The untold ref review: Wolverhampton – Arsenal

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By our referee in residence, Walter Broeckx.

A visit to Wolverhampton on a cold November night. And the ref was Mark Halsey. The first time this season we had him as a ref.

I must say that when I sometimes say things in words on this site I find it sometimes difficult to just show what I mean. And today I have got some fine examples of what I mean with the advantage rule. But later more on this. Let us just start the game:

GOAL in the First minute and nothing was wrong with that. 1/1.

OTHER : foul on Clichy but the ref signals an advantage. But the ball  goes out after the advantage so no real advantage is visible in the first seconds and the ref stops the game and comes back to the first foul. This is something I have said in recent weeks as a minus point for some refs, but here it was very well done by the ref. 1/1

OTHER:  another perfect example on how to play the advantage rule as a ref after a foul on Arshavin.  The ball was played to Chamakh who was offside but he didn’t run after the ball. So the ref was entitled to come back to the foul against Arshavin who was giving the pass to Chamakh. Clever play from Chamakh and great vision from the ref. 1/1

OTHER:. The ref gives advantage to Wolves after a foul from Rosicky wide left. Wolverhampton keep the ball in the middle of the field where a totally unmarked Wolverhampton player is playing the ball to the right but he misplaces his pass when he was totally unmarked. The ref this time does not have to come back to the initial foul. He should have done it if the Wolves players had been under pressure from Arsenal, and as a result misplaced his pass. But now he just screwed up himself and the ref can stay with his advantage. Another good playing of the advantage rule and a good interpretation. 1/1

Fabianski dives to a header that goes over. The ball is back in play within 20 seconds.  So no time wasting here from Arsenal.

OTHER: Another good advantage played by the ref in favour of Wolverhampton which makes Fabianski produce a good safe. 1/1

OTHER: a  foul on Sagna in our own penalty box and the ref let the game continue. This was a wrong decision as you must always give a foul in such case and never give advantage in such a position to a defender. Because there is no advantage for a defender in this case. So a first miss from the ref after 37 minutes. 0/1

OTHER: The ref misses a frontal tackle on Cesc in the last seconds and gives a throw to Wolves. 0/1

Half time report : the ref has done excellently until the 37th minute and then become a bit sloppy.

OTHER: the ref misses a few clear fouls on for Wolves, one on Wilshere and one one Sagna. This can go wrong. Just read on.

OTHER/CARD: Henry comes in with a frontal tackle against Arshavin who can jump up just in time. But Henry plants his studs on the shin of Arshavin. The ref gives no foul and no card. This was a possible leg breaking challenge and I can only advise some pundits AND refs to focus more on these tackles.  Just look at the picture from this tackle and wonder together with me why this wasn’t shown on MOTD? If Arshavin couldn’t have jumped out he could have been the next on the list filled with names like Diaby, Eduardo, Ramsey.  0/1 and 0/1

How on earth could Hansen have missed this one and the ref?

CARD: Denilson who has just come on the field doesn’t go back the distance required and gets a yellow card. A bit of a stupid thing but one could say a professional act to prevent a free kick to be taken quickly. But a yellow card should be given if you don’t take the distance when the ref says. 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Song gets the ball away in the centre circle and Hunt comes in on his foot and lands on his ankle. Again the ref didn’t see foul and no card was given. This reminded me a bit  of the Essien red card handed out yesterday.  But I don’t think Hunt had a bad intention as he immediately wanted to stop the game. So I give him credit for his reaction. But it was a foul and a yellow card and both missed by the ref. 0/1 and 0/1

The ball has been played by Song and Hun steps on his ankle.

OTHER/CARD: Stearman booked for a foul on Arshavin when he was trying to start a counter attack. Coming from the side but slightly late as Arshavin pushes the ball away. Correct decision. 1/1 and 1/1

OTHER/CARD: Yellow card for Cesc for  coming late when he tried to block a long clearance. No matter what the MOTD pundits tell you this was a foul and a yellow card. Ref had it right this time. If you ask me for a picture, just look at MOTD or in the newspapers. They will have had their fun with this.  1/1 and 1/1

GOAL: Chamakh brings the contest to an end when he is played in by Cesc and goes alone on goal well onside. He makes no mistake with the outside of his foot. Very much within the rules. 1/1

So let us take a look at this in total and then I can give the following points

CARDS: 3/5


GOAL:  2/2

OTHER: 6/11

Total score: 11/18 (61%)

I must admit that after half an hour I had praised the ref on numerous occasions for the way he was doing his game. But then he started to lose the game a bit. Was he getting tired? A possible explanation when you read what he has gone through the last years (see the Ref Preview article for this game).  Because after that he started missing things he didn’t miss in the first half hour. So I know he can do it, I know he can see the fouls.  He just couldn’t keep the tempo up for the whole game. And I think it was a pity because he was having a real great first half hour.

