Liverpool v Arsenal 21 Dec 2014 – The Match Officials. Don’t expect penalties!

Liverpool v Arsenal 21 December 2014 – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

Now Walter has posted his referee review of Mr Dean’s sorry performance in the Arsenal v  United game –  Imagine a ref who only gets half his decisions right: Arsenal – MU ref review here is the updated Table of Shame.  Still no signs of it evening out!

Wrong Important Decisions Favouring Arsenal Favouring Opponents
2nd Yellow Cards 0 6
Red Cards 3 8
Penalties 2 8
Goals 0 3
Total 5 25
Possible Cost in Points 2 18

On to the preview for Liverpool

  • Referee – Michael Oliver
  • Assistants – S Long and L Betts
  • Fourth Official – C Pawson

Michael Oliver was born in 1985 and became the youngest referee in Premier League history when he was in charge of the Birmingham City v Blackburn Rovers at 25 years old.  His home county FA is Northumberland.  His rapid rise through the ranks was confirmed in 2012 when he was elevated to the FIFA list so he has obviously impressed the ‘right people’.

S Long this will be the second time this year with Mr Oliver, his other appearance came on 8 November in the Southampton v Leicester game.  He has been a regular partner of Jonathan Moss this year

L Betts is also a regular with Mr Moss but hasn’t worked with Mr Oliver so far this year.  He was at the Emirates for our 2 – 1 win over Palace on Season Opening day when Mr Moss was in charge.

So far this Season

Second time this year for Mr Oliver in charge of an Arsenal game.  Here is the link to Walter’s review of the earlier game our 1-1 draw with Spurs on 27 September.

REFEREE REVIEW: Arsenal – Tottenham

Overall score (weighted) 65.7%, bias against 15/85, 2 wrong Important Decisions (second yellow cards, red cards, penalties or goals).  In minute 30 Wilshere should have had a penalty when he was clearly kicked above the ankle by Rose in the penalty area but nothing given,  In Minute 72 Mason should have been sent off for a dangerous tackle studs up on Ozil’s shin which could easily have broken his leg. Mr Oliver got away with a second not given penalty in Min 18 when Kaboul jumped in the back of Welbeck, the replay for Walter’s review froze and he had to bige Mr Oliver the benefit of the doubt under Walter’s ‘house rules’.

In terms of yellow cards he got 6 wrong (Adebayor in Min 68 and Chambers in Min 86 were wrongly booked, Min 7 Lamela, Min 15 Mason on Wilshere, Min 20 Rose on the Ox and Min 68 Chadli on Mertesacker should all have been booked but weren’t.  All in all a typical piece of anti-Arsenal refereeing that (in my opinion) cost us two points.

It will be the third game he has refereed for Liverpool – previous games being City 3 Liverpool 1 on 25 August, and Liverpool 2 West Brom. 1 on 4 October.

Three times in less than a half season is far too often and shouldn’t happen in any well organised enterprise.  Oh sorry I forgot that I am talking about the PGMO!

2013-14 Season – Arsenal had Mr Oliver three times

Arsenal v Spurs 1 Sep 2013 (1-0).  Walter’s post game piece – Arsenal v £100.000.000: 1-0 didn’t mention the referee so must have been OK

Man United v Arsenal 10 November 2013 (1-0).  Walter’s post game piece – Lost a battle, the war is still in our hands.  A number of ‘phantom’ fouls called against Arsenal to allow United to regroup when under pressure.  We bossed possession and matched United in the other stats but made one defensive error from which they scored.

Liverpool v Arsenal 8 Feb 2014 (5-1).  We played in a suicidal fashion and were hammered.  Walter’s post game piece Disastrous start leaves us empty handed  covers it excellently.  The referee played no part in our loss, he didn’t need to as we shot ourselves by simply not turning up in the first half.

Liverpool also had Mr Oliver three times:-

  • Swansea v Liverpool 16 Sept 2013 2 – 2
  • Liverpool v West Ham 7 Dec 2013 4 – 1
  • Liverpool v Arsenal 8 Feb 2014 5 – 1 (covered above)

2012-13 Season  There are 11 full referee reviews of his games in 2012/13 in them he made 18 wrong Important Decisions (second yellow, red cards penalties and goals) not a terribly good performance.  In individual games he scored below 70% on three occasions, 80-9-% on three occasions with the remaining five games between 70 & 80% again not setting the world on fire and well below the standard we should expect from a FIFA referee.  Unusually his overall bias seemed to favour the away teams, Four home teams against 6 away teams with only one game neutral.  Of these reviewed games, one featured Arsenal and one Liverpool

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

overall weighted score 70%, bias against 21/79 but no wrong Important Decisions.  A total of 20 wrong decisions out of 147, four against Everton and 16 against Arsenal, so a rather one sided performance but probably not enough to change the course of the game.

