Untold RefWatch – Manchester United v Arsenal (13/12/2010 20:00)

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RefWatch – Manchester United v Arsenal (13/12/2010 20:00)

By DogFace

  • Referee:              Howard Webb
  • Assistant 1:         Dave Bryan
  • Assistant 2:         Darren Cann
  • 4th Official:        Phil Dowd

Good afternoon stat-fans and welcome to an all new stat-tastic RefWatch.  Today we have the pleasure of Howard Webb (again) and, as we’ve already slagged him off in a previous RefWatch, I’m not going to go into any more detail than his profile, picture and statistics:

Much more than this, I did it my way…

  • Full name:                          Howard Melton Webb
  • Date of birth:                     14 July 1971 (age 39)
  • Place of birth:                   Rotherham (South Yorkshire)
  • EPL Referee Since:          2003/2004
  • EPL Games to date:         190

It seems that the general opinion about Howard Webb (on the web) is that he has a Manchester United bias – this has arisen from a few high profile games in which he has been seen to be active in tilting the pitch in the Red Devil’s favour… the Manchester United Vs Tottenham Hotspur (25/04/2009) match springs immediately to mind where a few extraordinary decisions saw Spurs “throw away” a commanding half time lead – but that was fine as it was Tottenham; in fact it was quite funny – ha ha.  On the whole though, I have never really seen Webb’s refereeing slants as being that obvious… as they say in the gambling dens in downtown Tokyo – “Wah lah, he’s a bit the tricky one that Webby one hor, he like snake in jam-jar lah!”

Ahem, for the uninitiated, here is the key to the graphics:

  • EPL

o        English Premier League

  • Matches

o        The ‘sample group’ or number of matches played in the specified Season under the specified Referee.

  • ARS/MNU Avg. FPB*

o        The Average Fouls Per Booking, be it Arsenal (ARS) or Manchester United (MNU), played in the specified Season under the specified Referee.

  • OPP Avg. FPB*

o        The Average Fouls Per Booking for all Opposition sides played in the specified Season under the specified Referee.

  • Avg. PPG

o        The Average Points Per Game for the specified team, played in the specified Season under the specified Referee.

  • Avg. AH Swing

o        The Average Asian Handicap ‘swing’ played in the specified Season under the specified Referee (this is the deviation, be it positive or negative from the bookmaker assigned betting line or ‘handicap’).

*The FPB figures are based on what the referee defines as a foul during the course of a match – as we know from experience these figures do not reflect exactly what happened on the day but, given a wide enough sample group, we can hope (baring an extreme negative/positive bias that is hard to measure from the data) that they roughly indicate the form for that season.

So without further ado – onto the data:

As you can see from the graph, on average Manchester United have never over performed massively against the handicap and in the 2007/2008 season they showed a slight underperformance.  He does appear to let them get away with more in the challenge than their opposition, until this season, as you can see – this was the North West Derby with an exceedingly poor Liverpool (19/09/2010) in which Manchester Utd. won 3-2.  Manchester United’s current EPL record under Howard Webb stands at 24 matches comprising of 15 wins, 3 draws and 6 losses… many of you will not be surprised that Manchester United come in at 1st in Webby’s personal Points Per Game league table with an overall average of 2 PPG.  More surprising [to you cynical lot] is that the Mancs rock in at 10th place in Webb’s EPL AH Swing league table with a positive overall swing of 0.21 of a goal per match.  So all in all – the Murky Mancs can have no complaints with him being appointed in this [what could be] crucial fixture.

