After 21 games this season: it’s not the defence that is the key problem.

By Tony Attwood

There is something of a feeling of elation after the win against Manchester United, as indeed there should be.  For after five games without a win and indeed just one win in 16, a win against a traditional “top six” club was very welcome indeed.  After all it stopped what seemed an inexorable slide down the table.

But is can be easy to get carried away, with some commentators suggesting almost that it is now going to be a straight charge up the table, accompanied of course by the inevitable array of new talent which as always will all be players that the correspondents of Football London etc have read about in obscure and previously unmentioned overseas journals.

The fact that such correspondents in the past have only got three predictions correct out of every 100 that they have made, is as ever ignored, and with the utter certainty of men (it always seems to be men who write these pieces) blissfully unware that of their past inability to predict anything at all, continue to write up tales of incoming players who inevitably never arrive.

But there is a problem – a problem much bigger than simply buying three or four new mega-talents while shipping out the unwanted to Turkey, France, Russia and Italy.

That problem arises with just how far down the table Arsenal has sunk, following the crowd-induced policy of replacing the manager four times in two and a half years.   As Mr Wenger was replaced by Mr Emery, and Mr Emery by Our Freddie, and Our Freddie by Our Mikel, so the fixed view journalists and other opinionaters, have lost track of just how far down the league table their policy has taken us.

Indeed looking back at where we were at this moment in the last five years and comparing it with now not only reminds us of how far we’ve slipped but another very interesting statistic as well.

In the table below the second column (Pos) tells us where we were after 21 games, and the following figures gives the usual league table for that moment.   The final column on the right tells us where we ended up.

Year Pos P W D L F A GD Pts End of season pos
2020 10 21 6 9 6 28 30 -2 27
2019 5 21 12 5 4 46 31 15 41 5th
2018 6 21 11 5 5 38 26 12 38 6th
2017 3 21 13 5 3 48 22 26 44 5th
2016 1 21 13 4 4 37 21 16  43 2nd
2015 5 21 10 6 5 37 25 12 36 3rd

Now I would, if I may, draw your attention to one column in particular – the goals against column (designated of course by the usual letter “A”).

These last two seasons, at the 21 games point, have been the worst for our defence across the six years measured, with 30 and 31 goals conceded.   But they are not grossly out of line with our position in earlier seasons.   For example this season, letting in 30 goals thus far, we have let in five more than in 2015, and nine more than 2016, when we finished 3rd and 2nd respectively.

That is to say one more goal in every two or three games.  Not one more a game, but one more in every two or three games.  Not good, and indeed bad enough to send us out of the hated “fourth is not a trophy” position, but not a huge number.

But what has actually been a bigger cause in our slippage down the table this season in particular is the other end of the field – the decline in goals scored.

This season we have scored 28 so far, which is 20 fewer than this time in 2017,

Now of course there is not an absolute correlation between positions and goals scored but across these years before this season there is only an 11 goal difference at most by the 21 game mark.   Fractionally fewer than one goal in two games.

So while the goals conceded by our apparently notoriously awful defence this season is worse than at any time across these recent seasons, the goals scored position is in much greater decline.  To rise up the table from 10th we not only need to be turning draws into wins, and defeats into draws, we need to be scoring many, many more goals.  Yes some tightening up in the defence will help, but getting the ball into the net at the other end is our key problem.

I get the feeling that somehow the return of the prodigal Arteta is seen as solving all things that are wrong, in a trice, and certainly the win over Man U was a great step on the road to recovery, but we still need more goals.

And not necessarily more from Aubameyang but from those around him such as Martinelli, Lacazette and Pepe and maybe Willock too

That actually is a bit harsh on Martinelli who is so young and new to the league, but what these players do need and what hopefully Arteta will give them, is a shorter period of time between scoring each goal.   Here’s the current position for everyone who has scored 3+ goals this season…

  • Aubameyang: 138 minutes per goal
  • Martinelli: 112 minutes per goal
  • Lacazette: 188 minutes per goal
  • Pepe: 249 minutes per goal
  • Willock: 157 minutes per goal

What we need are fewer minutes between each goal scored by those five.  That will turn the season around.

