Analyzing the table of shame

By Walter Broeckx

Regular readers know that we have a table of shame in which we compare wrong decisions from referees going in favour of Arsenal and going against Arsenal.  Below a repeat of the latest standing in this table.

Table of Shame

Wrong Important Decisions Favouring Arsenal Favouring Opponents
2nd Yellow Cards 1 44
Red Cards 2 16
Penalties 3 29
Goals 1 11
Total 7 100
Possible Cost in Points 0 27

After the West Ham match we found that we had now 100 errors going against Arsenal in total.  100 errors about the most important decisions that a referee has to make on a football field. Handing out red cards (double yellows), penalties and goal decisions.  Match changing decisions in fact.

Now we have found that we also had a few decisions going our way this season. 7 in total. We had one good goal chalked off from an opposition team and that was the West Ham goal early in the match. We also had 3 lucky escapes in our penalty area. Arsenal should have had 3  penalties more against us.  And we should have had 3 more sending offs of one of our players.

But the strange thing is that not one of those decisions could have cost our opponents points. The most debatable could be the West Ham United goal maybe as that would have been the opening goal in that match. But even that decision was more or less overshadowed by the not sending off a few minutes earlier by the man who gave the assist for that goal.

Now of course some of those decisions count more or less double from time to time. Let us take against the West Ham match. The fact that Carroll stayed on the pitch after his first not given red card resulted in 4 later wrong decisions when he finally should have been sent off with a second yellow card. So if the ref had  done his job in the first place the number of wrong decisions might have gone down a bit. But well… that is the fault of the ref for not doing his job once, twice, trice or…. 4 times.

One particular number is the penalties. Arsenal escaped 3 times from a penalty that should have been given against them. But if we look at the number of decisions that went against Arsenal when we should have had a penalty is somewhat staggering. Arsenal could and should have had 29 penalties more than they have received.

Once again I should point out that if a ref had done his job by giving a penalty when an Arsenal players was completely held back by a defender when Arsenal had a corner for the first foul, the chance of that defender of repeating it a bit later in the match would go down dramatically. But as said before this is down to the ref not doing their job once, twice….

But let us look at the number. Two penalties given in favour of Arsenal this season and 29 not given. Now people might argue that this is an Arsenal supporting blog and so this number is not correct. Feel free to examine our reviews as they are on the site and disagree with our findings.

But based on our numbers we can say that Arsenal could and should have had 31 penalties this season and we only got…two.  This means that we got 6% of the total penalties we should have had.

Okay I hear some say: 29 penalties this is ridiculous. You are too biased.  First I would like to point at the fact that we show where our numbers come from, unlike the PGMO who claim that around 95% of the important decisions are correct. Or maybe looking at the 6% and the 95%.   Maybe the press release from the PGMO made a human mistake and should have written that 95 of the important decisions were NOT correct?

But let us for the sake of the argument try to calculate a bias. And while we are at it why not just get a bit ridiculous (if the PGMO can, why can’t we?) and say that because of our bias we ourselves made 50% errors in judging the penalties. To be clear I don’t admit the bias in such a way, I just want to respond or anticipate those who are critical to our findings.

So if we now meet each other in the middle and you and I remove half of the wrong penalty decisions that went against Arsenal. That would leave us with 14,5 not given penalties. To make things a bit simpler I now take the freedom to round this off to 15.

So even if we had taken half of the wrong penalty decisions away we still should have had 15 penalties. 15 more chances to score another goal. Scoring those penalties alone would have resulted in us scoring 71 goals and being the highest scoring team in the PL. Far in front of the rest in fact.  Now you might say that 15 penalties would be a bit too much. But then look at the current league leaders. They have had 11 penalties so far this season (I think) and they are the team that spend the least time in the other penalty area. In fact one could say they only enter the other penalty area to either score or to…get a penalty.