Let’s have a look now at Howard Webb’s seasonal EPL statistics for Arsenal:

Right… up until the 2008/2009 season it’s fair to say that Howard Webb was a total and proper c&^t to us – he consistently penalised us harshly (i.e. not in our favour) in the challenge as the FPB, AH Swing and, ultimately, PPG figures above will testify.  Since then though things seem rather normal in that the FPB figures for us and our opposition under Webb have fallen into line with each other and at a rate that seems agreeable.  Since then we have seen a steady positive climb in both our average swing against the handicap and our PPG per season… even with this I still get that gut feeling that Webb is a twat and we should fear him for this match – don’t ask me why… with any luck the gambling public will feel this too and lump all their hard earned on the mancs backs to weigh them down.  We have played 20 EPL matches under Howard Webb comprising of 8 wins, 8 draws and 4 losses with an overall average of 1.6 PPG – this is not good, obviously, and explains why we languish in 6th place in Howard Webb’s personal EPL PPG league.  Our overall AH Swing position in Howard Webb’s personal EPL handicap performance league aren’t much better – we come in at 16th on that, with an overall negative swing of -0.07.  But as I have said – these are overall numbers and don’t indicate the trends as shown in the graph [above].

Let’s rock on to the 4th official… let’s see – ahh, we have Phil Dowd AGAIN?!  Let’s check out how the Murky Manc’s do with him… can’t be any worse than us can it surely as we all know that all referee’s love Manchester United do they not?!?

Excellent news, Phil Dowd hates Manchester United more than us (or at least that’s what I deduce from the statistics) – he may not hate them of course… he might just be really very ‘unlucky’ for them.  Either way – great!  Just take a look at those AH Swing numbers; they have never had a positive swing under Dowd ever.  The FPB figures are rather jolly too – with this season seeing the opposition FPB smashing through the roof at 27 to the Manc’s 8.  Manchester United have had 14 games (EPL) under Dowd comprising of 7 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses – this gives them an overall average of 1.64        PPG and puts them at 7th place in Dowd’s overall PPG league table.  In Phil Dowd’s personal overall AH Swing EPL league table Manchester United rock in at an incredible 25th place with an average negative swing of -1 goal per game… i.e. with Phil Dowd as the referee for Manchester United games, they are as good as a goal down before kickoff.

Let’s move on now and breeze over Dowd’s familiar figures for Arsenal:

We’ve seen this before so nothing new – we were doing OK with Dowd until this season where we saw a total about turn – after 2 matches we are already seeing a negative swing of -0.88 of a goal; to put this in perspective – this is actually worse than Manchester United’s swing under Dowd for this season of -0.75.  In the 15 EPL games Arsenal have played under Dowd we have won 9, drawn 4 and lost 2 averaging an overall 2.07 PPG – this places us 2nd in Dowd’s overall PPG league table.  We reside in 12th place in Dowd’s overall EPL AH Swing league table with a positive average swing of 0.16 of a goal per game.

Now – this is all rather interesting… and it lead me to do a little bit more investigation into the curious case of Phil Dowd as I noticed that we weren’t the only team in the top half of the table to underperform of late.  To cut a long story short I did a bit of jiggery pokery and pivoted a AH Swing results table on a team/season basis against the select group of referees and came up with an ALL NEW GRAPH!  Calm yourselves… I know it’s an exciting moment, let’s take a deep breath, count to ten and have a look:

This wondrous graph shows actual team performance against the handicap for a given ref – I have only included certain teams here to cut down on the number of wiggly lines but as you can see there is a bit of a trend in that all teams that are posing a competitive threat to Manchester City’s seasonal goals have taken a strange negative turn – whereas, quite remarkably and conversely, Manchester City have soared from their shocking low of -3.75 goals per game and over performed under Phil Dowd to the tune of 1.63 goals per match this season already… and oh my – haven’t Aston Villa fallen out of favour?!  Come to think of it – I and a few like minded chums came to the conclusion that Dowd was “on the draw” big time during the second half of the North London derby… which would make sense – just a shame Tottenham nicked it.

Please feel free to comment and speculate as to what the reasons for this may be… to me this sort of thing is part of the reason why the EPL is the most open and ‘best ever’ title race this season.  It seems to me that there is an informal handicapping system in place that will even up (to a certain extent) the gap in quality across the table – you know, a bit like horse racing where they hang weights on the best ones to randomise the result make it a close finish so the bookies can maximise their profit.  Or is that just me being cynical?