32 Replies to “After 21 games this season: it’s not the defence that is the key problem.”

  1. I think most are in agreement our strikers are very good if not the best bar Liverpool’s. The real problem is midfield which is not moving forward swiftly or incisively enough. I would like to have a look at the stats for chances created over the seasons. Add that to confidence and tactical issues. And yes, the defence has been poor, because if you are becoming a supposedly more solid team with a difficult to beat approach, the very first thing to do is stop them going in at your end a la Leicester, Liverpool, Wolves and Sheffield Utd.

  2. Off topic slightly. Maybe because Arsenal is changing from a possession based team to a counter-pressing team, this could explain why we are scoring less then previous seasons. But once the team adjust to the new style, I believe the team will start scoring a lot more.

    I understand AW concerns about the direction football is heading, imagine no more Messi or Ozil type players in the future, and the wonderful goals scored by Wiltshire vs Norwich or Rosicky’s goal vs Sunderland, that would be sad to see.

  3. I have never liked the way some people have said that defence is the problem and then heaped dung on our back 4 or even back 6, nor the way people have attacked offences and then slated our leading goalscorers. It seems self evident that defence starts immediately after we lose possession and that offence starts immediately when we regain possession. This implies to me that all 11 people on the pitch play offence and defence.

    What I have seen in the last 2 matches is the start of coordinated activity between the players. Previously, our pressing was one or two players running at the opposition and the rest jogging into position. And, on offence, I would see one player running for a pass but not see a second or third moving into position to give options (before the first pass is received) . It seemed that
    our players had not played together or practiced these movements. If what we have seen in the last 2 games is any indication, we can be optimistic that our team will start shaping up in the next few weeks. 🙂

  4. As far as I am concerned, Aubameyang has not lost his talent. Nor have Lacazette or Ozil. However, with a team under fire such as Arsenal were, confidence drops….and the consequence is risks are not taken as they used to.
    When was the last time Xhaka tried a distance shot ? Why would he anyway ? To get booed and ripped apart as useless in case of a miss ?

    The game against Manure, I feel, showed real change in this regard. Pepe was going head to head, Kolazinac ramming down the left corridor, Ozil trying – and succeding with – his magic.
    You could see the guys were having fun. Enjoying it. And they were pressing much more – their speed is a real counterattacking asset that was put to good use. Nelson and Willock ought to be able to show us some stuff I believe.

    I think the first half of season when Emery coached a series of more then 20 unbeaten games was of the same kind. Somewhen early last year something happened and the onslaught from the media and socialsphere just ‘killed’ the team and the coach over the next months.

    Let our front 4 have their fun and the goals will come in.

  5. Chris

    “I think the first half of season when Emery coached a series of more then 20 unbeaten games was of the same kind. Some time early last year something happened and the onslaught from the media and socialsphere just ‘killed’ the team and the coach over the next months.”


    I was saying that very thing to Mrs N yesterday.

    In fact I went back further. I think that is what eventually happened under Wenger.

    It was about half way through his second to last season. All of a sudden how we were refereed (away from home especially) took a dramatic down turn. Penalties not given for, but given against. The confidence dropped, form dropped and the onslaught increased. Confidence dropped even further, results similarly, the onslaught increased. A very vicious circle.

    When Emery arrived the media a socialsphere relented. Results improved. But as you say, the first sign of a chink in the armour and the onslaught resumed.

    Arteta is currently in that ‘honeymoon’ period.

    Will it last ?

    That’s the million dollar question.

    Personally Arteta seems to be made of sterner stuff. Everything about him exudes confidence and perhaps more importantly, authority.

    The change around the club and with the fans is palpable.

    Emery had my backing for the rest of the season, even though I did, and do, concede something was most definitely wrong. Was it just confidence?

    I don’t know because even during that early run it wasn’t the greatest football. We all knew that, but hoped the football would come once the ship was steadied and the manager had a chance to really impose his style.

    Sadly that never happened. Was that the manager, or was it purely down to a squad utterly stripped of all confidence? Either way I was wrong and the change certainly seems to of been the right decision. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. Could we really be on the cusp of a great new era under Arteta ?

    To even consider that after such a short time just shows what an enormous ‘feel good’ factor Arteta has induced already.

