The Untold referee index: Arsenal – Bolton Legbreakers

by Walter Broeckx, the ref from Belgium, the Worldwide man

Our Second home game brought us not only the visit of Bolton but also ref Stuart  Atwell, the youngest ref in the EPL.

CARDS: tackle Davies from behind on Rosciky. Ref gives advantage which goes to nothing. But with a tackle on a defensive player so close on the own penalty area you should never give advantage. Should have been a foul and a yellow card against Davies.  After playing the advantage you can book the player the first time the ball goes out. But it took exactly 2 minutes before play had to be stopped because….  Davies commits his next dirty foul and he finally gets his well deserved yellow card for another strong tackle on Wilshere this time. That was 2 bookable offences in 2 minutes. Davies, not a dirty player? My ass.  1/2

PENALTY: tackle on Arshavin, replay suggest the defender got a bit off the ball, but I had the impression the defender first caught the leg of Arshavin. Could/should have been a penalty.  But I will give the ref no penalty for this as it is difficult to give a penalty when you see the defender touching the ball somewhat. It is a bit of a psychological barrier.  1/1

OTHER: Ref has a word before the corner: good work.  1/1

GOAL: From the corner we score. No offside from Cesc at first. Koscielny is behind the ball so certainly not offside when Cesc plays the ball in. Cesc is on the goal line when to the ball goes in but he doesn’t intervene with the play so a not punishable offside position. Correct goal good work from the ref and the assistant. 1/1

CARDS: Yellow card Gibbs correct late challenge. 1/1

CARDS: Muamba tackle from behind no yellow card ??? Should have been yellow. 0/1

PENALTY: Possible foul on Chamakh in the penalty area? Looked more a slip to me. Correct decision. 1/1

GOAL: Goal Bolton: no remarks correct decision.  1/1

Second half:

CARDS: foul Steinson on Wilshere yellow card. Bringing down a player at full speed not a clever thing to do. Mostly a yellow card. Not a vicious foul but a yellow card offence. 1/1

OTHER: Cahill makes a foul on Chamakh no foul given. He pulled him off the ball. Bolton get a chance from this. 0/1

GOAL: Second goal Arsenal: AA to Cesc, no offside, excellent cross and good header from Chamakh and 2-1. 1/1

CARDS: Davies goes in on Koscielny. Davies was very late and he gave the impression that he wanted to have a go at him. But maybe I am biased.  Ref gives nothing. Should/could have been another yellow card. Davies should have been off by now. Even Graham Poll would have realised that. 0/1

CARDS: Eboue gets a yellow card for ….. asking a yellow card? If he did asked for a card with a gesture then this is a correct decision.  You don’t ask for yellow cards.  1/1

OTHER: It looked like Song committed a foul on Lee, outside the penalty area. 0/1

CARDS: Red card Cahill. Cahill could never have played the ball from that position as the ball was in front of Chamakh.  Cahill goes in jumps in from behind with two feet in the player. If you look at it from the playing field angle you can see that Cahill is jumping with both feet from the ground. So it was not a sliding tackle (which the MOTD pundits later compared it with). One world cup ago Fifa decided to ban such tackles. They did at the time.  But those rules always disappear from the memory of the supporters and the refs. 5 years ago no one would have said anything about it. Is it because he is a young ref that he still remembers the rules?  I would be delighted if those tackles would never be seen anymore. If Chamakh would have been on the ground with his legs they could have been broken.  The tackle reminded me off the Shawcross tackle against Adebayor a few seasons back when Adebayor was more unlucky as he got caught on his standing ankle and was stretchered off.  1/1

CARDS/OTHERS: tackle on Diaby over the ball from Robinson and on his standing leg. This was a possible leg breaking tackle. This was a dangerous tackle.  He came in with his foot over the ball and got him on the leg. And yes he did get a bit of the ball somewhere down the process  with something,  but the way he came in with his leg at full stretch is always dangerous.  Diaby was a bit lucky that his foot wasn’t completely stuck in the grass otherwise we would have seen another Arsenal player losing another season. And we would have witnessed again the scenes from legs hanging off. Please God no more if possible. I really had enough of it. Oh and the ref even didn’t give a foul.  0/1 and 0/1

Above a picture from the tackle on Diaby as shown on Arseblog.

