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Manchester United v Arsenal 10 November 2013 – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw


The PGMOL have spun the dice and our officials for the week are :-


Referee – Michael Oliver

Assistants – S Burt and S Long

4th Official – Andre Marriner


So it’s not Dean, Taylor or any of the other obvious villains, however his figures for us last year weren’t great and (needless to say) at the opposite end of the spectrum from United.

M oliver bias again

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Mr Oliver was born in 1985, so is still very young for a first flight referee, he became the youngest ever in the Premier League when he started with the Birmingham vBlackburn game in August 2010.  In 2012 he was promoted to the FIFA list.  So far he has done 65 premier league games, issuing 7 red cards and 193 yellows.

Second time this year for us with Mr Oliver, we had him for out win against the Totts, when we also had S Long as one of the assistants.  In fact of the 7 games Mr Oliver will have done this year he will have been paired with Mr Burt 3 times and Mr Long 4 times but never together till Sunday.


Arsenal v Spurs – 01-09 2013 – A good one nil win to Arsenal with nothing very controversial by the referee.  Walter’s review is linked here Arsenal v £100.000.000: 1-0.


Looking at last year’s review of his performances Walter titled the review 39: Michael Oliver: This doesn’t look too clever.

In summary 67% of yellow cards and 100% of red card decisions were wrong – mainly because he didn’t give enough yellows and any reds at all.  Also 70% of penalty decisions were wrong and more than 25% of fouls/free kicks.  He was good with goals getting 2 wrong in 34 (6%). Walter’s conclusion was “FINAL CONCLUSION: Not the best scores of the refs at all and surely the fact that all top teams suffer compared to one top team that hasn’t suffered doesn’t look good for me. Too low correct decisions score and too high bias scores so not a good season from this ref for me.”


Despite this faint praise he was promoted to the FIFA list so someone must have thought he did a good job – will we see why on Sunday?


Only one game for Arsenal last year :-


Match Review: Michael Oliver – Everton Vs Arsenal (1 – 1) [28/11/2012] – Overall score 70% bias against 21/79 no wrong key decisions (second yellows, reds, penalties or goals).  Key moments


Minute 0 – Theo scores for Arsenal (1-0)

Minute 9 – High foot from Everton – not given

Minute 14 – High foot from Everton – again not given

Minute 20 – Kieran gets a yellow for a pull stopping a promising attack – correct card

Minute 23 – Osman planted his studs on Sagna’s leg foul given but should also have been a yellow card.

Minute 27 – Fellaini scores a goal for Everton (1-1)

Minute 29 – Gigson rightly gets a yellow card for a foul.

Minute 30 – Two not given Everton fouls, first a trip the second a clear push.

Minute 53 – High foot from Arsenal – not given.

Minute 56 – Jelavic jumped into Per preventing him clearing the ball – no foul given

Minute 69 – Oviedo correctly booked for foul

Minute 71 – Jelavic should have been booked for a professional foul, only the free kick given.

Minute 74 – Sagna blocked, no free kick given

Minute 83 – Osman held Cazorla back, ball broke loose but was lost again in the same second, ref gives advantage sign?  What advantage ref? Not even possession.


No clear opportunities for Arsenal to score a second goal, wrong calls against Arsenal 16, against Everton 4 so a clear bias displayed against Arsenal and with a 70% weighted score a poor overall performance.


Turning to his United Games :-


Match Review: Michael Oliver – Manchester United Vs Wigan Athletic (4 – 0) [15/09/2012] – 64% overall, bias against 17/83 two key wrong decision.  Key moments :-


