Newspaper claims Arsenal “should have been applauded as CHAMPIONS if officials had done their jobs properly.”

By Tony Attwood


“The Gunners should have been applauded as CHAMPIONS if officials had done their jobs properly.”

To confirm from the off, that is not a quote from Untold, but from a national UK newspaper – the Sun.   OK not my favourite paper, but actually one that I would have said a year ago was the least likely to have taken such a view.

However the Sun has already had one foray into this arena – a foray in which it looked at just a handful of games and found a few that Arsenal should have won.  We covered it here last December in passing, along with a mention that the Independent had also ventured into this territory.  But I took it that they were just doing a quick filler of a piece.  However now look at this.

We have analysed all 380 matches to determine the goals that should not have counted, the ones wrongly ruled out and the key penalty-box calls that went for and against teams.

And… our panel can reveal the real winners deserved to be Arsene Wenger’s side.

In a table that puts a lie to the frequent claim mistakes even themselves out over the course of a season, we can reveal things should have looked very different this term.

Not only did Arsenal deserve to finish top of the pile, with Leicester actually worth only second place, but neither Manchester City nor Manchester United should have finished in the top five.

Southampton, in fact, were robbed of third and Spurs should actually have been fourth. Newcastle were the biggest victims of all as they deserved to finish 14th, not in the drop zone, while Sunderland should have gone down after all.

The analysis found that mistakes were made in 96 games, around one in every four matches, with the final result being ‘wrong’ in 53 of them.

They then produce two complete league tables – the actual final table and how the league should have looked if referees had done their job.

Pos Club Pld W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 38 21 10 7 63 35 73
2 Leicester City 38 20 11 7 70 44 71
3 Southampton 38 19 10 9 61 43 67
4 Tottenham Hotspur 38 17 15 6 65 34 66
5 West Ham United 38 18 12 8 67 51 66
6 Manchester United 38 20 6 12 53 41 66
7 Manchester City 38 19 8 11 73 41 65
8 Chelsea 38 14 11 13 65 58 53
9 Liverpool? 38 13 14 12 64 57 50

In five games, adding up to a seventh of the season, massive mistakes aided Leicester, in total handing them 12 points more than they should have got — although they were robbed of a win at Southampton.

Arsenal were only involved in three crucial decisions, costing them two points overall, which they lost in the first week of the season.

That came when Aaron Ramsey’s effort was wrongly ruled out for offside in the goalless home draw with Liverpool — which would have taken them to the crown.

The article then continues to look at the implications for each club before returning to Arsenal and Leicester and I list their details for these two clubs at the top of the league…


Aug 24: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0 (Adjusted score 1-0)

Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey was wrongly called offside when he netted.

Nov 21: West Brom 2 Arsenal 1 (1-1)

Baggies’ winner came from a free-kick after Mikel Arteta won the ball fairly.

Apr 9: West Ham 3 Arsenal 3 (4-3)

Manuel Lanzini’s goal should have stood for the Hammers but was chalked off for offside.


Aug 15: West Ham 1 Leicester 2 (2-2)

Kasper Schmeichel somehow escaped punishment when he brought down Diafra Sakho in the box.

Oct 17: Southampton 2 Leicester 2 (1-2)

Saints defender Virgil van Dyke was offside before putting the hosts 2-0 up.

Oct 24: Leicester 1 Crystal Palace 0 (1-2)

Christian Fuchs got away with two offences that should have led to Palace penalties.

Oct 31: West Brom 2 Leicester 3 (4-2)

Riyad Mahrez was offside for Foxes’ second goal while West Brom should have had two spot-kicks.

Dec 29: Leicester 0 Man City 0 (0-1)

Wes Morgan’s blatant foul on Sergio Aguero in the box went unnoticed.

Apr 3: Leicester 1 Southampton 0 (0-2)

Goalscorer Morgan admitted he expected to be penalised as the Saints were denied two spot-kicks.