OTHER: Back pass not given. Ref thought it was not a deliberate one. I can understand this but he intended  to play the ball back but maybe not to his keeper. But still a bit doubtful but it is up to the ref to make a decision and to give his interpretation on a deliberate one or not.  I spare the ref for this time. 1/1

GOAL: Arsenal third goal correct nothing to report apart from the fact that Song finished like a world class striker. 1/1

GOAL: Fourth Arsenal goal: no offside, correct decision and what a cool finish from Vela.  And how lovely to finish of the OLES with a brilliant pass and finish.  1/1

PENALTY: Tackle from Muamba on Eboue. If the ref doesn’t give a penalty than it has to be a corner. Muamba either touched the ball or he got the player. If he didn’t touch the ball than it is a penalty. If he played the ball it was a corner.  Poor decision anyhow.  0/1

PENALTY: Arshavin goes down, there was contact but I can understand not giving a penalty for this. So I give him this decision as a good one. 1/1

So a lot of decisions and these are the final points I get:

  • Goals 5/5
  • Cards: 5/10
  • Penalties: 3/ 4
  • Other: 2/4

Total decisions: 15/22 (68% in total)

A somewhat confused Tony Attwood on the game: Robinson, Taylor, Shawcross, Smith – the criminals in the EPL

Bill the Dog attends the match as a guest of 02: 02 and Untold together: Wenger is a cheat!!!

And for even more confusion try this

35 Replies to “The Untold referee index: Arsenal – Bolton Legbreakers”

  1. Thank you for this analysis. I do urge you to continue with this sort of articles. They are very important.

    Out of your 22 points I agree with you on most. I thought Arsenal deserved a penalty and that Davies should have been sent off. I guess the ref didn’t want to give 2 yellow cards in the same move however they were deserved. I wonder of anybody saw such a case (getting 2 yellows together but not for dissent).

  2. My own take on the ref was in all he wasn’t bad with the exception of the tackle on Diaby that he let go. Stick on red card in my book. I hate that every time they attempted to injure one of ours they feigned injury themselves as if it was just a bizarre accident that both parties were unfortune in.

    As usual the worst culprits were the pundits involved from the commentators to the studio hacks to the MOTD arseholes. The worst indictment of todays’s media is that rather than present facts, they seek to shape the argument so that they become part of the story.
    If I was liable for a UK TV licence I would be drafting a particularly nasty letter to the BBC. Can anybody honestly tell me that Hansen is worth £1mil a year or that there isn’t another ex-player with a more balanced view for the same money?

    Nice review walter

  3. Really nice Walter, I really enjoy this series you are doing. As a former referee, it maddens me some weeks watching the disgracefully poor officiating, your synopsis is very balanced and I appreciate the perspective you have, while trying to be fair to the ref as we all do make mistakes.

    This week of course, there were some high-profile mistakes made, but as you rightly point out, Attwell did make some very good, correct decisions as well. I am of course more inclined to cut the guy some slack, because we have the 3 points (had we lost or drawn the game I can guarantee I would not be as forgiving).

    I do take a little issue with your scoring system though. I feel that totalling the “decisions” and giving a percentage score on that can be a little misleading. It really seems that more weight should be given to goals, and perhaps penalty decisions, because those are going to have far more affect on the game than (in this case) correctly not penalizing for a backpass. Anyway, just a thought. Again, well done on the piece, I look forward to next week (or will you do one for Wednesday’s game?).

  4. Thanks for expertise Walter, but I have question.
    Can Ref give kind of ..ufff.. aggregate red card. Like Davies case yesterday. He gave advantage, but as game didn’t stop till his next “yellow card start” could he give him 1+1 yellow card, as both tackles were for card? So, not direct red card but, sending him off.

  5. People are starting to see now, that is isn’t some ‘curse’ that causes us so many injuries, it is nothing more than bad tackling and apathetic refereeing!

    It is not just Arsenal, all the top teams have suffered more injuries in the last 5 years, Chelsea and Man City have changed the game …

    Nice article always a pleasure to read – although to be honest I thought the ref did well considering his age. he was no worse than any of the other more experienced ref’s have been.

    They are all as bad as each other 🙂 Lol but it’s part of the game isn’t it

  6. Armin, as far as I know I have never seen it. In theory you can have two yellows within seconds. You get a yellow for a foul and then you run out of the wall and get a second. But I never seen two on aggregate.

