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March 2021

Watford v Arsenal Sat 27 August – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

A quick review of Mr Clattenberg’s performance last week

First half he was terrible overall although he had a good start when in Min1 he adjudged the holding between Holding and Huth to be six of one and half a dozen of the other and rightly said no penalty.  He was 5 from 5 on decision making in the first 14 minutes but it then seemed to slip away from him; Mahrez and Okazaki being allowed to get away with fouls before Vardy was allowed to kick Monreal in the head without being carded.

In Min20 Vardy made a scissors tackle on Monreal and should have been dismissed.  Arsenal should have had a penalty when a beautifully floated free kick was met by no Arsenal player – the reason being that Kos was held and pulled back by Morgan.

In Min 42 We should have had a second penalty when Holding was prevented from getting to the ball by Huth.  Immediately afterward on the break Drinkwater dived over Kos and Cech in our penalty area and Mr Clattenberg correctly adjudged that Kos had cleanly got the ball.  49% overall weighted score and 3 wrong Important Decisions all against Arsenal

In the second half he was much better, even I wasn’t shouting at him.  He only made one wrong decision in this half when he failed to book Ulloa for a reckless challenge on Bellerin in Min 85.  There was one contentious moment when in Min88 Bellerin and Musa tangled in our penalty area.  Mr Clattenberg and his assistants were unclear if there had had been a foul and our reviewers with the benefit of video replays were also unsure.  In the end no penalty was the decision.  85% weighted for the second half but for the game as a whole that drops below the 70% minimum acceptable level to 58.9%

On to Saturday and our match Officials are

  • Referee – Kevin Friend – Leicestershire
  • Assistant Referee 1 – Ian Hussin – Mersyside
  • Assistant Referee 2 – Mick McDonough – Tyne and Wear
  • Fourth Official – Simon Hooper – Wiltshire

No-one with FIFA Accreditation this week, but that didn’t seem to matter last week when an all FIFA Accredited team only got a score of 58.9%.

In 2015-16  Mr Friend was present for three Arsenal games (all away wins)

31 Oct Swansea 0 v Arsenal 3

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For the first time ever… Ref Review: Swansea – Arsenal and look – A major decision in Arsenal’s favour! A historic moment.

74% overall, bias against the two teams 40/60 and only 1 wrong Important Decision (second yellow or Red card, Penalty or Goal) when in Min31 Mertesacker should have given away a penalty for handball.  We were comfortable winners and it is extremely unlikely that this decision would have changed the overall outcome of the match.

13 Dec Aston Villa 0 v Arsenal 2

Ref Review: Aston Villa – Arsenal

72% Overall, bias against the two teams 30/70 and again one wrong Important Decision when in Min 45+1 Walcott was wrongly judged to be offside as he scored with a beautiful curling shot. Mr Bryan was the linesman.

7 Feb Bournemouth 0 v Arsenal 2

Ref Review: Arsenal – Bournemouth

72% Overall, bias against the two teams 18/82 and no wrong Important Decisions

Mr Friend was consistent in his three games, all scored at above the 70% threshold and that consistency earned him my award for Referee of the Season.  As I said :-

“The only referee who exhibited any degree of consistency in the year was Kevin Friend.  His three games all were given scores in the ‘Acceptable’ range, 74, 72 and 72%.  For that reason he gets my vote for the best referee of the season.  None of his games were terribly good but equally none were bad and his bias figures were far from the worst”

Going back to 2014-15 we had Mr Friend on 4 occasions

23 Aug Everton 2 v Arsenal 2

Untold Ref Review: Everton/Arsenal. What is an advantage, and what’s wrong with assistant Garratt?

60.3% Overall, bias against the two teams 11/89 and 2 wrong Important Decisions, Min 44 Naysmith was offside when he put the ball into the net the Goal shouldn’t have counted, Min 53 Wilshere was given a yellow card, it should have been red.  I counted this as a game which Everton should probably have won rather than lost.

25 October Sunderland 0 v Arsenal 2

Untold Referee Review: Sunderland – Arsenal

65% Overall weighted score, bias against the two teams 25/75 and one wrong Important Decision when in Min 19 Rodwell should have had a straight red card for a challenge on Chambers.  As we won the game the decision made no difference to the overall score.

4 Mar QPR 1 v Arsenal 2

Ref Review : QPR – Arsenal

69% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams 20/80 and two wrong Important Decisions both arising from one incident.  Min 46 Henry (QPR) should have been dismissed for a last man offence and QPR should have had a penalty,

Arsenal 1 v Swansea 0 – No full referee review

Poorer figures but only one draw, albeit one that should have been a loss.

Prior to 2014-15, if my memory serves me right, we had always had Mr Friend for home games and had won them all.


  1. I hope this doesn’t completely jinx things but of all the PGMO Referees Mr Friend is the one I most like to see in charge of Arsenal games.  He isn’t the best, but is reasonably consistent and far from the worst.
  2. Mr Friend does make mistakes in Important Decisions but rarely more than one in a game; they have even been known to be in our favour, though most are against us.
  3. Expect the overall bias of decisions to be against Arsenal though.


7 comments to Watford v Arsenal Sat 27 August – The Match Officials

  • No pressure but only a win will do

  • Great preview on this high volted match…. I just want to see Arsenal winning the match at all!!!