May 15: Chelsea 1 Leicester 1 (2-1)

Austrian full-back Fuchs’ handball was ignored as the Prem champions finished season with a draw.


These analyses are of course just of a handful of key moments, and don’t get anywhere near the depth of the analyses Walter has run on this site for so many years.  But they still raise key issues such as…

It doesn’t all balance out in the end.

That notion that mistakes by referees are as random as flips of a coin has always been misleading because spinning a coin (on which the phrase is based – heads and tails will balance out eventually if you do enough flips of the coin) is simple.  There are only two answers.  But in football there are millions “answers” in a game and the chances of errors balancing out is slim.
Also none of this considers why the referees are getting so much wrong that we need to accept a “balancing out” as some sort of excuse.  Is it incompetence or bias, or the impossibility of getting it right in a very fast PL football match?  Whichever one it is always raises profound questions.  We therefore should now either ask…
  • Why are the refs so incompetent or
  • Why is this bias being allowed to continue or
  • Is it right that football should be based on random decisions?
And this is before we start asking, “Why is TV not dealing with this?”
This is the question that was raised in the article “At last, a new view as to why the media insist on ignoring the key issues in football day after day after day.”   The point here was made that one explanation could be that the media is desperate to preserve its investment in PL football, and so will not look at refereeing.  The other was that people who get into TV analysis are simply not up to the job of asking the right questions.
So let’s go back to the start.   Slowly, very slowly, others are joining in and saying that there is something not right with refereeing in the Premier League.   This is not the same as saying referees are fixed, but instead it is an important first step to raising two questions:
  • Why has the subject been so fulsomely ignored for so long?
  • What is the cause of the problem?   Is it that the game is too fast to be refereed properly, is it that referees are being fixed, or is it that referees are incompetent?
To me, these are the key issues we need to focus on.  But at the same time we should notice one other thing.  When Walter first started writing referee reviews, we were out here on our own.  No one but no one would touch the subject.   Over the years some other websites have come along and done their bit, but now the Sun (once in depth and one on the surface) and the Independent (in passing) has raised the topic.
This doesn’t mean that the PGMO will suddenly put up their hands and say, “It’s a fair cop guv, we done it,” but it is a step forwards.  If we keep up the pressure, we can get somewhere.  There is, at last, momentum.
Finally, I know that the aaa like to pop in when we write seriously about refereeing standards, so save them time, here is the official line for early stage concrete thinkers.
“You stupid Arsenal fans, always whining, you were ten points behind, get over it.”
So no need to say it now.  The key point remains: there is evidence that there is something seriously wrong with refereeing in the Premier League and that the notion that it doesn’t matter because it all balances out in the end, is completely ill-founded.
Thus again I say, “why is this, and why are more media outlets not taking the point up?”

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

39 Replies to “Newspaper claims Arsenal “should have been applauded as CHAMPIONS if officials had done their jobs properly.””

  1. Just as in 2007-2008… another PL title taken away by the officials. And there have been more in the last 10 years.
    And as people question the 29 points found based on our reviews I will say that in fact it doesn’t matter if it are 5, 10, 15 of 29 points that we didn’t get. What matters is that there is a constant bias against Arsenal and in favour of other teams (that can vary over the years) but the bias is still against Arsenal. And that is the worrying fact.
    A fact that people who are smart and have read Untold know for many years of course…

    Thanks Tony for bringing this to my attention as I usually don’t read such things.

  2. I never ever thought I would ever take anything the Sun newspaper seriously. Thanks to this article the day has come.

    I had a friend who was a sales assistant in a news paper shop.

    One morning I was there talking to her and a man came in and bought a copy of the Sun.

    On impulse I said to my friend (the customer was along side me)

    ‘I don’t know why people buy the Sun there isn’t any news in it.’
    man shook himself and said.

    ‘Oh I don’t buy it for the news I buy it for the jokes!’

