Arsenal v Liverpool Sunday 14 August – The Match Officials. Prepare for bias.

by Andrew Crawshaw

So the Season starts with a Sunday afternoon kickoff against Liverpool.  Our Match Officials are :-

Referee – Michael Oliver – FIFA Accredited –  age 31 – Home County Northumberland

Assistants – S Burt – FIFA accredited, Home County Northamptonshire and E Smart – Home County West Midlands

Fourth Official – C Pawson – FIFA Accredited referee Home County South Yorkshire

An experienced group of officials, Eddie Smart the only one who doesn’t hold FIFA accreditation so there really shouldn’t be any excuses for any major cock-ups.

As I said in my article highlighting the changes in the PGMO for this year, it is something of a lottery at the moment trying to predict what might happen as it really all depends on how strictly the new guidelines regarding the behaviour of players and coaching staff are going to be applied.

If applied in accordance with the letter of the laws and until the players learn how to behave it is difficult to imagine any team ending the game with all 11 players on the pitch.  Even Özil and Giroud frequently display displeasure when they are not awarded free kicks for the numerous fouls they receive during a game and more forceful teams (Chelsea, Man United and Spurs are typical) who regularly surround referees and assistants will certainly have players who are likely to get early baths.

This new emphasis on dissent will be something to watch out for in the early games.  It will certainly be something for Usama and Walter to take into account in their referee reviews and interesting to see how many marks they lose for a less than strict interpretation.

In terms of handling routine decisions during the game, it is highly probable that little will have changed since last year so I will continue to predict these as before.

last Season 2015/16 we had Mr Oliver on two occasions – both were draws

Arsenal v Liverpool (0 – 0) on 24 August

67% overall, bias against the two teams 90/10 and three wrong Important Decisions (second Yellow or Red cards, Penalties or Goal decisions) all against Arsenal.  In Min 8 Aaron Ramsey had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside (he wasn’t), In Min 72 we should have had a penalty for a Lucas foul on Giroud and in Min 85 Mignolet was given a yellow card for timewasting.  This should have been his second, his first should have been given in Min58 when he deliberately kicked the ball away.  Two points robbed by the PGMO

Spurs v Arsenal (2 – 2) on 5 March

56% overall, bias against the two teams 14/86 and two wrong Important Decisions.  Lamela should have received two yellow cards for pushing in Min 65 and Dier should have been dismissed for a second yellow in Min 79.  Another two points robbed by the PGMO.

In 2014-15 we had Mr Oliver as referee on three occasions and (again) all were draws.

Arsenal v Spurs (1 – 1) on 27 Sept

66% overall, bias against both teams 85/15 and two wrong Important Decisions – Min 30 not given penalty for foul on Wilshere by Rose and Min 72 Mason should have had a straight red card for a foul on Özil.  Two points robbed by the PGMO.

Liverpool v Arsenal (2 – 2) 21 Dec

67% overall and bias against the two teams 0/100 – yes every wrong decision was in favour of Liverpool.  There were two wrong Important Decisions in Min 61 Stirling should have had a second yellow card for a deliberate handball (his first should have been for a dive in Min46 which Mr Oliver bought hook, line and sinker and wrongly booked Debuchy), the second was an error when Borini was given a second yellow card for a dreadful challenge on Cazorla in Min 91 – it should have been a straight red card.  We should have played for 30 minutes against 10 men and I’m sure we would have won the game.

Arsenal v Chelsea (0 – 0) 26 April – no full referee review.

In Summary

  1. In his last four games which have been reviewed Mr Oliver has never achieved the minimum acceptable score of 70%.  How in God’s name has he been given FIFA acceditation?
  2. Mr Oliver displays a dreadful bias in his numerous wrong decisions – his most even handed being 85/15 against Arsenal, his worst being 100% against Arsenal.  Something very fishy there.
  3. Our last five league games with Mr Oliver in charge have all been draws with at least four having been decided by wrong refereeing decisions.  If you fancy a bet (and I wouldn’t recommend it) then a draw on Sunday would seem to be distinctly possible.
  4. Mr Oliver is not good with second yellow cards or recognising a really bad challenge that warrants a straight red.
  5. I would also be surprised if we are awarded a penalty.
  6. Look out also for the standard refereeing tricks of awarding a ‘phantom foul’ allowing Liverpool to put a free kick into our box, or to let Liverpool regroup when under pressure.  I would also expect Liverpool players to be given more leeway in what they can get away with in challenges.
  7. I just hope that Mr Oliver properly applies the laws of the game in an evenhanded manner for both teams and that at the end we can reflect on a good game decided by the players rather than the referee.