Match Review: Michael Oliver – Liverpool Vs Tottenham Hotspur (3 – 2) [10/03/2013]

79% Overall, bias against 73/27 and 2 wrong Important Decisions – Vertongen should have been called for two penalties, the first in Min77 for a foul on Sturridge, the second in Min 86 when he fouled Johnson.  Liverpool supporters should rightly feel aggrieved at his performance that day.

2011/12 Season  There were eight games reviewed and his overall numbers were above average, particularly in the routine decisions, he was not that good though on yellow cards and penalty decisions which were both roughly 50/50 (but based on low overall numbers).  His bias against Arsenal was not excessive and he was roughly neutral for Liverpool.  His main bias was in favour of United and Aston Villa.

My summary of Mr Oliver for the Spurs Game was :-

  1. Despite being a FIFA Accredited Referee Mr Oliver really isn’t that good, he was ranked 14 out of 17 for 2012/13 based on the full game referee reviews.
  2. There seems to be a particular problem with him knowing when to award a penalty. Spurs got away with 4 in the two games reviewed in 2012/13.
  3. He seems to have a positive bias for Spurs and a negative one against Arsenal
  4. He doesn’t seem to be a ‘home’ team, his reviewed games having a bias in favour of the away team more often than the home team.
  5. The crowd need to let him know we are watching his decision making.
  6. Don’t expect Arsenal to be given a penalty when it might make a difference to the result of a game. A consolation penalty when we are five goals down doesn’t really count.
  7. In a game that is likely to be tight and with two fully committed teams both teams need a referee who is on top of the game and will deal fairly with infringements from both sides. I am not convinced that My Oliver is that man – come on prove me wrong!

His performance in the Spurs game has not altered my position on him as a referee – he certainly didn’t prove me wrong,  and I stick with what I said then.


The Untold Index

On the history site: The man who moved from Arsenal to Tottenham on Friday and played for Tottenham against Arsenal on Saturday.



42 Replies to “Liverpool v Arsenal 21 Dec 2014 – The Match Officials. Don’t expect penalties!”

  1. Interesting. The worrying thing is all referees have now turned into mini deans, there isn’t a fair one around when we play so always expect the worst. They may have teams they don’t like but that’ll change if that team is playing Arsenal, as we saw with Taylor at Stoke two weeks ago.

    I do think this guy made a crucial call in the first minute in our 5-1 loss here last season when he called a foul against us which wasn’t a foul in a dangerous area. Liverpool profited from that, and it could be argued he didn’t need do much thereafter as we self destructed while trying to restore parity. The key will be to score first, if we can do that we should be fine.

  2. Its been obvious Al, the first goal is the most important one for us, we score we win, they do, we lose concentration, become under pressure, and up until last 20min, we cant do nothing. If we do it today, then I believe we can go on a good run.

  3. Bill

    Whens the last time Wenger whinged?

    As far as I recall he accepted the Stoke, United and Chelsea defeats (as well as the others) with considerable grace.

    When you consider some of the ridiculous decisions in 2 of the games and how we totally dominated the other, he could of been forgiven for really going in to one, but he didn’t at all.

    I, and quite a few others on UA I believe, actually think Wenger has gone a bit TOO passive in has appraisals of matches.

    We on UA may or may not be whingers, depends on where you stand on the ‘being kicked of the park’ issue I suppose, but accusing Wenger of being a ‘whinger’ is just showing you up for being just another SUN reading sheep.

  4. Reviewing a ref’s past history whether a sound history or an incompetent one is not whinging – so Bill – whinge off!!

    Andrew – a good and thorough review concerning yet another incompetent ref. It seems that incompetence and anti Arsenal bias are a prerequisite for a PGMO FIFA ref.

    Once again we will have to overcome 12.

  5. We should not worry too much on any possible Michael Oliver’s anti-Arsenal refereeing. In my spiritual hunch realm, the outcome of the Sunday’s Anfield epic battle between the Reds and the Gunners has been decided in favours of the Gunners. Notwithstanding, the PGMO ought to have had a proper game review panels in place. Those panels will be in category of 4 or more groups. Each group will be reviewing the referee decisions in the League division assigned to them and summit their findings to the PGMO for any appropriate disciplinary action. When something ugly is going on or has been happening in referee officiating for long, both the FA and the PGMO should not be ignoring the misdoing as if nothing has happened.

