The stats that show exactly what Arsenal must do to rise up the league

By Tony Attwood

Here is the new data after last weekend’s games.  Figures in black are particularly low for that parameter, figures in red a particularly high.

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 132 112 1.18 16 7.00 1 0 15
Aston Villa 112 102 1.10 17 6.00 2 1 12
Brighton and H 177 144 1.55 18 8.00 5 6 16
Burnley 138 102 1.35 13 7.85 0 1 18
Chelsea 164 137 1.20 12 11.42 4 0 3
Crystal Palace 182 124 1.47 16 7.75 2 3 11
Everton 218 119 1.83 16 7.44 1 2 9
Fulham 165 139 1.18 22 6.32 5 3 17
Leeds United 235 106 2.22 18 5.89 1 4 14
Leicester City 183 104 1.76 24 4.33 8 1 4
Liverpool 133 112 1.19 9 12.44 4 6 2
Manchester City 127 117 1.09 14 8.36 3 4 7
Manchester U 138 128 1.08 16 8.00 4 4 6
Newcastle U 141 105 1.34 21 5.00 3 2 13
Sheffield United 181 130 1.39 15 8.67 3 1 20
Southampton 208 142 1.46 16 8.88 2 2 5
Tottenham Hots 161 142 1.13 13 10.92 2 3 1
West Bromwich 175 128 1.37 13 9.85 0 3 19
West Ham Uni 154 126 1.22 16 7.88 0 3 8
Wolverhampton 168 123 1.37 14 8.79 0 4 10

The figures of Arsenal and Liverpool are very interesting.

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 132 112 1.18 16 7.00 1 0 15
Liverpool 133 112 1.19 9 12.44 4 6 2

The number of tackles is virtually the same.  The number of fouls is identical.  But Liverpool just over half of the yellow cards Arsenal have.  Liverpool get away with 12.44 fouls per yellow to Arsenal’s 7.  The one thing Arsenal are doing better is not giving away penalties.

This ability to foul without getting yellow cards is incredibly valuable in football.  It’s never mentioned by pundits and journalists, but it makes a huge difference to the way the club can play.  No one gets past the defence because the defenders will tackle all match long, knowing that the yellow cards are not totting up.

Leeds are making the largest number of tackles – more than double the number of Aston Villa for example.  But they are getting away with it because they are being allowed to make more tackles before they call stopped for a foul, than any other team.  Indeed they can create more than two twice as many tackles as Manchester City, Manchester U or Aston Villa before they called up for each foul.

In fact the three teams that can make 10+ fouls per yellow card (Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham) have a huge inbuilt advantage over other teams before each game starts.  They can plan their approach around tackling and fouling, knowing they can get away with it.

Referee based tactics

The perfect scenario is to have a high number of tackles (to break up the opposition’s attacks) but a low number of resultant fouls against and yellows.  If it is possible to add to this a high number of penalties then success is assured.

These tactics don’t mean a club utilising them will win the league – clearly the quality of players in the traditional sense is essential, but it is clear that

Until last season no one published these figures and we only started because the Leicester City figures were so outrageous they warranted an article on their own.  So let’s look at the top teams and their use of tactics which push referees as far as they can get.

Liverpool have gone for maximum numbers of fouls without getting yellow cards.  Their number of yellow cards (nine) is the lowest in the league, and yet they give away penalties (six so far).  In essence they tackle all the time, and if that means giving away some penalties so be it.  The tackle-tackle-tackle system clearly works although I suspect referees, having given Liverpool a lot of slack last season, are tightening up a bit in case it all gets too obvious.

Tottenham have copied this approach, they like Liverpool are allowed to tackle away without getting yellow cards.  They commit a very high number of fouls but they are simply not resulting in penalties, so they clearly know to foul before the box.  As a result they don’t give away so many penalties as Liverpool, although they are still sixth in the league for penalties against.

Chelsea lying third again are using this system – high numbers of tackles and fouls but not getting cards for them and they are managing not to pick up the penalties, which is probably a tactic Liverpool and Tottenham are studying.

Leicester are still in fourth, but they have lost two games in the last five.  They are at the other extreme, in that they get yellow cards very easily.  They were surviving this by picking up far more penalties than any other club – a really disproportionate number.  But then suddenly the penalty tap switched off just as we started publishing the weekly figures.  They have had no more penalties for three weeks (although they were so far ahead of everyone else in penalties by that time, they are still top of the penalty league).  Why did this happen?  Presumably because referees were aware of the tricks being pulled.

