FA Cup semi-finals – The match Officials

FA Cup semi-finals – The match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

Saturday 12 April kick off 17:07 Wigan Athletic v Arsenal

  • Referee – Michael Oliver
  • Assistants – Stuart Burt and Darren England
  • Fourth Official – Craig Pawson
  • Reserve Assistant – John Brooks

Sunday 13 April kick off 16:07 Hull City v Sheffield United

  • Referee – Andre Marriner
  • Assistants – Michael Mullarkey and Harry Lennard
  • Fourth Official – Anthony Taylor
  • Reserve Assistant – Matthew Wilkes

First off, thank the Lord we are on the Saturday rather than Sunday where we would have no chance whatsoever.

Marriner and Taylor getting their rewards for screwing us totally last time they came to the Emirates with one of the highest profile games of the domestic football season at Wembley, maybe it is about prestige games rather than money?

They can now do the semi-fanal without having to show any bias and the world will be able to say “What a good game they had, we must appoint them to our high importance refereeing teams”.  Here at UA we know better.

What of Mr Oliver though?

In 2011 he was reviewed in 8 games and made a good impression overall, two games were Arsenal, none Wigan.  The was a small bias against Arsenal, but compared with the majority of referees it was not too bad.  Here is his bias table from then



Heavily pro Aston Villa, United and Bolton, heavily against Fulham, City and Chelsea and less against Arsenal and Wolves.  Perhaps signs of a North/South divide in there?


Last year he was reviewed 11 times, once each in games involving Arsenal and Wigan.


The Wigan game was their away loss at United where they lost 4-0.  His refereeing was something of a disaster from Wigan’s point of view with an overall score of only 64% and bias against of 17/83 (four wrong calls against United, 19 against Wigan). He got one Important Decision wrong (second yellow, red card, penalty or goal).  In the third minute there was a dive from Wellbeck to win a penalty when he should have been booked.  At least the penalty was not scored to add insult to injury.  A typical pro-united performance by Mr Oliver.


Here is the referee review of that game

Match Review: Michael Oliver – Manchester United Vs Wigan Athletic (4 – 0) [15/09/2012]


The Arsenal game was the one all draw away at Everton where he got a slightly higher (but still pathetic) score of 70% overall and bias against of 21/79, at least he got no Important Decisions wrong though.  There were 4 incorrect decisions favouring Arsenal and 16 favouring Everton so a normal kind of anti-Arsenal bias in this game


Here is the referee review of that game

Match Review: Michael Oliver – Everton Vs Arsenal (1 – 1) [28/11/2012]


This year we have had him in one home and two away games,  Spurs at home and United and Liverpool away. Against Spurs, he was accompanied by Mssrs Long and Collin with J Moss as Fourth official.  For United Burt and Long were his assistants with Marriner as fourth official, against Liverpool he was accompanied by Burt and Beswick with Mr Madley as fourth official.


A quick recap – a home win against Spurs and two losses away. Two goals by Arsenal and 6 against.  How much of that has been down to Arsenal and how much to Mr Oliver and his accomplices?


Arsenal v Spurs 1 September 2013


Mr Oliver didn’t have that bad a game, started well and calling fouls properly for both teams, he got a little sloppy as the game progressed giving Spurs the benefit of several decisions in dangerous areas of the pitch.  For me the key moments were :-

  • Min 21 – Walcott down in the Spurs penalty area from a challenge from Rose (looked to me like a pull) but no replay available on Arsenal player to give a definitive answer.
  • Min 23 – Giroud goal
  • Min 33 –  Loris just got the ball first before Walcott well outside his area so no foul the correct decision
  • Min 45 – Loris climbing all over Giroud to get to the ball but fairly according to the referee, again no replay.
  • Min 53 – Soldado falls over in Arsenal area with Kos in close proximity.  minimal contact so correct non-penalty
  • Min 55 – Flamini gets a yellow card for a two footed jump challenge, wasn’t near Tottenham player so there really wasn’t any risk of an injury, but those kinds of challenges can, and do, get reds.
  • Min 60 – Walker collapses over fresh air with Gibbs near him, ref buys the tumble and gives a free kick in a dangerous position
  • Min 65 – Loris out to edge of his area to grab ball, (inside or outside?) again no replay to show which
  • Min 72 – Capoue caught by Santi who then fell over on his ankle, had to be stretchered off, the fall was an accident.
  • Min 75 – from the resulting free kick the ball bounces around our penalty area, Spurs claim a penalty when it hits Giroud on the front of the shoulder.  No movement of arm to ball, ball was moving very fast and from close distance.  Correct non penalty
  • Min 81 – Defoe rightly gets yellow card, arm in Theo’s neck
  • Min 90+3 – Giroud tackling back, both players fall over free kick to Tottenham.



United v Arsenal 10 November 2013


We had key players missing, Mert and Rosicky to a virus, Theo to injury.  We had 60% possession, 10 shots  to United’s 5, both teams with two on target one goal to United and none to us.  We made one error and got punished.  Oliver helped United with little things, fouls called when they needed tome to regroup and so on.


Liverpool v Arsenal 8 February 2014


In this game we well and truly shot ourselves in the foot, groin, head and heart and little or no assistance was needed from Mr Oliver


In conclusion


Mr Oliver is typically anti Arsenal in his bias, but far from the worst in that regard


In the semi-final of a cup competition both teams and their supporters plus all neutral watchers are entitled to expect an impartial performance from all officials.


Does that apply when one of the teams involved is Arsenal, against whom all officials seem to have a vendetta?  I guess we will know about 19:00 on Saturday, my bet is that as usual we will have to beat both Wigan and the Officials.  Please Mssrs. Oliver, Burt, England and Pawson prove me wrong for once.


