The Untold ref review: Aston Villa – Arsenal

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By Walter Broeckx, the untold ref

So for our visit to Birmingham and to Aston Villa we had ref Clattenburg and he leads the ref table so far with his performance when we played at Manchester City. Could he have the same almost faultless game? Let us just find out.

PENALTY: A first chance in the first 20 seconds and Friedel comes out blocks the ball from Nasri and takes Dunn down. The ball then hits the hand of the falling Dunn who almost pushes it in his own goal. No one really saw it and if the ref would have seen it, it wasn’t a penalty.  I don’t know if the ref saw it but the final result was correct as it certainly wasn’t a penalty. 1/1

CARD: A tackle from behind on Squilacci who is shielding the ball to let it run out. The Villa player had no chance of playing the ball. He clamped his foot and my first fear and thoughts were with the tackle on Eboue. Lucky no injury this time but I think this should have been a booking. It was from behind and he had to go through the man to maybe touch the ball. 0/1

OTHER: A chance for Villa but the replay and the picture clearly shows that Young was offside but the linesman didn’t flag. Just imagine if that would have gone in. What a miss from the linesman! Must take a point away from the ref for this. Sorry ref but it is teamwork and you pay for your assistant here. 0/1

PENALTY: Handball from Wilshere? What a tough decision to make in an instant. The ref lets it go but if he would have given a penalty I don’t think we could have complained. When you want to block a cross or shot you must keep your hands close to your body and head and not raise your hands.  The problem is that it all  depends on how the ref is looking at it.  But I do think we are a bit lucky on this.   0/1

GOAL: Great goal from a lively Arshavin and nothing against the rules. 1/1

GOAL: Another great goal from Nasri this time and nothing against the rules. 1/1

And we are in for a half time biscuit.

GOAL: Clark shoots from just on the edge of the penalty area. But Carew is standing in an offside position and should the goal have been disallowed? Let us first look at a picture.

And then  let us  start with the rulebook.

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

• interfering with play or

interfering with an opponent or

• gaining an advantage by being in that position

And then the rulebook goes further in trying to explain what they mean by:

“interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent”

So let us also just take a look at an image from the rule book

and compare this to the picture above and see if it looks familiar?  Well  it does look familiar to me. In fact you could call it a copy book example of the rule book.  So the goal should have been disallowed. 0/1 on the ref his score sheet but I will come back later on this if you allow me.

CARD: The goal scorer gets booked for a foul on Sagna and correct decision from the ref to give him a yellow card. 1/1

GOAL: Fine goal from Chamakh and nothing against the rules.1/1

GOAL: Villa score their first/second goal and nothing wrong this time. 1/1

CARD: Chamakh gets booked it was a cynical trip with no chance of playing the ball so I can agree with the ref on this. 1/1

GOAL: Great first PL goal for Wilshere to wrap it up and completely within the rules. 1/1

The game comes to an end and let us see what we got on the score board for the ref in total:

CARDS: 2/3


GOAL:  5/6

OTHER: 0/1

Total score: 8/12 (67%)

So in all I think ref Clattenburg had a good game. And he loses some points because of his linesman in this. He kept the game good in control for most of the game and found the right balance so that the play was kept fluent but didn’t get out of hand or out of control.

And now a bit of further explanation about the goal. In an ideal world the linesman should have raised his flag. And then it was up to the ref to decide if Carew was interfering with an opponent.  Now I know, and we all know he did, but I must tell you that when standing on the pitch this isn’t that easy to see always.  Also the linesman can see the player standing in an offside position but from his position he cannot see if the player is blocking the vision of the keeper.  So I would have liked to have seen an conversation between the ref and his assistant before taking a final decision.

And I am rather sure that it would have got as a result that the goal would have been given as they didn’t have the replays and the pictures we have.  So I did deduct a point from the ref for giving this goal but I will not blame him for giving the goal, if you can understand the difference between those two things.  But maybe this is a case in which some technological assistance could be brought in the game and where a manager can challenge a decision.  And as explained before : it should have been disallowed.

As this is the second game from Clattenburg I can tell you that he has an average of 80%  and this is not bad I must say.

Highest score so far Clattenburg 93% and lowest Dean 30 %.