Southampton are the upstarts with a manager known to be tatically very clever, so it is not a surprise to see Southampton in the upper part of the table.  They haven’t managed to get their yellow card rate down yet, and that is what they need to do to stay in the top five.

So the tactics needed are clear.  Commit fouls, but don’t get yellows.  That suggests rotational fouling – a topic we highlighted right at the start of Untold over 12 years ago, and which has now occasionally been mentioned in media commentary.

Getting penalties by having a forward suddenly change direction and bump into a defender who can’t stop worked for a while in Leicester’s case, but the PGMO seem to have had enough of that.

Tackle just outside your penalty area – especially when you have mastered the approach of not getting yellows.

Fouls per yellow card looks like being the key indicator, and this is very much in the hands of the referee.  The more fouls a side is able to get away with before getting a yellow, the easier it is to control the match.  Clearly some clubs have realised that…

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Chelsea 164 137 1.20 12 11.42 4 0 3
Liverpool 133 112 1.19 9 12.44 4 6 2
Tottenham Hot 161 142 1.13 13 10.92 2 3 1
Arsenal 132 112 1.18 16 7.00 1 0 15

That is the way to success in the Premier League at the moment.  Commit the fouls but one way or another don’t get yellows.  That might be because the players are trained so that the fouls don’t look bad, or because of rotational fouling.  Or both.

I suspect that Mr Arteta is not as cynical as this but it seems this sort of cynical planning is what works.  The number of fouls committed per yellow card accords very closely with the league table, and therefore is very unlikely to be a chance relationship.

Increase the number of tackles and the number of fouls per yellow card in order to break up attacks with impunity and go up the league.  The table above makes that absolutely clear.

Partly I think this is body language, although I don’t have stats to measure this.  Commit the foul and just trot away without protest.  Defenders should be warned – do not draw attention to yourself.  Just foul, and run back if the whistle goes.

As for attackers, looking for the foul in the box might help.

22 Replies to “The stats that show exactly what Arsenal must do to rise up the league”

  1. Don’t forget that Tottenham’s figures are further enhanced by the fact that a lot of the fouls that they commit are ignored by referees. Kane is an obvious example, but others are also benefitting from this policy.

  2. Tony

    As you must be aware I have been banging on about these card ratios for years and have mentioned on here many times how I used to do these ratio comparisons as long ago as 15 years using the Suns old fair play table they used to publish on a weekly basis. Very rudimentary I know but it showed exactly the same results that you show, which is there are massive discrepancies as to how different teams are refereed. I was also trying to show, and I’m not afraid to call a spade a spade here, how Arsenal get screwed.

    Over the years I have not been the only one to reproduce in depth data regarding these card ratios. As far back as 2014 Andrew produced a fantastic article from which I have reproduced the primary table bellow with a link to the main article. Following that you will see a link to a similar article by Walter in the same year.

    I have also reproduced a couple of other tables from articles by Vince back in 2017, with the relevant link, and by your good self earlier this year. As you will see these massive discrepancies are nothing new and neither is it anything new to see Arsenal on the receiving end of much harsher refereeing than most.

    We get royally screwed by referees regarding cards, as well as other parameters such as Penalties, as anyone who reads Vinces superb article will see, and to deny it as fact is to deny that water is wet.

    Anyway this is an extract from Andrews article back in 2014:

    Team Fouls conceded (as awarded by Referee) Yellow Cards Red Cards Average fouls per card

    Arsenal 91 24 0 3.79
    Chelsea 104 20 2 4.73
    Sunderland 100 21 0 4.76
    Liverpool 93 19 0 4.89
    Man City 106 20 1 5.05
    West Ham 101 19 1 5.05
    Everton 83 16 0 5.19
    Stoke 119 22 0 5.41
    Hull 99 16 2 5.50
    Man United 112 18 2 5.60
    Burnley 90 16 0 5.63
    West Brom 102 18 0 5.67
    Aston Villa 93 16 0 5.81
    Newcastle 101 16 1 5.94
    Spurs 111 15 2 6.53
    Swansea 106 13 2 7.07
    Crystal Palace 126 14 2 7.88
    QPR 81 10 0 8.10
    Leicester City 117 13 0 9.00
    Southampton 111 12 0 9.25

    All 2046 338 15 5.80

    The average number of fouls committed per card awarded across all games is 5.8. In the above table all teams from Aston Villa downwards can be said to be doing better than average, the further down the table the better they have done.

    Teams from West Brom upwards can be said to have done worse than average, the further up the table the worse they have done.

