Assumed correct 1
20 OTHER Heskey Djourou C 1
23 OTHER Albrighton Gervinhio C 1
24 GOAL Walcott C Great finishfrom a great pass 4
29 OFFSIDE Van Persie C Assumed correct 1
40 OTHER Agbonlahor Djourou C Have they targeted Johan?? 1
43 OTHER Ireland Sagna C 1
44 OTHER RVP Herd C 1
Period 2
Min Type Foul from On C/NC Comment Weight
48 OFFSIDE Agbonlahor C Just, only just 1
48 OTHER Gervinho Hutton C 1
49 OTHER Rosicky C He crossed and appealed for a corner,looked like a good shout, but replay was inconclusive,so I am going with Ref 1
51 OTHER Warnock Walcott C 1
52 OTHER Gardener Rosicky C 1
55 OFFSIDE Ireland C 1
64 OTHER Rosicky Villa? C 1
65 OTHER C Good advantage played by the Ref after a push by Theo 1
65 OTHER Walcott Villa? C And he calls it back after no advantage gained, good Reffing 1
68 OFFSIDE Walcott C Assumed correct 1
69 OTHER Ireland Song C 1
69 YELLOW Ireland C A heavy touch, then jumps at the ball. “”his first touch is so bad,his second is a tackle”” 2
71 OTHER Ireland Walcott C 1
81 OTHER Song Weimann C 1
82 PENALTY C The crowd,the player and Arsene Wenger were convinced it was a penalty, Dowd is having a good game and he alone gets it right, a good day at the office me thinks. 3
88 OTHER Collins Arteta C 1
88 YELLOW Collins C 1
89 OTHER Song Albrighton C 1
90 OTHER Santos N/C He collects a crossfield pass from the ox, but clearly takes it on his arm, missed by the Ref 1
91 OTHER Lichaj Song C I thought the Ref was going to play on, but Song being in some pain changed his mind and he gave the foul 1
91 YELLOW Lichaj C correct card 2
91 GOAL Arteta C Must be the small feet 3

Phil Dowd was everything you want from a Ref, he was calm, authorative and assured. He got all the big calls right, and the huge majority of the others too.

Two points of contention, foul of JD in the first minute. It was almost sad to see one of the Lions of Munich lumbering around the pitch, he was awful, he fell down twice a  la Terry, with no one around him. Please Emile retire soon, Dowd was well positioned for the challenge, but probably could not see the impact, as the lump that is Emile Heshey probably blocked out the view, the stadium and the sun as well. I will go with Dowds judgement call, that it was just a coming together.

The other incident was the Ox penalty shout. All I have to say is “Good shout Ref” a great decision.

COMPETENCY SUMMARY – Phil Dowd (2012-03-24)
Period 1 Called Total Correct %
GOAL 2 2 100.00
OFFSIDE 2 2 100.00
OTHER 8 9 88.89
YELLOW 2 2 100.00
TOTAL 14 15 93.33
WEIGHTED 20 21 95.24
Period 2 Called Total Correct %
GOAL 1 1 100.00
OFFSIDE 3 3 100.00
OTHER 13 14 92.86
PENALTY 1 1 100.00
YELLOW 3 3 100.00
TOTAL 21 22 95.45
WEIGHTED 28 29 96.55
Totals Called Total Correct %
GOAL 3 3 100.00
OFFSIDE 5 5 100.00
OTHER 21 23 91.30
PENALTY 1 1 100.00
YELLOW 5 5 100.00
TOTAL 35 37 94.59
WEIGHTED 48 50 96.00

Phil Dowd put in the best performance by a Ref I have seen all season, and I hope to see many more just like this.