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42 Replies to “The Untold ref review: Aston Villa – Arsenal”

  1. Good analysis especially on the Villa’s first goal. I think you are harsh on Clattenberg for Young’s attempt as I reckon that the lino will have buzzed and the ref will have said in his mike ‘goalkick’. Thus excellent communication from the officials and there are potentially more advantages to starting from a goal kick than an indirect free kick. I also think in your scoring that you should give Clattenberg some markes for his overall control. He is a class act now and far beetr than Dean, Atkinson and the worst two – Webb and Atwell

  2. Thanks for expertize Walter. It is interesting about Villas first goal, even TV guys knew that rule and more than once showed it clearly zooming on position of Carew and Fabianski. But as our dear Mark suffers from A(rsenal)mnesia I am not surprised.

    Interesting point on the end you gave about linesman’s, I know it is hard to do it, but maybe you should give “overall” score, which will include linesman’s too. As in this game they culd cost us dearly without Clattenburg to take part in it.

  3. Big Raddy Fan,
    I do agree that maybe they communicated on the Young chance and that is something we cannot know. Maybe if refs and linesman read this from the EPL they could think about it and maybe if the linesman would have raised his flag to signal the offside it would have been clear that he had seen it. And so they wouldn’t lose points in the ref review. 😉

    I don’t like to give a mark myself just based on my feeling as this could be to biased. The decisions I give my points on are what they are and they are more or less objective.

    But I do felt that I gave my overall appreciation (in words) and also the fact that I mentioned that he had 80% in two games and that this is a high score in my opinion tells you how I rate him so far this season. I think he has a big potential if he can continue like this

  4. Great analysis once again Walter. But I have one question for you, if a player is down/injured in the penalty box, does the game have to be stopped ? Carew was even worse he was down for like 30 seconds in our 6 yard area.

  5. Hi Renan

    Do not need to stop unless it is goalkeeper, head injury, serious injury or commonsense dictates that it will be wise to stop.

  6. As pleased as I am about the victory,which keeps us at least in the top 3, something is drastically wrong to concede 7 goals in the last three games. I would argue that we miss Vermaelen more than anyone.A true leader, we dont have anyone else and that includes Cesc. No doubt,like last week the game should have been done and dusted by half time,and if we feel we need a 3 goal cushion every time we play, something is wrong. My three stand out players wee Arshavin,Nasri and Chamakh. Regardless that Nasris shot got a slight deflection, he did what i have been screaming out for all season, shoot on sight. Chamakh is growing in stature and adds another dimension,but to be the perfect striker as opposed to a foil he needs to improve his shot. Rosicky had a pretty good game but he is another who when we bought him had an awesome shot.This sadly is lacking,but his eye of an needle pass for our third was Cesclike.. The problem is the defence.Squi and Kos are still learning which shouldnt be the case with a team challenging for the title and Djourou was beginning to show vast improvement and then was strangely dropped or he is being eased back slowly. Wilshere is an immense talent,but my worry is that with Cesc out for a while he may be playing too much to early, but he adds a steel to our midfield,which has been sadly missing. Yesterday showed we are not entirely reliant on Cesc,which is good and all in all Fab had a reasonable game. It will be interesting who gets the keeper jersey against Wigan. Do we really have strength in depth or an abundant of players in certain positions but we are stretched in other parts of the field. I believe a central defender will still be bought in January

  7. I think football would be better off if it reverts to the old offside rule. The current rule of active play often leads to confusion on the interpretation by the referee/linesman.

  8. The Carew “interference” was so blatant that I am amazed the ref didn’t spot it. Couldn’t he see Fabianski peering around the guy in order to see the kicker? Imagine the last 2 or 3 games in a season with relegation and promotion battles going on and such an appalling mistake.

  9. Good article as ever Walter, Do you know yet who is the referee for the wigan match Tuesday ?
    Lets hope its one of our more favourable ones.

  10. I don’t think rule need revision, just referees should be more concerned about what books say and less how to draw attention of camera “look mom I am on TV”. Especially in cases like this, this situation is not confusing at all, you can clearly see, and if I could, Clattenburg could too, how Fabianski peaking behind Carews back trying to figure where ball is.

  11. Judging by the referee analyses on this site, it seems that the number of dodgy goals we concede is far outweighed by the ones we score.
    Would it be possible for someone to go through all the games analysed and/or keep a tally in future?

  12. In the first half Arshavin was fouled just inside the Villa box,
    The Sky pundits said we would have gained a free kick had it been anywhere else on the pitch, but as it would have had to have been a (soft) penalty Clattenburg didn’t give it.

  13. Please note on picture Walter posted here, he have clear site (Clattenburg) and he see absolutely freely how Fabianski peaking behind Carews back. There is no excuse, he didn’t need linesman there.

  14. Nice review. Glad with the 3 points. I said the same thing (about arshavin’s ‘foul-at-any-other-part) it was a FOUL so a penalty. Enh?

