“It probably is a penalty but it was never not going to be given.”

By Tony Attwood

After the match the Burnley manager said, “It probably is a penalty but it was never not going to be given.”  (That is the quote I have picked up from the Guardian, and I think it is right.)

It was one of the more extraordinary statements I have heard from a profession that is particularly known for its outpouring of extraordinary statements.  Let’s try and take it to bits.

Part one seems to mean, it is a penalty.  OK, we can agree then, it is a penalty.   But then part two…

“It was never not going to be given.”

“Never not” is one of those double negative things that I used to be warned about in school – the two negatives cancel each other out, and so it means “It was likely to be given.”

So it was a penalty and it was likely to be given.

It hardly seems necessary to say this in such a convoluted way, but some of these managers do like their NewSpeak.

Of course the newspapers can’t let it go at that point.  “This was the third consecutive time Burnley have lost to Arsenal in controversial circumstances,” pronounced the Guardian, noting last season’s Laurent Koscielny’s goal, and the game before in which there was a “disputed 98th-minute spot-kick”.

There are a couple of points that come out of this.  The first is that Burnley play negatively.  They close down so much that they don’t reduce their own chances of getting free flowing smooth running breaks which can generate so many goals.  As such they cling to goalless scores and hope for a point or to sneak a winner.

If you want to see that verified in numbers just look at the league table.


Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 13 12 1 0 42 8 34 37
2 Manchester United 13 9 2 2 28 6 22 29
3 Chelsea 13 8 2 3 24 11 13 26
4 Arsenal 13 8 1 4 23 16 7 25
5 Tottenham Hotspur 13 7 3 3 21 10 11 24
6 Liverpool 13 6 5 2 25 18 7 23
7 Burnley 13 6 4 3 12 10 2 22

Our problem until now has been the away situation but even here there is improvement…

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 7 7 0 0 18 4 14 21
2 Chelsea 7 5 1 1 15 5 10 16
3 Watford 7 4 1 2 15 10 5 13
4 Tottenham Hotspur 6 4 0 2 12 5 7 12
5 Burnley 6 3 2 1 7 7 0 11
6 Manchester United 6 2 2 2 8 5 3 8
7 Liverpool 6 2 2 2 12 16 -4 8
8 Leicester City 7 1 4 2 9 11 -2 7
9 Brighton and Hove Albion 7 2 1 4 5 7 -2 7
10 Arsenal 7 2 1 4 8 12 -4 7

Again, I am not trying to say this is where we should be, merely that we have got moving on the away front and we are starting to pick up.  Any supporter of the club surely would welcome this.

But let us return to the notion that big clubs get big decisions.   The manager of Burnley is suggesting a bias among referees in favour of the “big clubs”.   In the past that could have led to the manager’s arrest, if not being hung drawn and quartered.  But now it seems to be let go.

However it does need contemplating, not least because it is made without any sort of evidence.  It is just a throw out comment without back up.  The sort of thing that can be quoted over and over and which could grow.

I’m reminded of the statement we often get here which Don highlighted in his article recently.  Untold is accused of taking a position saying that the referees are all against Arsenal all the time – which is not something we have ever said.  To clarify, for what seems like the 1000th time, the argument put forward is that the way PGMO is organised makes it singularly easy for Type III match fixing to take place.   That’s what we point to.  Just showing a match in which Arsenal got a penalty which some might suggest was not deserved, alters nothing.


33 Replies to ““It probably is a penalty but it was never not going to be given.””

  1. There was another ‘penalty’ that should have been given but was not. The foul against Belerin was a clear penalty.

  2. “This riveting spectacle ended in Burnley heartbreak when James Tarkowski came together with Aaron Ramsey in the area and Lee Mason awarded a penalty.” – Jamie Jackson (Guardian)

    He let slip his bias when he called it a coming together. Did Ramsey embellish the push in the back by throwing open his arms as he fell on his front…perhaps, but to call it a coming together is to imply that they were both equally responsible for the contact. Tarkowski pushed with both hands on Ramsey’s back and Ramsey fell. Actually, it was very similar to Monreal pushing (Brady?) in the back which would have been a penalty had it not been called back for offside.

  3. It is common to hear managers and/or players of teams to say that the officials favour the top teams. Worldwide, it is common to say that the officials favour the home team.

    So, if we listen to the home manager, we might expect the officiating for this game to have been about even, without bias as the bias in one direction is being resisted by bias in the other direction. Is that what we got?

    At the end of the first half, we had a zillion fouls and no cards, and they had no fouls and 2 yellows. And at some point Aaron Ramsey was shown a yellow for dangerous play for receiving an elbow to the head (partly based on what Menace wrote).

    But I have yet to read an article from UK sources, which talk about an south/north divide. That the officials have a northern bias. Why is that? How about that the officials have a Caucasian bias? How about the officials have a anti-foreigner bias (as there are so few officials that are foreigners)?