BIAS SUMMARY – Phil Dowd (2012-03-24)
Period 1 Arsenal % Aston Villa % Total
Correct For 10 66.67 5 33.33 15
Correct For Weighted 15 75.00 5 25.00 20
Incorrect Against 1 100.00 0 0.00 1
Incorrect Against Weighted 1 100.00 0 0.00 1
Fouls Commited 2 22.22 7 77.78 9
Fouls Penalised 2 100.00 6 85.71 8
Period 2 Arsenal % Aston Villa % Total
Correct For 12 57.14 9 42.86 21
Correct For Weighted 16 59.26 11 40.74 27
Incorrect Against 0 0.00 1 100.00 1
Incorrect Against Weighted 0 0.00 1 100.00 1
Fouls Commited 6 54.55 5 45.45 11
Fouls Penalised 6 100.00 5 100.00 11
Totals Arsenal % Aston Villa % Total
Correct For 22 61.11 14 38.89 36
Correct For Weighted 31 65.96 16 34.04 47
Incorrect Against 1 50.00 1 50.00 2
Incorrect Against Weighted 1 50.00 1 50.00 2
Fouls Commited 8 40.00 12 60.00 20
Fouls Penalised 8 100.00 11 91.67 19

At half time I said to my brother who was with me at the Emirates : so far he sure is not out to screw us over. And this review confirms my feeling.

I liked the fact that the first late tackle from Petrov he took his cards out immediately.  He also tried to tell Given not to overdo the time wasting (not that it really helped a lot) but I think the keeper was instructed to waste time whatever the score line was and when they were 2-0 down I think Dowd just accepted Villa not wanting to get spanked totally.

His cards were all spot on and the word with Ireland when he could have had a second yellow was also acceptable as he had complete control of the game at that moment.

Another Untold moment for me was the extra time. Dowd saw the foul on Song  but waited for any advantage. And in this case he gave a perfect example of what advantage really is. Advantage is not the same as keeping possession.  Arsenal kept possession but gained no advantage and when he saw this he called the foul and certainly because Song was hurt by the stupid and rash tackle at a time that the game was almost done. Scoring from that free kick was the perfect example on how to play advantage by given the free kick.

I have said it before: Dowd can be a great ref.  He has done some great games this season and this was another example. And look at the wrong calls. Only 2 and 1 against each team.  One of the lowest numbers.

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Ref Reviews: Arsenal v Aston Villa.  Phil Dowd gives a master class;

33 comments to Untold Ref Review: Arsenal 3 – 0 Aston Villa

  • WalterBroeckx

    Sorry for the delay. Our ref reviewer did his job very fast. But because of unforeseen circumstances (I do have to work a bit at times and had to go to two conferences this week) so I didn’t had the time and opportunity to get it on line earlier.

    We should get a sponsor in who would pay us to do this as a full time job 😉

  • I must also hold my hand up for not doing my bit as fast as I could.

    But sod all that – look at Dowd’s numbers, AMAZING! Keep it up Big Phil!

  • WalterBroeckx

    “I have said it before: Dowd can be a great ref.”

    And this is saying it all in fact. So when he did something like he did last season at Newcastle it cannot be written off with things like: he just is not good enough…

    So what he was up to that day… nobody will know unless he comes out with it himself.

    Anyway more of that I would say. and I mean more performances likes this in the game against Villa.

  • Mahdain

    really great game from Dowd which proves he is really good when he wants..lets just hope he continues to want it like that 😛

  • Gf60

    And there I was thinking that age was catching up when saying that I thought Dowd had a masterful performance. Phew…so did we all. So we’re not that biased.

  • Do Dowd read the articles about him in Untold and wants to end the season with a good score 😛

  • Gord

    Anyone want to read where Vieira says that ManU get preferential treatment from referees?

    My interpretation, is that he says all referees tend to preferentially treat the clubs that win historically win a lot when they play at home.

  • Gord

    Perhaps old trivia.

    15266 Stoke versus ManU, goal at 52 minutes. Weighting is 2, not 3.

  • He might have great scores on the day, but he was dead wrong on that Ox, penalty shout. Tackle was from behind, taking Ox’s legs from under him.

    I’m sure you’d have thought otherwise had we not won so comfortably.

  • RedGooner

    Nice to see Dowd turn things around a bit. Its gonna take a few more good performances though to banish the memories stuckin my head.

  • RedGooner

    Gord ,I dont agree with Vierra it happens but when you look at Annes report on Barcelona the game needs to be cleaned up no more nonsense.
    Whats going on is wrong.

  • Gord

    WRT Heskey – Djourou collision at 1 minute

    As is usual with me, I have not seen the incident. I am commenting based on comments I have read. Heskey is taller than I am, but we are similar players in that we are very strong. He is easily more skilled than I am.

