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Arsenal v Chelsea: will we see the return of home bias on the part of referees?

By Bulldog Drummond

According to the BBC, Romelu Lukaku is set to make his second debut for Chelsea, and yes I can see what they mean, in that he played a few times for Chelsea from 2011 to 2014.  But I don’t think you can have a second debut with the same club.  A debut is “a person’s first appearance or performance in a particular capacity or role” – not the first in a run, after a previous run.

But the BBC are saying we could saw Auba playing.  Christian Pulisic has been ruled out by the Uefa strain of Covid.

Although most newspapers, blogs and other outlets focus on Arsenal losing their first two matches in a season and when that happened last, the fact is it has only happened twice in the history of the Premier League and the last time it happened (in 2018) it was followed by 11 straight victories in the league, league cup and Europa.  Somehow however that bit of detail doesn’t quite get mentioned very much.

It was in fact part of a 22 match run – a run which saw Arsenal in 5th, equal on points with Chelsea in fourth.  Not bad after two opening defeats.

What is undeniable is that our nine home defeats last season in all competitions was the most for Arsenal at home since 1929-30 when we also lost nine at home.  So let’s consider that season.

It was Herbert Chapman’s fifth season with Arsenal and he still hadn’t won the league.  In fact Arsenal ended up 14th that season, Chapman’s worst season.   The previous season he had offered his resignation, and the board had told him to get on with his job and stop whinging.   Today of course he would have been out after two or three seasons – and we would never have had the 1930s with five league titles and two FA Cups.

In fact Chapman did win Arsenal the cup in 1930 – their first major trophy – and we know what happened next.  But it does show the value of holding onto someone rather than kicking him out because the media pundits and AFTV demand that he should go.

And I do think the BBC is getting rather desperate in its search for negativity concerning Arsenal.  The latest attempt – “Arsenal’s defeat at Brentford means they have already equalled their total number of Premier League London derby defeats from 2020-21” really is getting a bit silly.  Does anyone count the number of defeats against other London teams each season?

However on a brighter note, people are starting to realise the value of Pepe.  At the end of last season Football Observatory showed through their statistics just how brilliant he is.  In fact quite a few of our players are picking up decent ratings.

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We kept promoting the fact that Xhaka should ould stay because he was incredibly highly rated by CIES Football Observatory, whose credentials for this sort of analysis are unimpeachable.

For the last month of last season their ranking included these players

  • 1. Nicolas Pépé: 94.8% 
  • 2. Granit Xhaka: 93.7% 
  • 7. Martin Ödegaard: 92.3%
  • 10.  Mohamed Elneny: 91.0% 
  • 13. Joe Willock 90.0% (Newcastle United FC)
  • 13. Gabriel Martinelli  90.0% 
  • 13. Bernd Leno.  90.0% 
  • 18.  Gabriel Magalhães  89.2%
  • 31. Calum Chambers  87.6%
  • 32. Rob Holding 87.5% 
  • 32.  Emile Smith-Rowe 87.5%
  • 35. Thomas Partey  87.4% 

Back to the game – Chelsea don’t normally keep a clean sheet twice in the opening two games – they haven’t done that for ten years, so that should give us some hope too.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
6 Chelsea Away 19 10 4 5 27 18 9 34
9 Arsenal Home 19 8 4 7 24 21 3 28

Yes Chelsea were better away last season than Arsenal were at home, but these two sets of data cannot be readily compared, since home and away last season was not the normal home and away.

This can be readily seen from the table below…

Season Home percentage of points Away percentage of points
2018/19 57% 43%
2019/20 58% 42%
2020/21 44% 56%

Away points shot up last year because referees were not influenced by the home crowds as they had been in the past as there were no crowds.  If you would like to read more about this the following articles give a good starting point

Today’s Arsenal team comes next

5 comments to Arsenal v Chelsea: will we see the return of home bias on the part of referees?

  • John L

    There is good evidence of general referee home bias. However I believe that Arsenal were the exception and did not benefit from it. Dean, Taylor, Atkinson, et Al have all screwed us at the Emirates

  • Mikey

    Crystal Palace (at home) managed fewer than a third of the shots against Brentford than Arsenal did (without our three first choice strikers) whilst allowing Brentford twice as many shots as we did. The BBC’s assessment of Palace, “On this evidence, effort and commitment are not in doubt.” Funny how the word they chose to describe us was “woeful”……………….good to see they haven’t lost their unerring ability for biased reporting.

  • “liew” yesterday, “wilson” today; the guardian spills out another set of robotic arsenal-slandering, poorly written, clichés under that name
    you have to wonder what those dimwits would become without us
    quite a fair number of lads will be unavailable tonight:
    laca, gabmag, eddie, partey are out
    auba wasn’t exactly shining in pre-season, now he hasn’t trained in a while, so he might start on the bench; ainsley is said not to want to go anywhere near the RB position and won’t be picked in midfield, our viking signing can’t play for us tonight (i think), etc. etc.
    so that i really hope MA will pick a back-3, and bring together ineup which might look like:
    leno
    holding-white-tierney
    chambers-lokonga-xhaka-tavares
    saka-balogun-smithrowe
    i like tavares a lot, kieran has always been brilliant in that left CB position and – even though i know this is regarded as anathema among many arsenal fans, so i’ll just whisper it – balogun CF brings more to the team than our energetic olympic champ might
    i, for one, have faith in such a young side, which could both annihilate chelsea’s strenghts and harm them on the break
    COYG

  • rumour has it white has tested positive for covid … come on ainsley, pull yourself together!!
    leno
    chambers-holding-tierney
    mniles-lokonga-xhaka-tavares
    saka-balogun(auba)-srowe
    ???
    i know pépé’s numbers are good, and his flashes of brilliance are very impressive, but for such a game (we’d better be ready to play by graham’s textbook), in him and mari i don’t completely trust …

  • Zedsaunt

    Should Pepe and Mari not play to what is required, Mr Arteta has learnt that. After getting
    Saka and Smith-Rowe to sign to the club he is no longer in thrall to the gaslighting graveyard shift, nor to the whimsy of players. His job is to gell a team together, learn on the job, and show the potential Mr Wenger and Pep Guardiola saw in him.

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