The only thing he did miss during the game was the dangerous frontal tackling and that is something I didn’t like at all.

And a final note on the extra 4 minutes.  He gave 2 minutes for the substitutions and another 2 minutes for injury time and time wasting. I thought this was a correct decision but just compare this to the 4 minutes Mr. Dean had given last Sunday.  This just shows that something should be done about it and make rules about it that are clear for everyone.

Injury update after the mid week games

The match preview- what we were thinking before it kicked off

The referee preview: here’s a ref to whom we all send good wishes

Life, the Universe, and Arsenal’s past as described in Making the Arsenal It’s not like anything you have read before.

Untold.  The Library.

33 Replies to “The untold ref review: Wolverhampton – Arsenal”

  1. As I am not an expert, and when judging referee I do it from my chair and not from professional angle. So my evaluation is this time quite different than yours. As just plain supporter, all what I am concern is did we won or not, and if mistakes didn’t cause us losing game or some broken bone, I really tend to forgive.
    But last night tackles on Arshavin and Song were to much for me. I really do understand no one have 2 couple of eyes, and cant see all around. But thats why there are 3 couples on field.
    From pictures you posted here, its obvious that linesman couldn’t see tackle on Song, as his line of sight was cowered by Song, Fabregas and Hunt backs.
    But what about tackle on Arshavin, look at free space around, it cant be said that something was cowered (blocked). If it is, that mean Halsey didn’t move around pitch enough, and thats maybe worse error ref can make.

    Sorry for off topic,
    but Walter, if I understood well, foul by goalkeeper out of 16 should be red ? (I am talking about tackle by Gomez in Tt vs Sunderland game).

  2. About Gomez: not always Armin but I havent seen it to be honest. Now mostly when a keeper finds himself out of his 16 and he makes a foul this could be when there is a goal scoring opportunity.
    But if for example a striker is taking the ball outside the penalty area and the keeper is chasing him and would make a foul and there are other defenders around you don’t need to send him off. It is only when he should be denying a clear goal scoring opportunity you must give a red card.

  3. I watched MOD and it is appalling the lack of balanced cover reference bad tackles. Over the top coverage of Fab and bugger all on Henry and Hunt. Disgraceful. Also disgraceful was the lack of support for Arsenal shown by Lee Dixon, the lily livered traitor. In order to work on MOD do you have to sign a pledge of allegiance to Alan Hansen and promise not to contradict him.

  4. I am listening to Talksport and to his credit Adrian Durham is querying the lack of coverage of the Henry tackle compared to the Fab tackle.

  5. To be honest and unbiased, both tackles by Henry and Cesc were red card fouls. Both tackles would hav given a broken leg. Clearly Cesc is not upto his full form yet.

  6. Dark Prince – I think you’re overcompensating in an attempt to be fair. Fabregas’ was a clear yellow, but certainly not a leg-breaker. It was a classic “scholes” challenge but he it’s not like he impacted directly on the defender’s standing leg.

  7. Lee Dixon isn’t actually a Gooner,he is in fact a Man City Fan. It’s clear that he has decided to distance himself from the club from his commentary of our games, which incidently tend to focus on how teams might beat us in future, never what we did right.

    Dixon was a great player for Arsenal, but he is not an ambassador for the club like Ray Parlour, Gilberto, Keown or Henry.

    Thanks for your assessment Walter, I didn’t think Cesc’s on challenge was or looked that bad unlike the Karl Henry one on Arsharvin. The sooner Wolves go down the better.

