The Untold ref review: Man Arab – Arsenal

by Walter Broeckx, the ref

Before the game it was as if we went back in a time machine one year. The same clubs on the field, the same ref (that is the ref who last season wasn’t exactly the best man on the pitch as he missed a few things like Adebayor trying to make a mark on the face of Robin Van Persie.)

So let’s see how he did today.

CARD : Red card for Boyata. He brought Chamakh down as a last defender and then it doesn’t matter if it is the first or the last minute of the game it always should be a red card. But for the ref this was a major decision. He knew it would/could change the game but at the end of a few seconds thinking he did the only thing he could do and give the red card. I think he also took the time to consult his assistant to make sure he was 100% right and that this was the reason for him waiting a few seconds. They are very handy those communication devices. 1/1.

CARD: Booking for Denilson. The ref had no option then to give him the yellow card. 1/1

OTHER: Fabregas brought down by De Jong. Another strong challenge and the ref doesn’t give a foul. De Jong did not play the ball, it was Cesc who played the ball square and De Jong only took out Cesc. Mistake from the ref and a card should have been given. 0/1

CARD: Barry comes in late on Fabregas and gets a yellow card. He was coming from behind. I think the ref saw this also as some form of  rotational fouling and gave a yellow card. Correct decision. 1/1

OTHER: Song comes in a bit late on Silva who rolls over and over as if being hit by a car. The ref does not give a card but lectures Song. Good decision as he didn’t let himself influenced by the rolling of Silva. It was a foul trying to play the ball so just an ordinary foul. He did not listen to the crowd so good marks for this.  1/1

GOAL: Samir Nasri scores and nothing wrong with that goal. 1/1

CARD: Booking for Fabregas.  He was late on De Jong and goes into the book. And he ref is right. 1/1

CARD: Song gets a booking. He was warned before by the ref so again good refereeing. 1/1

CARD: Another booking and this time for Djourou for a foul on Tevez. He came from behind and I can understand the ref for this in this game. He had to keep things very tight from his point of view and hope that at half time things will calm down. 1/1

PENALTY/CARD: Fabregas brought down by Kompany right in the corner of the area. A very stupid foul from Kompany but who cares? The ref has no option to point to the spot. It doesn’t matter if there is some goal danger or not, a foul in the penalty area is a foul and a penalty. And the ref is right about not giving a card. As for handing out a card you must have a situation where the player is heading for the goal, or a very hard tackle. It was just a tackle for the ball which was late so no need for a card. 1/1 and 1/1

GOAL:  Song makes it 0-2 and nothing wrong with the rule book. 1/1

CARD: Kompany booked for a block on Sagna. Correct decision. 1/1

GOAL:  Bendtner makes it 0-3 and a nice finish and no offside. So again all is good. 1/1

So these are the facts now let us see what this gives us in total:

Goals: 3/3

Cards: 8/8

Penalties: 1/1

Other: 1/2

TOTAL SCORE: 13/14 (93%)

Well if I was full of praise during our midweek game over the Norwegian ref, what should I say today? In can only say: WELL DONE, ref Clattenburg.

And this games showed on how important it is for a ref to get your first decisions right. Believe me, so early in the game (should make no difference in fact) but to give a red card is the last thing a ref wants to do. You don’t go on the field with the intention to give a red card in the opening minutes.  But he did what he had to do and this made him strong because he knew that he made a brave but right decision. And I can also tell you that as a ref you know this and you get a shot of confidence from this.

What I didn’t like was the fact that a few Arsenal players came to the ref before he gave the red card. Just leave it boys, let the ref get on with his job and his decisions. And I have seen the City players trying to do the same but the ref waved them away on both occasions. So again good work from the ref. He showed the players he was the boss on the field and that they didn’t need to come over to him.

And the only thing I could criticise him for is for not giving a yellow card against De Jong. His first hard tackle on Cesc was not seen and later in the first half just before half time the made another tackle from behind. Again De Jong escaped from a yellow card at that time as it was again a clear tackle from behind. So maybe the ref has a soft spot for De Jong somewhere?

