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Manchester City v Arsenal Sunday 5 November – Media react to the Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

The mainstream media and blogettas have joined us this year in mentioning referees in advance of Premier League games.

Our Officials are :-

  • Referee – Michael Oliver  Age 32 from Northumberland and FIFA accredited
  • Assistant Referee 1 – Simon Bennett  from Staffordshire and FIFA accredited
  • Assistant Referee 2 – Stuart Burt  from Northamptonshire and FIFA accredited
  • Fourth Official – Andre Marriner  Age 46 from West Midlands and FIFA accredited

The Daily Mirror were first into print this week on Tuesday with the news that Michael Oliver was to take charge.  Their reporter Jake Polden states that “But supporters will feel they’ve already drawn the short straw after it was announced that Oliver will officiate their game.

Now it’s nothing to do with the referee’s ability, rather Arsenal’s embarrassing win rate with him in charge – a lowly 20 per cent – that will have fans feeling nervous.

Note that they assure readers that it’s nothing to do with the referee’s ability.  Actually Jake it is completely and utterly to do with the referee’s competence (together with a slice of PGMO bias).

This season we have already had Mr Oliver for our game away at Chelsea on 17 September which we drew 0 – 0.  We have been unable to undertake any formal referee reviews so far this season because of other commitments by our referee review team, who of course all work on this on a voluntary basis.

But Walter’s post match review indicates that, in general, Mr Oliver got little wrong (at least in terms of Important Decisions), he correctly dismissed Luiz for an awful studs up challenge on Kolasinac, correctly gave yellow cards for Kolasinac, Bellerin’s card less so, Alexis was fouled in a dangerous position immediately outside the Chelsea penalty area in the closing minutes but Mr Oliver was not prepared to allow Arsenal the free kick (poor decision).

Last Season 2016-17 we had Michael Oliver no fewer than five times

  1. Arsenal v Liverpool 14 August (3 – 4).  Overall rating 82%, bias against the two teams of 60/40 and two wrong Important Decisions.  Liverpool’s goal in Min 45+1 was scored from an incorrectly awarded free kick to Liverpool for a ‘phantom foul’.  Arsenal’s goal in Min 75 shouldn’t have counted as Chambers was offside.  One wrong goal for each team means that, in my opinion, the result was valid even if the score should have been 2 – 3.
  2. Arsenal v Chelsea 24 September (3 – 0).  Overall rating 81%, bias against the two teams of 90/10 and no wrong Important Decisions.  The referee was excellent in this game apart from the bias in minor decisions where he missed a couple of bookings for Chelsea players.
  3. Bournemouth v Arsenal 3 January (3 – 3).  Overall rating 84%, bias against the two teams of 21/79.  Mr Oliver made one wrong Important Decision when in Min58 Fraser fouled Bellerin in the build up to Bournemouth’s third goal which shouldn’t have counted.  This was a game where Arsenal should have emerged winners and I therefore counted this as two points denied by the referee.
  4. Crystal Palace v Arsenal 10 April (3 – 0).  We have no formal review of this game but from Walter’s post match report there was a non-decision to award a foul on Xhaka by Benteke in the build up to the first goal which shouldn’t have stood.  Benteke being allowed to charge in the back of Arsenal players all through the match.  In the second half Alexis was punished for jumping in the back of a Palace defender – no consistency there, The Palace second goal was valid, Cabaye with a looping shot over Martinez.  A not given penalty to Arsenal when Sakho wrapped up Giroud.  For the third goal a penalty was gifted to Palace with Townsend sticking his foot against Martinez to win a penalty.  I watched the first half only and thought it is easy for a team to be ahead if your players are allowed to foul the opposition players with impunity.  The referee didn’t help but in truth we were bullied from the start to the finish, mainly by means that would have been called as fouls anywhere else in Europe.  The result was probably valid and it was certainly a very poor performance from Arsenal but the referee certainly assisted the process.
  5. Tottenham v Arsenal 30 April (2 – 0)  Again no formal review for this match.  Alii with the first following an initial blocked shot by Cech from Eriksen.  No chance for the keeper and a valid goal.  Min 57 Kane went down in the penalty area having made sure he stuck out his leg to make contact.  Was it a dive? – not in the eyes of the referee.  Late in the game every tackle by an Arsenal player was being carded, Spurs players being allowed similar challenges without sanction.  Not the referee’s finest game but the result was valid.