    I’m not usually this impulsive but the wave is hard to resist.

  6. @ menace one of the problems with the way the PIGMOB operate is to create uncertainty in the players minds so that they can do what they like. I dont care what anybody tries to say the whole system of officiating is so corrupt that it makes the league table a work of fiction.

    The first time I noticed was a game in 2012 or 2013, I cant remember when, between Spuds and liverpool where the ref gave a yellow card for every foul that a liverpool player committed. I thought I was just imagining things. I remember I was working at the time and I said to a colleague that I found this strange. He said to me that is normal in the EPL and to get used to it. At that point I watched a few games and noticed that sure enough there were some odd things going on with regards to the rules. I say this as a neutral, I dont support any EPL side. I realised at this point there was something very wrong with the game in this country and I now very rarely watch games. In fact ARS v Manure was the first game I have watched in a long long time. I loved the way that Arsenal took the reult out of the refs hand – that seems to be the only way to beat PIGMOB.

    I did not believe for a minute that VAR would change thing, like you I knew it was going to be used to help them confirm the in built bias in their officiating. Sadly we have both been correct in that assumption and it has been corrupted to make it fit Kipper Rileys template.

    The only hope I have is that Arsene Wenger can introduce a change in the system so that corruption can be countered. We can but live in hope….

  7. Les Williams

    “I did not believe for a minute that VAR would change thing, like you I knew it was going to be used to help them confirm the in built bias in their officiating”.

    I said that very thing in an article of Walters back in 2017, and had been saying the same since the day it was first muted it was coming to the PL.

    I reposted my thoughts on VAR following the debacle against Aston Villa, repeated bellow. You may recall we chatted in that article about this very thing:


    28/10/2019 at 9:11 am

    This VAR farce (Palace match) was oh so predictable. As I mentioned above I predicted exactly how it would be used against us way back in July 2017.

    I’ve reproduced my comment from the time, that was in the following article from Walter:

    The Video Assistant Referees are on their way, well in other countries is, but not all….


    18/07/2017 at 2:03 pm


    You say you are suspicious. Seeing what we see in the PL on a day to day basis, I think you have every right to be. I know I am.

    You say:

    “In Holland they have been training the refs for a long time for using the VAR in a correct and consistent way”

    They train the refs on VAR in Holland do they? Cant see them bothering with all that nonsense over here can you? I mean, they’ve not bothered training them on anything else have they, so why this?

    I’m sorry but I see this as being nothing but a disaster, especially for us. All it will mean is any indiscretion of ours the ref does by some miracle miss, will be instantly highlighted to him, and retrospectively dealt with via the VAR system.

    Conversely can you imagine them highlighting anything that should of gone in our favour?

    Yes of course it will work for us once in a blue moon, but by and large it will be just another tool in the referees armoury with which to screw us.

    Yes, suspicious, very suspicious, and some.

    This will just make it even worse for us.
    Spooky ay, even if I do say so myself.

    Seriously though I’d like to claim I have some sort of mystical powers regarding predicting the future but honestly, did anyone expect anything else ??

  8. Hunting around I found this article by Walter from as far back as January 29th 2016 when we first started talking about the arrival of Video Technology. Interestingly the article touches on that old chestnut of the Northern bias regarding the referees. Anyway this is the article with an excerpt from Walter and a reply from me expressing my fears as far back as then:


    This is what Walter said:

    “As regular readers will know I have reported on the slow progress that has been made about using video referees. In Holland they have done a test but didn’t take the last step as that is still forbidden. The last step is actually connection the video referee to the referee on the field. But that is only a technical matter, not even a problem. The technology is available to connect all 4 referees on and around the field with a 5th referee in a different room with many TV screens in front of him.”

    This is what I said regarding 2 points recently discussed on here, Video Technology and the Northern referee bias:

    “So, even if we could make referees ‘better’, would that necessarily stop them being biased?

    I’m not sure it would, because getting rid of bias means a complete change in mentality. From the way the ‘Laws of the Game’ are interpreted (Currently with a Northern interpretation as discussed on Untold) to how the application of them is perceived in the media.

    Will technology help?