But then again this is just the difference between a very good game and a perfect game. But no player manages to never lose the ball in a match (apart from Denilson last season against West Ham) so I can forgive the ref this and look at it as a little mistake in the whole of the game.

Because don’t forget,  it was a difficult game with some history in it, with a furious opening 15 minutes with a lot of fouls and cards but he kept his head, kept cool and produced a magnificent game on the day. So he can be a good ref and so I only hope he keeps away from the things he got involved in in the past.

So at the end of the day I can only congratulate Mr. Clattenburg for his match and I really hope that he can keep up this standard of refereeing in his career.


On the Arsenal History site: how the official story of the origins of Arsenal has got the first match completely wrong.

On Untold Arsenal, the Man City game from an analysis of the ref’s history, via predictions to post-match review

And on Arsenal Worldwide, the Man City game seen from abroad

How did we get here, where did we come from, how long did it take, why did we go that way, where were we before we arrived, how long did it take, and did we have a clue where we were going before we got there but after we left?  Confused?  You will be after Making the Arsenal

42 Replies to “The Untold ref review: Man Arab – Arsenal”

  1. I agree ref was good. I wonder if de Jong has something over the refs since he seems to be able to get away from those cards.
    I have a question Walter, Can referee give a yellow card for a player who is asking/begging/demanding card for another team player?

  2. And if I can add a little bit about our third goal. Adebayor was in his usual position (offside). The assistant did not raise his flag as at first Adebayor pretend not to go for the ball. When Djourou controlled the ball he did attack him from behind and the linesman raised his flag. Clattenburg saw it but he also saw that Djourou could play the ball to Nasri who was unmarked. Nasri then ran on to the line and kept the ball in play (the ball has to cross the line in total) and gave Bendtner the chance to score.
    So some nice work from the ref and he also made the required gesture to the linesman when he let play continue.

  3. Finngooner, he should give a yellow card for asking for a card.
    This instruction was given a few years back and is still valid. Like I said, I don’t like it when players do it. Cesc did it and players from City also did it at times. Clattenburg waved them away when they came near him with clear gestures. But if he would have followed the rule book to the last letter he should have handed a few more yellow cards for asking for a card.

    I really dont like it and I would ask Arsenal to instruct their players to stop doing it.

  4. Great post, great win – and well done to Mr. Clattenburg for the damn fine display!


  5. The best performance I saw by a ref last season was from Clattenberg. That it was the game we lost to the spuds emphasises to me how good he was. If you can’t blame the ref for losing to that shower, then he did well. Same yesterday. Consistent and always up with the play. This (after 12 games), was the first time that he’s reffed a losing City game.

  6. Thanks for the post Walter.

    The commentators in my country both said – this has been, by far, the best refereeing display in the PL this year.

    And not an easy game to ref, too.

  7. Nice posting mr walter!the refs decisions were almst gud except 4 lil errors like De jongs tackle on Fab!etc,bt man mehn were lik a TEAM,nice game….
    On another issue,i sent u a mail concerning arsenal fan base world wide bt gat no reply up til nw,…..

  8. I can imagine that the ref had an “refgasm” after the game. This is something that a ref can get when you come in the dressing room and you just know that you had a really great game and had the major decisions right.

  9. Do not agree on the Song booking, dont think he even touched him actually, but as usual when an arsenal player gets a yellow, they show only 1 camera angle which is the worse angle ontop of it. And as u mentioned De Jong should have been shown a yellow but overal good refereeing.

  10. I was impressed when he overruled the linesman for a goal kick when gareth barry and cesc were at the byline. just showed his concentration levels were 100% throughout the 90+ minutes. Good sh*t!!!

  11. I’ve read Ref Watch by DogFace, it was said that the ref fav color was sky blue, and expected bad refereeing but he SHOCKS me with his performance.. He should be awarded as the Man of the Match, seriously..

    Good job, Clattenburg.