  15. Nice review. Their 1st goal was illegal, well explained. I want to add that the Arshavin-foul-at-any-other-part of the field is a FOUL and so a penalty enh?

  16. I thought I posted before.
    It would be interesting to see tallies of the number of mistakes made by referees for goals for and against arsenal. I havent been able to watch as many arsenal games as I used to, but I’ve always thought that we let in a lot of dodgy goals compared to the teams we face. It would be interesting to see a comparison made over the next few months. I bet we let in twice as many goals as we score that should have been disallowed.
    THis was one of the major contributing factors to us not winning the title in 2008. After eduardo got injured we didnt play well, but it still took a huge number of poor decisions on goals to keep us on that long winnless streak that eventually lost us the title. The middlesborough game I seem to remember us having a goal (adebayor?) disallowed while they scored a goal when aliadiere (?) was offside.

  17. To be honest, I do not begrudge Clattenburg for letting the goal stand. If he had crossed it out, it would have been highly unfair to Villa after the penalty that they did not get. It kinda “evens” itself out, in my opinion.
    All in all, I am happy with Clattenburg.

  18. Also, what about the penalty call for the foul on arshavin? I know he went down easily/theatrically but the defender did run into him and prevent him from running without touching the ball. And arsh would have been in control of it. It was definitely a foul imo, but whether it was inside the box is another thing.

  19. I will deduct one point from myself as I had forgotten the Arshavin penalyt incident as I was so focussed on the offside.

    Without having seen it again my view: it was a foul and yes anywhere on the field it would have been given. And it doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t matter, where the foul is made. A foul is a foul and when it is a foul you must give it and it doesn’t matter if it is the penalty box or not. Well it does matter for the restart of course: with a penalty or with a free kick.

    So yes we should have had a penalty.

    Blimey, I really cannot understand how I forgot to take this in my review… 🙁

  20. Davi, yes you are right. After the Eduardo injury we got all kinds of wrong decision that where so terrible that I knew that they would take the title away from us. A disallowed goal from Adebayor for an offside when it was a defender that played the ball to him comes to my mind and other horrible decisions that went against us and MU that had all kind of decisions going their way. It still makes my blood boil. That was a bit too much coincidence in those days.

    But I will come up with the goals against that were dodgy and our goals that were dodgy (there was one so far, but it was in the CL as far as I remember).

    But I will do this after 19 games after the first round and then at the end of the season.

  21. You also missed the clarke kick to Kozzers head in the second half which should have been a second yellow

  22. Great article Walter, but what disturbed me more than anything about the first Villa goal was the complete lack of appeal from any Arsenal player about Carew’s positioning

  23. @ Wonderman I am glad that we never protested because that showed that we were focussed on our game. Had we got all hot & bothered about the incident (and I doubted it would have resulted in the ref disallowing the goal anyway) we may have become ragged – as we did against the Spuds…and as that was still clearly in our collective memories it might have become a self-fulfilling nightmare. These things happen,,,

  24. May I also just point out that when you see where the ball flew past Fabianski almost in the middle of the goal it was obvious that if he had seen the shot coming he would have stopped it comfortably. It even wouldn’t have made the highlights show in Motd.

    Did any of the match commentators said something about it? In my country he didn’t but this is not a surprise to me as he was already to busy dreaming of a last week scenario…

  25. To all the people shouting about the Villa first goal please remember that the ref had one and one view only and he was in no position to see if Carew was offside. His assistant is there to judge that, but they are under pressure not to flag and any doubt goes to the forwrad. Some might remeber the Sc*m’s goal at Fulham where Gallas was right in front of the keeper. The assistant flagged but SuperMike Dean awarded a goal. Dean’s decision has since be supported by the ref’s supremo Mr Mike Riley. Now we might all have our doubt about Old Mother Riley and his ability, but he is the leader of the premier clan at the moment and he sets the standard.
    The other point I would make is that Clattenberg has been class in out two games this year. Can we say that about any of his premier colleagues and if Atkinson is in the middle tomorrow remember he has sent of Arsenal players on the last 3 occasions he has refereed us. Two of these were highly questionable though both supported on appeal. Personally I would have Clattenberg every week and thus avoid the Likes of Webb, Atwell and the ref at Everton (Mason??) last saturday. If anyone saw the Artetta red card, they must be wondering what the referee was doing.

  26. Like I said in my article: So I did deduct a point from the ref for giving this goal but I will not blame him for giving the goal.