Recent Posts

Latest from the Arsenal History Society’s series on Arsenal in the 1930s

45 Replies to “Arsenal v Liverpool Sunday 14 August – The Match Officials. Prepare for bias.”

  1. Would be nice to kick of the season with some positivity . How about fuck it I think we can win this one if we turn up !

  2. I think that this season, Arsenal will again need to win IN SPITE OF referees.
    It’s been done before.
    I’m sure that Walter’s in-depth reports on the failings of match officials have adversely affected the way Arsenal are being governed on the field of play.
    But that does not suggest that the reports should stop. Far better that referees should introduce integrity and equity into their duties. 😉

  3. He did mess up the Dier and Lucas decisions last season but overall Oliver is a good ref. Remember not sending of szeszny off for a foul on Oscar v Chelsea and the fantastic display v Man United in the cup. While there are refs who gave Arsenal a hard time I don’t think Oliver can be considered one of them

  4. Let’s get our own house in order before we start looking at referees.

    What about instead of smugly sitting on a shedload of cash our hierarchy pull out their proverbial fingers and make some signings to plug the gaps in our squad. That is a forward and a CB

    Just like last season we are short in couple of positions and an injury away from things falling apart like they did when Coquelin got injured. That was predicted by many people and we are once again in that position

    Our squad is good and full of promise. We need 2/3 players to give the title a real shot.

  5. Thanks, Andrew, for the usual detailed referee report. Your predictions usually turn out to be true, but let us hope that for once you are wrong!

    There’s plenty of positivity around Untold Arsenal in respect of our club, our manager, our coaches and our players. But there is as yet no factual basis for positivity in relation to the referees.

  6. I don’t want us to start worrying about referee Michael Oliver’s possible bias and those of his assistants against Arsenal in our home BPL match with Liverpool on Sunday. Why? Despite our being short of experienced centre-backs, our young CBs will more than cope to keep the Reds high intensity pressers at bay. The Reds won’t find the back of the Gunners’ net. But the Gunners will find theirs 4 times in an undisputed ways and glaringly seen by all and sundry in the Stadium and on TV around the World. And Michael Oliver and his assistants will have no any other choise but to accept all the Gunners 4 goals scored as legitimate ones.

    Save for a short loan spell, Arsenal will not sign a left sided CHB Jeremy Mathieu of Barcelona FC on a permanent deal, would they? I don’t view him ticking any of the Boss’ 4 boxes, has he? But Shkodran Mustafi does tick all the 4 boxes, did he not? Whatever be the hick-ups in the Boss quest to sign Mustafi should be removed immediately. So that Arsenal can sign him latest by this weekend. Because Arsenal have to do this panic-buy of Mustafi to avoid dropping points against Hull City. Koscielny and one of our young CBs or both the 2 could still cope at shutting out Leicester from finding our net before they become match fatigued for the Hull match. And thus Mustafi could be deployed for he Hull game.

  7. Ramsey’s haircut, I am not sure what you mean by your opening sentence: “Let’s get our own house in order before we start looking at referees.”

    There are about 1000 articles on referees on this site, and we are the definitive repository of data on Premier League refereeing, and that’s before we consider our companion site of “Referees Decisions” It seems as if you want us to be something quite different.

    Of course some people would like us to change, but Untold has evolved, with its 6 million hits a year, to meet particular needs and cover particular subjects. I think if you are unhappy with us covering refereeing, and indeed making it a fundamental part of what Untold is and does, you will get to be very unhappy indeed, and there are thousands of bloggettas that never once mention the referee at all.

  8. Sorry for my error again in last comment. I ment to say Watford where Mustafi could be played if he’s signed and shouldn’t be Hull City which is not our very next away match after we’ve been to Leicester.

  9. Some are worried about our defence against Pool but what about their defence against us? They also have injuries in defence.