But even more important than the number of penalties itself… the question is: how much more points would this have given Arsenal. And then I haven’t even calculated the wrongly awarded goals against us and the wrongly ruled out goals from Arsenal. How many more points would we have won if video refereeing would exist already?

Yes maybe we didn’t play at our best in each match but then again…who does? But what is clear is that we surely didn’t get from the referees what we deserved and should have received. Even if we brush away ourselves half of the not given penalties for Arsenal…

And before you march in to the comment section and shout: too biased why don’t you check other neutral (more Arsenal hating websites in fact) before you do… like the Telegraph, hell The sun and The Metro  Not really known as bastions of Wenger lovers and die hard Arsenal supporters…

On the glorious Untold Arsenal home page: 

  • A selected anniversary from beyond football and a nice picture of the stadium and a train.
  • Today’s Arsenal anniversaries and the Insult of the Day
  • A list of the most recent posts from Untold and the Arsenal History Society
  • Details of all the the books Untold Arsenal has published

Recent Posts

Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle.  The books are

  • The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
  • Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace.  By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
  • Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football.  By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
  • Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
  • The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.

You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page

23 Replies to “Analyzing the table of shame”

  1. What interests me in these figures is how few people who argue for a change or manager or owner or both also incorporate these figures into their argument.

    They can say, “these figures are nonsense” – but then it would be helpful to know how they reach that conclusion.

    Or they could say, “these figures are right” in which case for what reason do they expect any of the results to change.

  2. Good Article.
    Is it possible to upload the footage for the incident leading to the penalties UA think should have been given to Arsenal?
    On YouTube maybe?
    And a link to be provided on UA.
    This will be an ample proof for everyone who doubt UAs Ref reviews and an open evidence against the PGMo to get there things right for the new season atleast.
    It will be also proved that how the PGMO robbed Arseanl the EPL title this year.

  3. Rosicky,
    a good question and one that is bothering me for a while. I’m afraid we might run in to trouble if we do publish them in the open. And that is a big shame as Usama really has some very good images available.

  4. All things being equal, you should get some of the good penalty shouts you have, and not get others.

    That takes into account they can often be close calls, and that refs are humans under great pressure, having to make near instant decisions from whatever one position they have on the pitch (though there’s always a linesman with a second view).

    As a very crude heuristic then, maybe you should get about half of your good shouts over the course of the season. Also, and quite obviously, as another guide, the better you are as a team the more good penalty claims you should have.

    Arguably, an excellent counter-attacking team will have more clear cut penalty situations (fewer defenders, running at pace) than one who spends a lot of time in advanced positions, playing lots of football around the opposition box. However, they should have less claims overall, so the two should very nearly cancel each other out.

    All that considered, our football should have brought us somewhere between 5 and 10 penalties this year.

    2 is a joke, highlighted by West Ham getting two in eight minutes the other evening.

    The very best you can say in defence of these referees is that they ‘find it hard’ to award us a pen; that the crunch moment comes and they perhaps think, ‘can I be absolutely sure? Was that….hmmm?’, and by then it is almost certain they’ll say no (though in some cases their arms are already working to say no instantaneously, quicker than it would take to even ask any questions to check what you think you saw.

    Hard to award us a pen, yet quite or very easy for others. That’s the best you can say for them, and it still leaves questions of how that situation has arisen and why it is clearly not a case of all things being equal.

  5. Rosicky,

    The problem is the Premier League itself, their copyright, piracy or video guidelines are either very less, unclear or not available.

    So to be on the safe side, we avoid uploading or sharing any video content using Untold Arsenal’s name.

    I read somewhere, months back (sorry no source) that if the following are present in the video footage of any EPL match then it conflicts with their copyright policy; the animation of the Premier League’s Logo, the sound of the EPL anthem, the presence of their logo or the logo of any official broadcaster. This might be incorrect because I don’t remember the source.

