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August 2021

Has the refereeing tied turned, or was it all a set of random events after all?

By Tony Attwood

Given the history of Pulis the manager his suggestions that his team are “too honest” does not bode well for the clubs that have yet to play WBA.

So the questions arise:

  • Can you actually be too honest?
  • Has the momentum of strange refereeing decisions changed in Arsenal’s favour?
  • Does it matter if after a game a manager calls a player from another team “a cheat”?
  • Is going to see WBA play really worth it when it means getting home at 1245 AM and thus being late with writing this morning’s post?

Aside the fact that we are beginning to have a good run of form which has led bookmakers such as lengthened Arsenal’s odds for the title, the really good news of yesterday was that for the first time since the Vikings were chased out of the area by Alfred the Great, there were no closures on the M1 last night after the match. A clear straight run as the midnight hour approached… and then passed.

Fortunately I resisted any notion of stopping the car and having a little jig of appreciation on the hard shoulder, not least because much of the M1 doesn’t have a hard shoulder any more, but it was rather nice.  A drive home into the early hours without deviation through 100 villages I’ve never seen in the daylight.

But of the cheating allegations: they apparently flowed from the lips of the Pulis after just a few moments, after Dawson put in a Pulisian challenge and Alexis went down. Pulis said, (according to the news media today – obviously I didn’t see or hear any post match discussions what with being at the Ems and all),  “Sanchez dived for the first free-kick – and that is cheating. We don’t get any reward for being honest,” Pulis said.

He also suggested Mustafi should have been sent off.

So what is “too honest”?  I mean, there is honesty, in the sense of, well, being honest, but “too honest” suggests … what?  That the WBA players should have berated and harangued the referee?  Well there was quite a bit of that in the game.  That the WBA player should have gone down and rolled around a lot even though not hurt?  Hmm – I certainly have seen that.

It seems a strange way to approach football, to argue for more play acting and ref baiting.   Pulis can argue, as he did, that, “Everyone has seen what happened today. Sanchez was first given a free-kick on the edge of the box, he actually dives and should be booked for diving.   Then the ref has a great view and it’s a stonewall penalty. The great thing is everyone has seen it so I don’t need to talk about it. ”

But of course he did.  Quite a lot.

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Arsene Wenger admitted it could have been a penalty but added, “The referee left the advantage and they nearly scored from that. They hit the post. The decision is defensible on both sides.   Would it  have been given I would not have said it is a scandal. Looking at the decision again he made the right decision. You are never too honest. I believe he saw an opportunity he could score.”

So really, has the momentum of refereeing changed?  Are the clubs that splash around the very big money so busy trying to influence referees against each other that they are not bothering with the likes of Arsenal?  Or was that all an Untold fantasy?

Of course if you have never believed that there is anything amiss with refereeing in the PL then that whole suggestion that refereeing errors are anything but random acts from a bunch of poorly performing dodos, is nonsense.  The statistical evidence showing that at times major decisions would be more accurate if handed out randomly is well, best left ignored.

But if you have thought that there has on occasion been a systematic bias against certain clubs by referees, then it was always possible that this era might one day come to an end.  If so, then it must be very frustrating for Pulis because for years he would have gained the benefit of many, many  dubious decisions against Arsenal, not because WBA nor because Stoke fixed matches but because other clubs have used the Calciopoli approach, and bigger clubs were arranging for Arsenal to have a hard time.

I know many people find this fanciful.  Indeed I have seen it argued that such a complex arrangement as club A arranging for club Z (whom they are not playing) to suffer systematically at the hands of referees, could never happen anywhere, as if the events of 2006 in Italy were just a figment of my imagination.

However consider this.  If the referee got it so terribly wrong as the Pulis character suggested the only reason is either

a) the referee is so poor he didn’t see it

b) the referee was biased

c) the ref missed it but it all evens out in the end.

If a) how come that is happening in the “best league in the world”?  If b), why was he biased?  Who paid him?  If c) then there is nothing for Pulis to moan about.