    Clearly Arsenal have been treated more harshly than any other team this year, Leicester and Southampton noticeably more leniently. The real question is are these numbers statistically meaningful or not?

    –To view the entire article go to:

    And this is a link to Walters article later in the year:

    This is a small sample from Vinces superb article in February 2017:

    Red card received

    1 Tottenham 16
    2 United 19
    3 Everton, Liverpool 21
    5 City 22
    6 Stoke 24
    7 Chelsea 25
    8 Arsenal 28
    9 Sunderland 39

    I don’t think anyone in their right mind would classify Arsenal as a dirty team (they more likely would talk about the Gunners lack of aggressivity…), yet except Sunderland, no team receive more red cards. Yes even Stoke has fewer red cards. Quite funny too to see Tottenham and United at the top of this table. You know, the 2 teams that gets away nearly every week with nasty challenges. Actually it’s been close to 2 years since a Spurs got a red card…

    Yellow cards/Red cards ratio

    1 Tottenham 29.00
    2 United 24.42
    3 City 22.64
    4 Stoke 21.83
    5 Everton, Liverpool 21.24
    7 Chelsea 19.20
    8 Arsenal 15.57
    9 Sunderland 13.87

    This ratio too should be similar for every team. Obviously that is not the case at all. How many times have we seen referees give a second yellow card to an Arsenal player at the first occasion, while allowing opponents 5 or more fouls. When I see that table, I can’t help but think about the sending off of Coquelin last year in the NLD, when Lamela and Dier stayed on the field despite more clearer second yellow offenses…

    And this is the link to the full article:

    And finally a table from your own article back in February this year:

    Tackles Pos Fouls Tackles/foul Fouls/game Yellow Fouls/yellow

    1 Southampton 490 2 294 1.67 12.25 38 7.73
    2 Everton 463 4 288 1.60 12.00 44 6.55
    3 Watford 441 5 286 1.54 11.92 54 5.30
    4 Aston Villa 377 17 271 1.39 11.29 46 5.89
    5 Burnley 349 19 270 1.29 11.25 44 6.14
    6 Man United 388 15 267 1.45 11.13 47 5.68
    7 Sheffield Utd 424 10 263 1.61 10.96 49 5.36
    8 Crystal Palace 433 8 260 1.67 10.83 40 6.50
    9 Wolverhampton 423 11 259 1.63 10.79 38 6.82
    10 Arsenal 417 13 259 1.61 10.79 60 4.32
    11 West Ham 486 3 258 1.88 10.75 46 5.61
    12 Brighton 437 6 249 1.76 10.38 36 6.92
    13 Man City 351 18 245 1.43 10.21 47 5.21
    14 Tottenham 431 9 241 1.79 10.04 54 4.46
    15 Chelsea 435 7 239 1.82 9.96 45 5.31
    16 Leicester 494 1 237 2.08 9.88 25 9.48
    17 Norwich 418 12 232 1.54 9.67 48 4.83
    18 Bournemouth 343 20 222 1.55 9.25 48 4.62
    19 Newcastle 400 14 220 1.81 9.17 39 5.64
    20 Liverpool 379 16 200 1.90 8.33 24 8.33

    And here is the link to that article:

    As I said, WE GET SCREWED.

  3. I have an article in moderation due to the links, but when it appears (hopefully) you will see the tables I reproduced have not configured properly making them difficult to read, but it can be done, you just have to look closely. If you cant you can see the original tables as they were first presented by just following the links. Sorry about that.

  4. When people come on here with their soundbites accusing us of being paranoid or conspiracy theorist they should really look into the history of this blog. Our host and many of the regular posters, myself included, don’t just make this stuff up. We don’t just come here and say ‘I know what I see with my own eyes’ and think that is enough. I Know from personal experience some of the stuff posted on here takes hours and hours of research and analysis. That little lot above took me all morning to track down for example. No it doesn’t necessarily make us right, but surely what it does do is warrant a better response than a one line insult accusing us of being Flat Earth lunatics.

    If people don’t agree with our conclusions try putting together a counter argument with your own researched data and analytic conclusions, and perhaps you’ll not only find our hosts and posters ready and willing to enter into debate, you may even enjoy it. Just saying.

  5. Nitram; in my current little line of research I wasn’t meaning to reject the work that you and others have done in the past. It was stimulated by the Leicester figures from last season, and the way they suddenly changed when it was mentioned here. My thinking was to establish the figures for this season over a number of weeks, and then (or maybe next summer) look back.

  6. Of course not Tony, I wasn’t suggesting that for one moment. I’m so pleased that so much focus is being put on these card statistics.