  7. Taery, I admit the most difficult thing is to try to be as neutral as possible. I therefore look at the games twice so I don’t have the tension of the win or lose.

    And yes I try also to have the referee point of view in to it. As I know that things can look very differently from the point that you are looking at something.

    And to be fair he had some good decisions and most of his calls on fouls in the middle of the field were rather good. But he made some big mistakes and let some things like the Diaby tackle.

    All to often people tend to say: “he got the ball” and so it isn’t a foul. This is mostly the case in let us say 80 or 90 % of the incidents on a field. But not always. I always then give the example of a player who jumps in the air with his foot in front of another players head. If he then plays the ball, it still is a foul as it is dangerous for the opponent. And all to often this is overseen when there is a challenge on the ground. But this is far harder to call as a ref because you then got the “he got the ball-shout”.

  8. I was wandering, because, maybe ref was reluctant to punish with at last 3 games ban. So if it would be aggregate, than it would be only one.

  9. And to give an example of the “he got the ball” nonsens. I was just wacthing a summary of a league game in Belgium. A player goes alone on the keeper and at first sight the keeper catches the ball. The ref blows for a penalty. Much trouble on the field, coaches sent to the stand, well the usual thing. And all of them shouting ‘he got the ball’ and yes he got the ball in his hands. But what the ref has seen and which was clearly visible in the replay was the fact that:
    the keeper stuck his feet out towards the attacker and catched the player on his shin and brought him down. And at that moment the image was frozen and the keeper did not had the ball at that time but the because of the collision he fell on the ball and had the ball in his hands.
    And this image where the keeper first took the player down and only after that got the ball was what the ref had seen and he awarded the penalty. I must say that was great refereeing and I have to admit that even I at first sight had not seen what the ref had seen.

  10. hello sir, question..
    i am coming up for the wed game against braga. buying 4 paper tix from a guy on craigslist site. in london…im pretty familiar with this site as i live in los angeles, but wanna make sure using paper tix are ok..and not a scam.any thoughts?
    email me if ya can mate.

  11. Another excuse similar to the “he got the ball” is the way people seem to excuse dangerous tackles if the player being tackled wasn’t hurt. The Cahill tackle is a perfect example – Chamakh managed to avoid taking a heavy contact but it was still a reckless lunge which deserved the red card.

    Yet so many pundits are telling us the decision is “harsh”, and it’s completely absurd! I’m sure that had Chamakh suffered a broken leg or ankle from Cahill’s ridiculous ‘tackle’ none of them would have dared to argue with the sending off. But a dangerous tackle is a dangerous tackle, whether somebody is hurt or not. This attitude of “if nobody got hurt, then it’s a fair challenge”.

  12. 68% seems like too much to me. Okay statistically that maybe the result from your study (which i very much appreciate Walter, so thank you and well done!), but Atwell had no control over that game due to his unwillingness to call up some clear fouls and punish the worst of them. This lead to an unruly approach by Bolton as that got away with so much. How Davis stayed on the field i do not know, it’s a mystery. Same goes for Robinson, his tackle was disgusting and Diaby is a lucky lucky man. Here’s a vid if you need reminding as i don’t think the above picture does it justice….
    For this tackle alone i hope the FA are brave enough to implement retrospective punishment.

  13. The reason Chamakh was not hurt by the tackle was because of his technical ability. He jumped up to nudge the ball with his heel in the path of Arshavin and it worked and therefore he was still in the air when Cahill came flying in. If he would have tried to control the ball in his feet he would have been in hospital now and we wouldn’t have seen him for the rest of the season.
    And still thos f*ck**g r*t*rd*d pundits on TV find it “harsh”. Do they really only want blood? Or is this just because Cahill is a bit of an England international or close to being it that they react like this? A bit like Shawcross who is not that kind of player….

  14. Anders,
    Thx for the you tube post… Looks like there is some good/bad news (my hunch). Good news Diaby’s injury doesn’t look as bad as I thought. Bad news is the tackle by Robinson. It was a red card offense…. Also, I question the inability of Diaby to protect himself with these bastrds.. I was always taught to jump to avoid the foul…

  15. I’m afraid I’ve had enough.

    Watching Hansen’s splenetic rant against Theo a while back tipped it for me.

    Football is grossed out.

    Will there be another Aaron soon?

