By Bulldog Drummond
The issue of referee bias is one that has concerned Untold Arsenal from the moment we started, and we have been lucky to have a large number of friends of the site who have contributed to the debate.
Everyone of course can have their own view on this, but after the publication of the review of the first 160 games in one season few people could have any doubt that there was indeed something odd going on.
Indeed we have gathered together some of our articles on refereeing in the Premier League under the heading The evidence that referees have not been running matches properly, and you can find the links to each article on our home page.
What’s more we could see, and we can still see, how it was aided by the way PGMO works through its absolute secrecy, the very limited number of referees (compared with other leagues) and its propensity for having the same referees and assistants oversee the games of certain teams, over and over again.
None of this proves there is corruption, but it certainly makes corruption easier to creep into the system and we always wonder why PGMO continue to proceed in this way. And of course we make no accusation against a specific referee.
Furthermore, our latest analysis which considers the number of tackles, fouls and yellow cards, shows the very different ways in which different clubs are treated. And now we can see in numerical terms how different clubs are treated differently by referees.
This matter we dealt with in yesterday’s article Southampton v Arsenal: learning the lessons not learned last weekend. My view is that Mr Wenger learned very early (after his 10 match ban handed out for an offence for which there was no evidence) what PGMO was all about. However because no reporting of refereeing in this regard is undertaken by the British media there is little chance that Mr Emery or Mr Arteta knew what they were up against. I am not sure we will see a great improvement in Arsenal’s fortunes until they do start taking in the statistics relating to referee activity seriously.
As I have now pointed out several times, “Southampton immediately enter the game with a 17% advantage.” That was true for the Cup tie, and it is true for the league match tonight.
What we have to hope for is that the message sinks in at Arsenal, and management and players realise exactly what the statistics that we so patiently publish each week are showing.
As for this game, as the BBC points out on its site, Southampton have only won one of the last 10 Premier League meetings between the two clubs, drawing four and losing five. But of course all of Southampton’s victories over Arsenal in the Premier League have come at their own ground. And they had the measure of us in the game in the FA Cup at the weekend.
So the fact that Southampton have only won one of their last six Premier League matches, is probably overtaken by the fact that they will be buoyed up by the win at the weekend, and the way the match was handled by the officials.
And let us not forget that Southampton at home are a force to be considered… Here is the home matches table…
|3||West Ham United||10||5||3||2||15||11||4||18|
And indeed if we look at their home record we find for their last six games…
|13 Dec 2020||Southampton v Sheffield United||W||3-0||Premier League|
|19 Dec 2020||Southampton v Manchester City||L||0-1||Premier League|
|29 Dec 2020||Southampton v West Ham United||D||0-0||Premier League|
|4 Jan 2021||Southampton v Liverpool||W||1-0||Premier League|
|19 Jan 2021||Southampton v Shrewsbury Town||W||2-0||FA Cup|
|23 Jan 2021||Southampton v Arsenal||W||1-0||FA Cup|
The only defeat being at home to Manchester City in the last six and the last three have all been won.
As for how they do it, the figures are there for all to see. I’ve published them before, but it seems Arsenal are not taking note, so here they are once again…
|Club||Tackles||Fouls||Tackles per foul||Yellow cards||Fouls per yellow||Penalties for||Penalties against||Lge pos|
Southampton tackle more than any other club, but don’t get penalised as much as one might expect, getting away with more tackles before a foul is called than Arsenal. And despite this much higher rate of tackling they suffer the same number of yellow cards as Arsenal.
Thus in terms of this game here is the significant fact: Southampton can get away with 20% more fouls before attracting a yellow card than Arsenal can. In a Premier League game, that really makes a difference, and if Arsenal players are not being prepared for this, then Arsenal will find the game, once again, very tough.
The referee is Kevin Friend.
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