    I know many people, especially outside of Arsenal fans, don’t hold with the notion that Arsenal get an extremely bad deal from referees, but I do, and have done for a very long time, basically since Riley took over at the head of the PGMOL.

    The problem is so much of what referees do is subjective, or ‘a matter of opinion’ and as such it’s very hard to prove a bias one way or the other. But these statistics regarding tackle/foul/card ratios are not subjective. They are objective. A matter of fact.

    Now when we look into these objective statistics such as tackles/fouls/cards, as well as penalties, for and against, we see a clear bias against Arsenal. This is not an anomaly, as I have shown above. This has been happening for many many years. And the point is, if the objective data shows a bias against Arsenal surely this adds weight to the notion that perhaps the ‘subjective’ decisions are going against us as well ?

    Now I realise you are often at pains to deny you are claiming a bias against Arsenal, and are just trying to show the refereeing anomalies that exist that really shouldn’t, and to highlight the, for want of a better word, ‘unique’ way our referees are selected and used in comparison to the rest of the World, but I am not.

    I think we are royally screwed by the referees, and as I say it has been as such for along time.

    Now before people jump all over me, this isn’t to blame referees for everything, not by a long chalk. But given the small percentages that can make all the difference at the elite level of sport, I personally think it is beyond reason to deny that even a slight sloping of the pitch can have an impact. And we have been playing up the slope ever since Riley took charge.

  7. Great data. As usual, there is a suggestion of some kind of referee conspiracy playing a part in the analysis.
    (“I suspect referees, having given Liverpool a lot of slack last season, are tightening up a bit in case it all gets too obvious.”)
    If we set the referee conspiracy theory aside (which it seems to me is becoming harder for even Untold to cling to), what the data suggests to me is that teams analyse referee behaviour, and seek strategies that benefit from it. e.g Vardy and penalties or rotational fouling. Eventually referees get wise to it and adjust their behaviour. When teams realise plan a has been tumbled, they seek plan b. It’s a classic game of measure v counter-measure.
    So, all in all, human nature at work. And Arsenal just need to get better at playing the game (literally and metaphorically).

  8. Dublin Gooner

    It’s not a conspiracy theory. By calling it that you are seeking to undermine years of accumulated data, not just the recent work by Tony. Have you even read all that data from as long ago as 2014 and 2017, that show almost identical data regarding the relative harshness with which Arsenal are treated.

    By saying “If we set the referee conspiracy theory aside (which it seems to me is becoming harder for even Untold to cling to)” you are doing exactly what those one liners do. No counter evidence. No relevant data to support your theory. Nope, it’s all just down to ‘Human nature’.

    Where is your data, where are your statistics, where is your analysis, because if you have none, then it is just your opinion, which is fine, but that is all it is.

    And the following line to me shows why you don’t seem to of grasped what’s going on here. You say:

    “So, all in all, human nature at work.” What for 15 years ? Are you suggesting it’s ‘human nature’ to treat Arsenal harsher than everyone else ?


    “Arsenal just need to get better at playing the game (literally and metaphorically)”. And how do we do that?

    Do you think we’d get away with what Harry Kane is currently getting away with?

    Do you think we would get penalties if we went down A La Vardy and Co?


    You can only ‘Play the game’ Literally or metaphorically if it’s played and a level playing field, and that’s the whole point about this, it is NOT a level playing field.

    Just calling it a conspiracy theory undermines hours and hours, in fact years of hard work, research, and analysis, in one soundbite line. I thought you better than that Dublin.

  9. And just to be sure you know quite how much time and effort has been put in to verify this ‘conspiracy Theory’ here are some more stats from another article earlier this summer in a conversation with Mikey regarding penalties for and against as well as penalties.

    Nitram 20 June 2020 at 15:45


    As you suggest 5 games is hardly enough to look at trends, but I would suggest 11 years is or, put another way, over 200 games is.

    Penalty stats for and against, for us and who have generally been our closest rivals over that period:

    Team – For – Against – Differential

    Man C 80 – 34 Plus 44
    Man U 73 – 34 Plus 39
    Chels 69 – 31 Plus 38
    Lv’pl 63 – 42 Plus 21
    Spurs 49 – 50 Minus 1
    Arsen 49 – 65 MINUS 16

    Those differentials are absolutely ridiculous, especially with man Utd and Chelsea.

    Nitram 21 June 2020 at 09:39

    These are the Red and Yellow card stats for the last 10 years followed by the last 5 years.