    I am going to disgree that Heskey should not receive a yellow. The person who best knows that Heskey is big, is Heskey. If he approaches a situation (collision) in the wrong way, he knows that he can easily hurt someone, even severely. Does Heskey get an “Aw shucks, it was just an accident” if he breaks Djourou’s cheekbone or eye socket? What if Heskey falls into a player and ruptures one or both of the cruciate ligaments (knee) of the player he falls into?

    If Heskey gets an excuse for being big, who else gets excuses? The real small players?

    If Heskey had a reasonable expectation of causing damage in that collision, he deserve a yellow.

  • Anne

    Well, I guess I stand corrected on the Ox penalty shout. It’s a good situation in which to be wrong, I suppose 🙂

  • Anne

    And I really do hope that Dowd continues his present “rebirth” as the best ref in the EPL… Come on, Phil, I know you have it in you 🙂

  • Kentetsu

    Could the high score have anything to do with the fact that it was a Saturday 3pm kick-off and therefor not televised in Britain?

    As recently pointed out on the Arsenal website (, Arsenal have not lost a non-televised match in over 18 months. Where I can at least understand losses in televised high profile matches happen – such as against United, Spurs, Chelsea, etc. – it is too much of a coincidence that we have lost televised matches against the like of Blackburn, Swansea, West Brom, when we have no problem dealing with them as long as it’s not live on TV (in the UK).

  • Damien Luu

    I think all of the “evils” that we hate so much (Webb, Dean, Dowd and co.) can be really good if they want to. It proves that when they did it badly, it’s not their abilities are limited, it’s something else.

  • Damien Luu

    @Kentetsu: Interesting. Maybe they just want to shoo the fans away from Arsenal by making Arse to lose as many TVed games as they can?

  • Anne


    I as well think that this Saturday 3 PM anomaly is quite interesting, and glad that you drew attention to it again.

    Que crees, perrito? 🙂

  • novicegooner

    on Chamberlain incident
    I think somewhere else, Phil Gregory had mentioned that it wasn’t a penalty because the degree of the tackle is not dangerous/reckless. and on TV replays, Ireland touched the ball first.

    At first, I thought it was a penalty too.

  • Kentetsu

    An overview of the lost matches (EPL only) in the 2010-11 season and 2011-12 season (up to 29 March):

    Sat 25 Sep 15:00 WBA (H) 2-3
    Sun 03 Oct 16:00 Chelsea (A) 0-2
    Sun 07 Nov 13:30 Newcastle (H) 0-1
    Sun 20 Nov 12:45 Tottenham (H) 2-3
    Mon 13 Dec 20:00 Man Utd (A) 0-1
    Sun 24 Apr 16:00 Bolton (A) 1-2
    Sun 08 May 14:05 Stoke (A) 1-3
    Sun 15 May 16:00 Villa (H) 1-2

    Sat 20 Aug 12:45 Liverpool (H) 0-2
    Sun 28 Aug 16:00 Man Utd (A) 2-8
    Sat 17 Sep 12:45 Blackburn (A) 3-4
    Sun 02 Oct 16:00 Tottenham (A) 1-2
    Sun 18 Dec 16:10 Man City (A) 0-1
    Mon 02 Jan 17:30 Fulham (A) 1-2
    Sun 15 Jan 16:00 Swansea (A) 2-3
    Sun 22 Jan 16:00 Man Utd (H) 1-2

    (Formatting is probably messed up, but don’t know how to get that all properly alligned; bear with me).

    The first match on the list, against West Brom, is the last time Arsenal lost a match that kicked off 3pm on a Saturday. All the other matches were televised.

    Interesting to note is that:
    – almost all matches are on Sunday
    – the majority of the matches have a kick-off time after 3pm
    – in 2010-11 we lost as many at home as away (4 each); this season the balance is 2 losses at home, 6 away.

    Against top teams (Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool) you can fairly expect to lose matches at times, due to the opposition just being tougher. I think that almost all, if indeed not all, of the matches against the top teams are televised. The fact that not all five teams are listed twice for each season (still to play Chelsea and City a second time this season) indicates that we manage to avoid defeat against top teams in televised matches as well.

