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March 2021

Arsenal v West Brom 26 December – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

The PGMO have announced all of the referee appointments for the festive season – that’s matchweeks, 18, 19 and 20.  I have them entered into my spreadsheet and have the following comments.

  • There are two teams who will have seen a referee four times in the first half of the season.  Hull with Lee Mason (1 home and 3 away) and Liverpool with Michael Oliver (twice each home and away).
  • There are 34 combinations where a team has had a referee 3 times in the first half of the season and no team that hasn’t seen at least one referee three times.  Four teams have has three referees three times
    • Chelsea with Anthony Taylor, Martin Atkinson and Jonathan Moss, three times
    • Spurs with Mike Dean, Michael Oliver and Robery Madley
    • Sunderland with Anthony Taylor, Martin Atkinson and Robert Madley
    • Swansea with Michael Oliver, Jonathan Moss and Neil Swarbrick
  • There are 94 combinations where a referee has not visited a team at all in the first half of the season.
  • Three referees have had 17 out of a possible 20 games – Anthony Taylor, Michael Oliver and Robert Madley
  • In contrast four referees have had either 4 or 5 games – Roger East, Stuart Attwell, Paul Tierney and Graham Scott

Effectively the PGMO are only using 14 referees to officiate the Premier League, thirteen have done 11 or more games and the combined workload of the four in the last bullet point between them make up the fourteenth.

This is an extremely unhealthy state of affairs.  For the richest League in the world to only be ably to find 13 referees is truly scandalous!

How have the Referees Performed in Arsenal games so far this year – a league table

Taking the Overall weighted performance percentage scores for each game over the first 15 weeks we have:-

Referee % score Link to review Bias against Arsenal Total wrong Important Decisions
1 Roger East 89 Ref Review: Hull – Arsenal. An extraordinary performance by the referee. 83 1
2 Mike Dean 82.9 Ref Review: Arsenal – Middlesbrough; a non Deanesque score! 87 0
3 Michael Oliver 82.3 Ref Review: Arsenal – Liverpool 60 2 (1 favouring Arsenal)
4 Michael Oliver 81.4 Ref Review Arsenal – Chelsea : Another good performance from the ref! 90 0
5 Kevin Friend 78.0 Ref Review: Watford – Arsenal 75 2
6 Jonathan Moss 73.5 Ref review: Arsenal – Swansea, lots of decisions to make 94 1
7 Craig Pawson 72.5 Ref Review: West Ham – Arsenal: an even bias score, miracles do happen 59 1 (favouring Arsenal)
8 Mike Jones 70.3 Ref Review : Arsenal – Bournemouth 70 4 (2 each team)
9 Robert Madley 70 Ref Review: Arsenal – Southampton; a perfect example of how the new instructions to refs affects the flow of the game. 88 3
10 Andre Marriner 67.5 Ref Review: MU – Arsenal 84 3
11 Martin Atkinson 60.7 Ref Review : Sunderland – Arsenal: Was this not knowing the laws? Or just plain bias? The latter looks more probable 90 6
12 Mark Clattenburg 59.5 Ref Review: Arsenal – Tottenham: 25 fouls and one yellow card 82 2
13 Mark Clattenburg 58.9 Ref Review : Leicester – Arsenal 97 3
14 Craig Pawson 38.2 Ref Review Burnley – Arsenal: at least he got that one right 86 3

4 at the top with excellent scores including, of all people Mike Dean, 5 at the bottom with scores below the 70% we consider to be the minimum acceptable, Andre Marriner, Martin Atkinson, Mark Clattenburg (twice) and Craig Pawson way out on his own in last place with a score of 38.2%

So who do we have this Sunday?

  • Referee – Neil Swarbrick  Age 50 from Lancashire
  • First assistant – Stephen Child  from Kent and FIFA Accredited
  • Second Assistant – Constantine Hatzidakis  from Kent
  • Fourth Official – Keith Stroud  from Hampshire

This will be the first time this year for Neil Swarbrick in an Arsenal match.  In our Matchweek 13 referee report he is right at the bottom of the table of Major Wrong Decisions having 8 in his first 7 games and has 11 correct decisions so absolutely nothing to fear there.  This is a hopeful sign but is there anything that we should be aware of from previous years?

2015-16 Last Season he did not referee an Arsenal League game so nothing to learn there

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2014-15 he was in charge for one game only our 2 – 1 away win against West Ham

Ref review West Ham – Arsenal

80% overall, bias 11/89 and no wrong Important Decisions.  Usual bias against Arsenal but that is what we should always expect.  Many minor decisions in West Ham’s favour along with several ‘phantom fouls’ allowing long balls into our box and a couple of not given yellow cards but overall not too bad at all.


  1. Very little recent history in Arsenal games so little to go on really.
  2. He has been one of the stand out referees in our reviews of the first 13 weeks of the season getting more decisions right than wrong and only making 1 wrong decision per game.
    1. He is 11 correct from 14 on penalty decisions
    2. He has failed to send off any of the four players who deserved to go in his seven games so has some improvement to make there
  3. The little history we have indicates that we should still expect the vast majority of wrong decisions to be against Arsenal so look out for
    1. not given yellow cards
    2. ‘phantom fouls’ enabling West Brom to launch the ball into our area
    3. West Brom players being allowed far more leeway than Arsenal in the level of forse they are allowed to use
  4. I am hopeful that this weekend we might just see a decent game from the referee and will be talking afterwards about the football not Mr Swarbrick.