Howard Webb’s EPL pivot chart is really funny too… you wanna look? OK then, to make it fair – I’ll include the same teams as above:

Notice anything remotely out of character in the run up to the World Cup there?  In the 2009/2010 season Howard Webb’s stats are textbook perfect with the teams looking for European football performing as expected – although, this season, it seems that it has all gone back to business as usual for Webby… although, to be fair, the season isn’t over yet.

Makes you think doesn’t it?

Right now – armed with all those facts and figures what exactly can we expect from tonight’s game?  If I were a betting man I would say it was going to be tight… if I were a cynic I would say that the mug money will swing it either way – and if I were a mug I would say that this is going to be ‘a cracker’ for the neutral – lump on!

The Xmas present for the Arsenal fan with everything

42 Replies to “Untold RefWatch – Manchester United v Arsenal (13/12/2010 20:00)”

  1. I just hope ref doesnt do the biased thing like they always do at OT – we need fair decisions as we know no one gets anything at manure traford

  2. My heart sinks whenever I hear that this guy is refereeing us. What’s the chant – World Cup and you something it up? Not happy that we have this guy for tonight’s game.

  3. Having this muppet referee the game is like starting a goal behind its just criminal.
    The bookies must be laughing on the handicap betting.

  4. Arsene Wenger could have reffed this one and we still wouldn’t have won it.

    Very disaapointing! Rosicky as captian!!!??? WTF? A man who hasn’t scored in ages how is he going to lead by example. Jack would have been a better captain. As a statement of intent making Rosicky captain was tantamount to admitting defeat and we played exaclty in his image. Periferal ineffective, no penetration, no power.

    We were lame and I’m bored of losing to Chelsea and Man U!!!

  5. We seemed to lack hunger at times very poor up front. Some strange ref decisions how did Rio not go into the book at least for his jumping action?
    We seriously need RVP and Cesc firing on all cylinders

  6. WE got what we deserved…1-0…..no penetration up front and man utsd werent that good either. the linesman seemed to put his flag up too quick for clichys’ handball…..that was a joke decision. The positives are that the defense looked better and chesney in goal looks the business,,,particularly on crosses.Cant see man utd winning it…so expect chelsea to grind out some victories and start to assert themselves. We are in the hunt though and will be there at the death.

  7. I have this horrible feeling City will win it – do not know why.
    I think we need to do something to really make us believe we can win before we are really in the hunt for a major. The ability is there, just not sure the belief is in the games that really matter…for the moment anyway….

  8. And I still do not get how Rio can jump into Sagnas get studs up, rip his shirt to bits and not even get a yellow.
    Webb should never ref a game at OT again, he is the new Mike Riley

  9. I think if we beat Stoke and Cesc and RVP are fully fit for the Chelsea game we will turn our whole season around by beating them. I might be temted to let Wazzy stay in goals the lad done great.

  10. The mancs were indefatigable… some would say suspiciously so – but if that is their true level of fitness then they deserved it.

    They had the edge on power and pace for the full 90 minutes… Park and Nani were huge all game and thet were everywhere, I’ve never seen a player come back from ‘injury’ like Rio and play such an intense game either – it didn’t make sense, it wasn’t natural.

  11. I thought Park was shite apart from his goal. Rio is a fine athlete as well as a fantastic centre half. He has a serious back problem which will probably see him miss more matches each season, but at full fitness is superb. Lucky not to have been booked, but don’t think there was intent.

    I thought we were unfortunate with the penalty. But we had already got away with chamakh’s handball and was never going to get away with another.

    Double blow for my brother. His girlfriend promiced him a B.J. in any location of his choice on the way home last night if we had won. LOL

  12. bad day at the office .. as usual agains manutd .. jus accept it .. no need to blame the pitch.. we never controlled the game .. hardly made the utd goalie work .. and we cannot play with 2 strikers up front . just hope SOMEONE defeats man utd .. dont want them to have an unbeated season..