  6. @Rosicky,
    As an alternative, all of the matches are available free to view for Arsenal members via Arsenal player. The timings is all decisions are given on the referee reviews. It is relatively easy, although time consuming to view them from that source. They may not have all of the replay angles that were available to Usama and Walter though.
    Arsenal have a free digital membership scheme to allow access to Arsenal player. If you haven’t already signed up I would suggest that you do so.

  7. This isn’t acceptable. If we were talking anything up to 5 denied penalties one could say we can live with that. But 29! That’s enough to win a league of their own.

    People should never forget the direct relation between penalties and winning the league; Liverpool almost did it after getting 13 penalties two years ago, Utd used to get around 7-10 per season all those years, and now Leicester…

    As Walter says, give us half of those 29 penalties and we’ll be running away with the league. We all know we have had years where the league was stolen from us, such as in 2008, but I think no previous year compares to this year. This year has to be the worst.

  8. It’s bad enough that the refs are completely inefficient, apply the rules at their own discretion, but on top of it all seem to have an anti-Arsenal agenda too.

    Strangely, my sister who does not love football, emailed me that she watched an Arsenal game and guess what she said:

    “The ref was a complete idiot”.

    And this even though she had no full grasp on the rules of the game, but she is intelligent enough to see that something was foul.

  9. I become unease as I look at this weekend’s Premier League fixtures which shows Spurs would have had a double header Monday night fixture games, haven had 1 last Monday night.

    Those 2 Spurs consecutives Monday night fixture matches, one had follwed Arsenal results at West Ham which was know last Saturday. And another one will follow the Arsenal game against Sunderland which w’ll be known on Sunday. All these 2 Arsenal results are behind Spurs Monday night 2 game results.

    Mr. Broeckx, please have I seen any match fixtures schedule fixing here in favour of Spurs who are Arsenal rivals for a 2nd spot finish in the table, by the Sky Sports or BT Sports in collaborations with the Premier League Management Board PLMB or am I just beating about the bush?

  10. Al

    Thing is the penalties don’t even tell the full story. On average, scoring a goal must surely make it more likely you’ll score the next one. On many days, especially in big games, this must be especially true.

    Well over 70% of pens are scored, whereas for a shot in open play it’s down below 10% (forget the exact figure).

    At the very least, you’d expect even 3-5 pens to have brought at least a few other extra goals with them, as well as taking off a goal or two from the conceded column. And probably a couple of them would or should have entailed red cards,too. Goals, and reds, too, change games (or something more complicated than that which I can’t explain well)

    Rashford’s on the goal line springs to mind. What would that have meant in arguably our most damaging defeat of the season?

    Anyway, a person can only dream about big match changing decisions going our way against Utd or in any or the biggest games.

    My methodology was imperfect * (used a website which showed results and red cards, and pens, but only the ones which were converted), but I still think the results of a recent check i did were quite accurate, and they showed up only 1 premier league penalty for us against Utd from 96-97 onwards to the present.

    That, surely, is extraordinary and ridiculous.

    Forty or so games, between rivals who have almost never been more than a couple of places apart at the top end of the table; and an immensely ‘competitive’ team, who at the least operate at the edge of the boundaries between fair and foul, concede only 1 penalty. Impossible.

    They had less than i expected, too, I admit. Though 6 is plenty more than 1.

    Couple of other eye-catching things from my search was that Chelsea haven’t conceded a pen against us since 2006-7, nor seen red in that time; whereas we’ve conceded 3 pens and 4 reds in the same period.

    For a Utd red you have to go back further, Silvestre in 2004-5.

    How on earth does that compare to the figures between huge rivals in other big leagues? I bet it is utterly unique.

    *There should be at least a few pens I’ve not accounted for because of this flaw in my methodology, but, to be honest, there’s more chance of them being against than for us.

  11. Adding the 27 “missing” points to our present 63 would give us 90 – and the league would have been won. All the anti Wenger, anti Arsenal, anti team propaganda woud be baseless.

    I would like to see Riley or any of his select team of incompetents challenge or even debate the above figures.