    I hope he buys it to day and reads the news of the true situation in the Premier League.

    Not news to may who come here but I am certain news to readers of the Sun. Its not a joke this time. Its serious.

  3. So Goonergerry and Frenchcloe, do you consider the Sun as a division of Untold Arsenal? And do you think the HPL website is also part of the Untold Kingdom?

    Tony, When did you buy the Sun? Last weekend? 😉

  4. I’m sure that those people who regularly come on here to call us all deluded , must be picketing and protesting in large numbers outside The Sun’s offices . The office phones must be ringing off their hooks and their switchboards jammed . And their website probably must be under cyber attack or already brought down . How dare they show support for the Arsenal !

    Meanwhile at AKB HQ , the is the usual peace and calm . Maybe they will be coming along here soon to protest too ? And possibly rant against The Sun ? And the media ?
    Okay everyone , take a very deep breath,….hold …and laugh your arses off !!

  5. It is as though a miracle is taking place in England. For the sun news paper to publish such a FACT (BAISED OFFICIATION )which has happened for over a decade, ” it’s like the seeing the SUN rise in MID-NIGHT. Hope the FA does a scrutiny of this article and effects a review on Refs for a better 2016-2017 premier league action.

  6. I agree bring in video refereeing, it might not be 100% but it will be a lot better than what we have now. I wonder has anybody start one of those protest thing for it?

    Anyway, let wait until the day common sense prevail and they bring in video refereeing.

  7. Should we not do two petitions? One to the TV to show matches as they play, stop the useless celeb shots, stop the many shots of players arses(there i said it) and concentrate on the match only.
    The other to the PGMO to get their act together.

    I know that petitions usually do not change things immediately, but they do gain interest and may pick up speed from there.

    After all if the official media starts to pick up on things from Untold, it’s a step in the right direction to get things changed? Many do follow the media and may lend their voices to the cause.

  8. It’s good to see a mainstream (read by the masses) newspaper taking this issue up, but will they continue with it into next season & beyond. They’re absolutely bang on saying that the TV companies are reluctant to criticise their client.
    A couple of interesting facts from the research is that it wasn’t so much us being cheated in our matches (just two points), but the favour shown to Leicester (plus 10 points). Also I thought they won on the “Vardy penalties”, but according to the report not so.

  9. Sometimes they come in pairs –
    Two of ‘them’ are in a museum looking at an Egyptian Mummy .
    The first one says , ” Look, so many bandages used , must have been a very bad accident case.”
    The second one replies, ” Yes , they have even written down the lorry’s number – BC 1760 !”

  10. The fact that there is a big difference between their findings and ours is mostly down to the fact that we do the whole matches and they just focus on a few moments. The same goes for the HPL website. One could say they only show the tip of the iceberg. We show the whole thing.

  11. I think whatever be the case with the Premier League games being too fast to be fairly refereed by referees, referees incompetence, the referees being biased on their own making and their likely being fixed by the Pgmob. The introduction of the video referee assistant sooner than later should go a long way to eliminate some of the critical referee flaws we’ve been witnessing in our beautiful game.

    Apart of the wrong cancelling of Ramsey’s goal for off-side against Liverpool at the Ems which should have given us all 3 points instead of the 1 we got, I also watched on TV, the young Wayne Rooney who dived in the Gunners’ box to get a penalty in the would have been the 50th unbeaten Arsenal match at Old Trafford which was converted by Van Nistelrooy.

    This deliberate unfairness in referring by referees in the Premier League MUST be brought down to it’s knee as from next season.


    Who is poor ?

    A wealthy woman goes to a saree store and tells the boy at the counter ” Son , show some cheap sarees. It is my son’s marriage and I have to give one to my maid.”
    After sometime, the maid comes to the saree shop and tells the boy at the counter “Son, show some expensive sarees. I want to gift it to my Mistress on her son’s marriage”
    Poverty is it in the mind or in the purse?

