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August 2021

Penalties: comparing MU and Arsenal

Untold Arsenal

See us on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

By Walter Broeckx

With United players falling down like apples from an apple tree in the harvest season and most of all refs very willingly to blow the penalties even before the players hit the ground I thought it would be interesting to have a closer look at the penalty statistics and compare the ones between Arsenal and Manchester United.

So first of all I thought I would take the numbers starting from the 1999/2000 season and compare both teams until the current season. And then I get these totals:






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Total average/season





So at first sight there is not much between both teams if we take a look at the last 13 seasons. Manchester United has only got 1 penalty more than Arsenal.

In a way one could say this is almost a normal number. Both teams have been at the top in that period and so it is rather normal that both teams get the same amount of penalties. Because when you attack a lot you are more in the other teams penalty area and so the chance of them committing a foul is bigger and so you should get the same number of penalties.

So what are we moaning?

Well we could moan about the penalties we got against us. Refs have given about 50% more penalties for the teams playing against Arsenal than they did for teams playing against United. But one penalty more against us on average in each season; we sure must be able to overcome this.

So will we join the media and declare all is right and well and there is nothing to see, move on, move on, don’t block the road? Well this is Untold – the place where we try to look behind the headlines, behind the numbers, behind the rubbish bin, and behind the locked door.

Which is what we will do here.

I was curious about whether we could find some point in history when something has changed. And I wondered…. What has happened with the penalties since Mike Riley became head of the PGMOL? Is there anything to see?

So I took the 10 seasons I have covered before Mike Riley became the head of the “probably best referees in the world” gang.   And in those 10 years we have these numbers:








TOTAL 10 season MU












And look at that. In those 10 pre-Riley years Arsenal had on average even 1 penalty more than United. So what are we complaining about?

By the way I like the number 49 penalties for Arsenal to be honest. The only negative thing is that we did tend to get more penalties against us compared to United. But well not that much to talk about. So no reason to moan or to complain. And then I  took the numbers in the Riley years and this is what I found:














3 seasons
Average/season Riley





And now we are starting to see some strange patterns. Because suddenly United has doubled the penalties in their favour. Before Riley they got 4 penalties on average and now they have 8 in their favour and for this season we are still counting them (11 for the moment or has Young fallen again since I started writing this?)  and the way they are been given it could still rise a bit. But we must admit that they also have doubled the penalties going against them. So does it even out?

But remember in the 10 seasons before Riley the penalty record for Arsenal and Manchester United was almost the same. So in the Riley years does it still is the same for Arsenal and Manchester United?

Manchester United penalties have doubled and well the numbers for Arsenal have gone down. We surely didn’t keep up with the pace set by Manchester United and doubled our tally. Au contraire, my friends we got fewer penalties since Riley is…instructing the refs.

And if we look at the penalties against us we see an even more strange thing. Yes the penalties given against United have doubled. But for us it has multiplied by 3.

So for 10 years the numbers have been almost the same between United and Arsenal. And suddenly United doubles their numbers in their favour and ours  go down. And when we look at the penalties against we also suddenly get a rather high number of decisions against us.

And all this since a certain Mike Riley became head of the referees. And if I remember right wasn’t Mike Riley the record holder in giving penalties in favour of one team in his ref career? Wasn’t Riley the one who managed to give in 8 consecutive games he did at Old Trafford to always give a penalty for the home team? I could be wrong on this last number as I get it from the back of my head.

Maybe Mike Riley can give an answer to that question when he comes to see the Arsenal fans. He has visited fans from other teams like Everton and Manchester City already. So I wonder Mike, what are you waiting for?

Maybe we could put together some questions for Mike in the comment sections? Questions we like him to answer when he comes to meet the Arsenal fans. If he comes to meet us that is…


36 comments to Penalties: comparing MU and Arsenal

  • Aussie Scott

    He’s too busy washing Utd’s shirts to meet Gooners..

  • Sebastian

    spot on. I’d been saying very much the same as you have stated for many many years now. However, there is also something you have missed.

    It is not just the fact that they get a ridiculous amount of penalties, its when they get them. Look at the latest 2, against QPR and Villa. Both penalties were to open the scoring, giving utd the lead. You ask any player which goal in the game is the most important, and they will say the first. Its been going on for years, and it mainly happens when Utd are not the best side in the league. An example being in 2005, when we were still far better than utd, only for Rooney to dive like a dying swan and end our unbeated record. That made it 1-0. We lost.