  6. What is it with people you put a well researched article provide them with facts and observations from those facts and what do you get?
    You get your a bunch of whingers or your idiots or other well thought out insults.
    On this site it’s true to say that it invites reasoned rebuttals to what has been posted but what it gets are geniuses with stunning comments like whingers.

  7. Gunnerjoe

    Well said.

    The fact that more often than not, when challenged with reasonable requests to expand on there initial ‘bunch of whingers’ type comment, they conveniently disappear, only to resurface some days latter with much the same ‘bunch of whingers’ comment, is very telling.

    I can only assume Bill hasn’t got anything to back himself and has wisely scurried back under his rock.

  8. Not related to Michael Oliver, related to officiating.

    The Isle of Man is starting a Referee of the Month award this season, sponsored by Specsavers. Current winner is Anthony Page.

    News about Howard Webb is in the Independent. Howard Webb has officiated 3 games in the last year:

    > Once for an exhibition match in Bangkok, once for the Christmas truce game in Ypres this month, and once when the referee did not turn up for his son Jack’s Under-15s game.

    Good on Howard Webb for being the stand-in referee at a youth game.

    Apparently Webb is overseeing the development of new software to further improve the analysis of PGMO officials. And the next paragraph tells us just how good they are:

    > Not that they are not already under the microscope. Webb can tell you from the statistics on his phone that match evaluators in the Premier League have assessed every game in minute detail and say that up to the round of 15 matches so far this season there have been, collectively, 38,718 decision moments for referees. Of those, they say, 98.4 per cent have been made correctly.

    Which means that this season, according to their own propaganda, PGMO officials have made 619 or 620 mistakes.

    What is he doing on weekend?

    > On Saturdays he is usually at the BBC’s Salford base watching live feeds of games and calling referees after games to discuss performances on what can sometimes be, he knows himself, “a lonely drive home”.

    I sure hope that neither Webb nor the referees he is calling, are actually driving while he is talking to them.

    Simulation is on everyone’s mind. How many acts of simulation does PGMO think have happened this season?

    > Of that overall decision count of 38,718 – which is the number of decisions that the assessors deem should have been made, whether the referees did so or not – only 0.023 per cent relate to acts of simulation.

    Or, there have only been 9 acts of simulation this season.

  9. Bill – your dim. We appraise & predict the behaviour of the PGMO. To whinge one needs to complain. You don’t need to comment on this site if you do not have structured evidence or reasonable proof/arguement to back your comment. Arsenal are better than most teams in the EPL yet the effect of poor officiating is to show them below par. I am certain that Arsenal will reverse their results despite the bias and go on to win the League.

  10. Is that the same Mason at Villa dishing out his cards that we saw last week in N5, or a doppelganger? 😉
    Maybe he is under the impression that he’s officiating in a different sport today?

  11. 50/50 touchline or goal line calls all seem to be going in Utd’s favour too in this game, not as one would expect over the decades in the home team’s favour.

  12. careful set of cheating calls until the red card. It was a yellow at worst but Mason is secret society on his own!

  13. Okay, my other note is still in moderation.

    Howard Webb made some very specific statements in the news yesterday about the PGMO stateistics up to the round of 15.

    One of those statements was that, there were only 9 instances of simulation in the EPL too that point.

    Going back to statistical mechanics, the standard deviation of a quantity is often a small multiplier times the square root of the number of observences. The square root of 9 is 3. If we were just to blindly use 3 for the estimated standard deviation, we would be saying that the occurence of simulation is a Poisson variable. If we pick a multiplier that is larger than 1, we are saying the distribution of simulation events in the EPL is over-dispersed. A common distribution to use for such events, is the negative binomial distribution.

    If I assume the multiplier is 2, we get a standard deviation of 6 and a variance of 36. In terms of a negative binomial distribution, we set the mean to 9 (what PGMO says is the actual observance) and we find that the probability of detecting simulation is 0.75 (75%). If people now go back into the record of games, looking for instances of simulation (called or not, as PGMO has done this already as well), and we find that there are actually more than 15 simulation events, we can be fairly sure in calling the PGMO’s bluff, and say that they are mistaken in their analysis. How I got 15, was to add together the probabilities of finding 9 in N (N greater than or equal to 9) with the sum equallying 0.95.


    which is pretty close to 0.95, and as P(16) is about 0.029, observing a 16th simulation is beyond 0.95 by a significant amount.