    Well I really hope so, but given the interpretation of some incidents on post match replays I’m not convinced it will.

    When you consider that during the post match analysis of the 2014 FA Cup Final, BT Sport managed to dismiss every Arsenal penalty appeal (5 in total I think), even to the point of accusing Arsenal players of diving, then it shows just what we are up against.

    Do I want technology? Definitely.

    Do I think it will help referees? Definitely.

    Do I think it will rid the game of bias? I seriously have my doubts.

    And that’s what worries me.”


    So my fears regarding VAR, expressed as far back as January 2016 have been proved correct.

  9. @nitram Sorry it was you who I was speaking to. Sorry for that. I must agree with you completely. It is nice to know I am not alone in my thoughts of how the game, in this country, is going.

    Northern Bias is a real problem there must be a more widespread pool of officials. Also the small number of officials hasa corrupting effect. Wasn’t that one of the problems of the “calciopoli”” scandal?

    I think you have hit the nail on the head regarding the media bias as well. I dont listen to british media presenters as they are watching another game altogether to the one they are discussing. In fact I find I look for coverage from elsewhere. Having lived in Germany for 6 years in my teens means I can speak fluent German. I can also understand a lot of Flemish. It is amazing the difference in attitudes to the game. Swiss TV has Urs Meier on who regularly criticises referees!

    I do remember a game in the Nou Camp between Barca and Bayern in the UCL where Howard Webb booked Messi for a “dive”. Now the commentator – Marcel Reif of Germany could not understand how he could be picked to referee such a prestige match when he was clearly incapable of applying the laws correctly. He did add he would be worried if he reffed a game between young children he was so bad.

    I really have no idea how things can get any better unless Arsene Wenger in his new role at FIFA can change the rules and how they are applied. There has to be some consistency. As I have said before – All I want is a fair implementation of them

    If he doesn’t I really cannot see the EPL surviving in the long term

  10. @Les,

    Even without talking about corruption, the small number of referees alone is a dead certain cause for issues. It tilts the field and creates an uneven environment with real life consequences on the results side.

    Just try imagine replacing North and South with nationality or race…we’d have riots all over the place !

    Any kid in high school can understand that…but then, I guess a lot of so called reporters in the UK have probably dropped out – guess there was no other work available to them so that is how they ended up as PR/speakers/parrots for the PL and PIGMOB : journalism does require capabilities we are not seeing while reading most sports pages and blogs. Which on the other hand maybe a confirmation of what Tony has been saying for years : sports fans and specifically football fans are just considered stupid and shown contempt by the establishment.

  11. Nitram (others?)

    I was almost finished with Atkinson, so guess who I started on next for referees?

    Okay, Aug 29, 2009 we were away to ManUre and there were 9 yellows. Score ended 2-1 to ManUre. What happened that day? Who was the referee?

  12. Les Williams

    “@nitram Sorry it was you who I was speaking to. Sorry for that. I must agree with you completely. It is nice to know I am not alone in my thoughts of how the game, in this country, is going.

    Northern Bias is a real problem there must be a more widespread pool of officials. Also the small number of officials has a corrupting effect. Wasn’t that one of the problems of the “calciopoli”” scandal?”

    No problem. I had an idea it was me you was addressing.

    Regarding your observations on the Northern bias there are a couple of good articles from as far back as 2015 thus:

    2 very in depth articles on the subject with in depth debate from some current posters as well as some old favourites.

    It seems very little has changed since late 2015.

    A really disgraceful state of affairs. As Chris said, if such a bias along racial, rather than geographical lines existed, there would be uproar.

  13. A Bottle Job. Although 9 years later, Mourinho flung a whole case of bottled water to the ground during a CL match. No punishment. SMH

  14. Is the path to salvation via Greece? has an article.

    … lodged a protest about “bad officiating” and filed a lawsuit against the five referees, accusing them of taking bribes.

    They have also sent protest letters to football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA, claiming “a deliberate and surgically precise alteration of the outcome of a match in which VAR was used”.

    This might be interesting to follow, as this is just what PGMO has been doing (:twisted: Mike Riley and PGMO were not mentioned in the article).