    .. and nice article walter.. I had a feeling he knew about your ref review and somehow read about DogFace article too.. hhmmm.. maybe…

  12. Totatally agree with your Ref marking although Man Shitty supporters will not agree. There were 3 very irate brain-dead Man Shitty boys on Radio 5 last night. When questioned they said there was a foul and yes he was the last man BUT it is not fair sending one of their boys off and it ruined the game. Yes, it did for them but this was so in the CL Final against Barca and we still came within 10 mins of winning! Maybe the rules should be changed as it seems wrong that one foul can change a whole game. Maybe there should be a penalty instead?

  13. Trax are you suggesting that Untold somehow put pressure on Clattenburg to deliver an A1 performance – like some kind of lobby group?

    I did see the flash in his eyes when he had to make the red card descision… you could tell he was thinking ‘Walter will be watching me!’.


  14. Excellent performance if you look at the scoreline. However this game left me a sour taste in my mouth… Our first Half was shocking to say the least. THe second half was better but against a 9 men team (yes tevez played half the game with an injury and I believe this is the main reason he was transparent), and if we consider we’re title challengers, we should’ve killed this game far earlier. If we watch the succession of events today, everything was going our way and we were the only ones making it hard for ourselves!
    Djourou, in the first half…. Shocked Shocked Shocked Clichy can be at fault for many things, but he’s not responsible for Djourou being clumsy and god damn slow!!! Djourou’s performance today was Silvestre-like! The guy is nothing more than a big accident waiting to happen! THe less I see him play this season the better…
    Arshavin was his usual self, lazy as fuck! We know what he’s capable of which makes it even less forgivable.
    Nasri is growing in stature this season. Let’s hope he can keep this good form. His body language suggests he’s in a very good shape physically.
    Flappy… Shocked Shocked Shocked what happened to the lad??!! Looks like the “training fabiansky” has taken over the usual “Flappy-handski”.

    Overall, great win. But not as convincing as I expected a victory at man city would be…

  15. ‘Man Arab’? what is that good for? we have two Arabs in out first team , are you aware of that?? Do yo think they would have liked that crap from their supporters?
    Flanders Man from the low countries RED CARD TO YOU!

  16. Oink? Why are you so pernickety? A 3 – 0 win against a fellow title contender and you are commenting as if we played a third-division team. Common be glad of the 1st clean sheet in a long while.

  17. I am interested in Desert Jack’s comment that we have two Arabs in our first team, and I wonder who they are.

    According to (which generally knows a thing or two) the word “Arab” means

    1. a member of a Semitic people inhabiting Arabia and other countries of the Middle East.
    2. a member of any Arabic-speaking people.

    As a person who lived some of his life in Algeria and hence by definition 2 was among Arabs, I am quite interested in the definition. I would not, for example, think of Chamakh as an Arab in the sense that he was born in France and has played his football in France and England – although I don’t know what his Arabic is like (mine I should add is utterly useless – I found it a horribly difficult language to learn). Cameroon and Ivory Coast are not normally thought of as Arab homelands are they?

    Or is it Desert Jackal that when the word “Arab” is used on this site, that you are thinking it is an offensive term (rather than simply a descriptive word of the ownership of the club). In that case, would Arshavin be taken aback to know that I regularly call Chelsea “The KGB in Fulham”?

    I mean this point seriously – is “Arab” a term that one should not use? And if so, what does one call people as defined above by

  18. Clattenburg, not my favorite ref, but he did ref well, wouldnt suprise me to hear that he actually read your blog from last week,about a dodgy past,makes a change to have decisions going our way, i was sure there were going to be contraversial decisions in this match, but perhaps more people are reading your blogs than you realise.

  19. I could have called them Man Sheiki as I usualy call them in Dutch. And the Man Arab thing was just a little side joke to point at their owner and their money spending.

    And I certainly didn’t mean anything bad with it as “Arab” does not have an automatic bad sound for me.

    And I think Dessert Jack is referring to Nasri and Chamakh. Nasri who is French/Algerian and Chamakh who is French/Morrocan.

