By Walter Broeckx
Referee : Kevin Friend
At the start of this match it seemed that the ref got an easy game. No real fouls. I think he fell asleep after some 10 minutes and then when he had to act he lost his touch somehow.
There was hardly a foul being committed apart from the first minute Wilshere was fouled halfway his own half near the side line. It was a cynical foul with no attempt or chance to play the ball. The ref signalled an advantage but there was no counter on, there was just possession. And possession is not the same as advantage. This is a misunderstanding that sits deep in to the English referee style. As a ref you have to give a foul certainly on players in a defensive position unless there is a CLEAR AND VISIBLE ADVANTAGE. By chance last Saturday morning we got the instructions for the new season and our football authorities pointed at this difference once again.
As it was an unsporting foul he should have called it and give a yellow card. Cynical, deliberate, no attempt of getting even near to the ball. That is the moment to show the players who is in charge. Friend didn’t do this and I think he started losing the match at that moment.
No real talking points however for the rest of the first half….until the last minutes. The foul from Mertesacker on Naysmith could have been given but a yellow card seemed very harsh. Mertesacker just put his big body in the way and blocked the ball and the player. A foul okay I will not complain but a yellow card… It was as if the ref had something against a German world champion on his field?
But then what followed seconds later was even more strange. I have just seen Don Mc Mahon dealing with the foul on Mertesacker so will leave it like that. Don also talked about the non-given offside when Everton scored their second goal. Of course this is a mistake that has to go down in the assistant’s book. Mr. Andrew Garratt was the assistant in question. And we pause for a second with him now. As we had previous incidents with him. A few seasons ago Vidic blatantly punched the ball away with his fist and Mr. Garratt who should have been looking at it…saw nothing. Signalling handballs that cannot be seen by the ref is one of the duties an assistant has to fulfil. But he refused to do it.
We move on to the season 2009-2010. I came over from Belgium to watch Arsenal-Sunderland. And I saw Arshavin going one on one with Mignolet and scoring and then the assistant raised his flag to indicate an offside. Within seconds I got a message from one of my sons (also a referee) texting me that the assistant made a terrible “mistake”. Arshavin was meters ON SIDE and not offside at all.
So then Mr. Garratt signalled Arshavin offside despite him being meters onside. And now he couldn’t see Naysmith being offside despite being it clearly. So if we take these incidents of just this assistant (and those are only things I could remember like that so there might be others) we seem to have a strange misfortune when he is around. This could have 3 reasons:
1. Mr. Garratt needs to go to the eye specialist to have his vision checked.
2. Mr. Garratt is biased against Arsenal
3. Mr. Garratt is not a good assistant
Final result is that I sure don’t like to have Mr. Garratt around when Arsenal plays.
Back to the second half and the referee.
I don’t know what happened at half time but I wouldn’t be surprised if the ref got the news about their mess up with the second Everton goal and the soft Mertesacker yellow card. And maybe he wanted to avoid further trouble. So he gave Wilshere only a yellow card for what was very close to a red card. Remember intent doesn’t matter it is the possible impact or result of the foul that matters and this could have gone wrong.
Apart from that it was after a while a bit ridiculous to see how one player in particular got all and every decision from the ref he could get. Naysmith could have murdered an Arsenal player last Saturday the ref wouldn’t have blinked an eye. But every time an Arsenal player breathed heavily at Naysmith a foul was given. And when you fouled Naysmith the chance of a yellow card was somehow doubled. 3 out of 4 yellow cards for fouls on Naysmith. Don’t touch my friend, Mr. Friend?
On to the numbers. This is only the second time that I can remember that Mr. Friend let me down a bit. First half score of 70% is already low (62,5% weighted) in general but his important decisions were only 40%. Not acceptable.
Second half he was even worse. His overall score dropped to 60% (59% weighted) and his important decisions slightly improved to 50%.
Total score 63,83% general and weighted 60.32%. So a bit far away from Mike Riley and his 95% decisions score he tells us through the media. On the important decisions he got a score of 45,45%.
Offside decisions had a total of 66,67% correct. Where are the days that Mr. Riley talked about them being correct for 99%? The can be classified in the same map as stories that begin with: In the days that the animals could still speak. Yep, fairy tales.
Bias? A very big bias in favour of the home team.
Reality check with the previews?
I quote: (AND COMMENT)
- A referee with high overall performance numbers and one who seems to have no particular favourite teams. A complete off day?
- A referee who can have a significant bias in favour of the Home Team. CORRECT PREDICTION
- He can be too lenient when he should issue a yellow or red card. CORRECT PREDICTION
- He has a history of setting the tone of his performance by seeing and correctly acting on the first fouls by both teams Match started too easy and probably lost his concentration a bit
- Neither Arsenal nor Everton should be unduly concerned by his appointment on Saturday This goes for the home team from now on. As we only had reviewed him in home matches with Arsenal we didn’t know how he would be away from home. But there he was as predicted in general : a home ref.
Final conclusion: Bad day at the office for the referee and one assistant in particular.
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
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- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate