Untold Referee Review: Sunderland – Arsenal

Referee : Kevin Friend

The full commentary follows the chart below.

Sunderland Arsenal

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.

The books

Untold Arsenal is here

31 Replies to “Untold Referee Review: Sunderland – Arsenal”

  1. I will put my hand up as the one who predicted we would drop points in this one. I predicted 0-0, based mostly on the fact that Sunderland after suffering a 8-0 humiliation had all week to prepare for us, while we had a midweek trip and a tough 93 minutes on Wednesday. It is not unusual for us to drop points away after a CL away tie. It was also due to our recent form and the personnel available. For the record I was delighted to be wrong. 3-1 win against Burnley, you heard it here first!

  2. From what I’m seeing there all hopeless , everyone team seems to have just reason to moan, pressure and pace of the game to much for this lot !

  3. bb
    Why don’t you also admit that you got it wrong about us moaning about the ref. We don’t moan just for the sake of moaning, we will complain when the ref gets it wrong, win or lose. All we want is a just official. See, we are not happy with friend’s performance on Saturday, even though we won. So next time you see us complaining don’t accuse us of just ‘whining’ because we would have lost, look at the context.

  4. The el-classico on Saturday was a delightful match to watch not only for the quality of the football on display but also for the performance of the referee. The referee, though the youngest referee in la-liga and chosen for the match based his form, got all the major decisions right.

    There were no talking points about the referee’s performance. One wonders why all the high profile matches in EPL would have at least one issue with the referee.

  5. Well, Walter is saying we will moan whether we win or lose, as long as the ref doesn’t do a good job. But the way I understood you was we will moan to try and deflect attention away from an underperforming team. That Arteta foul was accidental, he only had eyes on the ball. Yes it was dangerous play, but intent cannot be said to have been there as he was not aware the player was bringing his head there. If you want to talk of a dangerous and malicious tackle in that match then look no further than Rodwell’s tackle. Even Larsson’s kick on Sanchez’s ankle was a potential leg breaker too. How Sanchez is still walking after what he’s been put through these past few weeks is a mystery.

  6. @Walter I am not a referee but I think the referee screwed up when Arteta wasn’t sent off. I can imagine Sunderland fans are upset over it. Unless your opponent stoops his head to your waist level in order to head the ball, there is just no way your foot should make contact with his head. Careless becomes dangerous when we’re dealing with a person’s head.

  7. Its been written here before, perhaps not in these exact words, but to have the astonishingly high number of decisions (some of them potentially leg breaking tackles which weren’t even carded) go against us week in week out for a long period of time now, certainly has affected our play and players:

    a/ The long term injuries we have sustained so far
    b/ The psychological effect it has on players (especially those who have been sidelined for a long time previously due to bad tackles) that there is a high possibility (based on stats) they will have little to no protection by the ref.

  8. In fact I will stick my neck out and suggest several of our guys were playing on the weekend carrying niggles!

  9. Possibly sustained over the last couple of weeks of kicking…this can slow a player down!

  10. I really wonder why BB brings up the Arteta incident as his sole example of fair and even-handedness by the ref. Hmm. If in your good judgment that was a foul worthy of a red, then pray, why did he not give it? With all the incidents mentioned in this article, how come none of them gets cited by this rather curious opinion. I believe the ref has some explaining to do to convince that he was giving correct interpretation to the spirit and letter of the rules of the game. I beg to differ from the notion that we ‘moan’ when we find reasons to question decisions made by the refs. I also find it curious that BB makes predictions and is the sole arbiter of his own prediction, whether right or wrong. That suggests a similar mindset to the ‘infallible’ and ‘unquestionable’ PGMOL. Did I hear someone say arrogance?

  11. Apo and Walter,

    Have a brief look at this link courtesy of @goonergrove


    The increase after 04/05 is there to be observed and the statistical variation is at the very least remarkable.

    People don’t know but even Freddie had to leave the PL early because of an impact injury, a hairline fracture that wasn’t picked up till he moved stateside (I suppose Vengarrrgh is also to blame for the advanced state of some medicine in the US – I think Freddie also played for West Ham and Celtic before moving to the MLS?).

    @goonergrove had this to say about Riley’s reign:
    “Yet we still carried on”

  12. “In fact I will stick my neck out and suggest several of our guys were playing on the weekend carrying niggles”

    Well if they didn’t start the game carrying one then like Arteta they certainly ended the game with one.

  13. BEIN Sport commentary was “pro Arsenal”. They did not sound bias at all. I recommend watching the next game there. sounds like a decent channel to me.

  14. finsbury I wanted to also say (after reading: WA, October 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm) That I watched the full match of the el-classico, and I admit I enjoyed football and wished it was longer (if you know what I mean). But I couldn’t help myself and paid particular attention to the officiating – with exception a couple incidents for either side, certainly not game changing – certainly much less aggressive (especially since Mourinho had Real where he almost always ended up playing with 10 against Barcelona). Both sides played open quick football, slick accurate passing with an abundance of technique on exhibition.

    I put certainly these observations thats:

    a/ both teams are of the absolute highest level (off days excluded), not dissimilar to our style of play (when we have everything including a full fit squad – peaking and fit),

    b/ both teams almost sensed that their FLAIR players will be protected and neither side had intentions of stoping the other by kicking, hence the free-flowing football,

    c/ The officials (IMHO as I am not a ref nor pretend to be) from what I watched (full game) were close to what could be considered a well officiated game.

    If we got the same both from the officials/opposition sides – we may look close to this kind of play – we can hope I guess!!

  15. If ‘the special one’ had of sent his side yesterday against his MENTOR at OT with same instructions he had sent them out against us – I bet there would be issues in their personal relationship outside of football following the game – beyond repair!!

    And so ‘the special one’ resorted to sideways blaming the ref but ‘not saying anything’ about the things he ‘said’.

    What a circus!

  16. I am sure many of us have scribbled down the starting 11 and subs bench (in the off chance they would all be fit/peak condition

    looks damn exciting – but will we ever see this?

  17. Thanks for the review Walter. Again it proves Untold’s general point on the referees.

    In particular it is clear that the ref gave yellow cards to our players unfairly, and let Sunderland players off. This is what we have to contend with week after week.

  18. @Stan October 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I brought up the Arteta incident because it demonstrates an incident in the match where the referee had an opportunity to dismiss one of our players, rightly or wrongly, but he didn’t. My first reaction seeing it live was ‘he’s gone’ and I believe Mike Dean and a number of other refs would have taken the opportunity and shown red. That would suggest to me that he had no hidden agenda. I actually thought the ref was pretty consistent overall while you believe the ref has some explaining to do, well good luck with that. You can beg all you like to differ from the notion that you ‘moan’ when you find reasons to question decisions made by the refs, similarly I beg to differ with your notion, but concede that its oft justified.

    Why you find it curious that I make harmless predictions and describe me as the am the sole arbiter of my own prediction, whether right or wrong, is equally curious to me. Anyone is free to make predictions, to agree or disagree. It can be fun, blogs do it, millions are bet on it every matchday. Nobody gets taken out on the street and gets flogged for that crime anymore. Finally, its highly amusing that someone who feels the need to entitle oneself ‘the man’ could accuse anyone else of arrogance.

  19. Untold have been doing a lot of articles about sloppy referring. Looks like DM is on the act as well. They seem to running a campaign on cheating defenders who pull players in the box. Well…..how about divers, two footed tackles or bad refs. When will they start a campaign on this? Or should we say its at least a start towards the right direction?

  20. GoingGoingGooner………dangerous play is not normally an ejection but rather can be a caution and is always a free kick,either direct or indirect depending on if there was contact or not unless the referee awards advantage: Here is Law 12 dealing with dangerous play.

    It is divided into two elements, one if there is no contact and the player was clearly trying to play the ball and opne if contact was made and perhaps misconduct is involved. the discipline for each one is different. In the case of non-contact ( not Arteta’s kick) and where the player was trying to play the ball legitimately, the punishment is an indirect free kick and can be a caution as well. In Arteta’s case it appears he did hit Rodwell’s head and this is definitely cautionable. The referee awards a direct free kick in this instance.However he could only be sent off if he denied an obvious goalscoring possibility OR he is guilty of violent conduct.