    But PGMO has been censored for mis-using VAR by IFAB. And supposedly, EPL/PGMO will be allowed to continue to mis-use VAR for this season so as to not ruin the _integrity_ of the season.

    The EPL/PGMO have been twisting the system since the EPL began.

    Let’s say that this year, independent proof of this nonsense is presented and verified. What happens? Do all the records of the EPL get expunged? That there has been no winner of the EPL since it was first formed?

    Do we all get to flog 😈 Mike Riley? Can we garnishee all the wages of all the officials participating in this? (Sorry to the few good officials in the system.)

    At a minimum, the big TV contracts are ripped up. Lawsuits probably erupt.

    Boris (I don’t lie – just like Donald Trump doesn’t lie) Johnson could be dead before the fallout of this ends.

    False News. How do we continue to take advantage of the masses, regardless of the costs.

  15. @Nitram and Chris

    VAR and Arsene Wenger appointment at FIFA is working. I believe the fact that its working is the reason for the treatment Arsenal FC are receiving has increased 10-fold since his appointment. Also, with regards to VAR, it is having a major influence in exposing the in consistencies in refereeing decisions. Which is a positive, as decisions being made or not made are now being clearly highlighted and discussed opening and questioned.

    I know Arsenal are not benefiting from VAR but it is just a matter of time i.e. maybe 2 seasons from now, hopeful while we are still a premier league team that we gain the benefit from its introduction.

    Mike Reilly and his team have done their worst to Arsenal already this season which has resulted in the loss of a very good manager in Unai Emery. What seem to have gone unnoticed is what a good start to the season Unai Emery had with the first 2 wins which included an away win and a win against a very physical Burnley team. Unai Emery last Premier League game was against Southampton on the 23 November 2019 which we drew 2-2. If you look at the Referees and VAR appointments from the start of the season till Unai Emery’s sacking and till date, it is not a surprise as to the reason why Arsenal have struggled to get result and will continue as long as nothing is done to address the Referee and VAR appointments by Mike Reilly.

    Referee and VAR appointments to date.

    Sunday 11 August 2019
    Newcastle V Arsenal (0 – 1 W)
    Referee: Martin Atkinson;
    Fourth official: Darren England;
    VAR: David Coote

    Saturday 17 August
    12.30 Arsenal v Burnley (2 – 1 W)
    Referee: Mike Dean
    Fourth official: Peter Bankes
    VAR: Chris Kavanagh

    Saturday 24 August
    17.30 Liverpool v Arsenal (3-1 L)
    Referee: Anthony Taylor
    Fourth official: Jonathan Moss
    VAR: Stuart Attwell

    Sun 1 September
    Spurs v Arsenal (2 – 2 D)
    Referee: Martin Atkinson;
    Fourth official: Andre Marriner
    VAR: Paul Tierney

    Sun 15 September
    Watford v Arsenal (2 – 2 D)
    Referee: Anthony Taylor
    Fourth official: Peter Bankes.
    VAR: Chris Kavanagh.

    Sun 22 September
    Arsenal v Aston Villa (3 -2 W)
    Referee: Jonathan Moss
    Fourth official: Simon Hooper.
    VAR: Peter Bankes

    Monday 30 September
    Man Utd v Arsenal (1-1 D)
    Referee: Kevin Friend
    Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh.
    VAR: Mike Dean

    Sun 6 October
    Arsenal V Bournemouth (1-0 W)
    Referee: Martin Atkinson.
    Fourth official: Peter Bankes.
    VAR: Anthony Taylor

    Monday 21 October
    Sheffield Utd V Arsenal (1-0 L)
    Referee: Mike Dean.
    Fourth official: Simon Hooper.
    VAR: Andre Marriner.

    Sun 27 October
    Arsenal V Crystal Palace (2-2 D)
    Referee: Martin Atkinson
    Fourth official: Tim Robinson.
    VAR: Jarred Gillett.