    Who is rich?

    Once, a lady with her family was staying in a 3-star hotel for a picnic. She was the mother of a 6 month old baby.
    “Can I get a cup of milk?” asked the lady to the 3-star hotel manager.
    “Yes madam”, he replied, “But it will cost you money.”
    “No problem”, said the lady.
    While driving back from hotel, the child was hungry again.
    They stopped at a road side tea stall and took milk from the tea vendor.
    “How much?” she asked the tea vendor.
    “Madam, we don’t charge money for kid’s milk”, the old man said with a smile.
    “Let me know if you need more for the journey”. The lady took one more cup and left.
    She wondered, “Who’s richer? The hotel manager or the old tea vendor?”

    Sometimes, in the race for more money, we forget that we are all humans. Let’s help someone in need, without expecting something in return. It will make us feel better than what money can.

    *Coffee never knew that it would taste so nice and sweet, before it met milk and sugar.* ☕

    We may be good as individuals but we become better when we meet and blend in with the right people….

    The world is full of nice people… If you can’t find one… Be one.

  13. I don’t know if anyone else is experiencing this, but when I click on that link to Sun I get a security alert from my computer. Take care.

  14. Brickfields I am a nice one. You’ll find me on facebook. Don’t be surprised that according to facebook I live in Myoba Mandalay Burma. 🙂

  15. Publishers’ note:
    This commentary has not been published as it is primarily made up of concrete thinking. We will be publishing a few extracts from concrete thinking to follow up on the detailed review of this that we did recently.

    Barney, if you want your comment published and you are arguing against what is said in an article, you have to give some logical deductive argument or evidence. You said,

    I can’t agree that this is a useful contribution from the Currant Bun. Inferring by spending pointless hours crunching stats that if the referee had done ‘x’ then ‘y’ would have happened is a waste of time, and illogical. It doesn’t work that way.

    And moreover, fans directing their anger at the referees is a useful diversion from the real issue – that Kroenke and the board are very happy as long as Arsenal finish 4th. Call me old-fashioned but that’s not I remember football being about way back when.

    You need to explain why it is a waste of time, and how you know that the board is very happy for the club to finish fourth.

  16. Off topic and on Brickfields territory (sorry but couldn’t let that go)

    A couple that is married for many years is walking in a shopping mall. The wife is looking at all the shops with clothes, shoes and all a woman can dream off. Suddenly she realises that her husband is no longer walking next to her.
    She takes up her phone and calls him. “Where are you she asks?” in an angry way. He answers: “Do you know some 5 years ago when we were walking in this shopping mall and there was a jewellery shop? Do you remember that diamond neckless you were crazy about? Do you remember that I couldn’t afford to pay it as it cost too much money? And do you remember that I vowed that I would buy it one day when I had enough money?”
    “Oh yes my dear” she replied. “I do remember that” she said with almost tears in her eyes and with a loving whisper in her voice.
    “Well I’m in the pub next to that shop” her husband said….

  17. Ah Tony, you forgot the killer line: “get a life” somewhere in your article 😉

  18. As the Danish Arsenal fan said in Denmark a few weeks ago, nobody trusts referees. A TV product worth billions, sold to the planet, is under threat because the chap with the whistle cannot be trusted.

    When the ‘Sun’ throws the ‘miracle’ of Leicester City into doubt, it’s difficult to see how the PGMOB can construct a dam that protects their reputation and secrecy.

    Transparency has to rule. Video technology will arrive. Arsenal might win a title someday. Those years where Arsenal were denied titles because fair refereeing was made subordinate to agendas driven by those who wanted titles above fairness, these we will have to regret but – Arsenal have played beautiful football.

    My plaudits and thanks to the manager Mr Wenger and the team at Untold for sticking to their guns.