Sadly Pulis did not seemingly have the guts (or maybe not the intelligence) to go into this.  Instead he spoke about being “too honest.”  Presumably that meant his player should have rolled around on the floor and “persuaded” the ref to give him a penalty even though he was not hurt.  Is that being honest?

Anyway we are one point behind the almighty title chasing triplets of Tottenham, Liverpool and Watford.  It would be nice to be higher, but it’s a bit better than it was.

Here’s the league table.

Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Manchester City 6 5 1 0 19 16
2 Manchester United 6 5 1 0 15 16
3 Chelsea 6 4 1 1 7 13
4 Tottenham Hotspur 6 3 2 1 5 11
5 Liverpool 6 3 2 1 1 11
6 Watford 6 3 2 1 -1 11
7 Arsenal 6 3 1 2 1 10

36 comments to Has the refereeing tied turned, or was it all a set of random events after all?

  • John L

    Mr Pulis is an aggressive little man, whose ideas of good football and fair play are well known, not to say notorious. He is a leading exponent of the “not that type of lad” nonsense and clearly has made West Brom a well organised set of foulers.

    Alexis must be covered in bruises from the numerous kickings he received last night.
    For the most part, the ref did award free kicks when this happened, but he was far too lenient in failing to produce yellow (and at least in one case a red) cards.

    Yes they should have a penalty, just as we should have had two in the first half, but Pulis has nothing to complain about. It is always good to see him get a stuffing.

  • nicky

    I thought the referee in last night’s game was honest and brave. He was not intimidated by the disgraceful fouling by West Brom. With a manager like Pulis, the past master of sly trips, ankle taps and the like, his team needed firm handling and they got it.
    Fouls committed
    Arsenal 6, West Brom 17. Need I say more? 😉

  • Menace

    The stats are not the true reflection of the fouls. Multiply the fouls against Arsenal by 2 and you will get closer.
    The penalty against Mustafis foul would not result in s red card as it was not deliberate. Mustafi slipped and caught honesty with a trailing leg. Serial fouler Pulis is not that sort of a guy so the FA will not charge him for bringing the game into disrepute.

  • Roy

    I would like to see a new card maybe green, when players rotationally foul the oppositions best player after 6 fouls even by different players the team is shown a green card to say next foul against the best player results in a caution yellow

  • Tony Attwood

    Agree with you Roy, but instead of green couldn’t we have it as puce coloured. Seems more appropriate

  • Chris

    Considering the fact that the WBA player decided to try his luck, I can’t see how the ref’s decision not to give a penalty can be questionned
    Must say that he could have then given a yellow for the foul, which he did not.
    I’m not a ref, so I do not know it it could have been one

    had the ref shown the penalty spot, Pulis and Co would be screaming that there was a clear cut chance and that advantage should have been given

    Whichever way, Arsenal are going to be put in bad light. So be it.

    However…we’ve got the 3 points and now we’ve got 5 wins in a row, which is a nice momentum starting.

    And we did not involve all players, the squad is rotating, these are all ticks on the + side

  • Jax

    Did Madley signal advantage at that WBA penalty call? I didn’t see it, but he may have, in which case there’s nothing for Pullis to complain of, but if not, then it was a terrible error and we got off lightly without having a player sent off and being a probable goal down.
    As mentioned previously though, likely penalty calls were 3-1 to us, so I’d say justice was served, and if as Pullis claims Sanchez dived (not unknown) then nothing came of it.
    Apart from the Stoke game we’re not doing so bad with the officials this season; perhaps ‘the tide has turned’

  • GoingGoingGooner

    The talking heads are just that, talking not thinking heads. It would seem that they rarely analyze the play, the way a manager would, but rather comment on very visible things. A play like Mustafi’s is right up their alley but the insidious shirt tugging in the box or as a player is about to kick are rarely talked about.