    I hope not, but I won’t bother watching to find out.

  16. Very well written and analysed. I think this is the best ref review till now!! A complete thorough analysis on every decision. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  17. Thanks for that youtube snip Anders. (And Walter, for a more balanced analysis than I was capable of having only seen the game once!)

    Robinson should get a retrospective 3 game minimum ban for that leg breaker attempt. Just watch how he twists and raises his foot…that was no accident.

    On scoring…can’t help feeling that goals correctly awarded should not be rewarded with a point. Thus Attwell should get 10/18…ie 55% which is more like it. Time for this ref to be back-tracked.

  18. Walter, Good article and well explained. The problem that I have with the ref’s in the EPL is consistancy and standardization. Every ref sees something a different way. You see similar incidents in virtually every game but the referee handles each one differently. The rules of the game are very straight forward and the interpretation of yellow card and red card offenses are clearly outlined so therefore why is there no standardization in the EPL? Had the ref done his job correctly then Davis would have received a second yellow card and would have been off. His dirty attack from behind on Rosciky should have been dealt with as there is no way that you can play an advantage in that part of the field. Also as I said in an earlier post as long as these so called pundits condone these tackles and make the comments he did not mean any harm or there was no intent to maim the player, then nothing will change. Unfortunatly this is the English mentality of these so called experts.

  19. Ian, I think paper tickets are allright for this game. I seem to remember that on they said they would send tickets in paper to non members as the game went in general sale.

  20. Indeed DFG, with a late tackle from behind (Davies on Rosikcy) you only can give advantage when there is a clear possible advantage for a goal. This was not the case as it was just some 10 meters out of our own penalty area. He had to stop the game and show the yellow card. Maybe the Bolton players would have thought about it a bit. And then with his dangerous tackle on Wilshere he would have got his second card and should have walked.

  21. Walter, the linesman appeared to signal for a penalty for Muamba’s challenge on Eboue. He had his flag across his chest for some time – I’m not even sure that the ref acknowledged it. Is the ref obliged to stop play in this case and talk to his linesman?

  22. A very nice analysis Walter, personally i dont think I would have been able to be so unbiassed. Guess the referee did get a lot of the decisions right but overall did not stamp his authority on the game. Also i agree with you that if there is an advantage when you are defending and close to your penalty area, it is always safer to award the free kick than to play the advantage. (my take, not sure of the rule here). The tackle on Diaby was ghastly (anyone know the extent of his injury and if he will be avail for wed?), Davies for me should have had 3 yellows, Rosicky, Wilshire and Koscielny (he was so late that I dont think it was accidental). I dont know how Arsene Wenger managed to keep his cool after the match and what Owen Coyle was harping about. If this continues in English club football, the loser is going to be the national team. Managers of such teams should be held accountable and the punishments should be more appropriate.

  23. Paper tickets are indeed still in use in parts of the ground. Indeed Billy the Dog was given two for entry to Club Level as part of his mega 02 experience.

    Meanwhile, the final part of our universal coverage of the game is now online – the injury analysis. Also there’s a piece about our injuries 90 years ago when we played the keeper at left back as the entire first team were out of action.

    See the link at the top of the page for the Injury Index

  24. Yes I am afraid soon will have another Aaron, but fact that in 4 games 3 times opponents end with red card shows that things improving a bit. It is more than obvious that FA gave order to refs to try to protect game.

  25. I am not always at one with the Guardian – the newspaper that I choose to buy and read, but today it seems they are at one with me. Or at least my bungled analysis of the assault on Diaby.

    I quote at length from the Guardian here. Maybe they got their of their own accord, but knowing as we do that they take the occasional peek at Untold, just maybe they felt it was time to join our campaign.

    Here’s the piece…

    There is no doubt that in the Premier League teams are sent out to face specific opponents having been explicitly advised to do things like get in their faces and stop them playing and see if they fancy it. There is no doubt that Arsenal are often on the receiving end. In many ways Abou Diaby is a perfect working example of this in action. Here is a midfield player who is tall but not intimidatingly physical, powerful but not concussively so. In fact, as a mild, distinctly overseas-style big man he is an irresistible made-to-measure point of focus for such tactics. Diaby was the object of a potentially career-ending tackle/assault by Sunderland’s Dan Smith in May 2006. On Saturday he was on the wrong end of another show of violent intent by Paul Robinson. Elsewhere, Bobby Zamora has had his leg broken by Karl Henry, who previously tried to do something similar to Joey Barton. The pace of the game now and athleticism of the players means these kinds of tactics – the reducer, the mettle-tester – are likely to involve collisions that are more frequent and more violent. There is an argument that we simply see these tackles more now because we have cameras at every ground. But this doesn’t make it right. Referees can only do so much. Maybe it might be sensible for managers – usually British ones – to consider where exactly these tactics are taking us in the long run.