  8. Halsey lost control of the game when he missed the tackles on Arshavin and Song. Arsenal players were justifiably infuriated and started taking matters into their own hands. The game became very testy after those events. Cesc may claim his tackle was accidental but given the context, I find it really difficult to believe that their wasn’t even a hint of retribution in his challenge. I don’t mean revenge in the sense that he tried to hurt him. Revenge in the sense he knew he might be late but didn’t care because he was tired of his fellow players getting kicked off the park.

  9. I thought this ref review was supposed to be unbiased. But it clearly isn’t. As arsenal fans we cry foul when opponents make a bad tackles on us, but we start hiding ourselves when we do the same. I remember Eboue’s scissor challenge as well which i believed too was a red card challenge. The fabregas and henry challenge too were very bad and leg shattering challenges.

    Just think if the tackle done by fabregas was done by some opponent on fabregas?? Then i guess everyone here would have screamed for a red card. But when it comes to our own players we back out. I think if we have to set an example then we should clearly stand out and stop hiding when we do a bad tackle. That is how we can change this system of bad tackling. If we start hiding ourselves, then no1 will take us seriously. I remember when Wilshere had admitted he deserved a red card for his tackle on Zigic. Thats how we have to respond when we ourselves commit a bad tackle. Thats what Arsenal is all about, we have to show that we have the guts and self respect to come out and say that we did a bad tackle. Or else, we are no better than the wolves’s team who hide themselves behind bad tackling.

  10. Walter
    The second foul you refer to is made by Milijas of wolves not Hunt.

    And I believe Lee Dixon has apologised to Wenger, on twitter for not showing Henry tackle on the Beeb and giving balanced view, sighting his producer had little time in which to fit everything into the show.

    Not much of an excuse I know but still.

  11. Dark Prince is correct. But tread carefully DP, the truth is too hard for many on here to take.

    I was at the match and am grateful that the match was not spoilt by red cards. Both teams could have been reduced to 10 men, but this is the case in most matches.

    Hooray for the referees who manage to keep 22 players on the pitch.

  12. The Fabregas challenge wasn’t ‘leg shattering’ – that’s utter nonsense.

    But I would be happy to see challenges of that nature i.e. clearly reckless carded out of th game.

    Henry was frontal on a standing leg – Fabregas was from the side on an out-stretched leg, bad as they both were I find it hard to put both at the same level of ‘dangerous’… although the media would have you believe otherwise – in fact the polar opposite.

    Or is that a truth too hard for you to take?

  13. Bexxy- As an Arsenal fan, i’m happy that Fabregas didn’t get a red card for that tackle bcoz if he had, he would have been out for 3 games. It was tough as a ref to take such hard decisions within a time period of couple of seconds. But we ourselves have to show more character than going in for reckless challenges. Fabregas was lucky in the last game but we wont be lucky next time.

  14. A Casual Observer – How can you compare 2 different reckless tackles?? You cant compare a ‘Showcross’ tackle with a ‘Wilshere’ tackle on Zigic. Although one caused a broken leg, both deserved a red card. Same goes for Henry and Fabregas challenge, both were different but both were reckless and, yes, both could have broken legs. And it does not matter whether you have your leg out stretched, whether you’re standing, whether you’re jumping, whether you’re facing the opposite direction, or whether you’re just going in for a one legged challenge. You dont need to have a certain specifications of tackle to have your leg broken. It can happen with any type of challenge. Even in the ‘Showcross’ challenge, both participants had their legs outstretched. But only one of them made contact with the other’s leg. Ramsey was very fragile and thats why that tackle resulted in a broken leg. If Ramsey had been in the recieving end of a tackle like fabregas or henry, he would hav got a broken leg again. So we cant compare tackles or their aftermath. Both Henry and Fabregas committed a reckless challenge. Its as simple as that.

    And coming to our team, i hope we make ourselves the example of having the best footballing team. Not the dirtyiest. If we want bad tackling to be taken away from this game, we have to start it from our own team. If we cant, then its just that we are being a bunch of hypocrites.

    Also Arsenal has got the highest number of red cards and 3rd highest number yellow cards this season. Can you handle this truth??

  15. Hasn’t anyone told you that part of being a supporter is to be totally one eyed.

    9 times out of 10 Cesc would have got a yellow, which was correctly given.

    You should look at some Wolves blogs, where they are squealing like pigs, whilst totally ignoring Henry & Milijas.