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I don’t foresee any problem whatsoever against us from Kevin Friend. Therefore we shouldn’t worry. After all, Kevin Friend should be our friend. He won’t be partial against us in his officiating neither would he do same to Watford, would he? He will be fair and just to both parties during the entire course of the match, wouldn’t he? How he should be an Arsenal friend is for him not to be partial against us and even to Watford also. If he does this, then he’ll be our friend because that’s what we want and demand from him.

    Arsenal are billed to win this match at the Vicarage Road, Watford this afternoon and comeback to the Ems with all the 3 points which will be put at stake. All the Gunners will need to do to ensure they collect all the 3 points in this encounter, is for every Gunner of the Boss’s 18 man match day squad not to forget taking along with themselves their rifles and load them well with sufficient gunpowder. And importantly too, the Gunners should all put on their anti-venous kits which will serve as amour against any Hornet attempting to injecting any venom into them as they try to sting them. And should any Hornet or a group of Hornets try to attack any Gunner or swamp on them, the Gunners should gunpowder shoot the Hornet or shoot into the swamp of the swamping Hornets to consequently down at least 4 out the 11 of them on the field of battle. By so doing, the remaining 7 Hornets on the field of battle and the 7 sitting on the bench will become panicked and thus will beg the Gunners to stop shooting at them with a promise not make any attempt again to sting any Gunner. As a result of that peace making initiated by the Hornets and accepted by the Gunners, the encounter then turns to a friendly discussions, jokes and ridudles and laughters. At the end of the allotted time for this encounter, the Gunners were seen by football fans picking up all the 4 Hornets they’ve downed and they brought them back to the Ems’s Gooners exhibition room for the Gooners to behold them.

    Watford 0-4 Arsenal @FT 90 min +.

  • Josif

    Nice preview as usual, Andrew.

    I wrote a few times during last season that Friend was, indeed, a friend, not a foe to us last season which can’t be said for…well, anyone else of his colleagues. Three away games and three victories for us – those were our only three away victories in that period that included defeats against WBA and Southampton and unlucky draws from winning positions against Norwich and Liverpool.

    Furthermore, Friend made two decisions that were questioned (a penalty against Aston Villa from which Giroud scored our first goal of the game and could’ve-been-red-card for Flamini against Bournemouth) in our favour. If Mike Dean had been in charge in those two games, Theo would have been booked for diving and Flamini would have been arrested. Finally, it should be said that Mertesacker’s handball against Swansea occured at 0:0. Who knows what would have happened if Swansea had taken the lead?

    Speaking of the refs, Mr Wenger has brought an interesting question about their literal interfering in the game. We have already seen referees standing on the way of the pass in the final third of the pitch. I mentioned Walter the other day how Craig Thomson, notorious for his robbery at the expense of Bosnia and in the favour of France in 2011, cut THREE passes with his poor positioning in the game between Red Bull Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb, twice in the same attack. I’ve even seen him NOT stopping the game after the second ball had been thrown into the pitch – he just kicked the second ball out of bounds himself.

    Maybe that serves as another proof that a video-referee is needed. That would cut the need for the referee to get too close to the action.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Most of the Boss’ senior Under 23 first team choice played against their Liverpool counterparts yesterday night at the Ems and lost 1-3 at home to them. This is a terrible result for us again after we had recently suffered a 3-4 home lose at the Ems from the hands of the senior Liverpool team on the opening day of the season.

    The Boss has his ways of answering agitators and critics who may looked to had erroneously have agitated for any Junior Gunner inclusion into the 1st team squad and have even demanded the Boss should start I’ve done. I have been requesting Akpom be used for a start by the Boss for the Gunners competitive games. I even agitated for him to be made to start the Watford match this afternoon. Though he scored via the woodwork in last night’s Arsenal Under 23 match against Liverpool, but has my agitation for Akpom to be used by the Boss to start starting him or brings him on for Arsenal Premier League games this season been justified by his showing and the single goal he scored at the Ems last night? But the rest of Mavididi, Willock and co have all looked unconvincing and consequently not ready now for promotion to the 1st team squad. Thank God this Premier League 2 match was played before our ELC match away to Nottingham Forest. This is how this our Under 23 team which the Boss will likely use for that match would have let us down at the City ground. Save Akpom, I don’t think the Boss should take any chances to field any member of the Under 23 squad for this our ELC match against Forest, but field a strong 1st team squad players side for the match to avoid any surprise result against us.

  • Samuel, I am not sure what has been happening with the under 21s and now the under 23s in recent years, but Arsenal are going in their own direction at this level.

    They rejected the idea of playing the U23 team in the cup for League One and Two teams, and Mr Wenger has often spoken of not wanting lots of games at the under 21 level. They are in the league because they have to be, but they do the minimum.

    Also we tend to progress players through the under 18, under 21 level very quickly when they have the talent – and the result is terrific – we seem to get more youth players through than anyone else.

    I am not sure Mr Wenger will use the core of the under 23 team to play Forest – after all we are going to end up with (I think) a very large first team squad of quality players so I suspect that we will have enough players from that squad to play Forest without digging too far into the under 23 – although I think Akpom AND Willock are superb talents, and I have not fully given up on Zelalem.

  • para

    These talents need to get their chances else they will start looking elsewhere, sadly the cup games are only few, but maybe he should play them in the F.A cup too.

    That will leave the squad a little more rested for the PL and CL.