Referee : Kevin Friend
The full commentary follows the chart below.
Someone before the match predicted we would drop points (wrong prediction) and then would moan about the referee (yes we will moan a bit) but the two together: not. We won and even in the match report that came online minutes after kick off I mentioned a few moments where the referee was not at his best. So we not only moan when we drop points. No we always moan. Unless the ref gives us no reason to moan. But that hasn’t happen a lot recently.
So what are the remarks we have with the ref for this match?
First of all he let Rodwell off the hook when he came in with both feet against Chambers. A foul that resulted in Flamini being sent off last season and everyone agreed with that sending off. Even Untold. And now we didn’t even see a yellow card. And nobody mentioned it really. Apart from Untold. In a way it becomes so predictable that after a while you accept it as normal. Law 19 I guess. Which never made my copy of the laws of the game.
That was a bad moment from the ref. Another one when Oxlade-Chamberlain was fouled, ref ignored it and then Gibbs making a little foul on the side line deep in the Sunderland half and the ref suddenly producing a yellow card. In the light of the Rodwell tackle, a bit stupid. If you look at the way Gibbs reacted to this and thanks to a close up of his facial expression it was funny. After a while the only option you have left against injustice is to laugh it off.
The Arsenal goal was correct according to the laws of the game. A real sublime finish by the way.
The second half started with a foul on Welbeck and the ref turned it completely around. O’shea put out his arm to block Welbeck. Now a ref may say: oh well that is not a foul for me. Okay if that is his interpretation of the laws fine. (Not really of course). But to then give a yellow card for diving is wrong. There was definite contact between the defender and the striker and then you cannot give a yellow card for diving. The instructions are clear about that.
And later on in the closing stages of the match a Sunderland player blatantly tried to win a free kick by going down without being touched at all and now the ref let it go. You see it is that measuring with different sticks that is what we are fed up with. And that is something that needs to be explained.
Probably the ref lost it a bit as he then didn’t give a foul when Flamini came sliding in from the side. He got the ball but that could have resulted in a collision and should have been called and booked. But well it wasn’t his best day at the office.
I also want to point at an incident with Arteta. He was lucky that his leg was clearly bent and he didn’t go in studs forward because then it would have been a red card when he touched a Sunderland player in the face with his boot. I know it was in his blind side but because of the reasons mentioned it wasn’t using excessive force. Just a bit careless.
And then I come to another incident with Arteta. One that will have been missed by most. But one that could have consequences. We all know that in some quarters of Arsenal fans people blame Wenger for each injury. Well I saw and mentioned it in my report. With some 12 minutes to go Arteta played a pass in midfield and then got a kick after the ball had gone. You could see it was a kick that made a painful contact.
And some 10 minutes later he had to come off. I hope he is not injured too seriously and it was just the pain from the kick and nothing more. But this is how players get injured at Arsenal. This was a prime example. A kick after the ball is gone, nobody notices (apart from referee reviewers with their eyes open) and the initial damage is done. And then people will come up with: he was overplayed, he should rotate…. No, the kicking should stop or being punished. That would save us from at least half of your injuries.
The second Arsenal goal was also correct according to the laws of the game. If you look back at the whole 90 minutes by the way I want you to look at how Alexis and also Welbeck always put pressure on the keeper. I am 100% sure that this was a tactical instruction from the manager who doesn’t do tactics.
The ref’s score. In a way it was an even game from the ref. In both halves a score of around 68%. Not really that good.
When we put weight on the decisions the score drops to around 65%. With not much difference between both halves either.
If we only look at the important decisions we see that he got a score of just under 54%. So again not brilliant at all.
Not the best of scores from the ref in this match. And I think our referee preview was once again rather very accurate!
And before any Sunderland fan comes over to hurl abuse: this is not a reflection on your team. It is a reflection about the ref.
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