    So should we expect a goal feast? If our young defence plays, they will do well, but we know Klopp is a tactiker and would have checked out any weaknesses in them.

    Arsenal need to start good, mainly because at home but to set a marker for each following game.

    I expect it will be a fast game and a few goals.
    Can’t wait. Why Sunday???

  10. “X should have been booked in minute Y. X should also have been booked in minute Z. Two yellows make a red. We woz robbed.”

    That’s a typical refrain in UA’s ref reports. Sorry, I don’t buy it. It’s pure speculation and makes the huge assumption that a booked player doesn’t temper his behaviour.

    Contrast that with the opposite assertion that Arsenal players are unfairly booked early on, leading them to play much more cautiously for the remainder of the game.

  11. Tony

    I do agree that we get a bum deal from referees. They have always been too lenient when refereeing us. The percieved wisdom has been for all clubs to”get in Arsenal’s face and be aggressive”. Because of this referees seem to allow this and leave fouls go unpunished. They also allow niggly repetitive fouls preventing us from dangerously transitioning.

    In that respect I concur with a lot of what you say about referees.

    Perhaps my post was a bit facetious. I was just worried that if Giroud or another one of our CB get injured we are lacking in quality to replace them and everything should be done to bring cover in.

    Why when Wenger has built a strong squad, with more potential than last season does he leave things to chance in terms of filling two visible gaps in our squad when we have money in the bank ? Granted we have two weeks of the window left and it seems we are in foran excellent CB but I’m still frustrated that the squadcould be left just a little bit short when we could be pputting real pressure on everybody.

  12. In many matches you see Arsenal players booked early in the first half and opposition players who have fouled and fouled not booked until late in the second half.

    In the ‘match facts’ report of the match you see that more opposition players were booked than Arsenal players.

    What is not shown is the timing of the bookings. So the blind don’t notice the blinding obvious.

    A stand out reverse of this was the Cup Final against Aston Villa.When like most teams they set about kicking our players of the park as per normal.

    Shock horror! Shook horror and not in the PMGOL script in the First Half the ref booked 3 AVilla players for doing this it.

    This meant in the 2nd half our players were not on the receiving end of so much PMGOL scripted thuggery and we were able to play our free flowing game.

    Even the blindest aaa whoever can see the result when we play against an 11 man team and not a 12 man team.

    Well you would hope they can see the difference but perhaps blinded by their assumptions of always being right they can’t see objectively.

  13. Overall, M. Oliver is better than some other referees like the crooked Michael, who used to be head of a faculty. The crooked referees are easy to spot, they don’t award free kicks and penalties or card the opponents when they commit deliberate, dangerous fouls on Arsenal players. They then make gestures at the Arsenal players as if to say don’t lie on the grass even though you are injured. Very shortly afterwards, when an Arsenal player wins a fair tackle or makes a retaliatory gesture to an opponent after being on the receiving end of constant fouling and provocation by their opponent, they are carded without justification.
    This is predictable, because the PGMO is led by someone who once allowed Man IOU to kick Arsenal off the pitch and cost them their unbeaten run.
    At least Arsenal know that in order to win the league, they need to be 25% better than each opponent in every Premier League fixture officiated by a handful of referees and have a lot of luck on their side.
    If Arsenal purchased a few of the thugs from their rivals, the referees in question would start carding them properly, in such an environment we operate.

  14. A post script to my above comment.

    In the after match interview Villa’s manager complained about the unfairness of the ref booking three of his players in the first half.

    In a sense he was right other teams have fouled our players far more then Villa did that day and the culprits were not given yellow cards when some should have had a red card.

    So why be different with Villa and book Villa players for doing what every one does?

  15. Blaming the ref before the game is even played is hardly the most constructive or positive way to review our opening fixture. I’m more concerned with our make shift defence and attack.
    I still think we’ll win, but let’s all hope wenger is allowed to make one or two significant purchases before the window closes.

  16. Ramsey I have been putting forward answers all summer, with statistics and logical deduction to add to this. I won’t repeat it all but here are a couple of points:

    Buying new players at high prices is not only generally not a solution that works in season 1 (around 25% actually bring their previous form to the new club) but also can have a very negative impact on the new club, as there is a lot of critical comment following up the failure of the new player. This affects the performances of others as they try to adjust to the new approach that each major new player brings.

