By Tony Attwood
Why Arsenal should be happy Mike Dean is refereeing the north London derby
That is the headline above an article in the Daily Telegraph. It is not a piece that I wholly agree with and I think some of the ways in which the statistics are handled are misleading, but the fact that it is there at all says something. Go back ten years and the chance of a national newspaper even mentioning the possibility that a referee might be biased would be unthinkable.
Indeed the fact that the paper has to use such a convoluted approach – and indeed actually bothers to go into such a convoluted approach – suggests that an awareness of the situation is growing. Maybe we have been having a little effect these past ten years after all.
What the Telegraph has done is simply looked at how many matches Arsenal have won with one particular referee handling one particular match. It isn’t a way of getting a proper statistical analysis – as I am sure the journalist and the Telegraph editors know perfectly well, but as a way of putting down Arsenal fans who are by and large regarded as universally unskilled in the finer understandings of maths, is serves their political viewpoint well enough..
To do the analysis properly you would need to compare also all the matches refereed by each referee and then compare those with each other to start seeing if there was bias – and that would only be the start. But that they are willing to run this article at all knowing that it was statistically unsound – well, one can only contemplate the possibilities.
Anyway, the media is getting quite excited about Sunday’s game so here’s a little something to consider: Arsenal v Tottenham in League and Cup competitions:
Arsenal have won 81, Tottenham have won 63 and 51 have been drawn. Here are the last 15…
|26 Feb 2012||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||5-2||Premier League|
|17 Nov 2012||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||5-2||Premier League|
|03 Mar 2013||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|01 Sep 2013||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||1-0||Premier League|
|04 Jan 2014||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-0||FA Cup|
|16 Mar 2014||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
|27 Sep 2014||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|07 Feb 2015||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|23 Sep 2015||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||1-2||League Cup|
|08 Nov 2015||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|05 Mar 2016||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||2-2||Premier League|
|06 Nov 2016||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|30 Apr 2017||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-0||Premier League|
|18 Nov 2017||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-0||Premier League|
|10 Feb 2018||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
Seven wins for us in the last 15, four defeats, four draws.
If we reduce this to the last ten however we only have three wins, four draw, and three defeats. Come down to the last five, and finally we find a way of giving Tottenham the edge – we have just one win, two draws and two defeats. (You can’t say I’m manipulating the number of games just to give Arsenal the edge).
Since those two 5-2 wins in 2012, neither team has knocked up more than two goals in a game so 2-1 looks like quite a viable scoreline. But we should also remember that in all four of the defeats noted above the games have been played away from Arsenal Stadium – the last time they won at our place was 11 May 1993. And yet still the Tiny supporters turn up in hope. Ah well – it all adds to our income.
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But what we also have to do is remember Tottenham’s extraordinary away record this season – played eight, won seven, lost one. 15 goals scored, six conceded, giving an average rounded result of 2-1. This is considerably better than our home record of four wins, two draws and one defeat with 12 scored and six conceded – which again suggests a 2-1 scoreline.
Add the two sets of figures together and one might be tempted to see a 1-1 draw on the horizon.
Among the pundits Merson has gone for a draw while Lawrenson is going for a Tottenham win.
But there is a rather droll headline doing the rounds from Eurosport: Parker predicts Derby Day: Are Spurs the ‘new’ Arsenal?
Piers Morgan says that Arsenal’s unbeaten run of 18 games will be forgotten if they lose to Tottenham, and for once he is right. The memory of the average journalist is shorter than that of the lesser spotted grasshopper. But it will be there in the record books for ever more. An 18 match unbeaten run by a new manager, starting in his third game. Not very many managers manage that.
OK the journalists will forget – but they are hardly representative either of Arsenal supporters or football supporters at large.
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