  20. OgohcjGUNNER NIGERIA, I’m sorry for not replying your mail and I think I have messed it up as I cannot find your mail in my inbox.
    If you don’t mind you can try again and I hope I don’t do anything stupid anymore.
    Must say I had some problems with my internet connection on the computer I use most and in one of my browsers(IE) I couldn’t reply to mails which was rather annoying.

  21. WTF Desert Jackal … Samir Nasri and Abou Diaby are French not Arab.. And their name are as such as they are muslims.

  22. I said before the match that as long the ref sent anyone off for any kung-foo tackles, booked players fairly and blew the wistle when there was a fair pen for either teams i would be happy. Im glad to say arsenal delivered, yes maybe the game was made easier by the sending off so early but i believed that even 11 v 11 we would have edged it, we looked up for it yesterday.

  23. 1 thing to add – Kompany made at least 2 bookable or close to bookable fouls long before he was actually booked. One was on the edge of the area in the 1st half.
    It doesnt matter so much, but could have been costly. It just annoys me that the commentry would not shut up for the whole game how song “could have” been sent off for 2 bookable offences, or how song should have been booked earlier, when the 1st foul he made was really borderline, and nothing else he did was close to a booking, aside from when he was actually booked. Yet they didnt say anything about Kompany.

  24. @ desertjackal ‘Man Arab’ is alluding to the trillionaire Sheikh owner, not the players.

  25. Greencard usa – could you explain to me why saying “Arab” is racist, and if “Arab” is a racist word, what word might be used. If, as your screen name suggests, you are a citizen of the United States, and you call me a “Brit” (a word which is rarely used by citizens of the United Kingdom to describe themselves) is that racist? If I call Walter, who wrote the article, a Belgian, is that racist. If I call someone from the United States, a “yank” is that racist?

    The accusation that something written is racist is a serious accusation, and does need to be explained and examined.

  26. Walter, a quick question; Chamakh was brought down by the last defender, but has it got anything to do with whether you’re in control of the ball or not if you will give the defending player a red card or not? The sports commentators over here (Sweden) were saying it shouldn’t have been a red card since the rule only applays when you’re in control of the ball, (and they didn’t think Chamakh had control of it). Thoughts?

  27. There’s nothing derogatory about the term ‘Arab’, I don’t understand how people can view ‘Man Arab’ as somehow being racist. Just like Francenal or Chelski, which is not deprecating towards French or Russians.

  28. Anatra,

    the problem is that in most countries commentators and pundits are not schooled as a ref.

    I think before being able to become commentator or pundit you should follow the course (as a strict minimum) and actually be a ref for one season to know what its like.

    Sadly I know no one who is a ref or has been a ref.

    And those pundits/commentators who are ex-players are looking at the rules as (ex)players. And just look at any football field and you will see that the only way most players look at the rules is : “how can I bend them to my advantage”.

    Also when (ex)players give their view on the rules it is sometimes frightning to hear the rubbish they are saying in interviews. The things they invent is so laughable at times it gives us a nice laugh at home where we have 3 referees in my family.

    I know you cannot ask it to their commentators but I would ask them this: The ball is in play at the feet of Fabianski, Boyata for some reason punches Chamakh on his face. So according to those pundits Boyata should not get a red card because Chamakh didn’t have the ball under his control. Well it is a penalty (even if the ball is in the other penalty area) and a red card.
    So the phrase ‘being in control of the ball’ is nowhere to be found in the rule book.

    Other example: Long ball from Cesc to Chamakh who goes after the ball from the half way line. Boyata chases him and pulls him down as the last man. The ball is some 10 meters in front of both players. No other defender in sight. Again those commentators would claim no red card? It has everything to do with the fact of being the last defender and bringing a player down that goes past this last defender.

    Last season Vermaelen was sent off against WH for a very light pull in a similar situation. I defended the ref in that case, it just is the law and the instructions that the last defender should let the attacker go if he gets passed him or else accept the red card.

    If you can look back at the game you should look at Boyata after his tackle. He immediatly pulled at his hair because he knew that he would/should get sent off.