  14. Good article in the Independent by Howard Webb backed up by facts , presented by people who know what there talking about !

  15. I don’t know about a ‘yellow at worst’ for Agbonlahor, he was quite late to be honest. I wonder if you would hold the same opinion if Arsenal player was at the end of that tackle and not Young.

    Mason is however probably the most inept referee in the PL to be sure. At one point he gave a yellow to Villa keeper Guzan for coming out to take a free kick on the touch line. Guzan explained to Mason he was there to take the free kick , yet Mason still motioned to the Villa keeper three more times to get back in his goal. Simply incredible. I don’t think he knows the rules.

  16. Cannot see us getting much from the ref tomorrow. Firmly believe there is a prevailing attitude of north west is best, with the exception of a club who has spent their way into favour with the media, the aaa and the pgmol who have seemingly forgiven this club falsely accusing one of their refs of racist language. Know how I would react if someone told such lies about one of my friends or colleagues….but it seems money speaks louder than loyalty but then again, this is football, and we know that already.
    Let’s hope our finest are on form and can get a result despite anything the officials do or don’t do.
    Heard the interview with Rogers yesterday, he really sounded flat, down beat. Hope this is significant.
    But we should give their defence plenty of problems.

  17. And the reason there is an article in the Indy is because of the hundreds of articles about PGMO from Untold in the past few years, and the challenge we recently put down about how one would set up an open referees’ organisation. But sadly rather like the article in the Telegraph before it, it reads very much like a press release submitted on behalf of PGMO published by a paper that will follow their line.

    Interesting that the Telegraph didnt get given it – but not surprising after their last article about the way refereeing is run in the UK.

  18. I see my first note is out of moderation, so you now have context for what I said at (6:20pm). Thanks Tony.

    Going back to the original article, this 38,718 number is rounds 1..14, or 140 games. The PGMO is claiming that on average, each game has about 277 incidents (about once every 20 seconds) that a referee (or assistant referee) has to make a decision over. This is not that the whistle should have been blown 277 times. For instance, if the ball is played forward, and the assistant referee notices that the offensive players are onside, that would be an incident where no whistle was required.

    The PGMO is looking at all the TV feeds, not just final TV result. A possible question, are there times where the totality of feeds does not record what all the players are doing?

    I am going to suggest, that this analysis (that the PGMO has already done) has to consider every pass that is in a forward direction, as they all potentially could result in an offside. This at least gets us in the ballpark for an incident every 20 seconds. By extension, a similar situation results when any ball is kicked or deflected in terms of evaluating whether the ball has gone out of play or not.

    This number (38,718) cannot be anywhere near the number of fouls. But, if PGMO is examining every movement of the ball for potential offsides are out of bounds, this could be where they get their 99% correct (or whatever the actual number presented was) number from. They are padding the incidents that Walter writes about, with many more incidents that are trivially evaluated as ignorable.

    Going through the exercise of getting an order of magnitude guess on using a negative binomial distribution
    once manually is a pain, to try and match up to what people might find would be a bit much to do that way.

    I have written a program into which I can plug in different probability distributions and/or parameters. I now need to convince myself that it is acting properly. If at some point, people start publishing (in the news or on Untold) their guesses as to how many incidents of simulation have happened in these first 140 games of 2014/15, I can start trying to make this program match that.

  19. From the humour department, van Gaal is saying that today’s tie against Aston Villa may have cost them the title.

  20. There is news about the red card to Aston Villa being incorrect. But, we also have this tidbit from Southampton vs Everton:

    > In truth, Lukaku’s own goal went some way to saving the referee’s blushes, having come from a corner inexplicably awarded when Phil Jagielka booted Shane Long rather than the ball.

    Sounds like Southampton should only have had 2 goals.

  21. Going back to this 38,718 incidents number from Howard Webb. If the PGMO is going through this much work, should they not be making reports to the FA Discipline Committee? After all, that committee has among its duties, the charging of players who have committed fouls not recognized by the officials during the game. There should be a lot more players being charged with unreported fouls and misconduct.

  22. Mourinho is annoyed he hasn’t been given manager of the month enough, according to the Daily Star. They also have this blurb about their game versus Stoke tomorrow:

    > Mourinho has also urged referee Neil Swarbrick to be strong tomorrow. He claimed Stoke’s aggressive style “is a challenge” for his foreign players – particuarly keeper Thibaut Courtois.