    I don’t like the way Man City have done things, hwoever, they are by far the best team in the league this season. But Man Utd cant have them losing out to their great rivals. They cant match them on the pitch, so they get the refs to help out. I’m not a City fan, but I’d much much rather see them win the title than those cheating scum in red and black.

    I am genuinely in no doubt that Man Utd get bias support from refs. I don’t know if it is paid, or the refs are just Man Utd fans, or what is going on, but to my mind, this is fact. It happened in Italy, it could very much happen here. And the worst thing is, the media dont bat an eyelid.

    “it evens itself out” they say. Well, thats crap. Because it doesnt. Arsenal are not going to get 5 or 6 penalties at the end of the season to match utds, and utd wont give 4 or 5 away.

    And worst of all, it’s really making me lose interest in football, which is sad. But look at what you are up against.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Question; What’s the going rate for a ref these days?

  • malaysian gunner

    The stats are an eye opener.I have never trusted these guys in blac.So don’t be surprised Mu win the title again and the next ten years.A legitimate MC goal is ruled os. Tv cameras will later prove it should have stood. A melee in the MC goalmouth results in a penalty. Tv cameras prove otherwise.T he damage had been done.
    Recall 1999. The gunners were neck and neck with rd until eseason’s end.Some gunners are rc to weaken the gunners.
    So as you can see ,the gunners and indeed any other team will face insurmountable obstacles to win the epl.
    And that’s why the rd for all their domination in the epl are unable to establish a winning role in the cl. IT’s a bridge too far and too high for the rd to climb.

  • Tasos

    I maintain that the two biggest weapons in a bent ref’s armoury are;

    1) The awarding or non-awarding of Penalty kicks.

    2) The Sending-off or non-sending-off players.

    Man Utd prosper from at least one if not both of these decisions on a regular occurrence.

    I agree 100% with Sebastion. Whilst I hate the financial doping aspect that the likes of Man City have brought to the game, I truly hope they stop Man Utd being handed the EPL again.

  • Dutchie

    I can easily remember 15 bad calls (turning points) in favor of Man Utd last season. Believe it or not, while we finished 4th i am pretty sure with normal refs we were first. And with the Utd-refs we would be undefeated. Especially when u count variables like confidence, believe etc.

    Remember the last man tackle from Vidic against West Ham? He got yellow, but it should have been red. That would also suspend him for the next game (and if i am correct he scored in the game he should be suspended).

    What about Rooneys elbow against Wigan? He should be suspended for at least 3 games. And guess who scored against Chelsea…

    What about Rafaels body check in the penalty box? Or Phil nevilles tackle from behind in the same area?

    The vidic handball against us, or the dive from Berbatov against Liverpool (cup-tie though).

    I remember a lot more. Last year was the worst of all. You don’t see anything like that in the rest of Europe, not even in Spain.

    Really, try to find someone or a group of people who can edit al those moments in to a short video. The best evidence there is. We can make 10000 youtube accounts so the PL can’t delete the video all the time. So many calls in favor of one team, unbelievable.

  • Rawiri

    all this penalties gifted to utd this season and suddenly rooney is one goal away from RVP for the golden boot award

  • Arun

    Thanks Walter for calculating these numbers. It just confirms what media knows but isn’t ready to admit. Even Man U fans (only those who regularly watch them, not the plastic ones who rarely watch Man U) know this but don’t admit it because it has a bad effect on their ego.
    What about Barca tonight, if they don’t get the goal during first half then interesting things may follow. After all, UEFA wants the el-clasico final.

  • Arun

    @ Rawiri, thanks for pointing out. It will be a disgrace if RVP is denied the golden boot due to these wrong penalties.

  • bonnie

    am sorry to say this but i think manu will win the league. for how long r we going to let them spoil the P.league, its hard to take it in. Karma is b***h.

  • Timmy

    Good point noted.

    It saddens my heart that things like this can flagrantly happen without any strong influence from any quarters to curtail it. It only points to one fact-Some people behind the curtains benefit somehow. Please can someone remind us when the Glazers took over and what’s the yearly revenue margin since they took over.