    As for the aaaa backstabbers – well, debating evidence is not really in their repertoire.

    A major investigation into the PGMO is long overdue – why are the media ignoring their incompetence?

  12. Tks Andrew.Will chk the ref review to watch the penalty incidents not given to Srsenal.

  13. Can we have a different argument for a change, i think despite the referee influence there are enough games that we shot ourselves on the foot, with these games we still would have won the EPL, look at Diego he gets alot of unfair treatment against Barca and Real but he is still there. Case example is WBA hammers, crystal, liverpool, swansea (despite the foul on Ozil) with these we would have earned 12 points. we would be ahead of Leicester by two points

  14. Walter/Usama: Maybe it’s me, but the bias percentages seem to be missing from the ref reviews, or at least from the latest West Ham one in red 😐 That would be right after the overall incorrect decisions against each team.

  15. Before the video referee facility is implemented, the argument for and against of players going down in the box under stimulation can be clearer & certain if the FA will instruct the Pgmob to put a 5th & 6th match officials behind the goal posts of the opposing teams, like they do in the Ucl matches. This will allow for a better correct call to be made should in case the 3 match officiating match officials missed an incident or are not sure or even made a wrong call.

    But the numbers of referees at the Pgmob are said to be few to have allowed for such an implementation of such an instruction from the FA to be implemetable by the Pgmob. This kind of instruction by the FA will require at least a min’ of 7 match officials to handle each Premier League game taking into account of a standby match official for the 5th&6th match officials should in case of any eventuality. This will be apart from the regular 4th match official.

    Did Iwobi & Elneny went down under match stimulation to get a Pen call in the WBA box?

  16. Florian,

    Yes, you are right the bias percentage are often missing at the end of many reviews, one main reason is while reviewing we often forget them due to the structure of the review format 😀

    But don’t worry Andrew takes care of it every time in his ref previews and monthly article on refs. Also I’m preparing lots of charts, graphs, pictures, and tables full of data, facts and irrefutable evidence at the end of the season. Which will cover a lot.

    If you have any more suggestions, improvements or tips that you want give for our refs reviewing, you are welcomed too.

  17. Usama, brilliant stuff what we need is an analysis of all the clubs so that a proper comparison can be made. If you just analyse our games you get nothing. Its like tracking the weather in Cornwall and ignoring what happens in the rest of the Uk. What you have to avoid is starting from the premise that Arsenal are victimised and then set out to prove it. Manipulating data is a whole subject in itself.

  18. Walter always adds a bit of wry humour. I liked this one – Leicester only enter the penalty area to score – or to get a penalty! Sums it up.

  19. Thanks Usama, and no worries, the bias is pretty obvious for anyone with eyes to see.

  20. In the article about only 3 days to prepare for this game Sunday, Wenger made a comment about Uefa studying all CL team past efforts, to see if the presence of CL games midweek was having an effect on the various teams ability to compete.

    I think uncurious statisticians are dangerous. Vaguely like the accountant that replies to the question “What is 2 plus 2?”, with “What would you like it to be?”.

    I think people at Untold had looked at some (all?) data for the case of the EPL and seen something negative. The Spanish league might be tilted to be positive, and hence “it all evens out in the end”. If one looks at all data in total, the average behaviour is no effect. Or, the UEFA statisticians found what they were told to find. Are there leagues where there is no effect, leagues with a positive effect, and leagues where there is a negative effect? How different is the difference between the positive and negative?

  21. Bard, I think you are completely wrong. If we had no weather forecasts at all a weather report on Cornwall would be better than nothing. But that is not where things stand at the moment because as we have said so often, we did do the analysis for a year of lots of clubs, analysed by lots of referees. It is on the Referee Decisions website. We don’t start from a premise, we analyse what we see. By not doing your research you are the one who is just making accusations, and ignoring reality.

  22. Gord, I like this:

    ” How different is the difference between the positive and negative?”

    I will attempt to answer: None. Each needs the other to survive!

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