    The alternatives are not to buy a new player, or to buy or bring through one a year or three before needed, or to buy a player who exactly replaces one of the current squad. This makes purchasing hard – it is not just a case of finding a new centre forward or central defender, but of finding one who is available, will come to a club with very negative publicity, and a player who will fit in at once.

    I will see if I can outline this in more detail in this afternoon’s article. That will then leave Bulldog free to pick the team tomorrow morning before we all set off on the long hike south.

  17. Alexanderhenry, Untold’s long battle to expose what is happening in PGMO is I believe having effect, although admittedly slowly. As with last season when, of all things, the Sun newspaper actually did a review showing how many points Arsenal had been swindled out of. Although most of the time the media will disregard us for reasons that are well established, there is a growing lack of faith in refereeing in the premier league and in PGMO in particular, and I am hopeful this will continue to grow.

    But ultimately it comes down to the point, if you see something that is clearly wrong (such as the structure of PGMO replicating the structure of Italian refereeing during its match fixing days) then one should surely say it. It is not as if there is a shortage of articles on Untold on other matters – we publish over 20 a week, and usually only 3 or 4 are on referees.

    To avoid the topic would be appalling in my view, and I think would be regretted deeply by the hundreds of thousands of people who follow our referee reports written by referees and ex-referees as just about the only source of information on PGMO and the referees in the Premier League that they can get.

    So on this issue I can say 100% we will not change. I think I might get lynched by the readership if Untold, the only place with continuous refereeing commentary, cut that part of the service.

  18. I always try to separate my Arsenal support from the statistics that we find following our detailed referee reviews. I am really looking forward to this game, plus meeting up with Tony, Blacksheep and others beforehand. Im sure that if we ‘turn up’ and play to our strengths we are quite capable of beating any team in the Premiership.

    I also always hope to be proved wrong by a referee putting in a balanced performance – to a large degree I don’t mind if they are good or bad providing that they are the same for both teams – that’s not quite right, I would much prefer a good to a bad performance as would we all. But a bad balanced referee would be better than one who gives all of the wrong decisions against one team.

  19. Robert – while your assertion is correct, the bookable remains & has to be added to the next. If one has to allow for being cautious after the bookings then the officials must be consistent – as consistent as your assertion.

    My own take on it is that the officials do not care. They are Gods on the Football field with no one able to challenge their cheating. Untold are a bobbing cork on the river waiting for a bite. The press are well fed & will not bite unless there is money to be made. One lot worse than the other.

    I am just going to enjoy the good football, get pissed off with the cheating & allow my blood pressure to stabilise before I get home.

  20. Tony

    I understand what you’re saying. We now have as good a crop of young players than we’ve had in a long while. Problem is that they are a little bit too young to be played in any great number in a PL game (not talking about the exceptional Bellerin here). Iwobi has been gteat and is getting better each game.

    My I don’t believe in throwing money at all the squad problems and transfer fees are ridiculous atm. My concern are the injuries to Mert and Gabriel. While Chambers and Holding are great prospects to play them together would be a risk. We need an experienced, quality CB to come in to cover for Mert and Gabriel. If we don’t get one then should anything happen to Kos then we’d struggle. Would you agree to that.

    In fact with Mert and Kos being over 30 then perhaps it’s a good time to purchase one.

    Regard the striker. Wenger commented at the end of the season that we needed more goals. We bid for Vardy as a result. Since then it appears that we may no longer be buying one. While I think Giroud gets a lot of stick that is unfair it’s my opinion that he needs support/help in leading the line. Theo was poor last season.

    Once again if something happens to Giroud we will be left without a natural striker. Just adding in those positions would give the squad some good depth as in other positions we are well served.

    I hope you understand where I’m comi g from. Throwing money around willy nilly is not the answer but while we have money strengthening areas in which we are short should be done.

  21. Dean shows that last season’s agenda is still in place with a gift of a penalty to Leicester!

  22. Symptoms Of INNER PEACE:

    1) Frequent Attacks Of Smiling.

    2) Frequent Overwhelming Episodes Of Appreciation.