I only know that I’m at Wembley towards the front of Block 551, will be wearing the RedAction Tee shirt and shouting for all I’m worth.



13 Replies to “FA Cup semi-finals – The match Officials”

  1. There is no point attacking Wigan from the start as we tend to loose the ball because we have not settled. We need to be calm and keep The ball. Wigan will come very hard on us, flying tackles and all. Lets hope the ref keep a firm hand on this. We have to win thus game, they owe it to the fans, the club and themselves.

  2. Oliver is not the worst, but I saw him letting the Totts pull shirts and get away with that in the NLD last September. Especially in the last 20 minutes of the game, he was rather lenient with the little fouls in the middle of the field. Still, Wigan is no Tottenham, and we should be able to deal with them. If not comfortably, then marginally will do.

    One thought that crossed my mind recently is that maybe with a good shot at winning the FA Cup this year, Wenger switched the focus temporarily away from the League. It’s true that we didn’t expect to lose at Everton, and this leaves us in the situation to chase the 4th place a bit, but it would explain the lack of team spirit in that match. But maybe I’m just seeing things, and for one thing I’m certainly speculating.

  3. Interesting words on the FA Cup from Wenger:

    “Everyone can dream of winning it at the start of the season. It is a dream open to everybody and that is the beauty of the FA Cup. Last year Wigan won it, this year you have Sheffield United in the semi-final and that kind of dream open to everybody makes the competition special. In the league you can talk and talk but we know the biggest budget will win it. That open dream is what makes this competition special in football. Don’t imagine I sacrifice every day of my life not to win a trophy. Everybody fights for that.”


  4. Gouresh, have a feeling we will see a much more pragmatic approach from Wenger for the rest of the season, unless we get all out MFs back.
    This gung ho stuff does not work with the players we have available.
    We have for the most part, been hard working, hard to beat, if at times unspectacular this year, flat track bullies. Get back to that and the season can end well.
    Then we can get to work this summer, that will mean recruiting and replacing where needed…. early if possible. And seriously looking into the injuries,which this season are at an unacceptable level, not that I expect any of that to be made public, there will be some sensitive stuff that comes out there, not least the role of the PGMOL, but also maybe…possibly.. internal issues. Expect just a few oblique references to hair products etc

  5. I will be there and I have no doubt PGMOL will be active in their agenda to humiliate Mr Wenger.

    Oliver will do what he has been instructed to do and the media and TV pundits will allow their bias to rule their opinions.

    There are not many Arsenal supporters that really appreciate the work of Untold. There are far to many who think they know better than Wenger. Corruption is an amazingly powerful tool in sport. It exists and has been proved to exist, yet the media does not acknowledge the cheating that is so obvious. The fans chant ‘you don’t know what your doing’ but should be chanting ‘you cheat you’re robbing football’. That is what is happening, football is being robbed of skill & beauty and being replaced by cheating.

    Arsenal should win in spite of all the opposition please God.

  6. When we played against rough teams [the police or the military] back in my playing days, we would get physically assaulted and the ref’s did not protect us beause the player were serving police and army personel, would beat the ref’s after the game and none of the ref’s wanted that, so they allowed high studs, elbows etc. these teams came out with a mind set to assault so we derived a plan. do not keep the ball in your feet, keep passing and make them simple. this would allow the game to be kept flowing, they could not tackle us, we kept possession, they got frustrated, we scored. end off.

  7. i have a very funny feeling. Kallstrom, will either score the winner or crucial goal to win us the cup. wonder what the haters would say.

  8. As regards any potential partiality from the match officials, there may be a smidgeon of optimism for fairer play than usual in that – in the absence of any other major global “brands” participating in the semi-finals – the FA (& their sponsors/marketing partners/broadcasters/advertisers) would undoubtedly prefer Arsenal to appear in the final.

  9. Barney,
    I think you are wrong, the magic of the cup is for the small team to beat the big one. Most neutrals would be delighted if we lose and pundits over the moon were that to be the outcome. We will need to be really on our game in order to overcome Wigan and the officials.

  10. Thanks once again for the review, Andrew. Always the most illuminating pre-match, since you are dealing with truth and not speculation. I think any pre-match summary regarding an Arsenal match needs to include the referee impact, or it covering less than half the story.


    Well said.


    Have you noticed when Arsenal players pass the ball, the opposition keep going and leave an impact on said Arsenal player, after the ball has gone? Rantetta brought it up a few weeks ago, either on here or another blog, and he was spot on, once I started watching for it I realised its effen endemic.

    I have a theory – although again all credit goes to Rantetta who actually saw what was going on and pointed it out – well anyways, my theory is that it is not the tackles on the ball (when Arsenal player is in possession of the ball) that demoralise the team and destroy the rhythm – rather, the tackles off the ball, that should be 100% fouls 100% of the time (refs, correct me if I am wrong) are the number one tool to knock Arsenal teams off their stride, destroy their rhythm, their confidence and generally demoralise the team.

    Chelsea do it, Everton do it…and the teams that don’t do it – well those are the matches where Arsenal actually look half decent.

    The real question is how to counter this behaviour. The only realistic solution bar destroying Scudamore and Riley via coup d’etat and firing squad is to buy strong, physically robust players, who of course still have good technical skills. Easier said than done, but surely not impossible. But probably the coup would be easier for Arsenal. Go on Kroenke…go on…

  11. @Sav

    I have had thoughts on this back when I was playing, and the chances to do something are fleeting and far between. If you need to clear the ball (no time to do anything cute), and the referee happens to be within the angles you can easily kick the ball, kick that ball as hard as you possibly can straight at the referee’s head. If you hit him, it is an accident of play. And maybe you knock some sense into him at the same time.

  12. Go like the clappers from the first whistle.

    C’mon you Arsenal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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