Arsenal – Aston Villa: the ref preview, and the strange goings on in the PGMOL!

By Walter Broeckx

In our now weekly preview in what we can expect from the ref we see that for the next game of the season we will welcome as the ref Mr. Martin Atkinson

He is 41 years old and comes from Bradford.  He has been a  PL ref since 2004 and he is also a Fifa ref.  So far nothing wrong I would say.

The stats for Arsenal are  based on 28 games in total since 2004 under the control of Atkinson. The PL stats are based on some 20 seasons of Arsenal in the PL.

Arsenal won draw Lost
Total PL




Atkinson won draw Lost




In a graphic this looks likes this.

And the graphic with only the games from Atkinson looks like this:

So if we compare both graphics we can see that there is not a very big difference. Still we slightly seem to underachieve when Atkinson is the ref in general and we lose the odd game more than on average.

Maybe his two last games have something to do with this.  For this season he did the two games against Chelsea which we both lost.  And Chelsea is a team that is overachieving by a country mile compared to their league average. Chelsea  have almost a 25% higher win percentage when Atkinson is their ref. So if we take those game away we will see that in general this ref is ok with the overall league results we have.

In the last 10 games this goes down to 3 wins, 3 draws and 4 losses. I can only hope that this number has nothing to do with the fact that well we are rather big rivals of Chelsea the last 2-3 seasons. Could it be?

Let us move on to our opponents. And we will give you the stats of Aston Villa for the PL and the games under Atkinson also. those stats  from Aston Villa are based on 26 games

Aston Villa




Total PL




Atkinson won draw lost




In graphics this looks like this

And for the games under Atkinson they look like this


Also with Aston Villa we see in general not that much difference between the performances under Atkinson compared to the rest of the league. A slightly better win % but also a higher defeat percentage.

So in general one could say that  both teams are close to their league average with this ref.

What more can we say about this ref? How convenient we have the Untold ref review from last season. What we found can be found here.

But we will give you in short what we found of this ref – in case you don’t want to read the whole report.

Overall the  decisions were above average but down a bit on important decisions. So his general calling of fouls in the middle of the field is not bad but he has had some important misses last season.

As Arsenal is the home team we might see at the home/away bias with some interest. And this doesn’t look good. For we found NO home bias, in fact a big away bias most of the time. So not really a ref who is impressed by the home crowd.

If we look at the team bias we see that  Arsenal has the second biggest negative bias. Only Everton had an even higher negative bias from this ref.

If you ask me the same about Aston Villa I have to put my arms up and say that I don’t know what we can expect as we reviewed no Villa games under Atkinson last season.

What about this season then? Well we did a few games under Atkinson with two Arsenal games against Chelsea but again not yet an Aston Villa game that has been reviewed with Atkinson.  So again we have to say we don’t know.

I hope that we will be able to have a better view and we can use the data from this season a bit better in the next weeks so I can use them in these reviews but this is something for the future.

Finally I like to point at the fact that the PGMOL is doing some strange things for the moment. Only a month ago they sent Dean to us for a game and look, four weeks later we got Dean again. And the week after they sent Dean the next ref we got was Atkinson at Chelsea and now once again they send Atkinson right after a Dean game.

I really wonder; are we getting them every four weeks from now on?  Given the fact that we play a catchup game on what seems to be his secret favoured team Chelsea, I find it a bit strange.  But well the PGMOL will know what they are doing.  Don’t you think so?  (Easy on the irony Walter – editor)

But still it is a bit strange that the three refs who did more than 10 games and under whom we got the worst record are Dean, Webb and Atkinson and that we now get them for just under 40% of our games.

And the other 13 refs have to do the other 60% of the games.

Ah well such is life under the PGMOL of Mike Riley one could say. But more on that later as we will be showing more interesting numbers about the 16 refs who do the games in the PL in separate articles where we will reveal more of such strange and interesting facts.

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35 Replies to “Arsenal – Aston Villa: the ref preview, and the strange goings on in the PGMOL!”

  1. Walter, I looked at Atkinsons games as reported on the referee decisions website and in 11 of the 14 reviews he has made serious mistakes (second yellows, reds or goals) so I would guess there is a fair chance of that happening again. In three of the four most recent reviews there have been multiple errors. Seven in the Chelsea Arsenal game, three in the Newcastle Everton and City United games. The earlier games had no more than one. Conversely he is also one of the very secect band to have had an error free game this year Stoke v QPR. Two of his three worst scores were in our Chelsea games 71% at home and 61% at Chelsea. His home away bias figures are certainly strange with nine of the thirteen games outside a 60-40 band, highest 100% against both Wigan and Swansea and 90% against us at Chelsea. I am not betting on a good performance tomorrow although after the two Chelsea games where three goals were scored against us following his incorrect decisions he certainly owes is big time.