  • Minute 3 – Wellbeck dived to win a penalty and should have been booked – Penalty wrongly awarded but saved.
  • Minute 20 – Frontal tackle by United getting man and ball – should have been a free kick to Wigan – not given
  • Minute 38 – Hernandez kicks Figueroa in Stomach, ref signals advantage should have stopped play.
  • Minute 45 – Buttner correctly receives a yellow card for a foul.
  • Minute 48 – Buttner has high foot against Boyce, Boyce then pulls Buttner and gets a yellow card.  The first foul should have been the one punished and restart should have been a Wigan free kick.
  • Minute 50 – Scholes scores a goal (1-0)
  • Minute 54 – Scholes came in late and from behing should have been booked but wasn’t (NOW THERE’S A SURPRISE SCHOLES NOT GETTING BOOKED). Ref indicated a poor advantage.
  • Minute 55 – McArthur is booked for a foul – in light of the not given booking against Scholes a soft card and not warranted (One rule for United, another for Wigan)
  • Minute 56 – caldwell should be booked for a foul but only a free kick given. “Ref letting things slip out of his hands…. Poor refereeing”
  • Minute 62 – Hernandez scores a goal (2-0)
  • Minute 65 – Buttner scores a goal (3-0)
  • Minute 81 – Clear foul on Wellbeck not given, “Amazingly the ref didn’t signal an advantage so should have given a free kick. United turned it in to an advantage but how on earth did the ref not give a foul?”
  • Minute 81 – Powell scores a goal (4-0)
  • Minute 88 – Confrontation between Nani and Figueroa – both should be booked but neither are.
  • Minute 92 – Wellbeck correctly gets a yellow card, should have been his second following his dive in the third minute and he should have been sent off.


The tone of the refereeing set in the third minute with a wrongly awarded penalty when Wellbeck should have been booked. Overall a poor performance only getting a 64% weighted score with the ref missing many fouls and more serious incidents.  FIFA accredited referees are supposed to be much better than this.


Match Review: Michael Oliver – Swansea City Vs Manchester United (1 – 1) [23/12/2012] – 83% overall, bias against 63/37 and one key wrong decision.  Key moments :-


  • Minute 15 – Evra scores a goal (0-1)
  • Minute 19 – Evra called for a foul but should have been a booking for 3 fouls in 19 minutes half of all committed ref has a word only.
  • Minute 26 – Phil Jones rightly gets a yellow card for a foul.
  • Minute 28 – Michu scores a goal (1-1)
  • Minute 42 – Rooney has a shot on goal, De Guzman comes sliding in and should have been penalised for a foul.
  • Minute 48 – Dyer plays the ball through Evra’s legs who then fouls him – nothing given.
  • Minute 59 – Tiendali gets a yellow card for a minor foul, card wrongly given.
  • Minute 68 – Rooney rightly gets a yellow card for a foul.
  • Minute 75 – Williams gets a yellow card rightly
  • Minute 76 – RVP gets a yellow card – should have been a red for attacking a player and pushing the ref on the shoulder.
  • Minute 79 – United claim a penalty but the ref rightly declines to give one.
  • Minute 90 – Scholes gets a yellow card for a foul (YES SCHOLES GOT A YELLOW CARD IN THIS GAME!).


At 85% weighted, a better overall performance but would the result have remained the same if RVP had been sent off with 15 minutes to play (and would the results in the next three games have been the same with him having been banned)?


Going back to 2011/12, Walter’s annual review was REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Michael Oliver; excellent but an occasional bias.  The bias table is reproduced here

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - MichaelOliver (Un-Weighted) 2011/2012

So a negative bias for Arsenal but, to be honest not a massive one, and a strong positive bias towards United.  Interestingly all of the London clubs are at the negative end of the spectrum as are City.

As Walter said in his summary – “My only worry is the difference between one top team and the rest of the top teams. That is worrying as far as I’m concerned.  Is he a bit too much in favour of Manchester United? The numbers we have suggest this and certainly when you combine the good numbers from United and the bad numbers of all the other top teams you might get the impression that he is not a big team biased ref but more for one big team in particular. And that is something to keep an eye on. Not just us, but also the PGMOL should do this. But that is day dreaming I think.

But never the less, apart from the bias problem, a very good ref in the games we reviewed.”

So in summary he seems to be a referee with a clear bias in favour of United, doesn’t look strong in ensuring player discipline yet doesn’t have the clear title of an anti-Arsenal referee.  A shoe-in for this fixture then.

Expect United to foul our players with relative impunity, fouls by Arsenal players to be given, watch out for ‘phantom’ advantages to deny Arsenal proper possession following fouls.  I wouldn’t be surprised at a dive in our penalty area to be awarded a penalty either.

We will need to be at out very best to get the three points at the weekend which we are certainly good enough to get.