  4. Expect the MOTD “experts” – the people who say that players (of some teams) are entitled to go down when they feel contact, are showing their experience when they “buy” a penalty – to say that Burnley were hard done by – the “not enough contact for me …” type of comment.

  5. I would be very interested to see mason’s bias figures for this match. I wonder if Dyche sees anything wrong with his player leading with an arm through the back of a player already in the air resulting in them being awarded the free kick. Did any of his players in response to the whistle appear to ask this mason chap, in the different coloured Burnley shirt, “tell me, what did I do?” as seemed to be on Mustafi’s lips. Until the 75th minute it is difficult to remember any decision going in our favour. Let us have the debate, let’s see where things would stand with an unbiased application of the laws of the game. I said before the game that I expected the pigmob to avenge their correct decision from the NLD, which lead to our first goal and mason did his utmost until the end of the game where it seemed as if they went, oh well, if you can’t win with 3 extra players on the pitch then we shall apply the rules correctly. From there Burnley faded and got the result such blatant bias from the pigmob bunch deserved. No doubt Arsenal being awarded a penalty for a foul inside the 18 yard area will strengthen the debate about the pigmob using VAR to eliminate such things from the game.
    It is only fitting that less than a week after some little people from some swampy part of London claimed a “power shift” that we are now above their sorry countenances in the table. I believe it would be most appropriate to state again clearly North London is and always will be red.

  6. ”To clarify, for what seems like the 1000th time, the argument put forward is that the way PGMO is organised makes it singularly easy for Type III match fixing to take place”

    Why wasn’t the Huddersfield (West Yorkshire)ManCity (Lancashire)game this afternoon officiated by a team from the PGMOB who live in London? Answer – there isn’t one.

    How do you get a situation where the capital of a country, with a population of millions, a number of football clubs, doesn’t have a referee officiating in the ”English Premier League?”

  7. Sky just showed the first half highlights, Burnley had about 10 chances to Arsenal’s single effort over the bar by Ramsey..
    No bias there then.

  8. Corners, free kicks, moves involving tackles, interceptions, headers away.. All possible chances not necessarily resulting in a “shot” at goal.

  9. Gord.. It was 10 mins Burnley one minute Arsenal on sky.
    But they did think it was a pen and Bellarins too.
    MOTD , Keown was on and if he says penalty nobody argues so it must have been a penalty.

  10. In those stats, is tracking mentions of Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson. Who said that he was going to do something to us in the lead up to the game.

    It sounded to me like he was going to be kicking Arsenal players every time he got close. But I think he was only mentioned four times in commentary in the first half, and twice in the second half. And none seem to be of the “kicking the opposition” type comment.

    In the first half, he did have a shot off target, it hit the side netting I believe.

    But I would not call what he did against Arsenal, to be similar to what he did against Ronaldo in Portugal’s game against Iceland. I could be wrong.

  11. Last years Koscielny “handball goal” and the year before when we got a penalty when he was offside but was kicked by an high boot has also been shown a few times to endorse how lucky we are against Burnley in stoppage time.
    If Man U did that it would be a credit to how they fight to the last.

  12. @Gord

    IMO Guðmundsson was all over the right flank early on– and his runs were the catalysts for Burnley’s near-chances then.
    He was a a pain in the butt. Then, right before half I believe– he came for a header from wide and flew into Ramsey positioned centrally at the top of the box — ringing Aaron’s bell. And it was Ramsey called for the foul!

    Though later in the 2nd half, Xhaka tackled him from behind (without a whistle or card!)– and Mr Guðmundsson got up limping at half-gait, a hand compressing his right kidney.

    All in all an oddly-called match.


  13. Pat, I think it is very telling about the “rest of the pack” in the EPL.

    Should Burnley continue at this pace, they will finish the season with (about) 64 points. And they are scoring (about) 1 goal per game.

    To guess at the “top group” and the “rest of the pack” in the EPL from the beginning, my guess was that the “rest of the pack” typically scores about 1 per game, and the “top group” scores about 2 per game. But I had never gone through all the numbers to see what the goal production was for these two groups.

    My latest thinking is that the top group is slightly higher than 2. But still no analysis to hang my hat upon.

  14. Ogban; True true.

    I hope someone has the interest to pick out all the mistakes refs make in a game, that one especially, but the “official” media seems strangely afraid of the footballing authorities.
    I mean, when we see a blatant ref mistake, they are so quick to try to justify the ref’s decision, that we can hear it in their voice, no conviction in what they are saying at all.