  2. Other than the referee performance I would like us to have a better slice of luck. At the moment we seem to be jinxed balls bounce off us into the path of our opponents, rebound from the woodwork for us and go in against and bounce over our players yet hit our opponents so a plea to the Gods of football – GIVE US A BREAK PLEASE.

  3. How about Laudrap for the next Arsenal Manager? Laudrap is a big name in Europe and he has been there done that – as a player. He can attract a lot of talent from around the world due to his reputation. Secondly he likes to play the beautiful game and can find a bargain. A lot of Arsenal fans seem to think we wont survive if Wenger leaves. My question is how did we survive prior to his arrival? Fans shouldn’t be resistant to change especially if its for the good of the club, right now we need to stop the decline and Wenger unfortunately cannot motivate a team which he has created. Why change a winner formula from athletic, strong technical players to small, technical and pace-less players.

  4. Oh on the game, well I think we will destroy them and Wenger will smugly taunt the gathered media twats with that look of his that basically says; “See – I was right. We are a great team. Look at the quality. Blah. Blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah.” And Kúnts like Patrick Barclay and John Cross will conduct their usual wankfest, dribbling on about how Wenger has answered his critics etc fucking etc.

    On that note perhaps Wenger’s three stooges can explain why 1. The team cannot defend corners 2. Why mostly our corners fail to beat the first defender 3.Why we have been caught and conceded on the counter attack in big cup games for around six seasons 4.Why Wenger invariably makes bad team selections and formations in key games 5.Why subs only ever come on after 70 minutes irrespective of the state of the match 6. Why we are complacent against “lesser” teams like Birmingham, Bradford and Blackburn 7. Why we have players playing in the wrong positions 8. Why Wenger persisted with Almunia, Fabianski and Diaby 9. Why he bought Santos and Park and 10.Why if no money was available he suddenly found it to buy Monreal and Mertesacker, Santos etc immediately after the 8-2 thrashing at OT. Just a few to be going on with- there’s load of others, but no matter. Any “net spend/ regime- Stan’s the culprit/show me the proof” answers will confirm your collective insanity once and for all and you will all then be welcomed as life presidents of the “Untold Arsenal” site.

  5. @Andrew Crawshaw,
    It’s ironic that the only goal we scored against Bayern came from a corner which should never have been given.
    Watching it at the time, I felt it just about summed up our season to date.

  6. We lost to Chelsea home and away because of inept defensive performances, nothing to do with the referee.

  7. I quite agree that was one of the few pieces of good luck that we have had and the goal shouldn’t have counted. I would have had no complaints if the goal weren’t given. I abhor all poor decisions whether for or against us and have frequently called on this and other blog sites for teams (captain or manager) to be given cards to query calls, say 2 or 3 per game. If the video replay ( displayed on the big screen) shows the original call to be right the challenge is lost, if overturned the card is kept.
    Byern were the better team and deserved their win.
    All any of us should look forward to are referees who are even handed a foul awarded to one team is treated in the same way if committed by the other team. Sadly on the evidence of me eyes over the past few seasons, and from the referee reviews don’t give me much confidence that that is likely to happen anytime soon.

  8. Joeos
    The referee decisions were wrong and the goals shouldn’t have counted. Check the referee decisions website. At the Emirates everyone in the crowd saw the foul on Coquelin in the Chelsea half in the lead up to the first goal which should have been a card for Ramires and his reaching for SZCZ to get the penalty, again seen in real time should have seen a second yellow. Sorry everything to do with an inept referee.

  9. @wrighty…I think ALL Arsenal fans rightfully respect and appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done for the club in the past. The problem is that many Arsenal fans are losing or have all ready lost respect for Wenger based on his stewardship of the club over the last few years. And Wenger himself has created this problem. The reason Arsenal have gradually slipped from being title contenders to also-rans is quite simple; they have lost most of their better players and replaced them with cheaper, inferior ones. What must be so frustrating as an Arsenal fan is not only seeing this for yourself, but constantly hearing your manager saying there is money to spend but only if there is a player available who will improve the team. It is this statement and bullishness from Wenger which has worn thin with many Arsenal fans, and rightfully so. Just be honest; if you have limited money to spend, say so. If you don’t want to spend millions of pounds on a big-name player, say so. If you’re just looking to produce a first team through the academy and the odd signing, say so. What you can’t do is pretend that everything is rosy, that you are doing well and that – but for a bit of bad luck – you’d be challenging for trophies. It is this approach that is damaging the relationship with the fans, the same fans that once adored him.

  10. I have a suggestion, can we leave the refs alone for sometime and do a proper analysis on our players, their positional sense, performance. AW’s game plan on different teams etc. That should give us all the true reflection on why we are so inconsistent.

  11. @ Aaronz

    Re point 10

    What happened during the week before the Man U away game. That might give you a clue as to when and why money was released to buy players

  12. Joeos,
    Sorry my comments referred to the Away game, not the one at the Emirates.
    I also agree with you that a better defence would certainly result in fewer conceded goals but any defence is made wise by goals wrongly awarded by poor refereeing.