  • Steve Vallins

    No long ago cup final against Hull , Santi had his legs taken away in a very similar situation (IMO a stonewall penalty)l know we won but there was no media uproar about a non given penalty which was every bit a penalty as was WBA not given penalty last night
    First game of the season Ozil’s hand ball again media/pundits uproar Arsenal must not be recipients of these type of decisions which favour them
    Tony are referees changing or the media / pundits changing in how these decisions are viewed

  • Gord

    It is possible to be too honest, but Pulis’ team is not too honest. You would have seen at least two other activities happen:
    1. Pulis players would not approach an Arsenal player in any way indicative of a forthcoming foul.
    2. Pulis players within range of an Arsenal player might slip, trip over a bump in the grass or similar and hence make contact with an Arsenal player. The Pulis player would then immediately call out to the referee that they had fouled the Arsenal player. If the referee then chooses to ignore that the Pulis player had called a foul on themself, the Pulis player would then discipline themself, such as by doing 100 pushups.

    Obviously, no Pulis player called for the referee to call a foul or themself, or set to disciplining themselves on the failure of the referee to call the foul. So no, no player on the Pulis team is too honest.

  • Jammy J

    I think it was the start of last season, when quite a few on here believed that Arsenal were finally getting a fair field-of-play. Well, we all know how that played out. Mark my words, as soon as Arsenal start stacking up a few wins and we appear to be genuine contenders, then the state of refereeing will once again reach the abysmal lows of last season.

  • Josif

    What the fuck is this all story about Mustafi’s red card?

    Yes, Madley made a mistake in our favour. It was a stonewall penalty shout but it would have not been a red card because Mustafi didn’t use excessive force/pushed Rodriguez (who also went away from the goal with his clever dribbling) but went (stupidly) with an awful tackle to reach the ball, missed it and got Rodriguez’ legs instead (fair-play for Rodriguez who stood on his feet instead of throwing himself on the ground). The rules have changed last year and that’s why we didn’t have so many red cards for all those penalties we conceded (in fact, Koscielny’s red card v Bayern was the only one but he was deemed to push Lewandowski on the ground as the last defender.

    Arsene should give the same advice to Mustafi as he did with Xhaka last season. Mustafi has a lot of qualities but his tackling is too often a liability. He either misses the ball or fouls the opponent. Maybe the fact he is a well-known German international has kept him away from red cards so far but it will change as soon as we get close to the Manchester duo.

    Pulis talking about honesty? What’s next? Trump speaking against sexism? Kroenke wearing a PETA-shirt?

  • Stephan

    Great win yesterday to keep us up there with the other teams.
    Actually posting to foment on the officiating yesterday in which we all have to agree we got the run of the green yesterday.
    If the refs all want to screw Arsenal over, inner he won’t have overlooked what was a clear penalty at 0-0.
    We should understand this things happen, and next week might be our turn to have a bad call.
    Doesn’t mean they are in for us.
    Great win again, into the next one

  • MickHazel

    ‘Pulis talking about honesty?’
    Pulis is English, therefore he is by default honest!!!
    Wenger is French therefore he is by default ………!!!

  • Gord has a summary on an East Anglia study on honesty and nationality.

    One of the tests involves flipping coins. None of the tests involve flipping attackers.

  • MickHazel

    Yes we did get the rub of the green on the not given penalty.
    However we do not have to wait till next week to get our share of decisions going against us as we got more than our fair share last night.
    For some reason you appear to have forgotten about them.
    Surprise, surprise.
    Just to refresh your memory, two not given penalties for the manhandling of Monreal and Sanchez and Dawson escaping a second yellow card.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Never Mustafi would have gotten a yellow card for that foul. At most a yellow and not even worthy of a card if somewhere else on the field. People who say that Mustafi should have gotten a red card know nothing about the laws of the game or….have an agenda

  • Bloggs

    Pullis is Welsh not English

  • MickHazel

    His name is spelt Pulis not Pullis.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yesterday was unusual, one, Arsenal got a penalty, two, an opponent were denied what could well have been one, two circumstances added together have been rare in recent years.
    I would love to think the tide has turned regarding ref bias, but I suspect the orchestrated media outcry on what west Brom were denied, (totally ignoring two more pens arsenal should have been given , and the red Dawson should have received) will result in the decisions we have come to suspect in the coming months.
    Other refs will pick up on the grief madley is getting today, and ensure they do not suffer the same, and that is just the human side, quite apart from any calcioppoli , Riley or scudamore agenda.