  13. @ casual observer

    man u didnt play against blackpool so they had plenty of rest, rio is an athlete to suggest it is steroids is clutching at straws they played at a higher intensity and players with gr8 engines were picked to combat arsenals style that is why berbatov was left out

  14. It makes sense that they had more rest than our players… but I really didn’t think it would make THAT much of a difference – they shut us down all night and chased everything, like energiser bunnies the lot of them!

  15. @A Casual Observer: Those on here that think we were ‘unlucky’ – and I include Wenger in that – really need to learn the game they love and follow. Although they were nowhere near their best, United could and would have won by 3 or 4 were it not for Rooney’s missed penalty and a couple of great saves from our goalkeeper.

    Indeed, I actually thought that it might prove to be our night, once United couldn’t get the second, if only we could wake ourselves up from the slumber. Alas and predictably though, we created the square root of fuck all yet again and Van Dar Saar might as well have been on his Christmas holidays, so little was he called upon.

    Whereas normally I’m shitting myself weeks before we play the likes of Man Utd and Chelsea, nowadays I don’t even get anxious as I know we are unlikely to get the result. Tonight was exactly the same and as soon as the first goal went in, any nerves I may have had building up quickly disappeared because it is clear that this Arsenal team don’t have the character to overcome adversity.

  16. My observations of the game was that overall a poor performance against a poor manure side it has to be said. Song was awful, giving away posession cheaply, constantly caught for pace after wandering too far forward to no effect. Sagna looked terrified and misplaced so many passes/clearances it was embarrassing. Chamakh looks tired and out of ideas. The CH’s both struggled to contain a not-match-fit granny shagger but just about did enough. Nasri looked lost. AA23 was at his most annoyingly inept again. Fabregas and RVP might as well not have come on – they were THAT ineffective. Theo is now fully back in Tony Daly headless chicken mode. Clichy was caught in posession so many times when he could have cleared it – sometimes it is ok to just hoof the fucking thing away!!

    And why didn’t Rosicky play? Oh – he did??!!

    Positives? erm… er… Chezny made a couple of decent saves and looks to be more commanding in the box than the other two clowns. Wilshere looked a bit out of his depth but at least he got stuck into the manure crunts. He’s probably injured now…

    Sickening thing is manure were there for the taking last night and we couldn’t raise our game to do it. Manure will only get stronger as the season progresses (they always do).
    we will probably be top again this weekend… fuck knows how. Just shows how bad this PL season is, I suppose…

  17. Too b honest i have read various comments on other forums and some of the things that are being aimed at wenger is shocking IMO I will never call Wenger a c**t because of everything he’s done for the club and the football I’ve been privileged to watch under him. However he has lost it. He has money to spend and doesn’t spend it, his tactics are poor, he has no Plan B, and he can’t spot the same failings. Clichy, Squillachi and Kos aren’t up to it, Song is IMO but has played like a headless chicken this season, Arshavin is lazy as fuck, Rosicky is rubbish and why Nasri was playing out wide in Cesc’s absence mystifies me. It seems that Wenger cannot motivate his players and I hate to admit it, but Wenger’s time is up

  18. Bollocks to that lego – they won through sheer power, edge and pace in a physical game – the game suited them perfectly.

    I am still well suss as to where all that power and edge came from as, given their current form this season, they seemed to pull it out of nowhere. They got a goal that was fortunate at a time when they were beginning to look frustrated.

    As for our finishing in the final third… well – as I said, they were everywhere and chasing everything so it was hard to commit forward without getting totally exposed so we ended up looking desperate.

    But as I said – if that is their true level of power and fitness then fair play to them – it was impressive and worked, they were machines.