  13. Ah Gouresh, if only I was as good in those things as I was in being and judging refs… I might have been Arsène Wenger… 🙂

    And besides when even people from around the bigger circle surrounding the refs in the PL like to read it, who are we to stop writing about it 🙂

  14. So Tony pens an article with loads of stuff to analyse about tomorrow’s ref and a few have jump in completely ignoring the topic and instead start posting about who should be the next manager, why we can’t defend corners, and other unrelated matters which are more than adequately covered in other threads.

    If somebody has something to say then this forum is a place where you have invariably have the opportunity to do it. But in the right place would be best. (or alternatively contribute an article yourself).

  15. I think we have a good team who has there confidence blown. Then new bread of fans so oh they earn so much they should handle the pressure. As good as that sounds there is always a level of appreciation. if you pay someone to fix a tap and slap them whiles saying its not good enough well how would you respond? Its the fans and also the refs that puts pressure on the players. First thing the fans boo every rubbish pass (no pressure). Second the ref offers no protection! Its like double standards when the opposition the same tackle they get no card!! Its disturbing so its like playing against our own fans and the lines man and ref. And then you get the pundits who talk out of their ass arsenal haven;t won anything blah blah spurs (who have not been top 4 but apparently amazing world beaters now). Oh Aresnal can’t handle tough tackling? and when we tackle like that our players are called stupid? rough?! Its is very tiring to hear and mute on with unknown subtitles would be beater!!!!!! Come on you gooners!!!!

  16. Oh our favourite refs the dick the ass and the ugly its so blatant you could put a big bet on whos next for our premier league match!!!

  17. As of this morning our position in the league based on:

    Points 5th
    Goals scored 3rd
    Goals conceded 3rd
    Goals conceded at home 14th
    Goals conceded away 1st
    Goal difference 4th

    The numbers that stand out are “14” compared to “1”. This does not indicate that we cannot defend or have poor quality defenders. In my opinion a significant factor is that there are many “customers” who turn up at the stadium not to support the team but to whinge and moan and shout abuse at their particular hate figure(s) on the pitch or on the bench which results in many players being fearful of making a mistake at the start of games. Such nervousness will inevitably lead to mistakes being made. Whereas when they play away they come onto the pitch knowing that the away fans are there to support them.

  18. Joeos
    Good numbers, I wanted to have a look at something like this myself. It could also be tied in with how home / away bias is distributed (for want of a better word) by the refs and amongst other teams too.

  19. Joeos,
    Incidentally, the mean average of those figures is 5 which would indicate we are neither punching above or below our weight.

  20. Walter, i find the idea of ref pre and reviews really interesting but after reading them for a couple of weeks I’m not sure how significant they are. Have you thought about the fact that dean, webb and atkinson are three of the best respected refs? So it seems logical to me that arsenal have a worse record under them because they were chosen especially for the games against the better sides. And against the bigger teams arsenals record is of course worse than against bottom table teams. The chances that webb will be in charge in a game against southampton or norwich are much lower. But still I really like your research about refereeing in the PL, especially in the long term

  21. Wrighty,
    As I read it, Swiss Ramble says that AFC’s sustainable model, while currently flush with money, has worked based on an unsustainable long-term formula – selling off the best players and charging the highest ticket package (overall, including CL, etc.) plus in-stadium revenues from merchandising and food purchases. And, that the sustainability of the sustainable model is simultaneously being jeopardized (1) with fans by lowering the quality of player on the pitch so that a major championship is unlikely (while telling them that there’s money available for major purchases) and, would be jeopardized by (2) diminished ticket sales/rebates if CL qualification is not achieved. Is this an accurate summary of what is being said, in your view?

  22. Jan,
    This point has already been discussed. They do more than just the big matches. What is alarming is that Webb does the Man U ones, Atkinson the Chelsea, and Dean does Tottenham along with the lesser matches. All three show biases toward those clubs regardless of the opposition.

  23. After Villa scored, they actually said, they deserved something from the match. WTF match were they watching.

  24. Good result. Yeah, PGMOL sending a ref who clearly favors one of our top 4 rivals looks naughty, but I guess this is going to be the theme for the remainder of the season. So we should expect to see a lot of Foy(Everton), Atkinson(Chelsea) & Dean(spuds, or anyone but Arsenal).

    Villa tried to nick it by parking the bus & hoping to hit us on a break or set piece. I’m getting more & sick of teams that are set up to play this way. Think the powers that should introduce a rule saying something like teams’ overall possession stats will weigh in after goal difference at the end of the season.

  25. The losers from MOTD are making up their own rules once again… handballs in the game WBA-Sunderland… who can take them serious….ah well it ‘s always nice to go to bed with an extra smile on my face

  26. oh dear and Probert being his usual rubbish himself….He will end up with some players with broken legs.Not with the penalty (can the MOTD people still follow the rules?) but with some players punching… oh dear

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