44 comments to Manchester United v Arsenal 10 November 2013 – The Match Officials

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks Andrew for this preview.
    MU diving for the penalty will be the normal procedure. Oliver falling for it also.

    Will he choose for a PGMOL-career or for a REFEREE-career. Seems the same but a world of difference between those two.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Oh and just by coincidence the next team in our series about the referees where we show the bias is…Manchester United. Article will come on line on Sunday morning

  • This is a game where the PGMOL will need to ensure a Utd victory. Arsenal going 11 points clear of Utd will simply not be allowed. There are times when the cheating becomes a lot less subtle – when the situation dictates it. Tomorrow is one of those games. Expect an openly bias game with clear cheating for Utd, glossed over of course buy the pundits.

  • Russell

    So BT have bought the rights to all Europa and champions league matches

  • Yes – they are clearly attacking Sky. Hope they sink Sky – without football they are dead.

  • Found this

    Even in the edited highlights the unadulterated cheating is plain to see. It was an example where Arsenal would have ended Utd’s title hopes with a win and the ref was clearly sent out with a strict brief to ensure a Utd victory.

    It had everything you would expect from a totally corrupt game – penalties awarded for nothing, blatant fouls left unpunished for one team whilst the other team had bookings on first fouls.

    This game should have seen Ferdinand sent off early, but the ref cheated.
    Van Nistelroy sent off for a blatant stamp but the ref cheated.
    Rooney booked for a dive but the ref cheated and awarded a pen
    Neville sent off for a succession of bad fouls but the ref cheated.

    One of the real disgraces in English football history.

    Expect something similar tomorrow.

  • HenryB

    It is a pity that we should be concerned as to who the referee is for any game.

    It should be a given that the quality and neutrality of the officials should be top notch.

    Sadly all too often the referee is a worry to the team either because of their partiality or incompetence. Let’s hope a weird decision.

    Let’s hope a weird decision does not affect the result unless it is in our favour. 🙂

  • para

    I hope AW shows the team this match.
    Anyway we are going to be at our best tomorrow, because we have a score to settle with them, (as some celebrity said this morning Arsenal 8 Manu 2), and to put their arrogance to bed, i want to beat them properly, although i would still be happy with 0-2 or 0-3, keeping our defence clean. Rooney needs to be watched, as his tackling is horrendous at times, especially when losing, as we do not want any more injuries.
    Come on Gooners, we have to be top on form tomorrow, we have been waiting for this for a long time.

  • para

    Meant the link from jayramfootball.

  • AL

    Yes para, Rooney needs to be watched closely, he’s been making lots of noises that I don’t like and he’s one of a few survivors from pizzagate, so he will know the theme very well. But if its a fairly refereed game then I think a draw would be the worst result for us.

  • para

    Yea, a draw would not be the worst result, our players will be tired, (Dortmund lost today after our European match), but we all really want a (GOOD)win.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Marinner of all people has set the tone today by giving a ghost penalty to Chelsea in the last seconds of the game.
    The PGMOL will do anything to keep them as close to Arsenal as possible.

    Marinner…even you….

  • HenryB

    Well, just as I said earlier, Chelsea have had a dreadful penalty awarded in the 94th minute, and been given a gift draw — disgusting!!!!

  • Blacksheep63

    marriner’s last minute gift to Chelsea eh? All the pundits thought it was very soft

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I was watching the Liverpool v Fulham game where Fulham were awful again and deservedly beaten. The Commentators were talking up Liverpool for the title, listening to them no-one would think that we had thoroughly beaten them last week. If they are title contenders then we should be a ‘shoe in’.

    The elephant in the room of course is the impartiality or otherwise of the referees. I haven doubt that if Oliver referees the game in the same way as he did our Spurs game then at 90 minutes we will be winners.

    If he referees like he did last year we will be lucky to have a full team available for our next game.

    Come on Mr Oliver do it right tomorrow.


  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Marriner is our fourth official tomorrow – doesn’t bode well!

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    Thanks for that link – clearly shows how low some referees have been prepared to go to prevent Arsenal from winning. Always remember that is the man now in charge of appointing the referees to every game.