  19. Bolloks to what? The fact that wenger still cant suss out how to master a win over fergie? How may games is it now that we havent won home or away? It is evident that wenger is becoming a fringe manager now and I dont think he would have lasted anywhere else with the usual patheic excuses we are getting to hear from him. Yes it was a lucky goal but where was our so called desire, mental spirit he keeps banging on about? Went for a walk did it? I know the season is not decided by the game last night but it shows we just don’t have what it takes to lift the title.

  20. My analysis of the game was this:

    1. In terms of physical combat (and some of it was), Arsenal matched Utd. Given the discussions about that in recent years, that’s an important maturation point.
    2. In terms of creative threat in the final third, Arsenal were poor. Just one clear-cut chance in 90 minutes and a lot of wayward shots from outside the box. Shows how good Utd are at defending.
    3. Piss-poor penalty decision. For the second time in two days, a wonder marksman takes a diabolical penalty after a piss-poor decision. Perhaps honour is returning to the game in the form of self-regulation?
    4. Szezceny showed he’s well capable of the big occasion – any questions about his temperament can be scratched. Next test for him will be his consistency. As we’ve seen both Almunia and Fabianski struggle there…….
    5. Arsenal still struggle with overall shape against Utd. The number of times Arsenal defender wins a header and it’s picked up in oceans of space by a Utd player is worrying. Something to look at perhaps?

    So the strange conclusion I drew from this match is this: Arsenal are showing they have the capacity to compete like champions, but the biggest question mark is their creativity against the highest quality opposition. The defence wasn’t terrible, but the five in midfield weren’t collectively tracking back sufficiently quickly to prevent Utd creating 5 clear chances on the break.

  21. It is time for a managerial change, but I am not influenced by last nights result or performance. We are the 3rd or 4th best team in the league but that does not mean we can not finish higher. If Wenger is not as astute as he once was then lets hope he becomes a luckier manager than at present.

  22. lego – I reckon we should jack our team up on PES and bung a few refs… that way we would have ‘what it takes’ to become champions!


    Let’s have a whip round for some amphetamines and spike the lads water bottles and stuff a brown envelope full of cash, find out where the ref lives and ram it through his door.


    Look – we lost, not a disaster… and I agree with Rhys on this as he is dropping one of his rare pearls of wisdom here – observe!

    And I’m still waiting for Bexxy to give us a list of managerial candidates to replace Wenger and win him some bragging rights.

  23. @casual observer – seems when the truth is stated you go acting a bit like our players really. If only we could sign a leader in this team – there is no one there to rally the troops – no senior as such. Im not saying its a disaster but you will see when they come to the emirates our form is absolutely pathetic at home where we cannot hold on to a lead to save our lives. Need to get rid of these B rate french defenders i think. Bring in some steel.
    Mangerail choices in order of prefrences:
    1 Gus Hiddink
    2 Jose Mourinho
    3 Van Gaal
    4 Rijkard

    Need i go on?

  24. Interesting reports this morning that, apparently, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Fabianski. I’m a little bit cynical about this as (unfortunately) it’s just not like Wenger to drop a player unless he’s injured or absolutely useless, which Fab certainly isn’t, but going on last night, Chesney could already be the world-class stopper we’ve been crying out for – and he’s got another decade before he even gets close to hitting his peak! I feel sorry for Fab because he’s waited a long time for his chance and – bar a couple of big errors – he’s been fairly solid for us, but this is no time for sentiment and we should always, always have our best and/or most in-form players on the pitch. On that note, I don’t know what’s wrong with Cesc – whether he’s just being moody or is still carrying an injury – but Wenger needs to be firm and relegate both him and Arshavin to bench-warmers until they start performing. I can’t remember the last time we had so many fit and available players, so use them Wenger! No player should be getting an automatic place in the side, simply because of who they are.

  25. LOL @ :

    1 Gus Hiddink
    2 Jose Mourinho
    3 Van Gaal
    4 Rijkard

    I would take Wenger over all of them – but ok, let’s go for Mourinho… shall we sign up Messi and Xavi while we are at it?