In 2015-16 We had Mr Oliver only twice, both ended up as draws, but had Mr Oliver done his job properly Arsenal should have won both games.  In neither game did he reach our Minimum acceptable performance score of 70% :-

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  1. Arsenal v Liverpool 24 August (0 – 0).  Overall rating 67%, bias against the two teams of 90/10 and three wrong Important Decisions.  Min 8 Aaron Ramsey was wrongly flagged offside when he scored, he wasn’t and the goal should have stood; Min 72 Lucas fouled Giroud in the penalty area, no penalty given; Min 85 Mignolet was correctly given a yellow card for time wasting but he should have had a yellow card in Min58 for deliberately kicking the ball away meaning that he should have been sent off in Min 85.  These wrong decisions cost Arsenal 2 points in this game.
  2. Tottenham v Arsenal 5 March (2 – 2).  Overall rating 56%, bias against the two teams of 14/86 and two wrong Important Decisions.  Min 65 Lamela should have been dismissed with two yellow cards, the first for a foul on Alexis, the second for a deliberate push on Alexis, he was wrongly only given a single yellow card;  Min 79 Dier should have had a second yellow card for a deliberate attack breaking foul, the foul was given but not the card.  In my opinion had Spurs had their two players sent off it is probable that Arsenal would have won this game.

Going back to 2014-15, we had Mr Oliver on three occasions, again all were drawn

  1. Arsenal v Tottenham 27 Sept (1 – 1)  66% overall rating, bias against the two teams of 85/15 and two wrong Important Decisions.  Min 30 Rose fouled Wilshere in the penalty area but nothing was awarded; Min 72 Mason should have had a second yellow card for a foul on Özil.  These two wrong decisions meant this was a game that Arsenal should have won instead of drawn
  2. Liverpool v Arsenal 21 December (2 – 2)  67% overall rating, bias against the two teams of 0/100 and two wrong Important decisions.  In Min 46 Debuchy was booked for an incident involving a dive by Sterling, the card should have gone to the Liverpool player instead, in Min 61 Sterling was booked for a dive but this should have been his second yellow;  Min 90+1 Borini should have had a straight red card for a foul on Cazorla, he was wrongly issued with a second yellow card – no effect on this game but he should have had a three match ban not one match.  Had Liverpool been reduced to 10 men for the last 20 minutes of the game it is probable that this is another match that Arsenal would have won rather than drawn.
  3. Arsenal v Chelsea 26 April (0 – 0) we have no formal referee review for this game.  From Walter’s post match report he notes the following ‘iffy’ decisions – Cahill handling a cross from Bellerin in the third quarter of the first half but no penalty awarded, Willian hitting Koscielny in the face but only getting a yellow card instead of a red.  Chelsea celebrating the draw as though they had won convincingly – a masterclass in negative football from Mourinho, but if Mr Oliver had seen able to correctly award Arsenal a penalty and send off a Chelsea player….

In our analysis of the opening 160 matches for last season where Mr Oliver blew the whistle on 14 occasions, in my opinion there were three of them where poor decisions could well have affected the outcome of the match.

  • In the Tottenham v Palace match (matchweek 2), Rose should have had two yellow cards in Min 2 and 25.  With a player advantage for 65 minutes I think it quite possible that Palace would have been able to engineer an equalising goal.  Spurs won by 1 – 0.
  • Manchester City v Everton (matchweek 8), Coleman for Everton should have been sent off in Min 33 and City’s missed penalty in Min 43 should have been retaken due to encroachment.  This should have been a comfortable win for City.  The match finished one all.
  • Leicester v Man City (matchweek 14), This was a really poor display from Mr Oliver who denied City no fewer than four penalties in Minutes 40, 42, 47 and 49.  His mistakes weren’t all one sided as Fernando should have had a second yellow card inMin 67.  The match finished 4 – 2 to Leicester, had the penalties been awarded the score could have been as much as 6 – 4 to City.  For a senior referee to make 5 wrong Important Decisions in a single game is inexcusable