    Sat 2 November
    Arsenal V Wolves (1-1 D)
    Referee: Michael Oliver
    Fourth official: Andy Davies.
    VAR: Paul Tierney

    Sat 9 November
    Leicester V Arsenal (2-0 L)
    Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
    Fourth official: Anthony Taylor.
    VAR: Stuart Attwell

    Sat 23 November
    Arsenal v Southampton (2-2 D)
    Referee: Stuart Attwell
    Fourth official: Gavin Ward.
    VAR: Andy Madley

    Sun 1 December
    Norwich V Arsenal (2-2 D)
    Referee: Paul Tierney
    Fourth official: Gavin Ward.
    VAR: Michael Oliver

    Thursday 5 December
    Arsenal v Brighton (1-2 L)
    Referee: Graham Scott
    Fourth official: Tim Robinson.
    VAR: Jonathan Moss

    Mon 9 December
    West Ham V Arsenal (1-3 W)
    Referee: Mike Dean
    Fourth official: Lee Mason.
    VAR: Kevin Friend.

    Sun 15 December
    Arsenal V Man City (0-3 L)
    Referee: Paul Tierney
    Fourth official: Andre Marriner.
    VAR: Chris Kavanagh

    sat 21 December
    Everton V Arsenal (0-0 D)
    Referee: Kevin Friend
    Fourth official: Lee Mason.
    VAR: Graham Scott.

    Thursday 26 December
    Bournemouth V Arsenal (1-1 D)
    Referee: Stuart Attwell
    Fourth official: Stephen Martin.
    VAR: Peter Bankes.

    Sun 29 December
    Arsenal V Chelsea (1-2 L)
    Referee: Craig Pawson
    Fourth official: Martin Atkinson.
    VAR: Michael Oliver

    Wed 1 January 2020
    Arsenal V man Utd (2-0 W)
    Referee: Chris Kavanagh
    Fourth official: Craig Pawson.
    VAR: Paul Tierney

    How, is it ok for the same referee (Craig Pawson) in our lost to Chelsea on the 29 December be appointed as fourth official in our next game on the 1st January 2020?

    How is it that, Arsenal are getting the same referees repeatedly as Match Referees and as Video Assistance Referees for our games?

    Chris Kavanagh
    Refereed: 2 matches
    Fourth official: 1 Match
    VAR: 3 Matches
    Stuart Attwell
    Refereed: 2 matches
    Fourth official: 0 Match
    VAR: 3 Matches
    Paul Tierney
    Refereed: 2 matches
    Fourth official: 0 Match
    VAR: 3 Matches
    Craig Pawson
    Refereed: 1 match
    Fourth official: 1 Match
    VAR: 0 Match
    Michael Oliver
    Refereed: 1 match
    Fourth official: 0 Match
    VAR: 2 Matches
    Martin Atkinson
    Refereed: 4 matches
    Fourth official: 1 Match
    VAR: 0 Match
    Andre Marriner
    Refereed: 0 match
    Fourth official: 2 Matches
    VAR: 1 Match
    Mike Dean
    Refereed: 3 matches
    Fourth official: 0 Match
    VAR: 1 Match
    Kevin Friend
    Refereed: 2 match
    Fourth official: 0 Match
    VAR: 1 Match
    Anthony Taylor
    Refereed: 2 matches
    Fourth official: 1 Match
    VAR: 1 Match
    Jonathan Moss
    Refereed: 1 matches
    Fourth official: 1 Match
    VAR: 1 Match

    On website it lists 20 match referees, it does not list the VAR referees. However, looking at the names of those that have been appointed as VAR referees for other team not Arsenal, there must be between 10 – 15. Still Arsenal are getting the same VAR referees and also same match referees as VAR appointed referees.

  16. The worse bit of corruption was in the following match:
    Sun 27 October
    Arsenal V Crystal Palace (2-2 D)
    Referee: Martin Atkinson
    Fourth official: Tim Robinson.
    VAR: Jarred Gillett.

    The appointment of Jarred Gillett an untested official from Australia, without any Premier League experience, as the VAR official was the most incompetant PGMOL action. This individual robbed Arsenal of a good goal and 2 points. The cost? probably in excess of £10,000,000.00 (ten million pounds). How Arsenal did not take the matter to court amazes me! @Tony this would make a good headline and prompt Kronke to act.

    The reality of the situation is that IFAB know that the PGMOL abuse of the Laws is happening but seem unable to correct the situation. The farcical excuse of maintaining ‘integrity’ is the ultimate exhibition of PGMOL arrogance.