    As a ref I will not say that I would have cancelled the goal. Because this is almost an impossible job when you don’t have replays and then you still need the right angle (camera behind the goal where the picture came from) to see it.

    But is a goal that should have been disallowed when you read the rule book and when you see the instructions. But like big raddy fan said: it is Riley who is giving the calls in the EPL.

  27. @ Big Raddy Fan
    If you check again picture posted here you can see where is Clattenburg and you can also see our two last players some about 5-6 yards from Carew, and you can also see his line of sight is not covered. He had unquestionable ability to judge both, was Carew in offside (he could clearly see it from where he stand), and how much he is interfering with Fabianski behind his back (and again even on picture up you see he clearly see it).

    @ Walter
    In any other case I would agree with you it is hard to see it, but once more look at picture he had whole situation in front of his eyes. There is no chance he didn’t sow and understand what happened there.

  28. Sorry guys. In order to judge whether a player is in an offside position, you need to be square on and only the lino can really adopt such a position. We can speculate on what Clattenberg might or might not have seen, but he is not in a position to judge.

  29. Hard to argue with this. Some bad decisions come at worse times than others and Clattenberg allowing the first Villa goal worries me. Yes, in the overall context of the game it didn’t matter in the end but on another day that decision could be absolutely crucial. Sky should be making a real meal of it to try and emphasise tto refs that these goals should not be allowed but I have seen very little made of it. Spurs and Everton have both benefitted from similar refereeing mistakes this season and I guarantee we will suffer again and it might cost points next time.

  30. I’m glad we don’t have to agree on everything, Armin. 😉

    As a ref those are decisions almost impossible to make in a second. As a ref you have to look at so many things in fractions of a second. From the moment the ball was headed out the ref has to see if there was nothing wrong with that (no) then he has to check if the Villa player does not make a foul (no) and then the shot goes and you see if the players that are closing down don’t make a mistake (no) and then you see the ball going in and you must see if that player standing there touches the ball or not (no) and then a look at the linesman does he react (no) and then you give the goal.

    Typing this takes some time but the above is all happening in a split second and you have to judge every phase in your head as a ref. And you only have one pair of eyes.

    So I will stick to my point: the ref should have disallowed the goal but as a ref I cannot blame him for not doing it. I think this is someting I mean when I suggest that the posibility of challenging a goal would be a good thing as this was as clear as it can get when you look at the rulebook.

    But imagine if it would have been Dowd who had to decide when looking at the images…….Now that is an interesting thought….

  31. If Dowd had been the ref we would not be having this debate because his level of fitness is way below that of Clattenberg’s and Dowd would not have been in such a prime viewing position!

  32. Hi Walter, I have just watched the game again.

    The Wilshere handball incident seemed to go like this. Wilshere raises his arm to 90°. The cross comes in. Wilshere half turns his back to the ball and is struck on the back – probably on the shoulder, but perhaps at the very top of the arm. Where is the dividing line for handball?

    You don’t mention the Clark raised boot which kicked Koscielny in the face. Surely this is a yellow card? It would have been Clark’s second!

    On Sky, the showed a replay of the Arshavin incident and clearly showed the forearm smash to the throat. This didn’t stop the commentators saying that AA should have got a card for diving!

    Off topic, I thought that Song was magnificent in this match. Not just his defensive duties, but his first time passing was incisive and threatening. Remember his left foot first time ball to Cesc against Spurs? There was plenty more of that in this game.

  33. I think I should pay a bit more attention when reviewing the games. As I have missed a few things. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
    This ref had a bad day at the office I think. 🙁

  34. @walter 4:17 pm
    If you’re watching for enjoyment that’s a completely different activity than watching to evaluate a ref. Sounds to me like you’re trying to do both, and possibly ruining your enjoyment of the game for the benefit of us blog readers.

  35. The Commentators generally are very shy of being pro Arsenal even when they have no alternative. The referees and officials in general are poorly trained and have very little regard for the game. Thier position in society is paramount and their love is not for football.

    FOOTBALL must be the winner in every match. The officials must learn the Laws and understand that every player on the field has a responsibility to the game. The use of the hands in holding and pulling an opponent is a foul and should be considered immediately – it never is,

    The kicking of the opponent in the heels from behind is common too and never pulled up by referees. The slightest use of a hand to push is classed as grevious yet a kick is nothing.

  36. I normally have two looks at least, youmustbejoking.
    One live and then I am writing my match report for the Beneluxreaders and then the second time for the ref. But it seems I have missed some things in this game. It sometimes happens when writing and then the images continue and I miss things. Better stop the images next time when writing things down

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