    Yellow = 1 pt
    Red = 2 pts
    % difference to Arsenal

    10 Years

    Arsenal = 680 pts
    Man Utd = 672 pts -1.5%
    Man City = 672 pts -1.5%
    Spurs = 639 pts -6%
    Chelsea = 635 pts -6%
    Liverpool = 554 pts -20%

    5 Years

    Man Utd = 350 pts +2%
    Arsenal = 343 pts
    Spurs = 319 pts -7%
    Man City = 304 pts -11%
    Chelsea = 291 pts -15%
    Liverpool = 237 pts -31%

    Well, there are some surprises but there are also some suspicions confirmed.

    It’s no surprise that over the last 10 years we get the most cards.

    It’s no surprise our rate of cards have increased over the last 5 years.

    It’s no surprise that Man Utds cards have jumped by almost 10% since Fergie left.

    It is a surprise that it’s increased to such an extent that they have more cards than us over the last 5 years.

    It’s no surprise Liverpool are bottom of both tables.

    It’s no surprise they are being more leniently treated in the last 5 years.

    It is a surprise they are quite so leniently treated. 20% more leniently than us has jumped to 31% more leniently than us. That is simply ridiculous.

    It is a surprise quit how leniently Chelsea are treated.

    It is a surprise that Spurs are as close to us as they are. I know they went a very long time without a red so seeing them quite so close was, as I say, a surprise.

    But the point is we are still badly treated, the worst over the 10 years and 2nd worst over the last 5. Add to that the disgraceful penalty stats in which we are again the worst treated, it is a joke and needs explaining.

    What has to be remembered in elite sport small differences make an enormous difference.

    1% in a 100 Metre sprint is 1 yard. That can be the difference, not just between Gold and Silver but Gold and no meddle.

    1% in a 5 furlong horse race is about 3 lengths. That could be the difference between a place and an also ran.

    In a Marathon, and remember the Premiership is a Marathon not a sprint, 1% is about 200 metres.

    So even those small differences can be an extremely significant advantage, but when teams are getting 20 and 30 % advantages that is absolutely enormous.

    Now anomalies happen, so if you saw some of these numbers over short periods, although it still wouldn’t be good, you could understand, and of course as we know, these things all even out in the end. Yeah right.

    But anyway, these figures are not short term anomalies they are over 5 and 10 year periods. That is a pattern. And it is a pattern that is an absolute complete and utter disgrace.


    Sorry to bombard everyone with so much data but I’m just trying to make a point that this isn’t just a spur of the moment ‘conspiracy Theory’ as some would like to suggest. Yes it is just a ‘Theory’ but it’s a theory supported by reams and reams of supporting data, accumulated over years, not just weeks, or even Months, Years, with hours of analysis to support said data.

    Again, dismissing it out of hand without constructive, evidence based counter points is disengenuous at best.

  10. As I’m bored I thought I’d see if in fact I am a ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ but to do that first of all I need to know exactly what a Conspiracy Theorist is’.

    From Wikipedea:

    A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable. The term has a negative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence.

    Lets break it down and see if I am:

    a) A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful groups.

    Exactly. Can anyone in their right mind deny our referees are sinister ? Moss ? Atkinson ? Dean ? I mean, would you trust any of them to even take your dog for a walk? The chances are it would end up with a broken leg and he wouldn’t of seen a thing. And of course they are powerful, within the World of football, at least. Millions of pounds are at stake with every blow of their whistle or wave of their card.

    B) Often political in motivation.

    Obviously not.

    C) When other explanations are more probable.

    Well no. Are other explanations for Arsenals poor treatment more probable? Well maybe, but I’m yet to be convinced by any that have been put forward so far. For example:

    i) Human Nature. What to pick on Arsenal ?

    ii) We are poorer tacklers than everyone else. What for 15 years ?

    Maybe someone has a better explanation, and if they do it’s got hold water for 15 years.

    D) The term has a negative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence.

    i) Prejudice? Well possibly. I couldn’t possibly say.

    ii) Insufficient evidence? See above, so that doesn’t stack up at all.

    So as much as some of what I think and say fits the description of a ‘conspiracy Theorists’ by no means all of it. So on that basis no, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, rather I’m just a guy with a Theory that there is a conspiracy against Arsenal, and that’s not the same thing at all. At least I don’t think it is.