And from the Arsenal History Society

15 comments to Arsenal v West Brom 26 December – The Match Officials

  • Al

    The other officials, Stroud and Child, seem to featuring a lot in our matches.

    Atkinson 6 wrong important decisions against us, that man must truly hurt us. I fear him more than Dean now.

  • Al

    ..truly *hate us.

  • Al

    Sorry pressed post by accident…

    The bias might stop temporarily, until we start challenging again. We know the pattern now. Sometimes I wonder what would happen were in to run into that coward Riley, away from these shores, maybe on holiday in a far away country or something.

  • Gord

    How has

    > Constantine Hatzidakis from Kent

    been doing? He is obviously not from the north, and somehow I think his heritage is not terribly English. One wonders how 😈 Mike Riley has not managed to run over this person while driving onto or off of PGMO facilities.

  • Gord

    The last 9 games listed at Soccerway, Constantine is sometimes in the middle, sometimes on the side and sometimes the 4th official. In the center, he has handed out 16 yellow cards and 1 second yellow in 4 games. Two games as linesperson and 3 as 4th official. has him doing 2 games in the FA Cup, handing out 9 yellows and 1 straight red. He has done 5 matches this season in U23 EPL-2, handing out 20 yellows, 2 second yellows and 1 straight red.

    Soccerbase has him down for 44 matches this season (some of the same as above). Forty four yellow cards (some second yellow) and 4 straight red (I am guessing, maybe they lumped the second yellow in with the red?). SoccerPunter looks to have about the same data, and shows 3 straight red and one second yellow. 13 home wins, 10 away wins and 5 draws (so, not quite 44 games). has him down for 42 games, dishing out 149 yellow, 8 second yellow, 6 straight red and 14 penalties.

    Constantine is mentioned in an Esquire interview. Jeff Pettitt set up a refereeing academy, and at the time of the interview (April 2015), Constantine was a graduate from 25 years before that.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I would just like to wish all Untolders a very Happy Christmas, whatever religious beliefs you have May it be a day of peace that you all can enjoy.

  • Menace

    Wishing you all the Merriest of Christmases & peace wherever you are.

    Gord – enjoy your wonderful array of Christmas cheer & thanks for sharing.

  • Arvind

    OT: Just finished watching the Everton game. While I’m not the biggest Ozil fan to be frank, its ridiculous to say he wasn’t trying at Everton or that he did nothing. It was definitely one of his better games. So yes, anyone being swayed by the rubbish media, please ignore anything they say about him for Everton. He was fine.

    Will watch the City game soon and see how much he’s to blame there.

  • Menace

    Ozil was excellent in both games. He was played out by the opposition aided & abetted by ?. You must know who the ? represents. Players that are dribblers & have skills to evade opponents are kicked on the back of their legs, pulled, pushed & fouled generally but ? don’t see. Jack is one who gets stamped on because of his skill & injuries follow.

    Selective vision is the cage that protects the lions in the zoo.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Just hope for a massive improvements in refereeing standards for this game, and the next ones, as we know the tactics the likes of Sam and Pulis will employ, with the balance of probability they will get away with against wenger

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree Al, we may get a temporary reprieve from the bias….we are usually allowed a top four position of our own accord……which is perhaps why those who own and administer the club , if not the manager put up with it.
    noticed the refereeing started going massively against us after we beat Chelsea 3-0, and it was clear Wenger was not interested in the England job.

  • Al

    True, Mandy. It does suspiciously seem as if we’re allowed top four; there have been seasons where top four has seemed almost out of reach, that any slight form of bias (say result is a draw instead of a win) would be enough to push us out but they dont do it, it seems they stand aside and don’t impede us. Hope am not tempting fate.

    The criticism of Ozil is totally unjustified, I’ve a feeling whoever is behind it is driven by another agenda, like maybe a wish to drive him out of England. If he joined utd tomorrow criticism will turn to adulation overnight. Any player that has left Arsenal, even the average ones, start getting positive media reviews immediately after their departure (not saying these players were average but their reviews improved soon after leaving Arsenal; Gervinho, Gnabry, Arshavin, hell even Chamakh at Palace!).

    As for Ozil, the DFB national fan club is running a poll to choose their national player of the year and Ozil currently has 58.9% of the vote, nearly twice as much as his nearest challenger, Kroos, at 35%. The Germans know.

    Merry Christmas all Untolders!

  • Al

    Forgot Alex Song!?

    Lost count of number of times we were reminded what a loss it was to Arsenal. Wonder where he is now…

    Cesc too, every assist he made last season was used to remind us what a mistake it was to let him join Chelsea (forgetting it was Barcelona that sold him).

  • 13

    Perez in, Jack back, Welbeck fit, Aaron shining, Mustarfi returned, Gibbs reinvigorated, Ox dedicated, Iwobi developing, Ozil grafting, Alexis purring, Koscielny commanding, Cech calming, Bellerin bombing, Granit controlled, Theo threaded, Giroud found, Everyone Elneny accurate.