  21. I can read a lot of comments about any other referee would have sent off Arteta for that boot to head and blame the writer for steering up the officials. You morons, that’s the difference between honest foul and dangerous intent. If dangerous foul can’t be proved, thus the lack of punishment, then who are you people to judge whether Arteta should be sent off? I strongly believe if Mr Kevin red carded Arteta, he would be deep waters. The incident happened right in front of him, the ref clearly saw Arteta had his eyes on the ball which was at chest level the most. Eleven of my friends saw the match and viewed it as nothing. The only one who is steering things up are the AAA. A cheap opportunity to screw Arteta up. Get a life, people

  22. Because of the increasing work of Untold and others, it seems those who like to attack Arsenal have deemed to be more cautious, but at the same time intensify the attack even more “quietly”. Looks like yellow cards are now being used(again) on our players.
    They can then be suspended at will. The decisions giving our players yellow cards were so laughable, that i much like Gibbs, did not even react.

    If Arteta was facing the player too he would definitely be sent off. They were both coming from different angles and probably saw each other in the last instant.

  23. Para do you really believe that there is a plot between the executive of the prem and the referees to subvert the out come of Arsenal matches ? or that there is subtle pressure in terms of they don like it up them and Arsenal are winger by the media ? genuine question as I find it difficult to see the prior .

  24. @4evered I think the argument of Untold is that there IS a bias displayed against Arsenal by the collective refs and that this represents corruption in the game. Certain clubs, it is implied (if not alleged) have effectively ‘bought’ some refs whose decisions can only be explained by understanding this. They ask, for example, why there are so few PL refs and why are so many of them based in the north of England?

    The media accept that standards of refereeing are variable and are happy to criticize individuals from time to time (in fact the media, being lazy – as Untold often point out – tend to follow each other in this) but they have not (as yet) been able to contemplate that English football might be corrupt at the highest level. I find this hard to understand; after all politics, business and indeed the media HAVE been shown to be corrupt.

    Do I think Arsenal matches are being ‘fixed’ by dodgy refs? Ask me a year ago and I would have said ‘no’, ask me today after all the evidence UA has produced and I’m not so sure. But I think its time to push this forward, and I think Untold has this in mind.

  25. A couple of weeks ago I and a few other regulars emailed Arsenal FC regarding the refereeing situation. I didn’t receive a reply (other than an acknowledgement), just wondering did anyone else hear anything back from them?

  26. @Mick
    October 28, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I emailed AFC…no reply except for their initial acknowledgement of receipt of my email.

  27. So, I think Arsenal committed 9 fouls for 3 yellow cards. Hull City committed 17 fouls for 2 yellow cards?

    The Friends of Untold will try their lame best but that is yet another accurate referee preview prior to this review from Untold.

    Thank you.

  28. 4evered, or maybe Arsenal are a threat to some of the teams the establishment want to see in ECL places, for reasons best known to themselves.
    Nobody can now deny that Utd under Fergie got a very easy time regarding referees, as a starting point, that is maybe bias, Utd supporting refs, intimidation , call it what you will….but drilled down to its basics, it is also cheating. Shame the media will not look into this properly. If Utd could get it, why not others? Especially those with money and win at all cost mentalities. And with those with a referee who may just possibly support the team in question.

  29. The ’tilted’ playing field we have been playing on for so many years is so obvious, one doesn’t need a magnifying glass to investigate – it is standing there with both arms raised (can’t you see me) – INJUSTICE!

  30. Lets get some perspective. If Rodwell was red carded for his diabolical slide then Arteta would not have kicked him high foot. The PGMOL official was poor and not fit for purpose. PGMOL officials cheat the game of fairplay & safety. Consistency of PGMOL is that Arsenal get the worst decisions. It is time for the FA to correct their poor officiating monopoly.

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