  11. @Nitram
    yes, it’s just my opinion. But I’m not wedded to it and am prepared to be convinced otherwise (unlike yourself, perhaps). But Tony and your data doesn’t do it.
    I’m sure you’re familiar with confirmation bias. Can anyone give me a single piece of evidence that would pass muster in a court of law that referres have at any time conspired against Arsenal? Surely if conspiracy was at work, the evidence would be there somewhere – an email, a whistleblower, a brown envelope? Something other than an Arsenal supporters view of the world.
    In the absence of evidence, can anyone give me a plausible reason why referrers might conspire against Arsenal (and risk prison), as against conspire against Tottenham? What is the possible motivation? How do they benefit?

  12. @ Dublin Gooner

    You should hunt down a well known piece of academic research which considers the theory of conspiracy theories. Unsurprisingly, one of the key conclusions is that the likelihood of a conspiracy remaining a secret is directly proportional to the number of people involved. Hence the idea that numerous governments, thousands of medics and hundreds of academics have contrived to falsify the existence of COVID for nefarious purposes is astronomically improbable.

    If memory serves me correctly, it was calculated that given the hundreds of people involved in putting men on the moon, any conspiracy would have unravelled in around two years.

    Now consider how few people are required to conspire to introduce a bias into the outcome of the premier league. I’m guessing just Mike Riley and half a dozen others. Hence that could remain closely guarded for decades at least. So your odd email or whistleblower is highly implausible. in terms of the brown envelope, it’s in plain sight. Referees are paid £50k when they retire simply not to discuss the subject of refereeing!

  13. Now I have some time I will address your response line by line.

    a) yes, it’s just my opinion. But I’m not wedded to it and am prepared to be convinced otherwise (unlike yourself, perhaps). But Tony and your data doesn’t do it.

    So there we have it with your first words, because what I, Tony, Walter, Vince and Mikey are saying is not just opinion. We haven’t just made those statistics up you know. They are all still out there for everyone to see. They are not MY stats or TONY’S stats, they are simply THE stats. The fact they don’t do it for you I can do nothing about, but that doesn’t alter the fact that Arsenal get poorly treated when it comes to receiving Yellow and Red cards and penalties for and against. The statistics clearly show that to be the case. And what’s more, they show them to be the case over a 15 year period, basically since Riley took over at the PGMOL.

    And yes I am prepared to be convinced otherwise, but to do that I need more than just your opinion, so until then I’ll stick with my notion that something very odd is going on. That leaves the question as to why, and that is a much more difficult question to answer, but we’ll get to that later.

    b) I’m sure you’re familiar with confirmation bias.

    Again I point to the statistics. I could be rabidly bias, but if the statistics aren’t there they aren’t there. But they are there and I haven’t made them up. So yes they confirm my opinion but it has nothing to do with what you are implying.

    c) Can anyone give me a single piece of evidence that would pass muster in a court of law…..

    The answer to that is yes, see above. All those stats ARE evidence. But you are not asking about evidence you are asking for PROOF, and that is completely different. So the answer to your question is, yes I think a court of law would accept those statistics as evidence. Yes 100% they would. Would they be PROOF that referees are bent, corrupt, cheating. No, not on their own, of course not.

    d) ….that referees have at any time conspired against Arsenal?

    I haven’t for one second suggested I have proof that their is a conspiracy. And for the record I don’t actually think their is even a conspiracy, not in the true sense of the word. I certainly don’t think referees meet in darkened rooms and discuss how to screw Arsenal. I don’t believe brown envelopes change hands. I think it is much simpler than that and is oddly enough closer to your notion of referees being ‘only human’. I have posted on here many times what I believe is behind this undeniable bias and will explain my theory again later. As I say, it’s all about human nature, but not in the way you suggest.

    e) Surely if conspiracy was at work, the evidence would be there somewhere – an email, a whistle-blower, a brown envelope? Something other than an Arsenal supporters view of the world.

    See Mikey’s post above for an answer to that.

    f) In the absence of evidence.

    Absence of evidence? As I said above, you are confusing evidence with proof. Every one of those stats are evidence. There is in reality a mountain of evidence. But I am not claiming they are proof. If you were to present all that evidence in a court of law would it be enough to convict. I doubt it because by and large to convict you need means motive and opportunity.

    MEANS: Well of course. They referee the match. TICK

    OPPORTUNITY: Again, they referee the match. TICK

    MOTIVE: Now this is the more tricky one. There are a few theories, but it is tough. WHY? Why would referees want to screw Arsenal?

    In conclusion Dublin, the bias is there. To deny it is, as I said previously, to deny water is wet. The only question is WHY is it there. I have put forward my theory on this many many times and will do so again later, when I have time.

    can anyone give me a plausible reason why referrers might conspire against Arsenal (and risk prison), as against conspire against Tottenham? What is the possible motivation? How do they benefit?