    Therefor, I think it is more interesting to look into the losses against the weaker teams. How did we get to lose against Newcastle, Bolton, Stoke, Villa, Blackburn, Fulham and Swansea? And is it a coincidence that these losses happened while the match was televised?

    A first step would be to look into the ref performances for these matches. I do not have direct easy access to the ref reviews, but at least on a number of occassions the ref managed to get a very high score. I believe Walter has reiterated a couple of times that some of the highest scores for the ref were in matches which Arsenal lost.

    Another cause could be that the team just didn’t show up on the occassion. I generally don’t remember specific performances beyond a day after the match (assuming I got to watch it in the first place), but at least at times the team seemed very uninspired.

    Perhaps there are other reasons. Maybe the players are particularly hindered by the low position of the sun on a late kick-off? Or they feel the pressure of millions of viewers?

    Anyway, it is remarkable that in 18 months no non-televised matches have been lost, while in the same period we have lost 15 televised matches.

  • Hang on – stop the press – I’ve been banging on and on about the 3pm kickoff and market exposure of sky games in my RefWatch articles for yonks – and do you listen?

    …well – maybe the Arsenal website does.

    *hey ho*

  • Mahdain

    @dogface yeah you have been harping about timings for a while but i think people have been caught up in the awesomeness of the refwatches to notice… Perhaps a separate article?

  • jaroda

    Out of 30 games played in EPL 2011-12, Arsenal have played 8 games at 3pm on Saturday.
    Swan H
    Bol H
    WBA H
    Wig A
    Ever H
    QPR H
    Sun A
    AV H

    So it seems Arseanl only play about 25% of their games on a Saturday at 3pm because we are a marquee team who everyone wants to see play and therefore we avoid this KO time. Consequently the teams we play at 3pm on Saturday arer the less talented members of the league and therefore our chances of avoiding defeat are pretty high. Also 6 out of the 8 are at home so a win is far more likely.
    I don’t think you can read too much into the ‘undefeated at 3.00pm’ arguement.

  • Kentetsu

    Indeed, DogFace, you have on many occassion – almost weekly – pointed out the market exposure of a non-traditional kick-off time. If we make the assumption that market exposure equals a ref tilting the game, then in some cases the ref review clearly indicates that Arsenal were cheated out of points, but in some cases the ref still managed to get a good score while Arsenal lost. Do you have a sensible explanation for that in relation to market exposure?

  • Odhis KenyanGunner

    From where i stand (not anywhere near the Emirates, let alone inside it, just to clarify), Emile Heskey knew what he was doing. I picked the replays clean. He took Djourou out. For me, a red card even.

  • Kentetsu

    Hmmm, in moderation. Using a different computer and forgot which email address I used before… Ah well, it’s still the same Kentetsu, although I do like the usual pic better than this one.

  • Gord


    If one looks at the laws of the game, the only player-player contact that is allowed is shoulder to shoulder when the ball is within playing distance. Everything else is a foul. There is no consideration as to “he got to the ball first”. If you get the ball first, and then make contact with the player, it is a foul. The only objects on the field that are allowed to trip a player are the ball, and the referee.

    The above resembles what is observed in very few leagues (I will guess zero). Hence, anything outside of the above is a “local” variance to try and make the game flow better.

    I think it might be useful to players and referees, if there was a policy of being pedantic (sometimes pronounced “pain in the ass”) for some games. The referee meets the 2 captains, and announces that this game will be pedantic. Everything will be called.

    If this sort of thing happened from U-8 on (more often for U-8, than U-10, and so on) if would probably help players to actually know how to play the game properly.

    When it comes to EPL or CL, it’s too late. Different leagues and officials have different mis-interpretations of the laws.

  • Reviewer 02

    We pride ourselves on differentiating between fact and opinion on this blog, so here are the facts.

    Law 12
    A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any
    of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be
    careless, reckless or using excessive force:
    • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
    • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
    • jumps at an opponent
    • charges an opponent
    • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
    • pushes an opponent
    • tackles an opponent

    A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any
    of the following three offences:
    • holds an opponent
    • spits at an opponent
    • handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own
    penalty area)

    Could you please highlight where your definition of contact or non contact is found within the above.