    The primary behaviour of the match Referee not using the pitch side screen to verify VAR observation is in direct contravention of the Laws of The Game. The match Referee must be the ultimate decision maker and not some unseen assistant in a far away place.

    Once again I feel that the English Premier League has robbed the paying supporter of a true game of football as advertised by allowing the PGMOL to officiate in this way. This in my opinion is sufficient for every paying supporter to claim a full refund as the product is not as advertised.

  17. @ Tony ‘One wrong VAR decision that Martin Atkinson didn’t check could cost Arsenal more than 10 million pounds.’

  18. Hi Tony

    My last post went into moderation but then disappeared completely. It probably went in to moderation because it contained a couple of links to historical Untold articles, which is quite normal, but why would it disappear?

    Can you help ?

  19. Two links in a comment would send it into moderation, but I have checked the spam file and can’t see anything from you. I;m checking further but can you give me one of the links or something else that helps me search for it. I’ve got over quarter of a million comments on the file. But I will keep looking.

  20. @EM,

    thanks for the information about VAR, it confirms what we have been talking about her : it just amplifies the bias and enables a direct screwing up of the results with no questions asked.

    Where did you get it ? Because we need to take a step back and look at the larger picture. Does the VAR appointment strategy follow the same logic as the referee appointment strategy on a global scale, that is towards Home Counties teams ? Tony could use that information

    The other question that came up was, if and when this ‘strategy’ started. Is there a specific season – or seasons, when suddendly all referee actors became ‘northern’ ?

    As for the going to court strategy, I am all for it. Wether this is being done via crowdfunding or finding a team of lawyers who are fans…we ought to bring them the fight – but do this not as an Arsenal fight but a global football fan fight. PL and PIGMOB are tilting the field in broad daylignt any day of the competition. A casino doing this would be closed.

    I even wonder if the fact that IFAB has ruled VAR is not being used correctly would not be a matter for the courts. Because basically it means the game is not played by the established rules and thus, does this not mean it nullifies all results ?!?!

  21. @Chris

    The VAR appointment is from the Premier League own website ( I filtered the results for Arsenal games only and went into each match summary and the details of the Referee, Fourth Official, Assistants and VAR appointments are all detailed.
    (There use to be a time when you could filter on the Referee Appointment per seasons and see all the Referees appointment for each club detailed in a list, game after game, however this has been removed and is no longer available. Why? Maybe because it made it too easy to notice how the same referee where being appointed repeatedly for some clubs.
    This present season 19/20 is the first season of VAR being used in the premier League.

  22. @Em,

    yeah, I came as far as you. did not find the info available for download. And basically I believe they are making it complicated on purpose.

    Yet before VAR, my question is when did the ‘northern preference’ that Tony has unearthed over the past years start ?

  23. @Nitram 03/01/2020 at 11:21 pm

    Amazing reading both the articles you quoted as to how little has changed except we now have VAR to confirm the bias.

    The only constants in the race to the bottom are Richard Scudamore and Mike Rielly. Scudamore oversaw the total collapse of horse racing before setting about the EPL. Mike Reilly well do I have to explain?

    @Chris It is the same in Scotland with the Lanarkshire crowd dominating referees. How any of those referees get UEFA games is beyond me. Maybe having Hugh Dallas as a referees executive helps!

    @Em thanks for the details on Arsene Wenger – maybe there is hope.

  24. @Les,

    see my post on the most recent blog about reffymandering… good to know that it happens somewhere else…will make the concept more global.

  25. No British referees at the 2018 World Cup. If FIFA were to make this an official policy, and issue a supporting statement, questions might be asked in the UK media, although I suspect most of the talking heads would inexplicably be at a loss for relevant words.

  26. I am currently working on an article based on a copy of the ¨Riley manual for EPL officials¨ that I was able to obtain from a trusted source at the PGMOL. It will outline how officials are ¨encouraged¨ to officiate targeted team(s) differently from ¨flavour of the month¨teams. It will also discuss VAR interpretations promoted by Riley.

  27. @seismic,

    no, the UK media would talk of a Brussels based problem with its origin in the EU….or would say this is british bashing….


    a piece of satire…nice touch !

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