    3) Loss Of Interest In Judging Other People In Their Actions.

    4) Loss Of Ability To Worry.

    5) Tendency To Act Based On Hope Rather Than On Fear.

    6) Ability To Enjoy Each Moment.

    7) Susceptibility To Give & Receive Love.

    8) Sharing Whatever Little You Have To People With Less In Life.

    If Symptoms Persist, Just PRAISE & THANK GOD! ?☺

  23. A truly heroic effort by Dean to rescue Leicester, but to no avail. Well done Hull.
    Oliver……can sometimes be a good ref., but to often seems to have an agenda with us. In introductory red card to put Xhaka firmly in his place?

  24. Praise the lord , the tigers have overcome the foxes ; now just waiting to see if the toffees make sweet FA mash out of them Spuds in the battle of the ex-Southampton managers !

  25. The key is this time to know what you are up against, to show a level of maturity that is able to supersede even this level of bias. If we discount the obvious bias of referees, we needed 3 wins and a draw more than we had to take the title.

    That’s Chelsea, Chelsea, not letting Palace get a point late on and dismissing any one of the lesser teams we did not.

    The margin is quite small and is overtly affected by obviously inaccurate officiating. there comes a time when even with all the odds stacked against you, one must stand up and be accounted for. Giroud was more than wasteful, Ramsey failed to discover his pre-injury form and arguably forgot to go back to basics. Bellerin was learning in spite of his obvious ability. Mert was better off letting Costa go past than seeing red, we missed both first choice midfielders. And they love to break our legs (literally) whenever the opportunity arises. Mesut often looked dejected, a reflection of something internal than the suggestion that the club is not where he would like to be.

    We must finally take stock of all these things and rise to the occasion, we are the best team in the country, we have been for a while and now it is time to show it. Oliver likes us, so his bias is compensatory maybe he will think it is time to officiate.
    Anyone in the country could tel you Clattenberg is a showman not a referee, but where did he feature prominently in the World Cup?

    When you know what you are up against, you must find a way to do what must be done.

    I’d bet on an Arsenal win, for I believe that we are ready, 12 years of hurt is enough now! for Sagna, for Jack, for Aaron, for Mert, for Laurent, for even Theo. We have something new, Chuba, Iwobi, Holding, Zelalem, Santi looks rather determined considering he missed the Euros, or maybe because he missed the Euros. Couquelin, wont take it easy that he got taken on purpose.

    This time we fight back, we leave a little on, we commit to every challenge, we play with a ferocity, but it must be mastered, it must be harnessed, we must learn to play the game as it is played, whilst playing it the way it should be played.

    As difficult as playing attacking, counter attacking, possession football. It is the way!

    off to bookies…….

  26. Picking the right one –

    Three couples marry and stay at the same hotel for their honeymoons, where they are taken care of by Dave the bellboy.

    The first man married a nurse. Dave thinks to himself, “Nice, nurses are known to be hot.”

    The second man married a telephone operator. Dave thinks to himself, “Telephone operators have sexy voices.”

    The third man married a school teacher. Dave thinks to himself, “Poor guy, teachers are too strict.”

    The next morning, Dave reports to work and gets a room service call from the nurse’s husband. He sourly says, “Don’t ever marry a nurse. All I heard last night was ‘You’re not sanitary, you’re not sanitary.'”

    Then, the telephone operator’s husband calls and sourly says, “Don’t ever marry a telephone operator. All I heard last night was “Your three minutes are up, your three minutes are up.'”

    Later that afternoon, the teacher’s husband calls and happily says,

    “When you marry, be sure to marry a school teacher. All I heard last night was ‘We are going to do this over and over until we get it right!'”

  27. @ colario – August 13, 2016 at 2:51 pm – Thanks . But in reality , I married a nurse and as you very well know they are trained to ‘resuscitate’ a weak or ailing patient , and have been saved from failure to launch . If you know what I mean !