    The fact that there are no black refs(or managers for that matter) either does show a latent (or subconscious) racism concept in not wanting to hire them.
    I have long since realised(personal experiences) that in spite of all the proclamations about racism being not, racism is very prevalent, especially when it comes to jobs(above a certain level) and people. It’s gone very underground, but it is there none the less. If you shed your basic being and become like a European, then you can make it above a certain level(see Obama for one and many others).

    Something that is embedded in a culture and mindset for over 400 years will not be wiped out in a moment. Geez, they took children to slave hangings and burnings as a day out, let them see and take part in the actions. What do we expect? These scenes are burned into their genetic makeup and passed on to their children too. The whole system is set up to stop black people ever gaining control of any society, even their own. This is done economically and even the few blacks like musicians, singers, actors and sports people who rise up have to walk a thin line or lose their status, or life.

    It is good that some(very few)people are naturally against it, but they have no power to stop it as yet.

  15. Zedsaunt

    No refs from East Anglia or the South East … I have lived in both and can confirm football is played in both !!!

    Frankly it is YET ANOTHER clear failure by Mike Riley and his cronies …

  16. I see a lot of Burnley fans raging about decisions in our game against them.It just shows that every team has a gripe about referees when things haven’t gone their way not just us.Mind you in our last 3 games against burnley we have been the benefactor of some crucial decisions.It blows Untolds conspiracy theorys out of the water about bent referees.Maybe the likes of Menace ,para, Arsenal 13,omg, Walter(menace) broexx and the rest of the barnpots on here might relent on their claptrap that the referees are out to stop us winning the league and that its Kronke,Gazidis and Wenger that is doing that..

  17. With a lot of discussion about the referee decisions in the last 2 matches after the Man City refereeing howler, I have a bad feeling about how this will end for Arsenal. As of right now everyone in the Media are proclaiming how we got the dodgy decisions in our favor, but pretty soon that will change & we might again be fighting for P4 or maybe end up just like last season. Can’t there be some sort of investigative journalism about the PGMOL, in spite of so many issues which are coming up due to dodgy refereeing, like it happened in Italy.

  18. If we watch the replay from the assistant referees angle, Ramseys foot also gets clipped by the defender. Also therz an obvious push.

    That should be a double penalty in itself.

  19. Lewis look at the referee reviews for Burnley matches if you want. They are on this site. Type it in the search button

    And then you will notice that we have suffered far more from bad decisions than they did. In fact if the refs had done their job in the good way we would have wone those matches with a higher scoreline.
    I remember last year at Burnley they were making two clear handball fouls in the penalty area to stop Arsenal from scoring. An elbow against the head of Mustafi with no red card that lead to a headwound on Mustafi.
    At the Emirates Xhaka got send off but a Burnley player not in the first half and a few others also were allowed everything.

  20. lewis – you see? you don’t know what seeing is. The Burnley fans were accusing Arsenal of cheating. Did you see Barnes fall over (dive) several times after deliberately stopping to get contact? Mason didn’t book him & the commentators evaded comment, just as the FA will evade catching him for fooling the officials (only occurs in monochrome).

    You are no doubt preparing yourself for life as a judge. Learn Latin rather than English as its complexity destroys your thinking.

  21. Pep being catty in the press today about Wenger re: Raheem ‘Tom Daly’ Sterling. Metro shooting themselves in the face with the match reports this morning, casting doubts over our penalty but deciding matter-of-fact that Sterling’s was a foul. Nice to Rio Ferdinand getting it all wrong as per.

    Fat Sam is about to take over at Everton. If so, this may be the most embarrassing moment in their history: a capitulation of ambition and good taste which might forever tarnish their reputation.

  22. In fact, I’ve just revisited that article for clarification…”it was far from a certain penalty, with question marks over the authenticity of the Welshman’s tumble.”

    Are Metro calling Aaron Ramsey a cheat? If so, why aren’t they calling out Sterling and Delle Ali for their play acting and simulation on a weekly basis?

  23. para, You mention “they took children to slave hangings and burnings as a day out” but seem to miss out that it wasn’t just slave hanging/burning that they went to, it was everyone. The majority were just as happy to see a Caucasian thief or murderer (etc) suffer. In the UK skin colour made much less difference that we’d now expect when it came to things like that.
    The conditions slaves lived in would be a better measurement of the racism involved at that time, although that wouldn’t be any different if they were slaves in africa, middle east or any other european country…

  24. Minesy, I think you’ll find there’s at least one ref from Norwich and one or two from Wiltshere, and both are deemed as from ‘The South East’ for PGMO purposes.

  25. lewis, the ref making one or two important decisions in our favour during a game where the vast majority of decisions go against us, doesn’t prove anything.
    If all the less important decisions had been called correctly instead, then maybe we’d have found our rhythm in the game and won by 4 goals in the first 90 minutes…

  26. @Flares,

    You dont know, Ramsey is a cheat. And Alli and Sterling are clever. Thats the difference.

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