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Arsenal v Newcastle 16 Dec 2017 – The Match Officials. Expect 2 wrong major decisions.

by Andrew Crawshaw

For the second match in a row we have a referee doing his first Arsenal match of the season.

  • Referee – Stuart Attwell  age 34 from Warwickshire
  • Assistant Referee 1 – Simon Long  from Suffolk
  • Assistant Referee 2 – Matthew Wilkes  from the West Midlands
  • Fourth Official – Mike Dean  age 49 from Mersyside

In fact it is not just Stuart Attwell’s first Arsenal League match this season, it is his first for some time.  He was first appointed to the Premier League in 2008 and stayed in the top flight until the end of the 2011/12 season when he was demoted.  Here is a link to our end of season review of him from 2012.  We agreed that his performances weren’t at the required standard for the PL but felt that there were other referees who weren’t demoted who had figures that were just as bad or worse.

In a report from 2010 by Graham Poll in the Daily Mail it was stated that “Stuart Attwell’s performance at Arsenal showed again that he was promoted to the Premier League too soon.  His ‘crime’ was to send off Bolton’s Gary Cahill for a foul on Chamach just seconds after he and his assistant Phil Sharpe missed an obvious foul on Lee Chung-yong.”  Mr Poll goes on to call the red card an over-reaction.

In all of the years of us undertaking referee reviews it is almost never that we have considered awarding a red card an over-reaction, far more normal is for our reviews to regard the referees as being unduly lenient by not awarding red cards.

Issuing a red card to a player against Arsenal was used as an example of a young referee not being capable of judging what standards should be applied in the PL – another worrying precedent.

Mr Attwell’s next appearance in the Premier league was in November 2014 when he was allowed the whistle in the Leicester v West Brom match (0 – 1) and was formally re-appointed to the top flight during the 2015-16 season when he was called upon for 4 games :-

  • West Brom v Southampton 12 Sept (0 – 0)
  • Swansea v Everton 19 Sept (0 – 0)
  • palace v Newcastle 28 Nov (5 – 1)
  • Sunderland v Man City 2 Feb (0 – 1)

In 2016-17 he was in charge for 10 matches and so far this season he has done seven matches including the 2 – 1 home win by Newcastle over Stoke.

This makes doing a referee preview slightly problematic as there is very little current data to go on.  It also makes the appointment of Mike Dean as Fourth Official interesting and potentially concerning.

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In our review of the first 160 games of last season Mr Attwell was involved in four games.  We found that he made 2 wrong second yellow card decisions, 3 wrong red card decisions, 2 wrong penalty decisions but all of his decisions involving goals were correct.

So 7 wrong major decisions in his four games which was pretty much in line with the all referee average of two wrong major decisions per match (322 in 160 games). This indicates that we shouldn’t be unduly concerned about his appointment.


  1. There is too little recent data on which to make any proper conclusions as to how he is likely to perform on Saturday
  2. The appointment of Mr Dean as fourth Official is somewhat concerning – despite our winning the game against Spurs under his whistle earlier this year I still don’t fully trust him even when he is only whispering in the ear of the referee.
  3. We should expect two wrong Important Decisions in the match, probably involving players not getting second yellow or red cards.
  4. It is also unlikely that we will be awarded a penalty.
  5. Untold are deploying our secret weapon again this weekend with a party of Belgians (including Walter and Carine) in the stadium so we should win the match despite the worst efforts of the match officials


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3 comments to Arsenal v Newcastle 16 Dec 2017 – The Match Officials. Expect 2 wrong major decisions.

  • timo

    secret weapon good, we are due some points. many teams are starting to stumble and Arsenal should make some ground.

  • Josif

    Walter and his significant other are attending the game?

    I’m putting my house on an easy victory for Arsenal.

  • Chris

    Looks like Griezmann can move in January if 100 million are put on the table
    Get ready fot the blogettas instructing Mr Wenger to buy him….now they have a story to run for a few months