    Boyata, that Belgian fool. LOL. Oops am I being racist against the Belgians now? 😉

  29. Wrenny, totally agree with you.

    ‘Refgasm’?????…Ummm…anyway Walter I agree with every thing in your report, but I think Clattenberg was very generous toward De Jong and was itching to send an Arsenal player off to even things up. I think a ref has a really good game when he keeps control without having to dole out a large number of cards, boldly makes tough calls because its the right thing to do and the game flows without too many interruptions.

    Yesterday’s game went much better than I thought but I was concerned that citeh would become more reckless when the 2nd goal went in because they were desparate and it was clear Clattenberg was mainly focussed on punishing Arsenal players.

  30. Gooner Gal – City wanted to rough us up and we stood our ground and gave it back. I thought Clattenberg handled that portion of the game very well, because it could have led to some really bad tackles later on. He booked just enough to send a very clear message. The only mistake was De Jong not getting a card.

    Bookings for Denilson and Cesc were both from breakaways after our corner kick. That is something to be looked at.

    I liked that Clattenberg didnt spend lots of time talking to players. He blew his whsitle, gave cards, and was decisive throughout. He was in complete control without affecting the intensity and competitiveness of the match.

  31. Refgasm?? Heheh I wouldn’t go that far it isn’t as if Millie Clode was reffing the game in a slip towel is it?

    THAT would be a refgasm for sure 🙂 Lol

    Good performance from both teams and the ref, shame about the sending off which sort of took away some of the plaudits the team’s work on the pitch deserved. Infact I predicted 4-0 with 11v11 so without the sending off and with Cesc scoring his penalty – Arsenal would have been due a little more praise, but hey that’s football!

  32. Yes Gooner Gal, I mentioned the fact he didn’t book De Jong as a minus point for the ref.

    About handing many cards or not I think I see this a bit different.
    If players like yesterday want to make a hard game as a ref you can use the bookings to calm things down. The other option is doing nothing. Because one must not forget it is not the ref that decides to tackle an opponent but it are the players.

    When I have to hand out many cards in a game and they tell to me I should not give all those cards I tell them: You should not make all those tackles. I tell them if they want to tackle like that I will take out my cards and book them or send them off.

    The cards are an instrument of the ref to show to the players and the audience that he is not happy with the things he sees. It’s not the other way round.

    I do speak about refs who try to do their game in a good way. If a ref really wants to be biased against a team he can do this in many ways.

    And does anyone have the foul statistics on the game? I haven’t seen them yet.

  33. On BBC it said City 11 fouls and Arsenal 10 fouls.

    And I think half of the fouls came in the first half our. After the handing out of the cards the players knew they had to be carefull so the ref did what he had to do and calmed the fouls down.

  34. Ok, thanks for your response. It makes sence, and I didn’t think that what the pundits said at the time made sence. But you know, when they sit there in studio analyzing the game and say things like that, supposedly beeing “experts”, you start to think that you’ve got it all wrong yourself.

  35. Thanks Walter, I thought I had heard about that rule but I just haven’t seen it being used (I really hate that “card waving” and that is one reason I don’t think Spain played beautiful football at WC Final).
    I actually tweeted during the match “Has referee been reading Untold Arsenal?” It looked like that trying to do great and realizing that we have noticed that Man Arab (don’t see anything racist in that) haven’t lost while he has been on. It’s good to see referees can improve.

  36. Walter you make some good points, food for thought. Like FinnGooner already mentioned, Howard Webb’s WC refereeing was and still is a complete embarassment that I hope never to see happen again.

    Common Sensei – LOL! I don’t know who Millie Clode is though. I predicted 3-1, with Nasri scoring one of the goals.

  37. Nice article as usual Walter.
    I agree with a previous comment that the Song booking was harsh and that there was little if at all any contact but a hugely exagerated reaction from the city player.
    the Cesc booking was inevitable after De Jong clattered him earlier.
    Booking of the day goes to Denilson though who took one for the team to stop a City break out. Great team player he is and often takes those yellow cards to cover the mistakes of others.

  38. About the Song booking: I had seen that Song received a verbal warning from the ref before the foul he got booked for. So the ref was just doing what he had told him.

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