By Tony Attwood
As we have shown, the majority (but not all) of referees covering Premier League matches show a home bias. The reason for this, as described in full here and is proven by detailed independent academic research. The cause is quite clearly shown to be the influence of the crowd on the referee and the linesmen, and the officials’ inability or unwillingness to stop themselves being influenced.
As the figures show a small minority of referees are able to avoid this bias, but the rest don’t seem to care.
2018/19 – the last complete season before covid began to interfere with games saw what had become a regular pattern of results continue, with fractionally under 58% of points allocated going to the home clubs, giving the home team a clear advantage.
In 2019/20 the last ten games of the season were played with no crowds present, but this made little difference to the overall percentage of points claimed by home and away teams. I haven’t seen an explanation from elsewhere as to why this happened but I suspect it was because, by the last ten games of the season, patterns of play were set.
However, 2020/21 was played without crowds and through this season home advantage dropped by almost 10%. Instead of 58.02% of the points being obtained by the home teams, this dropped to 48.72%. For the first time in the entire history of the league, the away teams did better than the home teams across the whole season.
2021/22 saw crowds back and the home percentage of points rose to 53.52% – not a complete recovery of home advantage (it was 4.5% lower than 2019/20) but some recovery.
No explanation has been given other than that by the academic research: referees are significantly influenced by the crowd. Take that influence away and the results change.
|Home points||Home %||Away points||Away %|
*Football suspended from 13 March 2020, resumed 17 June with games without crowds.
** Crowds returned for the start of the season
But this last season, with crowds back, the numbers have not bounced back to their old format completely, and the research into the results of individual referees have shown that while the majority have returned to their old ways of favouring the home team, a minority of the referees have learned from this experience and are now being much less biased by the crowd.
Nevertheless, enough referees have returned to their old ways of favouring the home team for most clubs to get more home points than away points as this table for 2021/2 shows…
|Pos||Team||Home Pts||Away Pts||Home bias|
|7||West Ham United||32||24||+8|
Clearly, the top three have different figures from the rest of the teams near the top, and equally clearly in the current climate to get near the top of the league clubs have to be performing well both at home and away. For the clubs that finished from fourth to eighth, in all cases, home form was significantly better than away form.
So we can easily conclude that if we want Arsenal to rise up the league next season the answer has to be a case of improving the away performance. Here is the away table for last season
|5||Brighton and Hove A||19||7||8||4||23||21||2||29|
|8||West Ham United||19||7||3||9||27||25||2||24|
Only Manchester United of the top ten clubs, in their away games conceded more goals than Arsenal away from him. So let’s try and see where we could find an improvement.
In five of Arsenal’s league defeats the opposition scored three goals or more – that’s a good place to start making an improvement in defence.
|28 Aug 2021||Manchester City v Arsenal||L||5-0||Premier League|
|20 Nov 2021||Liverpool v Arsenal||L||4-0||Premier League|
|02 Dec 2021||Manchester United v Arsenal||L||3-2||Premier League|
|04 Apr 2022||Crystal Palace v Arsenal||L||3-0||Premier League|
|12 May 2022||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||3-0||Premier League|
The only problem here is that the club built a completely new defence last season, so it seems unlikely we will build another defence this season. It means those players have to improve.
But there is hope because of the players’ ages (data from TransferMarkt).
- Ben White: 24
- Gabriel: 24
- Rob Holding: 26
- Kieran Tierney: 24
- Nuno Tavares: 22
- Takehiro Tomiyasu: 23
- Cedric Soares: 30
The defensive midfield in front of the players is made up of 28 and 29 year olds so there is no youth problem there. And of course all those players above will now have one more year’s experience of playing for Arsenal, in front of PGMO referees.
- Clubs are showing signs of fighting back at journalists
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.