    > He said: “Stoke is a challenge. But it is no problem if you have a referee that can understand when the aggression finishes and the rules of the game start.

    > “We need a good referee, a good, experienced referee who can understand exactly that.”

  23. Gord as you say it. the PGMO are trying to burry the wrong decisions under a high number of total decisions. All we know they could even count every dribble as a decision. 🙂

  24. Walter.

    You seem to be up late. I haven’t seen you on this late very often.

    It’s about time for me to go look through Google News again. A friend was looking for something about firefox, and I stumbled across something you might be interested in. There is an add-on for firefox (now also for Chrome, Opera and Safari) that allows you to edit some blogs from within the browser. WordPress is supposed to be supported. It’s called ScribeFire.

    Hopefully I will get this latest program finished tonight, in case people come up with hard data on simulations.

  25. yes it is way past bedtime for me but coming home late from a Saturday evening match and a bit after match adrenaline still running through my blood. 😉
    But now I feel like going to bed….

  26. @finsbury
    Was watching villa too to see exactly what we can expect.
    The “return” of manu is progressing as they planned.
    Hope they think we are too far off on points at the moment to do much to disrupt our game today.
    Don’t think pool are up to it today, we should win if we concentrate, that said they can spring a surprise, but we should be able to cope with them.

  27. Gord – good spot.

    If there are 277 decisions a match and 98.4% are correct that implies around 5 wrong decisions a match. From reading Walter’s reviews there seem many more than that?

    Mourinho’s comments are interesting. He obviously saw what befell Arsenal so is just helpfully “reminding” PGMO and the nominated referee that he doesn’t want to see a repeat… We shall see.

  28. Gord, 10:25pm

    Highly amusing quotes, coming from Mouth-inho, the master of kicking his opponent off the park. Mouth-inho really had a lot to say about the refs:

    I notice both the Daily Mail and The Guardian report this very matter-of-factly, and The Independent and The Telegraph don’t seem to have reported on it at all, and I haven’t checked any other papers. If Wenger had said something similar you can be sure the hacks would have been out in force calling Wenger a cry-back, getting his excuses in early, etc.

    Let’s see if the FA punish Mouth-inho or not. Apparently managers are not allowed to put pressure on refs in this way…perhaps they should have told Fergie that. And let’s see how Swarbrick referees the match today. If he does his job properly, it will pretty much confirm Mouth-inho is the new Fergie in the PGMO’s eyes.

    Here are some more of his quotes:

    “With a good referee that can understand what is aggressivity, or when the aggression finishes and the rules of the game start, this will be no problem at all.”

    “…the referee has to know what is allowed and what is not allowed, according to the rules of the game. And the rules of the game are the same everywhere. So it should be no problem. I know it’s difficult for every team to play this kind of match [at Stoke], and we are no exception. But, again, I’m not worried. The referee is there exactly to judge what is aggression, and welcome aggression – the pure one – makes the game much more beautiful. He’s there to referee, not me.”

    God I feel like strangling this hypocrite.

  29. @ Bill thanks a lot for your insightful, well thought comment. Keep it up mate, we are missing guys like you here.


  30. Drat! As near as I can tell, that story about Howard Webb was only in the Independent. If Webb mentioned other numbers, they didn’t make print and nobody else seems to be carrying the story.

  31. A.Taylor looks like he is officiating in a different sport today as well. It is quite simply remarkable. Very strange.

    Whipping out a card for Tiote at around the twenty five minute mark? Taylor! I thought he was a Gritish ref protecting the sanctity and purity of the traditional game? That’s a bit early for a Taylor yellow.* I thought he, to paraphrase the PGMO literature, as we have seen, is an expert in reinterpreting the rules to “let the game flow”, or as appears to be more clear with each passing game, dependant upon his mood, the alignment of the stars, or a txt message from his boss? Must have been a random aberration, an early yellow that rules Tiote out of Newcastle’s next game against…Manchester Utd.

    *please note: this early yellow was a few shades lighter then the kick on Sanchez last week, I don’t need to be snide lying and stupid ex-amateur to work that one out 😉 )

    The House of Riley. So cunning. So subtle.

  32. It feels frustrating given the circumstance but in the grand scheme of things it’s tough to suggest we deserved anything more.

  33. Always a good result when you go away to Anfield and come back with a point. Shame we couldn’t get all three. It is positive that we can play pretty average and get a result. Everybody in the game always says that great teams can play badly but still get a point – unless it’s Arsenal. Hypocrits.

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