    Looking at the penalties particularly, it is disturbing that of the 35goals Wayne Rooney has scored so far in all competitions, 12 are penalties, deducting that only leaves him with 23-any decent striker with such number of games can equal that. However it seems good to the public image for any club to have a 35-goal striker in their fold, thereby providing competitive edge for marketing deals and strong support base.

    Of course it won’t be too much to infer that even the dumbest of fan knows that eras come and eras go, Man United will have to face the horror reality at a time, but it seems that some people behind the curtain are doing everything possible to prevent the era where Man United will have to go into hibernation. The moment Arsenal’s unbeating run ended coinciding a year later with the completion of the Emirates Stadium, it was obvious to the rational and pragmatic fan that the club must rebuild and create a model that must maintain the high profile even when trophies may not come. This has made the club got to where we are now, having paid half of the debt on the stadium and still retaining a competitive edge as depicted by continuous streak of champions league qualification. Looking at what is happening at the red half of Manchester it seems tolling the part of honour and economic acumen doesn’t seems to appeal to the powers that be but only to display such savagery in terms of corruption.

  • Dino Abby

    Great article again. Now it seems we have a lot of numbers to quote when fans all over the world talk about those blatant manipulation by Mike Riley & gang. I don’t know whether the FA or the media realize that now the respect fans have for referees have gone down to such a pathetic level and all these point to non other than their bias refereeing toward MUnited. A few nights ago we were making jokes at MUnited and their professional divers and funny thing was even MUnited fans couldn’t say much in defense of the club. Mike Riley & the Referees are becoming a real disgrace to the EPL.

  • Francis Angrey

    I’ve always been complaining about these dubious penalty calls in favour of ManU. Before any penalty is awarded AFC, it must be as clear as water from the ground. It’s a shame really.

  • Kato

    Howard Web leads the referees in awarding dubious penalties to MU. Its ashame because he is killing our game.

  • Wengerson

    Walter, there are other factors that you could add on to enhance this sudden change since Riley became boss. For instance, the penaltie stats should be viewed with “all things equal”, like goals scored and total points per season. Some might come in and argue that “maybe arsenal weren’t attacking like they used to” or something of that sort. This will highlight that we have been playing the same brand of attacking football even with Riley at the helm.

  • cesc

    If you look at the 2 pen’s they got against Chelsea you will see one was definite dive and Evras was almost certainly a manufactured dive.
    The referees vision of the second United pen qwas impeded so he gave it blind.
    Then you look at the pen Fulham never got and the 2 United got when Young blatantly dived. You then start to ask yourself if the Premiership is a level playing field or are we playing in a third world country with chinese ref’s taking bets.
    the saddening thing was the bent FA could have cushioned the blow to QPR by rescinding the red card but the arrogant scumbags thought it would show their guilt.
    I’ve always said there is one rule for Man utd and one for the rest.
    What’s the betting on Man City getting a player sent off and Manure getting a pen on Monday?
    It happened before.

  • Wengerson

    @ Rawiri
    This is my biggest beef with the manure penalties. Rooney will most likely walk away with golden boot.

  • Mahdain

    really eye opening this and its not only penalties which changed since Riley took over…i remember that article of yours showing our change of fortunes under Dean took a full turn after Micky R took over..why is that?

  • El Tel

    Odemwingie scythed down when the Mancs were one up but WBA controlling the match. Not given. The Chavs three up and two very dubious pens given to them to assist in the fight back.

    The Fulham pen the QPR atrocity. The dive by Young. They not nly get help when they’d are struggling but they get it in what their tossed of a Manager calls squeaky bum time.

    Sky have been caught out for wrong doing in every aspect these past few months with the NoTW getting sacked. Sky have a big say in that lot and this should be the next avenue under investigation.

    How any of the pundits can not see or say what they see is beyond me. The connection is Sky. I outed them years ago as I am not helping to fund Mancscum. It’s a shame many others didn’t follow suit.

    Our game is bent and like Sebastian wrote earlier I will not watch it until it gets sorted out.

    Rooney hasn’t been booked once this season. The idiots say He has changed. Fucking hilarious o what. The only change I see is for Rieys gang to just let him do whatever he wants.

    There is so much more to this cheating that can be added. The smaller things like breaking up the flow of play as Wigan did last week. Does any team do this to them? Do they get a kicking by the likes of Stoke as we can be sure of getting this weekend?