  14. g) can anyone give me a plausible reason why referrers might conspire against Arsenal (and risk prison), as against conspire against Tottenham? What is the possible motivation? How do they benefit?

    AS I said I will attempt to answer this later.

  15. g) can anyone give me a plausible reason why referrers might conspire against Arsenal (and risk prison), as against conspire against Tottenham? What is the possible motivation? How do they benefit?

    Well as I said, I don’t believe it is a conspiracy, Per Se. I do not believe referees sit in darkened rooms conjuring up ways to screw Arsenal. It’s much simpler than that. It’s all about self preservation. Bellow is an explanation of the hows and the whys that I posted in Vinces article back in February 2017.


    This is a brilliant article. Well done Vince on all your hard work collating these statistics, and well done Untold for realising the significance of what this actually says about the way we are Refereed.

    Lets get this said strait away. These are facts. Not opinion. These are cold, hard, facts.

    But even though these are facts, it is true to say that behind every individual award of a penalty or non penalty, red card, or non red card, is a ‘subjective’ decision by the referee.

    So despite the cold hard facts, ‘subjectivity’ does enter into the equation, and is indeed the key to how the referees get away with screwing us over, week, after week, after week. But the question is, why is ‘subjectively’ so important, and why do referees treat Arsenal ‘subjectively’ so differently to how they ‘subjectively’ treat Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea etc etc. ?

    Lets have a look at, firstly, HOW they get away with it, and then secondly, WHY.

    Here’s the thing, I reckon if you looked at every penalty Arsenal have conceded over this 9 year period, yes every one, to a greater or lesser degree each one could of been given? Because that’s the nature of these incidents, and that’s the nature of human beings, and referees are, believe it or not, human beings.

    Some incidents are so obvious that they seem incontrovertible, but without doubt, if you took a vote in a room full of a hundred neutral fans, there would still be some who would see it different. That, as I say, is human nature.

    So what about these ‘subjective’ decisions?

    Some are like the one I alluded to above, pretty strait forward or 90/10 lets say.

    Some are very tricky. The 50/50 calls.

    Some 60/40.


    And so on.

    Now I would suggest that every single team has an equal amount of 50/50 calls, 60/40 calls, 90/10 calls, to be made for, or against them, agreed?

    And that, I believe, is where the bias, or some would say, the cheating starts.

    Yes, Arsenal probably will get those 90/10 calls in there favour, maybe even the 70/30 calls. But where the problems begin are with the tight calls. The 60/40’s the 50/50’s and the 40/60’s. That is I believe where this massive tilt against us stems from.

    A referee is much more likely to give a 60/40, a 50/50, a 40/60, or even a 30/70 call in favour of United, City and Chelsea than he ever is going to in our favour.

    And that is a MASSIVE factor. If you apply that level of ’tilt’ in every match, the disparity it will cause between a team favoured by this ’tilt’ and one that is unfavoured, will be insurmountable.

    But here’s the rub, given the ‘subjective’ nature of all these calls, some people could, and indeed actually do, claim that EVERY decision, no matter how 30/70 50/50 or 70/30 made against Arsenal is correct. Despite this massive disparity in the way these incidents are called against Arsenal compared to others, these people still claim all is fair.

    So that’s HOW they get away with, it’s cheating but without actually cheating, because everything is so subjective, but WHY do the Referees treat us ‘subjectively’ as badly as they do?

    Well for one, as we have seen highlighted over these last few weeks, it doesn’t matter how soft the call he makes against us is, he will always get the 100% backing of the media. And conversely, no matter how harsh the call against us, he will again, get the full backing of the media.

    The referee knows, adopting an approach of erring against Arsenal at every opportunity is going to go down well on the back pages, and in the studios of SKY Sports, MOTD, Talksport and the rest.

    And mark my words, it is how he is perceived in these arenas that makes or breaks his career, and being seen to screw Arsenal is one very big step on the road to a successful career in black.


    So that’s my theory.

    In conclusion, all referees are doing is following the path of least resistance. They are simply pandering to a broadly Arsenal hating media. Put simply, giving a dodgy penalty/card in our favour will invoke media ridicule and on the back of that even his career can be at risk. Conversely a referee screwing us over is never held to account and often enough praised and or rewarded for such a display, the most notorious example of this of course being Mike Rileys promotion to head of the PGMOL on the back of his notorious performance in match 50 at Old Trafford, surely one of the most reprehensible performances in the entire history of the Football League.