  1. Our Referee reports indicate that Mr Oliver has improved in his time in the Premier League, but he still has a blind eye when it comes to awarding penalties to both Arsenal and City.  He has a history of awarding contentious penalties against Arsenal.
  2. To Jake Polden of the Daily Mirror I would say – your report is totally inadequate, whilst I accept that he has been one of the top referees in the PL last season and this,  in many of the matches that Arsenal haven’t won with Mr Oliver as referee, his mistakes have directly influenced the result to Arsenal’s detriment and that is the reason that Arsenal fans should be wary of any match with him in charge
  3. The chances of Arsenal being awarded a penalty are vanishingly small, any conceivable infringement by an Arsenal player, or a convincing dive by a City attacker will certainly be given as a penalty.
  4. Manchester City players are unlikely to be sanctioned for similar fouls that will earn cards to Arsenal players
  5. Mr Oliver’s bias against Arsenal in decisions awarded may well be sufficient to tilt the pitch in favour of Manchester City and I would ask him to be well aware of the home supporters trying to influence decisions and to not give in to it.
  6. In our analysis of all matches over the first 16 weeks of last season, Mr Oliver was certainly no friend of Manchester City, he was appointed for two of their games and arguably cost them points in both.


23 comments to Manchester City v Arsenal Sunday 5 November – Media react to the Match Officials

  • Max Kerr

    Notwithstanding that I share the nervousness with Mr Oliver on the whistle, he did give one of my favourite performances in the FA Cup, when he sent off di Maria for laying hands on him following being booked for simulation. How I wish Mourinho had been ManU manager at the time!

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I suppose being the youngest at 32 of all the referees currently at the PGMO, I think referee Michael Oliver has good body flexibility of movement and running on the field of play that gives him a good physical advantage over the older referees at the PGMO to see accurately and in time the infringements and fouls being committed in matches by footballers playing in the PL and in other competitions.

    Despite the fact that no football referee can be said to be a perfect one, but by and large and taking into consideration of his good referring record generally in the PL, one can say referee Michael Oliver is fairer in referring in the PL and in other competitions than most referees now at the PGMO. And when it comes to referring in Arsenal games in the PL, and Michael Oliver is put in charge at the centre to referee in the matches, his fairness in referring to both teams playing has endeared him an Arsenal home and away referee by the media because he will not go out of his ways to harm any of the two teams playing against each other neither will he be inclinefld to or carry out any cladinetine oders from the PGMO against Arsenal in the game as some referres at the PGMO have been seen doing for seasons subverting Arsenal efforts to win the Premier League Title for the past 13 years.

  • Gord

    I don’t know how you (SAA) can say Oliver is a good referee. The scores he has from last season (low 80’2 percent) are largely talking about the details of the game that don’t affect who wins and who loses. That he has had a minimum bias of 1.5:1 against Arsenal and as large as 9:1, is hardly the hallmark of a good referee. If one looks back to previous years, his bias is typically closer to 9:1 than it is to 1:1 (no bias), and there was one circumstance where he was infinitely biased (100/0).

    It is entirely possible that Oliver is good at dressing himself; that he doesn’t need his Mom or wife to help him. He may be better than most other PGMO employees at refereeing games. But he is not a good referee.

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    We have never done the same kind of in-depth analysis of Cup games as we have for the league. There is a strong suspicion amongst our referee watchers that, in general,there is less bias in Cup games. This is just a general observation and certainly comes with caveats. We all remember the Cup Final against Hull when we were denied four clear penalti!

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Truly,, referee Michael Oliver has impressed me in his firmness and fairness to both teams playing against each other when referring in the PL generally. And not specifically when he referred an Arsenal game that he was fair and firm in doing the right calls in referring. Anyway, I am not contending with you on your rating and judging his standard of referring which you said is of average or low. So, I’ll give you the benefit of doubt to accept the rating you’ve rated his referring.

    On a different subject, West Ham Utd abject showing of indiiscipline in the game that led to them scandalously losing 1-4 to Liverpool in the PL at the London Stadium this evening has made the Reds to catched Arsenal on points in the table but we are still in 5th position above them in 6th but on goal difference. Does this tells Arsenal they MUST get a result at the Etihad against Man City tomorrow if they are to remain in 5th position or above it in the table tomorrow? A win by Arsenal at the Etihad against Man City tomorrow is what I am yearning for.

  • nicky

    Is there ANY PGMO who will give Arsenal a fair crack of the whip?
    Or do we expect too much from those connected to such a questionable body? 😉

  • Gord

    OT: FFP on former EPL teams

    > QPR have now failed to win in 34 visits to the City Ground – including 29 games in the league, which is now officially the worst run of form of any Football League side, at any one venue, eclipsing Grimsby who have failed to win in 28 visits to Blackburn Rovers.

    Nice to see QPR doing so well, after flouting FFP rules.