    Ferdinand last year went months without conceding a foul. I saw him shred Sagnas shirt with a studs up challenge which te Ref played on. To say He is a clean player is utter bollocks, it’s just that He doesn’t get punished for it. Rooney and Ferdinand two Saints this past year. Yeh righto.

    I detest them as a Club when I should be respecting them . Their titles are meaningless to me as I know they are not even better than Tottenham and we know how poor they are recently.

    They also got David Gill ino David Deins old role at the FA following two years of winning jack shit. The Chavs and us were fighting for the title at te time. Gill gets in then BAM. They win two titles on the trott.

    Fuck them and fuck football.

    I love this site for trying to prove them as cheats.

    Up the Arsenal.

  • The Spartan

    Oh well, we might aswell forget about the League title next season seeing that we will start with a deficit of more than 15 points if u take bad calls and corruption into account.What is it that Wenger has done to earn his team such punishment?

  • El Tel

    Sorry about my spelling. I am using an IPad and it’s a nightmare for writing things fast. Any suggestions will be gratefully accepted.

  • El Tel

    The Spartan.

    It’s because Wengervis French and the fact He has tried to change the way football is played in Blighty. The little Englanders can’t be having this now can they.

  • El Tel

    Vieira (French) is dirty but Scholes (English) and that animal Keane (Irish) just mistime their tackles. Scholes is the least punished footballer of all the days I have ever watched football 1969-2012.

    Mark Van Bommel (dirty bastard, good player) said earlier this season that He is no dirtier than Saint Paul Scholes of the Red Angels.

  • Mahesh

    OffTopic: For those who have not seen it :

    Really funny! 🙂

  • nicky

    @ El Tel,
    Agree with your comments on Scholes and Keane.
    Scholes has never been able to stop the sly fouling he associates with tackling and gets away with a lot due to playing for Man Utd.
    Keane should have been banned for life after his crippling assault on Alf Haaland AND charged under the law.

  • Patrick

    WE de GUNNERS are the best no matter what they do let them wait for us next season then we will tell them that we are D best.

  • Mahesh

    OffTopic again (Sorry Tony!)-

    Amazing video (Mr. Wenger on languages) – Must watch for those who haven’t seen it already!

    P.S: Apologies for going off topic, but I guess I still am on-topic as far as this website is concerned 🙂

  • anatra

    Sebastian: You’re absolutely right. The team who scores the first goal is most likely to win the match. As a matter of fact; the probability is over 70%.

  • meditation

    Tiny video of united bias Im surprised this was on match of the day

  • Stuart


    The video has been pulled already 🙁

  • Mare St Gooner

    There’s a nice interactive infographic-type thing linked below that plots the penalties by team – you can clearly see the shift over the last 3 seasons.

  • Frank Rizzo

    I think a more interesting stat is that Arsenal haven not won one penalty at home this season in the league – in 18 games that is unbelieveable.

  • RedGooner

    Is anyone else as irked as I am over Stuart Pearce and his insistance of including Jack Wiltshire in the England squad for the Olympics ?

    I find that idiot as bad as Mike Reilly and his bunch of cronies.

  • Wooby

    @Walter, thanks for looking into the stats. It is as I suspected. All those who are part of the ManUre corruption can only quote 10 years’ worth of statistics because if they show any breakdown, even a 5 year old would go, huh?

    @RedGooner, I am not too bothered by Pearce. He IS an idiot. Yet this Olympics, because it is hosted in England, is unique for players eligible to play for GB. Where I would get upset is if Pearce calls up a disproportionate number of our players (Gibbs, Rambo, Jack, Ox) relative to other teams.

  • Poogs

    you guys are compiling like a motherfucking collective, I am proud to receive your thoughts. Keep it up, and back it up. Seriously.

  • Edda

    Thinking about wrong penalty decision makes me sick, if one thing would make me stop watching football it would be bad ref decisions. Maybe i am biased but i really think we got the worst 2 decisons EVER against us last year. The 2nd penalty for newcastle in the 4-4 draw was a scandal!!! And although it wasnt a penalydecision, the 2nd yellow for RVP against Barca wasnt much better!
    But the most damaging decision ever in the Premier League must have been the not given 110% penalty for Blackpool (then 2-0) against Man Utd, that decision alone relegated them to the championship, and gave Man Utd the premiership…