  19. Zedsaunt
    I think there’s going to be a limited amount of extra TV tech starting next season in at least one of the cup events.
    Not as much as one commenter requested recently (wants the whole of play to replayed at will), but enough of a start to generate more interest and extra tech in seasons to come.
    I believe GL video is going to be in the Euros for the first time.

  20. Leon

    That’s my understanding as well. GL technology at the Euros, trial video technology next season to be followed by a phased in introduction.

    The interest generated will raise more questions and that’s the point of it. Who is the ref? How are they appointed? Why is the ref the most important person on the pitch?

    It should have happened years ago. The adjudication of the game – the refs, the video technology – has to serve the game. The two teams of players have to be the most important people on the pitch. What happens between the two teams has to generate the result.

    When you think it through it’s absolutely ludicrous that a game gets decided by some guy with a whistle and you don’t even know why he got there in the first place.

  21. Zedsaunt

    That last paragraph should be part of Untolds mission statement.
    Absolutely brilliant!

  22. Even the Sun only looks at the clear points effecting events, rather than the consequences of comparatively minor mistakes made by the officials.
    It’s the 5 or 6 early clear wrong calls on tackles where we lose out. It effects the way we play because every player is looking over their shoulder (instead of looking for the next pass) trying to avoid being clattered from behind by the opposition and potentially being carried off on a stretcher and then targeting being fit to play in 3 months time…
    I’m firmly of the opinion that Alexis is the most kicked player in the PL (although Santi was a pretty close 2nd until his injury) and that’s despite him being injured for a chunk of the season.

  23. Can someone tell Barney that it is already two seasons ago when we last finished 4th. I think he has missed a few seasons.

  24. Unfortunately I think these figures will be used against the football fan by the media and the PGMOL (or whatever they are called now). On the face of it yes it shows that the officials make mistakes, but in Arsenal’s case they made 3 mistakes in 38 games, there is no mention of the Chelsea game etc so the media are not seeing the sending off as a mistake etc. I lost count of the penalties Arsenal did not receive or the amount of soft fouls that were given against us. I am at the moment in the middle of writing a post about this for untold and the slightly bigger picture behind it, which has to me and a few other become abundantly clear this season

  25. What is intriguing is that Leicester’s championship is being called into doubt when they won by a whopping 10 points. Someone could have laughed off the article had Leicester’s point total gone down by a couple of points…but 10?

  26. And since we are on about The Sun, here’s a titillating tale ( of probably an out of work former page 3 model !) in the news .

    ‘ A naked woman robbed a bank . Nobody could remember her face !’

  27. And Tony , with so many happy and vindicated fans flocking here , maybe its time to sign them up to be AKBs to swell, our ranks .
    Hope you could use the article that I sent you last week ? It would seem apt .

  28. I’ll drink to that !

    A Lady was conducting her anti drinking campaign outside a bar. A man came out of the Bar exuding alcohol fumes and the Lady said – “Tell me!!! If you arrive at the Gates of Heaven with your breath smelling of liquor,Do you think the Lord will let you in ?”

    “My good woman” passionately holding her hand, said the man, “When I go to Heaven I expect to leave my breath behind”….

    Moral : Drinkers are practical people. Kindly Support them !!!! *

  29. An old man and his wife had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other, except that the little old woman had a locked chest on top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

    For all of these years, he had never thought about the chest, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

    In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the chest and took it to his wife’s bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the chest. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money that came out to about $95,000.

    He asked her about the contents.

    She replied: ‘When we were to be married, my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.’

    The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the chest. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

    ‘Honey,’ he said. ‘That explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?’

    ‘Oh!’ she said. ‘That’s the money I made from selling the other dolls.’

  30. barney

    “And moreover, fans directing their anger at the referees is a useful diversion from the real issue – that Kroenke and the board are very happy as long as Arsenal finish 4th. Call me old-fashioned but that’s not I remember football being about way back when.”

    This did make me laugh.