  • AL

    Chelsea rescued by the ref again. These guys can’t keep doing this and get away with it, someone needs to make them accountable. Its not an exaggeration that if the referees had done their jobs properly since the start of this season we would be 10 points ahead of chelsea, 7 against liverpool, at least 16 against spurs, at least 16 against utd, and 11 against City. Disgusting.

    For anyone wondering where I’m coming from if we hadn’t been robbed against Villa and not denied a penalty against WBA we would be on 30 points. If you then take away the points from the other teams that they have have been gifted by the refs you will come to those figures above. In fact spurs would be worse than just 16 points behind, but I just decided to be generous and took away only 4 points from what they have, when they were gifted 6 points( for 3 one nil wins through controversial penalties when 0-0 would have been the result).

  • Stuart

    Great preview Andrew, thanks for writing this.

    I am wondering whether you or Walter know who would have been the fairest ref for this fixture?


    Here is the Chelsea ‘penalty’. You need not see anything else to KNOW that refs cheat under instruction.

    This is what we can expect tomorrow.

  • @AL

    It is also not an exaggeration to say that if refs had not cheated for years, Man Utd would have at least 7 less PL titles. During Arsenal’s golden period under Wenger we were SO much better than them all over the pitch and yet they more that matched our trophy haul. Of course it was explained away as some magical ability to alter reality through sheer will power of the UTD players, but if you ignore the fantasy that UTD players could control and alter reality, you are left with the elephant in the room. The ref was consistently cheating under instruction.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Jayram, yup that looks like a dive to me. The Chelsea player was already going down before any contact was made.

  • Stuart


    As you have the database of all the referee reviews, can I suggest an article for you to further illustrate that things don’t even themselves out over a season.

    Could you compile two lists from all the incorrect decisions in Arsenal games. The first list being all the incorrect decisions in Arsenals favour and the second being all the incorrect decisions in our opponents favour. I imagine the one list to be much longer than the other.

  • Mandy Dodd

    That Chelsea pen was a complete disgrace footballisfixed has some very interesting things to say about marriner in previous blogs. Hope our players stay safe tomorrow they will be kicked targeted dives will be made the likes of flam will easily see red. We will need to be streetwise we are better than utd and that makes it even more dangerous for us. If they want cause real harm they will hit giroud. Tomorrow will tell us if the pgmol are about just fergie or the club or both. We can win this but may not be allowed but wenger has wisely issued a warning

  • Matt Clarke

    Thanks UA for the article and thanks too to Jayram for the comments.

    The Chelsea player, in that clip, used the same technique as Chamakh against Arteta – they run into the defender.

    It is obvious except to the intentionally blind.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Stuart, the fairest referee for this, or any other Arsenal game is not easy to determine. Do you mean the one that makes the fewest overall mistakes, or the one who exhibits the least bias in favour of either team. I’ll have a look at the data and see if I can come to any conclusions. I’m not sure what, if anything, I’ll be able to determine because most of the numbers are contradictory. Refs can have a great performance in a game against one team and then have a shocker against another team. I might need some clever graphics so it might take some time.
    To demonstrate, last year Phil Dowd got balanced numbers in the 1-1 draw with United at the Ems, with a 44/56 bias against the two teams but only got a 75% overall rating, so good in one way but poor in another.
    Walter’s series outlining the ref’s performances for each team individually will give you some idea as you can see those in the middle of the graph but far from the whole picture.

  • AL

    Thanks for the link Jayram. What a mess, that was never a penalty, and Marriner had a perfect view of the incident, so no excuses there.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Seems the refs mimic the media Chelsea love in. The Beatles were wrong about the potential extent of purchasing power

  • AL

    Andrew, Stuart
    Do we have even a single ref with a positive bias for Arsenal? Just curious.

  • Stuart

    I suppose by fairest I mean the referee with the most neutral bias score for both teams on average

  • That is the worst penalty decision that I have ever seen. To call that controversial is to insult the word “controversy”.

    Thanks for the link Jayram!

  • Persian gunner

    Did you read Mr Wenger’s comment about the match without Alex F?!!

  • Persian gunner

    Thanks Ben
    I really enjoyed it!

  • WalterBroeckx

    About Marinner: wait till you see our article when we show the bias from refs per team in the Chelsea article….I was watching the game, checked the numbers while doing it and said to myself: no surely will he show his bias again? And BANG… he did.

