By Bulldog Drummond
And so the negativity in the media rambles on. 90mins opens its preview of the match with “A club never too far away from a crisis, Arsenal welcome Southampton…” but when we look at the situation in reality terms rather than journalistic hobgoblin terms, we find that Arsenal currently have four players with injuries or suspected injuries. Southampton are on a different planet.
Sead Kolasinac is in rehab and expected to be ready to play toward the end of January.
Bernd Leno has a groin injury but is expected to return, if not for this game, for the next game.
Emile Smith Rowe has something of a mystery injury, but there is an expectation that he should be ok for this weekend’s game against Southampton, although that might restrict him to the bench.
Gabrielle Martinelli however picked up what seems to be a hamstring injury so that might keep him out for some time.
Southampton however have greater injury problems with Fraser Foster, Stuart Armstrong and Alex McCarthy all expected to be out until next year. Jan Bednarek and Che Adams look possible, the former looking a certainty to return.
Southampton also have Oriol Romeu and Mo Salisu out having picked up five yellow cards each. That is interesting since no one from Arsenal has more than three all season, which shows that as a way of counteracting the activities of PGMO, the no tackle programme is working well.
Only one player has reached six cards (Emanuel Dennis from Watford) but 13 are on five. Southampton is one of two clubs with two players on the five card mark. The other such club is Newcastle United.
Back with the injuries, according to EPL Injury Table Leicester City have an incredible ten players out, which looks like carelessness to me. Brighton and Hove along with Tottenham Hots both have nine players injured. So all things considered the new approach is really working on two fronts: fewer injuries and fewer yellow cards.
But will the game be fairly refereed? The men in control are Jarred Gillett (referee) with Michael Oliver doing VAR.
On 25 September 2021, Gillett became the first non-British or Irish referee to referee a Premier League game, taking charge of a 1–1 draw between Watford and Newcastle United. He is 35 and comes from Queensland, Australia.
As such we have no data on him for past Arsenal or even past Premier League games. Michael Oliver however needs no introduction at all as he has refereed our games at Brentford, at home to Norwich, away to Leicester and away to Liverpool, which is an insanely large number of Arsenal matches for one man.
I am not alleging there is anything wrong with Mr Oliver’s refereeing, but as a way of protecting clubs against a rogue referee, we really should have a limit on two matches per club per season. Oliver and the other mass production referee Anthony Taylor have refereed 12 matches each this season. Oliver has awarded 36 yellow cards and Taylor 51 yellows. Between them the average is three to four cards a game.
Amazingly both are on exactly the same number of fouls per game – 21.42 but Taylor gives almost twice as many yellow cards. How can that be right when measured across 12 games?
But back to the referee for this match: Jarred Gillett. I’ve managed to get some data on his refereeing performances so we can see how, if at all, he is being mutated by joining PGMO this season.
Prior to this Mr Gillett was in the Select Group 2 of referees for 2019/20 and was also undertaking post-doctoral research at Liverpool John Moores University. Now believe me, universities don’t hand out such positions for the fun of it, and for a start, you need a PhD. So he’s a bright guy.
His first game was in April 2019 for a League Two match at Morecambe and then was quickly given a Championship gave at Blackburn. At the start of the 2019/20 season, he refereed the League Cup match between Colchester United and Tottenham Hots. This was a goalless draw which then, very amusingly, Colchester won on penalties. Reports make little mention of the referee.
The next step up was the championship playoff semi-final between Brentford and Bournemouth which is where the controversial part of his career took off when he penalised Bournemouth centre-back Kelly for handball and then a player from each side as everyone got rather agitated. After that Mepham of Bournemouth was sent off, which is by and large why Brentford are in the Premier League and not Bournemouth.
Here are his details – the games as noted above are across different leagues. I don’t have figures for the fouls.
|Season||Games||Yellow cards||Yellow per game||Red cards|
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