    The media said nothing. It earned him a promotion.

    From that day forward referees were in no doubt as to what screwing Arsenal could do for their career. And what’s more, as I pointed out above, they don’t actually have to do that much to majorly influence a match. Just a little tilt of those 50/50’s is enough to do the trick. As I say, cheating without actually cheating.

    So no conspiracy. No brown envelopes. Just referees Seeking favour with their masters. Looking after their careers. Being human.

  16. Oh, and Dublin, before you say anything, given your previous response I don’t expect you to be convinced, but then again I’m not even sure I’d convince you that water is wet, so my hopes aren’t high.

    Still, you cant say I didn’t try.

  17. I mentioned the situation regarding Hector Bellerin’s “foul throws” on Twitter after the Tottenham match.

    Today I saw the following:-


    It’s from HITC:-

    Foul throws

    I think Bellerin had foul throws awarded against him in 3 consecutive PL matches, although none were given in Arsenal’s favour in the same matches.

    Referees seem to regularly use this as a device to turn possession over to other teams on a weekly basis. Another example of the sloping pitch.

    Arteta seems to have spotted the same thing.

  18. seismic

    I notice you picked up on that the other day and thought it very interesting because as small a thing as it is it shows beautifully the mindset referees have towards Arsenal, which is the point I think you are making.

    I have absolutely no doubt that by the letter of the law each one would of been correctly called. But the point is loads of foul throws would have happened, in every match, on every day, but, and this is the point, who else is held to the letter of the law with regards to throw ins ? Very few if any. So why Bellerin ?

    And as you say this is exactly the kind of thing we are talking about when we talk about the tilting pitch. On the face of it it isn’t much. A silly little card for a silly foul throw. Nothing to see here Guv. But that is wrong, and that is missing the point. Not only did it turn possession over, that is the least of it. More importantly it meant from that moment on Bellerin was playing under the fear of a second yellow. That must affect how he defends. And not only that, in the totting up process he is 3 cards nearer a suspension. He is now playing every game with that in mind.

    Measure that against those dangerous challenges we’ve seen by Kane and not a card in sight. He can carry on taking players out with impunity.

    As we keep saying, the pitch doesn’t have to be tilted that much to make a big difference.

    Still sure Dublin Gooner has a perfectly plausible explanation as to why Bellerin has received those 3 cards whilst nobody else seems to get them. And why Kane can take players out in mid air and get nothing. I suppose it’s all down to human error and it will all even out in the end.

    15 years and waiting so excuse me if I don’t hold my breath.

  19. I think the “small” decisions repeatedly given against Arsenal are much more significant than many people might think.

    The constant victimisation will mess with the players’ heads. So many times after these decisions have been made, the camera will pan to the penalised player’s face, and it is obvious to my eyes that the Arsenal players react differently to the players from other clubs when the same thing happens to them.

    The Arsenal players’ faces have a look of resigned disappointment. Other teams look surprised and animated.

    I have also noticed that our appeals for penalties are unenthusiastic compared to those from other teams. We are rarely awarded penalties. Even if they are “nailed-on”

    Remember the Palace game last season when Sokratis scored what should have been the winner? That was a 100% penalty all day long. Atkinson was the referee, and he gave the goal. VAR overturned it. My view of the goal in real-time led me to believe that the goal might be disallowed. The replays (which the VAR official could have seen) showed Milivojovic shoving both hands into Chambers’ chest as the corner came over from Pepe. VAR was looking at the wrong passage of play (which did not demonstrate a clear and obvious error by the referee).

    That was blatant. There are many other examples over the last 18 seasons.

  20. The stats are the stats, the interpretation is what is debatable. While you (nitram) interpret the stats to mean refs screwing us up, Arteta may interpret it to mean “we keep shooting ourselves in the foot”, as he did today after Gabriel’s red. It could also be interpreted as a lack of discipline by some, certainly Xhaka’s and Pepe’s recent red cards were not due to poor tackling or ref bias. Some say we can’t tackle too, I certainly remember mertesackers red against Chelsea and One of Koscielny’s against citeh, or the Ox handball against Chelsea in Wenger’s game 1000, where Gibbs instead was wrongly sent off.
    So, are the belief that the refs are against us, is it a conspiracy theory? I think there are enough ingredients to make it so. “When other explanations are more probable” is a very subjective phrase, and we must agree that whatever answer a person will give will likely be opinion based. With the above mentioned, it’s my opinion that there are many other probable reasons for our poor card stats

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