  28. And speaking of honeymoons and failure to launch , Charles , you must have heard of this one .
    The honeymooning husband ate 30 oysters at dinner at the hotel , as was suggested by Dave the bellboy.
    The next morning , he calls up Dave , who asks him if everything went ok ? Wink , wink !
    To which the unhappy husband says , ” No , three of those oysters didn’t work ! “

  29. It is disappointing to read in the comments above, that the PGMO staff (it is hard to call them officials or referees) are continuing to call play contrary to the Laws of the Game. And I spent some time looking in the medja reports, and they note little or nothing out of order. Not the muppets and not the whorenalists. Hence, they will not be applying any pressure on PremierLeague.con or PGMO to do what they are supposed to do again this season.

    DailyTimes of Pakistan, report Mike Dean was wrong to give penalty. tried very hard to not say that, but in the end sort of did. SportsMole does say that the referee was wrong to award the penalty. By and large, all UK medja outlets ignored the event as being controversial (IMHO). shows Vardy earning himself extra discipline, will the FA hand it out? They have nothing to say about the penalty.

    Zzzz, Shoot, Ramsey’shaircut, SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin, Robert, and alexanderhenry, at best you are a bunch of ostriches sticking your head in the sand. The bias and unprofessional conduct of PGMO staff has been shown over the last N (I think that N is 8?) years. Not 1 game, not 1 season. Over more than 1/3 of the EPL’s existence it has been demonstrated by Untold that they (PGMO staff) will not officiate in a fair manner. And nobody will investigate. If they need an excuse, look at the lack of diversity of race and ethnicity in their chosen staff. Look at the distribution of where these people call their home division (regional FA).

    For tilting play, to allow Arsenal (and other?) players to be serious injured, those PGMO staff should have spent time in jail for operating an unsafe workplace. Operating, heck they promoted an unsafe workplace.

    Today’s result (Leicester) should not be a surprise. At the beginning of last season, there was no reason to suspect that Leicester had changed their quality sufficiently to produce that result. Their performance was a statistical outlier, which may have been assisted by PGMO and The FA. I think PremierLeague probably benefitted from the “fairy tale” ending, but I don’t think there is much they could have done to promote it. Whereas PGMO and The FA are both in a position to promote such a fairy tale.

  30. Eagleonline (.ng country code?), another foreign media outlet that reports that the referee made a mistake in awarding the penalty. And the number of “news” articles on refereeing in the EPL today is decreasing in Google News for some reason (on a time sort).

  31. “Zzzz, Shoot, Ramsey’shaircut, SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin, Robert, and alexanderhenry, at best you are a bunch of ostriches sticking your head in the sand. The bias and unprofessional conduct of PGMO staff has been shown over the last N (I think that N is 8?) years.”

    Gord, have you considered extra classes in English comprehension? My post does not say I believe the PGMO is unbiased.

  32. My English comprehension is just fine. You think Walter and other referees reviewing at Untold cook the books.

    Even if every mistake found by Untold (including RefereeDecisions) that favoured Arsenal was wrong, and every mistake found by Untold that favoured the opposition was correct, that is still far too many mistakes for PGMO to be making. And they have never tried to address that.

    It is highly unlikely that professional referees would make the reviewing mistakes required for the above scenario.

    Hence, you are just trying to be a shit disturber.

  33. I was looking at WorldFootball, and the lead article at the time was about Paddy McBreakAnkles (formerly at ManU). He had a bad day at Sunderland in his debut. May it continue forever.

  34. Really, the sooner the world realizes he is just a goon, the sooner he can get back to the job he deserves.

    Do you want fries with that?

  35. Gord – the referees promote an unsafe workplace. Love it! I’ll try and remember that one! They certainly do.

  36. Gord – permission to use your line ‘ those PGMO staff should have spent time in jail for operating an unsafe workplace. Operating, heck they promoted an unsafe workplace.’

  37. I trust him more than most and don’t experience absolute dread at the prospect of him doing our games, as I do with Atkinson, Dean and a few others.

    As for the rule changes for dissent, I think it could be a very nice tool for mischief.

    Will there be any big fuss if someone has a go at them and they ignore it? Probably not. Conversely, will there be any fuss if they use it very strictly at a minimal sign of protest? Nope. I suspect that’ll make it just another weapon in the armoury of Atkinson and co to do their thing.

    Far as i’m aware, the rules were there the whole while for them to do something if a player’s reaction is over the top, particularly if foul and abusive language is used. They elected to barely use those rules, so I don’t trust them to use the new ones properly.

Comments are closed.