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West Brom v Arsenal Sat 18 March 2017 – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

After the FA Cup Quarter Finals last weekend the Premier League returns to what passes for normality with a full programme of 10 games this weekend.  Arsenal start things off with an away trip to West Bromwich Albion and an early 12:30 start.

Interestingly Liverpool have Michael Oliver in charge of their game for the sixth time this year.  They still haven’t seen Roger East, Stuart Attwell, Paul Tierney, Lee Probert or Graham Scott.  Surely one of these would be a better appointment rather than a sixth visit from the Mr Oliver.

Referee – Neil Swarbrick  age 50 from Lancashire

  • Assistant Referee 1 – Scott Ledger  from South Yorkshire
  • Assistant Referee 2 – Constantine Hatzidakis  from Kent
  • Fourth Official –  Kevin Friend  age 45 from Leicestershire

None of them FIFA Accredited which doesn’t actually mean much in terms of their competence.

I have no ‘flags’ against either of the Assistant Referees from this season or last season so nothing to be concerned about there.

This will be Mr Swarbrick’s second time in charge of an Arsenal game this season, we previously had him for the home game against West Brom on Boxing Day.

Ref Review : Arsenal – WBA: the ref who turned his back on time wasting

His overall weighted score was 74%, bias against the two teams was 83/17 and he made one wrong Important decision failing to send off Dawson in Min 77 for a stamp on Koscielny.  The biggest gripe we had on the day was his complete dereliction of duty to stop the timewasting by Tony Pulis’s team which went on all game.

Looking at our 16 week all game reviews he seems one of the best referees.  In his 9 games he has 14 Important Decisions right and only 8 wrong (one of only three with a positive ratio), of his wrong decisions.  His ratio of wrong decisions per game is the lowest of all 17 referees used in that period.  He has missed only one second yellow card, three straight red cards and has got 14 of his 17 penalty decisions correct.

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. His performances over the first 16 weeks of the year mark him as one of the best in the League so if he continues in that vein we really shouldn’t have much to fear.
  3. If I have to look for weaknesses based on the very sketchy information to have I would point out that
    1. His handling of WBA’s time-wasting in the Boxing Day game should have been far more pro-active (he did nothing).
    2. We should still expect the majority of wrong decisions to be against us
    3. His failure to send off Dawson on Boxing Day for a clear stamp on Kos was worrying
    4. He has a propensity to fall for the old ‘Phantom Foul’ routine allowing our opponents an easy opportunity to punt long balls into our penalty area
    5. West Brom players will, of course, be allowed far more leeway in challenges that Arsenal players.
  4. I am hopeful that Mr Swarbrick will be able to continue to show his good form from early season and we will all be talking about football rather than the referee once the game is finished.


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7 comments to West Brom v Arsenal Sat 18 March 2017 – The Match Officials

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Whatever happens at the Hawthorn on Saturday, the Gunners should beat the Baggies to the collection of all the 3 points that will be at stake for collections in a PL game taking place there.

    The collection of all points at stake in that game by Arsenal will revitalize their chances of picking up another ticket for next season’s UCL campaign which is currently looking to be keenly rivaled for picking by the other top 5 EPL club sides.

    If to paint the Arsenal chances of picking up a UCL ticket next season to look uncertain, Le Prof has said during his presser today that Arsenal chances of qualifying for the UCL next season is not down to him, but to whom? One might be tempted to ask. He has been the Arsenal manager for the past 20 years and he has been overseeing the qualification of Arsenal for the UCL for the 20th year running.

    He has always been the Arsenal manager who has in these past 20 years that built the Arsenal teams and selected the Gunners who have played in all the UCL games Arsenal has played in last 20 years.

    By making this statement that put Arsenal qualification for next season’s UCL campaign in doubt, to me, Le Prof has looked to be hitting back at the Wenger Out Brigade by telling them that if you Brigade unceremoniously ousted me after all what I have done and achieved for Arsenal, I’ll will not bother myself anymore to see that Arsenal play in the Europe’s elite top competion next season. But if Arsenal are fortunate to finish 5th in the table or if Man Utd won the Europa League Cup this season or if Arsenal won the FA Cup, they could play in the Europa League next season whichever of the 3 options turned out successfully for them they can take it. Le Prof has appeared to have messaged out today to the Arsenal fans in his annoyance responding to the call by the Wenger Out Brigade who wants him out at the end of this season even with the 2 honours of the UCL qualification and FA Cup trophy still to play for.

    I think Le Prof should not over react even in the face of antagonizing him, he should calmdown to see that Arsenal qualify for the next season UCL and win the FA Cup too. Because not to do these two for Arsenal is like he has played to the hands of his hatters and adversaries who want to see him out. But if he achieved these 2 remaining honours for Arsenal this season, he’ll be in a strong position to extend his current deal at Arsenal and rebuild his team to stand up successfully to the big challenges of winning the 2 most priced titles of the EPL and the UCL which the Wenger Out Brigade have been craving after to win in the past 5 years.

  • Tommo

    “We will all be talking about football rather than the referee once the game is finished”

    That’d be a first!

    You’re even talking about the ref before the game, saying he’s one of the best, but we can still expect him to get the majority of decisions wrong against us?

    Even after a 5-0 win you make the ref the headlines.

    You will all be talking about the ref before, during and after the game. So don’t try kidding yourselves. This obsession ain’t going away.

  • Menace

    Tommo – ever seen a football game without a referee? There used to be honest refereeing in English top level football but then came PGMOL with no independent assessors & a secret selection process made in darkened rooms.

    Where there is PGMOL there is dishonesty, cheating & unfair officiating.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Some are obsessed with Untold….

  • markyb

    Is i actually Phil Thompson? could be you know

  • Mandy Dodd

    Xhaka needs to beware in this, and future games, they will try to,wind him up, it will go unpunished….but the second,he retaliates……assuming he plays of course