  • Wenger warrior


  • Wenger warrior

    It happens to every team not just Arsenal Mick! Put your dummy back in

  • Wenger warrior

    Arsenal and Arsenal fans need to give credit to refs when it’s due, the standard of refs in Arsenal games this season is excellent! And if you think otherwise you really are a conspiracy theorist

  • Wenger warrior

    Would you like to go large on your meal sir!

  • Va Cong

    Wenger warrior or wenger hater? Are you on drugs?

  • Flares

    Whatever. I’m just glad Liverpool are demonstrating what a mighty force they are back in Europe ‘where they belong’. Out of the Champions League by Christmas, anyone? Anyone?

  • Gord

    Va Cong

    Wenger Warrior is doing magic mushrooms.

    She/he supports Wenger by bringing an axe or sword to games, hoping to cut his head off.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    On a billboard –
    ‘RELIGION is like a penis .
    It’s okay to have one .
    It’s okay to be proud of it.
    -do not pull it out in public ,
    – do not push it on children ,
    -do not write laws with it ,
    – do not think with it .’×357.jpg

  • Brickfields Gunners

    ” Happiness does not only come from achievement . When you were a child , you were simply happy.
    That is your nature . I you go against your own nature to be happy , you will never get anywhere.
    To be happy is not the ultimate aspect of life . It is the fundamental aspect of life .”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    ” When you are tired , go slowly. Go quietly.Go timidly. But do not stop.You are tired for the right reasons.
    You are tired because you’re supposed to be. You’re tired because you’re making a change .
    You are exhausted for all the right reasons and it’s only an indication to go on. You are tired because you’re growing.
    And someday that growth will give way to the exact rejuvenation that you need.”

  • para

    Don’t get fooled, they are not changing in any way.
    As long as Arsenal is lodged with “all the rest” of the teams not including ManC, ManU, Chel$, Spuds and Pool, we will get refs having no cause to restrict us.

    But let us reach the top 3 again and look to be doing well game after game, i know it will soon start again, trust me.

  • CoastalGooner

    Arsenal have now reached 100 goals converted from penalties in the premier league.
    This article made me laugh because according to their stats Arsenal have been the least efficient in converting penalties compared to many of the current teams in the premier league.

    But if you just look closely at their stats, they contradict what the article claims. for example only three teams have surpassed 100 penalty goal mark, among them are Arsenal with a 75% conversation rate, which is lower than the other two. Does that mean Arsenal are inefficient? Also you cant compare teams awarded just 15 or 20 penalties with those who have converted a hundred.

    read and be amused.

  • Wenger warrior

    How does my opinion on the refs have any link to hating Wenger? That’s like saying I like chicken so I must hate milk?


  • Wenger warrior

    Again Gord how does praising referees have any connection to hating Wenger? Please explain?

    Wenger warrior just said he hated the colour blue… He obviously hates Wenger!!

    You child

  • para

    Does anyone not wonder why religion will condemn sexual articles with vehemence, yet bless the soldiers going to a war they condone in the highest order.

    Sex(male/female) is the very basis of the continuing evolution of man and war is the very basis of destroying it.
    Think about it.

    Happiness is a fleeting feeling registered by senses, but joy is a constant that dwells in the soul.

    We are joyfull that Arsenal exists, nothing changes that.
    But we are happy when Arsenal win and sad when they lose.

    I think children(most) were just full(bundles) of joy being closer to the soul, and as they became more embedded in the world learnt to recognise that happiness is a fleeting sensation.