    You say ‘way back when’, but that depends on which ‘way back when’ period you are talking about. Because the ‘way back when’ period when I used to be able to go to Highbury every week, most of the time we where happy to a) finish above Spurs and b) finish in the top half of the table. That was a good season.

    The way back when’ I am referring to is between our League and Cup double season of ’70-’71 and that famous night at Anfield in the ’88-’89 season.

    By a quirk of fate, or maybe just a tuch of bad luck, it is between those years that I reached an age where I could start following Arsenal on my own, and then could not as I moved abroad.

    During that period, that spans almost 20 years, we won one League Cup and One FA Cup, and frankly we where dire at times. And I’ll tell you what, we never moaned a fraction of the amount people do now, but that’s another issue.

    And ‘way back when’ do you think all the manager and the board wanted was to drift along around mid table? Of course not, but it happens. Clubs have difficult periods. Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs have all been relegated. We have not.

    Also, ‘way back when’ we wasn’t competing against clubs with 5 to 10 times our spending power, thanks to billionaire owners.

    Neither did a new Stadium get built ‘way back when’ either.

    So you are either very young, or, have a dose of selective ‘way back when’ memory.

  31. Wow! Thanks Tony. Not that I’m surprised by the findings, but never thought a mainstream publication would delve this far into this! Thank you to The Sun too.

    Now where are all those people who were saying we’re always blaming the refs without any justification?

  32. At one time, there were 2 assistant referees for squash tournaments and it was observed that based on the decision made by majority vote amongst the 3 referees, there were less controversies. It is worth considering this approach for the Premier League.

  33. At one time, there used to be 3 referees for squash tournament (one chief and two assistants) and it was observed that there were less controversies as decisions were made by the majority vote among the 3 referees. This approach should be considered for the Premier League.

  34. pgMOB Rules Football. Ok?
    It’s fooball. But not association football as you know it (rules were written down C1850).

    “The greatest story ever told” screamed the commentators from their scripts. All of them. From different broadcasters. A remarkable observation we can all have made, if we were watching and listening, for it was most odd.

  35. But it still makes no difference. All those decisions don’t actually mean Leicester would have lost. all they would do would change the final score. You can’t actually prove that even if all those decisions would have been given that Leicester would have lost.

    Two examples stand out to argue against these false conclusions. Let’s stop the Spurs vs. Newcastle match at the moment the Newcastle player is sent off. Now according to Walter and co. this would almost definitely result in a Spurs win, after all Newcastle are a man down and logically, as Spurs are the better side, they should win. Let’s restart the game and see what happens, wow against all odds Newcastle win 5-1.

    Example 2 : Wilshire scores a goal against Liverpool in the first fifteen minutes. It’s given offside and the game ends nil nil. Now many have argued if the goal stood we would have won. But that somehow ignores the fact that Liverpool had 75 minutes to equalize. Just because they didn’t score in the actual game it doesn’t follow they wouldn’t score in the new version ( the Wilshire goal standing version ) because the chain of events would have been different. Liverpool wouldn’t have just gone home after Jack scored.

    This is why I take issue with all these so-called extra points because you can’t actually prove they would have been garnered. There’s no concrete evidence, a lack of concrete thinking has been applied as Tony calls it.

    As for this concrete thinking issue, fine, but football’s lifeblood is opinions, well reasoned or otherwise. So much of sport is about opinions, it’s what makes it so much fun.

  36. An example of Concrete thinking is to insist to others that sport is “about opinions” when in fact it has long been understood (for a couple of thousand years at least) that sport is an athletic exercise testing skill strength character and endurance.

    No wonder the concrete thinkers start bleating like blank filled blunderbuss’ whilst insisting upon the validity of their own “opinions” when asked to reflect upon the importance of the Corinthian Spirit. Especially at the Arsenal.

  37. Another victory for the blog and it’s readers. Thank you guys, I love being ‘in the know’ so to speak

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