  26. Three cheers for the Guardian!!!!!!

    That was a bad tackle, and Diaby must now be fearful to even step foot on the pitch in England.

  27. Thanks Walter, hard to disagree with anything other than I thought the ref was correct in trying to play an advantage because there was clearly an attacking opportunity, even from that position.

    Some questions:
    1. Can 2 yellows actually be given for fouls in 1 phase of play?
    2. Do Bolton have any chance on their appeal given that the tackle was from behind, high & 2 footed, all red card-able?

    It is to our advantage if it succeeds because one of the matches he will miss is MU. All at BBC are outraged that it is inhibiting the traditional physical British game. To be honest as Chamack was able to ride it & was not hurt, a yellow may have been acceptable. I would say technically the ref was right but Cahill walked for Davies.

    3. Not related to this game but in another English game, it may have been Preston, a player received a 2nd yellow for taking too long over a throw in. He had been warned & probably deserved it, but what crossed my mind was that this whole incident certainly took less than about half the time it takes Delap to take a throw in. Should these towel drying situations not also be caution-able for delaying play?

  28. Flint – If I remember correctly Walter covered the Delap-towel scenario once before and confirmed that yes, it could potentially be a caution for time wasting.

    I agree that Bolton should have no chance of overturning the red card (even if it might benefit us). It was a red card. It was a tackle from behind, a late tackle, a late tackle from behind, a late tackle from behind on a man going off the pitch, and was dangerous play. Red card. I cannot see how you could argue otherwise.

  29. Beardy, that is a very very interesting thing you bring up. I couldn’t see the linesman on the images on TV.

    Can you tell me if you have seen that he before putting the flag across his chest he waved with his flag as you sometimes see linesman do when the confirm a foul or when the signal a foul to the ref?
    But the signal from a linesman where he puts his flag across the chest is a signal to the ref that the foul he has seen should be punished with a direct free kick. In this case a penalty.

    However as a ref you can overturn this decision from the linesman. It is the ref on the field that makes the final call. But I can garantuee you that if I would make such a call (which linesman only make when they are 200% sure) and the ref overrules it I would have some (strong) words with him after the game and will let him know that I am not standing there just to fill up some space but that I am standing there to help him and that he can trust me or otherwise he can ask for another assistant next time.

  30. Flint,
    your questions:
    1) if a player makes two fouls in one phase you have to chose : one yellow or a straight red. You have to judge the worst foul. Comitting a foul (yellow card) and then do something els wrong (commenting, not getting the right distance,….) you can get a second yellow but this is for another “foul”.
    2)If the FA wants to give the signal: “just kick at anything that moves” then the appeal could be succesful. If the FA wants to show they mean to ban those tackles they should give him the ban. I cannot answer this, it will be the FA who has to show which card they want to play.
    3)A would love to see a ref who got the balls to bann towels and to give a yellow card to those players.

  31. And when the next boring period comes along, the internationals in October, I will try to make a first evaluation and use the different scores from the refs we have had until then.
    I will do this and use the different methods we can get meaning: with and without the goals, total points… all kind of tables you can imagine. 😉

  32. I could not attend on Saturday, so do not feel qualified to comment on our performance, but from the 10 minutes or so on MOTD, the supposed highlights seemed to do scant justice to us given the comments on here from those who did see the whole game. I loved the pass from Rosicky early on with the outside of his foot to Arshavin and I hope he stays fit. I would always have him in the team before Diaby and Nasri if all were fit and healthy as he always makes a difference, whereas the other two are still far too inconsistent,especially away from home. Tomas also works hard and tracks back, whilst the other two usually do not. Anyway, so far so good, I hope we can keep it up as an injury to Song or Fabregas would be impossible to cover against a class team. Here’s to a good win on Wednesday, which apparently is not sold out!

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