    The fact that not even a foul was given with Henry, nor cards for either of them, nor Robinson’s or Essien’s crippling of Diaby, makes the card table a bit of a farce.

    To add balance, I would agree that Nasri was perhaps lucky not to get a red for his retaliation against Ridgwell but in my view anyone should have free range to do what gives them pleasure against the known cloggers like him, Robinson & Henry.

  16. Not to be pernickety Walter, but as a statistician I fear these rating systems are possibly a bit quantitatively meaningless by and large… you only really apply linear consideration to what you perceive to be “key” events in the match (though I realise this is probably the most straight forward frame of reference), and most of the time these are simplistically marked either 0/1 or 1/1; in your system, a ref who fails to play advantage in one instance has lost as much credit as a ref who fails to notice a Hand of God type scenario (both lose one mark). You end up with lots of 60% performances, which again, doesn’t really mean anything on a stand alone basis and often can’t be meaningfully compared.

    I know 12 weeks in your experiment is fully underway, but if you decide to run this index in future seasons, it would be interesting to see you apply a few different benchmarks with each given a mark out of ten (for the whole game) by you, e.g. “Identification of fouls”, “Accuracy of carding”, “Control of game flow”, “Handling of high-pressure moments” (this could include penalties), “Discipline control”, “Other” etc… as a professional you could probably come up with better categories than me. Then if you wanted you could weight these benchmarks accordingly (e.g. control of gameflow could have less impact than handling of high-pressure moments) and aggregate each to get an “Overall” rating out of ten…

    Just my opinion… otherwise, appreciate the effort, still makes for an interesting read even if the numbers don’t mean too much!

  17. Flint McCullough- lol… Why do i need to be one eyed when i can have both my eyes on Arsenal?? 🙂

    I dont read Wolves’s blogs and i dont care what they have to say. All i can assert is that we need to stand up for our mistakes if we want others to do the same. Bcoz, lets face it, tackling cant be eliminated from this game and once in a while there will be a tackle which will be late and reckless and maybe even leg braking. What we can do, is to make the players accountable for their actions. Like Wilshere, who came out and said his was a bad tackle and he deserved a red card. Fabregas too apologised for it but he needs to accept his mistake openly to show the other players and managers how much character Arsenal has.

    Also, maybe everyone knows this, but still will say, i know Henry’s tackle was a bad tackle but do u kno why Fabregas’s tackle was highlighted so much?? The reason is bcoz we ourselves denounce such tackles so much that when the media got the 1st chance to give a taste of our own medicine, they took it with both hands. Now to be honest, whats so new about henry with a late challenge? It happens almost every weak. But when Arsenal – ‘the preachers of nonviolent tackle’ – committed one, the media got a chance to pull us down. They did it perfectly and now Arsenal doesn’t hav a say in bad tackles. Bcoz now the media can point out our own mistake when we cry foul.

    All we can do is to accept our own mistakes when we make em. And show everyone that we have character to accept our mistakes and not hide from it. Atleast that will create a guilt feeling within other players when they make such bad tackles. Afterall its the players who make such challenges, so we have to target them. There’s no point to target the media or the referees or the managers. Its the players who make the tackles and its the players who should feel responsible. If our players and manager cant accept their own mistakes, then there’s no use moaning every week for tackles made against us.

  18. @DarkPrince – you are failing quite admirably to grasp the point that everyone is trying to make here, let me break it down:

    Two challenges bad.
    One Worse.
    One scritinised.
    One forgotten.

    The question we are asking is why, when there are two examples of a bad challenge with one clearly more dangerous than the other, does the media focus on the other one?

  19. @DarkPrince – lol, reading further – you did address it in your latter post – although I disagree with it to some extent. Not sure us showing character to *whoever* will get us anywhere. We show nothing but and, as you say, we get strips torn off us for any indiscretion. When we get kicked off the park we are soft and whingers when we give as good as we get we are dirty cheats.

    I reckon it’s time we stopped giving a fuck what people think of us and stopped beating ourselves up – we are still an example to all clubs in England – if the media want to paint us as this or that then they have their own reasons, none of which have anything to do with football so I won’t subscribe to them.

    Maybe we should sling in MORE bad challenges if it creates such a hoo-haa, maybe then we can see it taken out of the game sooner if the ‘dirty’ Arsenal start to benifit?