  26. Tevez too!

    Let’s make a list… check it twice and then march on the Emirates and not leave until our demands are met?

    Thanks man – you actually cheered me up this morning!

  27. If wenger was sacked like he should have been at the end of last season then we could have gone in for moaninho – but we all know the board will not have the guts to spend money on managers who challenge for the title. They will settle for chams league qualification and make up the number in the top 4 and it seems wenger too is happy with that.

  28. Gus Hiddink is a manager who would have come to us no doubt about it. If he wasnt being paid billions by the russian oligarch

  29. Last night’s result needs to be kept in perspective. You can go to Old Trafford with a good side and still get beat, so I’m not too annoyed with the result.
    What is annoying is we didn’t create a single chance worthy of note in the whole game. Once again Wenger has been outfoxed by Fergies tactics, not that they came as a surprise, Fergie plays the same way against Wenger everytime, and Wenger is powerless in his ineptitude to do anything to counter it.
    I suppose when you consider that we have now played Utd, Citeh, Chavs and Pool away, it could be said that we are in a decent position going into Christmas. If we beat Stoke we could well find ourselves top at Christmas.
    The proof however of our frailties will once again be exposed when the Chavs and Utd come calling to collect their 3 points from the Grove, this added to the inevitable “unforeseen” defeats which will also come in the new year.
    We will however probably have enough about us and those around us not enough about them, to ensure we finish in the top 4. Thus the cash flow from the clge, ensuring that the board are satisfied with Wenger’s management. And who knows he may even sweep them off their feet with a Carling Cup win.
    This will lead to promises of greater things to come in 2011/12, and many will believe again that “the glory days” are just around the corner.
    But not this Gooner, I’ve stopped believing in Wenger, like Santa Claus, both have stopped delivering what I’ve been wishing for a long time ago.

  30. I really hope Wenger can prove me wrong. I would love the Wenger of old back. Did he become too complacent? Have events in his personal life become a distraction? I hope so, because these events can be turned around.

    Is he bored at Arsenal? Need a change in direction? Are players fed up with the same voice? Do the players need a fresh approach?

    Be careful of what you wish for, I know. For me – IN ARSENE WE RUST

  31. Lego your on about Wenger cant beat fergusson Quote “Bolloks to what? The fact that wenger still cant suss out how to master a win over fergie? ”
    How frikken long are you supporting Arsenal 5 mins ? Do you know the stats for the 2 managers head to head ? Its a lot smaller gap than you might imagine.

    Now you could accuse of me of living in the past as easily as I could accuse you of living in the past 5 mins.

    Tell me this when is the last time Arsenal played Chelsea or Manutd that we have had our full team fit and available It must be years ago.

    Neither team performed last night like they were league champions anyone thinking Utd were superb apart from at the back are lunatics.

    If Cesc and RVP get more game time and we arrive at the Chelsea match with both fully fit, I cant see why we wont beat them.

    I dont think much has changed apart from the fact that AWs team is starting this season to look the part for the first time you can see that through the strength of the carling cup squad.

    They could steal the league this season if we have the injuries at the right times instead of always against those 2 clubs or when we play barca in europe.

    Im not saying we are world beaters Arshavin isnt doing enough defensively to cover clychy and other aspects of our game can improve. But all this knee jerk reactions to loosing to an fortuos Utd goal despite how we played because they werent much better considering they were at home is just crap.

  32. Another thing Lego your on about putting last nights game into prespective.
    Thomas Vermalen arguably our best defender missing
    Goal keeper ? Argubably before last nights game our first choice missing.
    Midfield Cesc arguably our first choice missing and unfit when he came on
    RVP again possibly when fit and not injured our best attacker missing

    OUR WHOLE centre spine missing

    Take out Rooney up front
    Take out Nani in midfield
    Take out rio or vidic in defence
    and take out Vandersart

    Would you still be talking bollox after we won one nil at home to a depleted Man Utd team from a lucky header deflected on ?

    Sorry but people talking crap annoy me.

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