    The awarding of a foul in a match is a matter of interpretation of the above, by the Referee of any given situation. So when reviewing games, my thought process is, was the Referee entitled to reach that conclusion, if it is yes, then in the vast majority of instances, I go with him. It is only on occasions of perceived error that I go against him.

  • novicegooner

    @ Gord and Reviewer 02

    Thank you for the response. Apparently, I couldn’t not deliver my message as clear as I wanted to. In my previous post, I meant to emphasize on the ‘not reckless/dangerous’ part, rather than the ‘Ireland touched the ball first’.

    Before that incident, I’ve always thought that a tackle that brings down an opponent even if the tackler gets the ball first will always result in a foul. But then I found Phil Gregory post and realized that it isn’t the case.

    A tackle which is considered a foul is one that uses excessive force/reckless/dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether the tackler gets the ball first or not, or whether he brings down an opponent or not, or whether it’s one or two footed. As long as it’s reckless, it’s a foul.

    It reminds me of Kompany’s tackle on Nani that resulted in a red card. At first I thought it was a great tackle, but then after seeing his body movement, I’m sure that he was using excessive force, and that’s why it was a foul. I actually prefer a yellow though, rather than a red.

    I think this problem arises because the ref is given rooms to interpret the laws according the situation of a given match.

  • Gord


    Thank you for getting me to reread the laws. It’s been a while.

    It is possible for someone who is noticeably stronger than the average person to carelessly approach a collision, and in so doing commit a foul. Which is apparently what you and the referee decided upon.

    The person who is noticeably stronger, is always at hazard of using excessive force. If they trip themselves in some way, the reaction of moving to regain balance will be done with more force than the average person can generate. If that force impacts another player in the course of regaining balance, injury could result. Regaining one’s balance is a learned reflex, there need not be any intent to injure. But the presence of “excessive strength” is what generates the “excessive force”. But that is a red card, and not what anyone was suggesting.

    Which leaves reckless. Can a person who is noticeably stronger than the average person, accidentally foul someone in a reckless manner? If a person trips themself, they will likely act in a manner which only considers how their body is traveling in the fall to the ground. They are likely not thinking about the locations of any other players while continuing to fall.

    Reckless – marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences.

    The not thinking part can work with disregard, the problem is the situation lacks defiance.

    Which seems to me to suggest that the situation can either be one of no card (which is what the referee did, and you agreed with) or a red card, but not a yellow card, as there is (seemingly) no opportunity for defiance in that situation.

    But it does mean that people like Heskey are always in danger of being dismissed just because they are so strong.

  • Arvind

    That’s a very interesting summary Gord.

    Do you however think that reflexes can be mastered at the speed needed? As in, lets assume Heskey was simply protecting himself, trying to regain balance in this case. But…waving elbows obviously can be a problem for a CB. And Heskey or anyone know this.

    So my question is..Is it possible for the “offender” and I use that loosely.. to master his own reactions, so that he protects himself as well as causes no harm to the attacker.

    In slower cases, its easier, like a defender making a slide tackle with his furthest leg. But what about front on tackles, scissor tackles, long ball head jumps and in short anything where reaction time is very very low?

    What do you think?

  • Gord


    As I said above, I haven’t seen the incident, just people’s comments and descriptions.

    I suspect it is possible to learn how to react so as to minimize causing damage to other. I think many of the martial arts (such as Judo) spend a lot of time teaching people how to fall.

    It is possible that some coaches teach players how to fall, but it is probably a minority.

    Personally, I would have avoided breaking my wrist if I knew how to fall properly. But, in writing that up, I can see a few instances back when I was playing soccer where I probably should have been dismissed. There were some circumstances where I went into situations with up to twice the strength of my opponent. I never had malice or intent in any of this incidents, because at that time I was still doing athletic first aid as well, and I spent entirely too much time patching players up and teaching them how to rehab injuries.

  • Gord


    Old point, unrelated. Tottenham 2 – Arsenal 1 (15360). Foul by Defoe at 46 minutes. According to the BBC play by play, Defoe was called for handball.