    Does the ends justify the means?

    Probably not I agree… unlike the Wolves fans – it’s not the kind of football I want to watch.

  20. Phoenix, I am planning (halfway the season) to try to analyse it more specific and see how it stands in different categories. I agree most refs get points in the range 60-70. But this also gives an indication if a ref gets around 90 that he really has done a good game.

    I admit the points total are just an overall indication. But by giving points I try to be as unbiased as possible. Because it sometimes is difficult to judge a ref that you know will make the usual mess he does all the time and then still try to be as balanced as possible. In which I will fail for some….

  21. I think in the context of the game Walter you were correct – a referee will interpret the laws of the game and set a line of tolerance for the breaking of those laws – this is fine if the ref applies this consistently – they don’t always as we know (hence our card record this season).

    It is easy to say – ‘yes straight red’ and get on our players back because we expect Wolves to be dirty and us to be clean – but that is not the case. To win a game you have to play to how the ref is calling it and in this case I would say that Fabregas deserved a yellow.

    In a perfect world where every ref interprets the laws the same and there is little tolerance for the ‘English game’ it would have been a red – but then Henry should have seen a red earlier and there should have been more yellow cards from the off – so maybe then neither challenge would have happened?

    Alas it is not a perfect world and you have to interpret a match in the context of how the ref is controlling it – it is a hard task and you do it well.

    I have mentioned before that I would like to see a difference in the stats for the ref review – expand more and take certain things into account, etc. So I am glad to hear that you are working on ideas for this and I am looking forward to reading what you come up with!

    Keep up the good work!

  22. Walter, yes, fully appreciate and recognise your attempts to be completely objective in assigning points.

    I guess my point is merely that you might actually get more out of being less prescriptive… as a hypothetical example; in a game, if a ref made 9 easy calls correctly, but blundered terribly on one occasion (like Lampard’s shot over the line in the WC) your rating would give a very high 90% even though mostly anyone would say he had a terrible and negative impact on the game. A benchmark system would allow you to give more weight to game-changing one-offs (in a structured way), amongst other possibilities.

    It’s a bit like those blogs that give player ratings… the rater just looks to their gut and says “mostly solid, one or two costly positional errors, put the cross in for the winning goal… let’s give him a 7” or whatever. That ‘7’ might by and large be more accurate than a linear points system, though I do think the best balance would be a mixture of the two. Then you could start to differentiate between all the 60-something performances and your indices would have more meaningful results, which is surely the aim here.

    But again, same sound off, appreciate the effort and will keep monitoring going forward!

  23. A Casual Observer- if you’re sayin that we need to throw in more challenges to make media aware, then thats the worst idea ever. Only thing that it wil achieve is more bad tackling and possibly more of our players gettin injured. We have to play by our own strengths and weakness. To be honest, our players aren’t really physically built very well. So we have to minimise those bad tacklings to get somewhere. And just think, fans of other teams do think like you, they dont care what happens when their players do a bad tackle. So if you too dont care, so i guess there’s no use of moaning when our players get injured.

  24. @DarkPrince

    “if you’re sayin that we need to throw in more challenges to make media aware, then thats the worst idea ever”

    I think you have delibirately misinterpreted me there as that is clearly not what I’m saying.

  25. @Phoenix Gunner & @Walter

    I think consistancy is a big factor that should be taken into consideration – this can mop up a lot of the small fouls and the use of advantage both for/against – a lack of consistancy in a game in his interpretation of the laws to the two teams would indicate a bias?

  26. And I must appoligise for my mistake with Hunt and Milijas as I have mixed them up when commenting on the Song incident.

  27. I think every Arsenal fan will know that the Fabregas challenge was a reckless challenge and so was the Henry challenge. But as Arsenal fans, we wont say a word about Fabregas tackle bcoz somewhere we are tryin to hide the fact that we too commit mistakes. But we have to be bold enough to come out and say like Wilshere did. Or else its waste of time to advocate other teams about bad tackling.

  28. @Dark Prince – I agree but I will go further.

    Fabregas was reckless – I won’t deny it – nobody will deny that – it is obvious. Nobody is trying to hide that – but that is not the point. BTW – Fabregas apologised immediately after did he not thus accepting (for the team and fans) that his challenge was reckless?