    Well it seems that our hard work for all those years was so correct and our numbers are showing the truth about bias from the refs.

    To all the doubters that have called us names: time to admit that we got it spot on.
    Just wait for the Chelsea article this week. And eat humble pie

  • Pat

    Chelsea penalty – right again, Walter!

  • AL

    Any ref who gives a penalty with 5 seconds of the match remaining has got to be suspect, unless it’s a stonewaller that even a blind man wouldn’t argue against. He did it again at the Emirates two seasons ago vs Liverpool when he penalised Eboue for a nothing foul in the 12th minute of injury time where 8 had been signalled. Another ref who did this is dean, in the derailment of 2008. In all cases the ‘fouls’ were not even worthy of a free kick, and a ref calling that as a penalty with seconds remaining is nothing short of scandalous.

  • AL

    Not a gambling person, but what are these bookies saying here? That if I put say £10 to predict the score I will get a refund if the ref shows a red card during the match tomorrow? That’s what I think they’re saying but have to admit have never understood these things, but think it would make sense to place a bet if that’s the case, as there’s a high chance there will be a red card tomorrow…

  • Sav from Australia

    Nice write-up Andrew. Bloody refs eh. The match has all the hallmarks of a coming fix. I hope our boys are strong enough to overcome any pathetic cheating scum, be it referee or Man Utd player.

  • mk

    “Every year there is a company who makes the table reasoned without the referees’ mistakes, so check that.”

    Anyone know which company Wenger is talking about that is still doing this?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I have to agree that the Chelski penalty was very generous gesture by the ref ,and looks a lot like the Areteta / Chamakh incident .
    Hope our players don’t fall for this type of crap which Man Ure are more than capable of manufacturing .
    I am hoping for a narrow win ( 1-0) with all our players on the pitch at the end !
    Up the Gunners !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Liars , cheats , ……

    Thou Shalt Not Drink…

    A guy was in New York on a business trip and decided to head to a local bar for a drink. Standing outside the bar was a nun holding a tin cup.

    As the man threw a few bucks into her cup the nun launched into a long tirade about the evils of alcohol. She went on and on about how alcohol was tearing apart the fabric of society and how it was the root of all the city’s problems.

    nunSlightly pissed off at having to listen to this the guy said, “Listen sister, I work hard for my money and sometimes at the end of a long day I like a drink or two. That doesn’t make me a bad person. I have a wife I idolize and two wonderful kids at home. I provide for my family, I volunteer my time to several local service clubs and I contribute regularly to various charities. Yet you stand here and condemn me just because I drink the occasional glass of scotch!”

    The nun was slightly taken aback and replied, “I see your point my son and I apologize if I offended you, but the alcohol is such a powerful demon that all who consume it are doomed…”

    “Look there you go again,” said the man, “How can you make such a sweeping statement. Have you ever even TRIED alcohol?”

    “Of course not!” gasped the nun, “The evil alcohol has never touched my lips.”

    “Do you really think that one glass of booze can change you from a devout nun to some kind of evil degenerate?”

    “Well, I really don’t know …”

    “I’ll tell you what, come into the bar with me and I’ll buy you a drink. One drink. I’ll prove to you that “evil” is not inside the glass, it’s inside the person.”

    “Oh I could never be seen going into such a den of inequity, it’s out of the question. However, your comment about evil residing in the person rather than the glass is quite intriguing. I must admit you’ve aroused a curiosity in me.”

    “Well let’s go inside and settle this”

    “No my son, I could never enter such a place… but how about this. Take my tin cup with you and fill it with this “scotch” you mentioned. Bring it out to me and I’ll try it.”

    “You’re on!” said the guy.

    The nun removed all the change and handed him the tin cup. He went into the bar and said to the bartender, “Two scotch on the rocks, and could you put one of them in this tin cup please”

    The bartender sighed and said, “Is that darn nun out there again!”

  • nicky

    At least the two Neville thugs won’t be there to commit GBH on our strikers. But “Rooney of the Red Mist” WILL be and all will depend on the referee. I forecast that if the result seems to be slipping away from United, on will come Diver Young.