    Maybe they will be nonleague soon?

  • Tublu

    Getting the excuses in early ? Or are the premier league and pgmol ‘really’ out to get you terminally paranoid gooners. Any of you able to posit a single rational reason why that would happen?

  • Gord

    Fair enough SAA

  • GoingGoingGooner

    off topic…Mourinho grousing that maybe he would get respect if he wins a 26th trophy…what an unfortunately uni-dimensional person he is. He patently doesn’t understand the nuances of life/football. Money/Winning is not enough…he’s done that…you have to have other redeeming qualities, too. Eye gouging, pouting, self-aggrandizement, insults, insecurity…these are not the pedestals upon which statues are placed.

  • para

    Yes yes, our game(one of them) of the season i think.

    Still, it can be won even though all/most tend to see ManC as unstoppable, but we can do it if we have a plan and not just go out to play football our way.

    As i said before, we have to be organised and if we are, we will beat ManC if there are no wild/biased decisions by M. Oliver.

    If we let the fact that we are away weigh us down, that is a bad start, after all it’s a game of 22 on a pitch and that is where our focus should be, to win this game where ever it is played.

    Come on Arsenal, do the ting today, just do it and dampen ManC’s hope of an unbeatable season. This would be a great win on two fronts.

  • Jax

    I have to endorse Samuels opinion of Oliver. Having seen him in a number of games this last few seasons I’d put him top of the PL referees in fairness and respect given by the players out on the pitch with him. I don’t know who makes these stats up so will never believe them without hard evidence. At 31 he has the potential to be truly excellent referee and I’m glad he has todays match.

  • Menace

    In a punditry prog last night on Star TV, Phil ‘Dumbass’ Neville (the UGLIER of the two sisters!) said Arsenal will lose by 5,6 or 7 goals to Manchester City. It is possible, but highly improbable. I hope the slimeball gets the sack following our victory. I will ensure he is tweeted into submission & shame.

  • Menace

    SAA – Oliver is a member of PGMOL & is therefore a cheat. They have a select group of sighted blind idiots with very little grace or honesty. Do not think he is any better that his boss Mike ‘corrupt’ Riley who sucked up to Fergie.

  • Mandy Dodd

    This ref is ambitious, and a worry for this game.
    Sometimes read footballisfixed tweets, one said that their syndicate of analysts offered Wenger help in identifying corrupt elements of the game, referees and insiders , but that Wenger refused, in their words, was in denial. On these issues. Guess he is one of the games romantics and purists

  • Gord

    I don’t think you can label a referee as good or bad by whether or not they are PGMO employees. 😈 Mike Riley is allowed to hire whoever he wants for these jobs.

    As far as FIFA accredited goes, all that need involve is that they meet certain requirements (age, fitness, …). FIFA probably feels it is under some pressure (how that would work, I don’t know) to label N members of PGMO as FIFA accredited. What might be a likely scenario, is that FIFA ranks all the PGMO employees, and labels as accredited the N of top rank.

    Again, this doesn’t mean these people are good at what they do.

  • finsbury

    Fourth four mins in Oliver stops an arsenal counter to give them a foul.

    In case there was any doubt: He’s tilting. Clear as day. Not sure why when the home team have spent so much on their squad but there it is. In everyone’s faces. Undeniable.

  • Menace

    The cheating goes on. Off side not called and a penalty for a dive. The PGMOL strike again!

  • finsbury

    No yellows allowed for fouls on Alexis.
    Looks like the pgMOB got the memo.

    How did Stones avoid a yellow there?

    It Helps the 1bn squad if the official can be observed to be tilting in their favour. Yep yellow for Laca without any hesitation. Oliver. He’s losing his subtle edge. Ha. Ha. Ha.

  • finsbury

    Get in Laca. That was the plan, keep it tight and throw in Laca when the space opens up.

    The pgMOB have shown their hand.
    Come on the Arsenal.

  • finsbury

    Yellow for Kozza where Stones and others have been allowed to hack down Alexis on the counter all game long.

    Nobody can even attempt to deny the observational bias in evidence from the pgMOB official.

  • finsbury

    Well. fortunately for City they don’t get a call like Laca at Stoke. Nope!

  • finsbury

    Seriously why the need for such obvious cheating when they have the billion dollar advantage anyway?

    The pgMOB just can’t help themselves and they’ve left this leagu a busted flush (& the national team incapable of drawing with Iceland).