    Done – out there – hand firmly held up!

    Henry’s challenge was malicious – I won’t sweep that under the carpet – and if nobody else in the media is going to mention it then it is up to me as a fan to remind everyone rather than sit around, go with the media agenda unsettle the captain of our team and self-harm?!

  29. From what I’ve seen the only player who has committed red cardable challenges (purely for the dangerous nature of the challenge) this season is wilshere. One against liverpool, which he got lucky with, and the one he was sent off for.
    No one has defended wilshere for his red card, but it is important to recognise that unlike shawcross or henry or pretty much any of the others, jack immediately acknowledged he was wrong and needs to change.
    Eboue’s “scissor tackle” was never a red card offense, same as fabregas’. Both were bad tackles, but neither were aimed at a standing leg. Both were clear yellows, and that is how the ref dealt with both tackles.

    Some arsenal fans are trying too hard to be fair and unbiased. SCholes has committed the exact same foul as cesc’s more times than I can count- I dont think he’s ever been sent off directly for one like that, and I dont think anyone has ever suggested he *should* have been sent off. A booking is all that is needed.

  30. A Casual Observer- Henry’s tackle was no doubt a very reckless one. And he should have got a red for it. But at Arsenal, a club where we like to do things the right way, our players too should set an example for others, like we do in every area of the game. I was proud when Wilshere stood up and accepted his mistake. The Fabregas issue was a little complex- he apologised to the player and so did Wenger, but more than an apology, i expected them to come forward and tell the media that it was a bad tackle like it was in Wilshere’s case. Honestly, i didn’t want them to apologise but i want them to accept it was a bad tackle bcoz that would had stopped the media to make it such a big issue. Also it will serve to make all the other players of other teams a bit more responsible for their actions in public. Thats the only way to stop this bad tackling. We cant always point finger at the refs for not making a decision, bcoz regardless they make the right decision or not, there will few broken legs. Thats what we have to avoid in the first place – broken legs. To make it happen, we have to change the thinking of players who are the prime accused in such tackles. We have to make them more accountable for their actions. We have to make them feel guilty.

  31. I think one of the big differences between the Wilshire tackle and so many others like it (such as Henry’s), and the Fabregas tackle is the issue of the standing leg. Fabreges was going for a ball off the ground and caught the opponents kicking leg, NOT his standing leg. It was a bad challenge, studs up, but there was little chance it would be a leg breaker because the opponents leg was not planted.

    To me the tackles that are the really bad ones are the ones like Wilshire’s, and Shawcross, and Henry etc etc. When a player goes studs up through the player and makes contact with the standing leg. Then there is no give, nowhere for the leg to go. That is where bones get broken.

    There will always be bad tackles. Guys will mistime things and at the speed they are moving it will look terrible. What we need to focus on are tackles THROUGH the player, where the tackler impacts the standing, weight-bearing leg. Even then everyone, such as Wilshire, is entitled to getting it wrong every now and again. It is repeat offenders that must be dealt with harshly. How many bloody times have we seen Karl Henry do this? That is the issue. Guys who just dont learn.

    Hopefully Wilshire will learn from his tackle and not put his team (due to a red card) and the health of an opponent at risk again. That is all you can ask. We shouldnt hang players because of one offense. But when players dont seem to learn and continue making such tackles, that is when the authorities, and just as importantly the clubs and players themselves, have to step up and do something about it.

  32. Paul C- thats a good point u made. Repeat offenders should be punished by the FA. but it would be tricky then bcoz Henry wouldn’t be the only person, there will be many other including Wilshere, who i think has a bad tackle in every game. Fabregas too has the habit of bad tackling, but its occasional. But its clearly visible that he goes for a tackle whenever he’s frustrated. But he isn’t frustrated all the time coz arsenal wins most of its matches. Its when we start losing that we see some of the rash challenges coming from our team. Even United n Chelsea have the same problem. Maybe thats why the lesser teams have more bad tackling players coz they are frustrated most of the time. And to stay in the premier league is like a life or death situation for them. Lets face it, they dont earn a lot in the weaker teams, so the position of their club in the league determines what they earn for their livelihood which for players at bigger clubs dont have to worry about too much…

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