Arsenal v Manchester United: the teams and the clear and present danger of this referee



By Bulldog Drummond

In the previous articles:

The Manchester Evening News has given us a team of


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Partey, Odegaard, Xhaka;

Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli.

And they predict through their pre-match article a 1-1 draw, with Manchester United scoring first and Eddie equalising.

The Evening Standard goes with exactly the same line up and it is so obvious that we haven’t bothered to go much beyond that.  But instead, we have turned to what the referee might do.

The referee is Anthony Taylor.  His statistics show that across his 14 games this season he is 18th out of 20 referees in terms of giving fouls – in short most others give many more fouls than he does

He is 19th out of 20 in terms of fouls per tackle, so the clubs can tackle away and not get fouls given against them – that will help Manchester United who tackle more than Arsenal. 

Thus for once Arsenal’s policy, settled upon a couple of seasons back, in which players do everything they can to avoid tackling, in order to avoid the random or biased reaction of referees, is not going to help.

Taylor is 19th in the order of referees for giving fouls for tackles, and Manchester United commit more tackles than Arsenal in every game.  So through the appointment of this referee is very much a nod to Manchester United, which says, carry on with your natural game of tackling as much as you like.  It won’t harm you, no one will be penalised.  (Taylor is mid-table for yellow cards at 3.71 per game).

But there is more, for the real danger comes from the fact that Taylor rarely gives home wins despite the fact that across the Premier League the home win is the most common type of result. 

In fact only 28.6% of Taylor’s matches finish as a home win. The average across the league is almost double this at 47%.

This shows the absolute nonsense of the current system of having a tiny number of referees who each oversee game after game involving the same clubs.   If every referee just saw each team at home once and each team away once, then this overt and clear statistial bias by a referee would not be stopped, but its effect would be nullified.

As it is, a team like Tottenham will have been thrilled to hear that Taylor is on the game today.  Arsenal know they will have to score an extra goal just to get equal; they are starting 0-1 down.

And to be quite clear I am not saying Taylor is biased or bent.  I am just saying that against the normal trend, he doesn’t oversee many home wins.   Indeed, a staggering 42.9% of Taylor’s games finish as away wins (the average is 31%) and 28.6% end as draws.  The average for draws across the league is 22%.

So Arsenal are going to have to win very convincingly for Taylor to give this as a home win, and we can expect disallowed Arsenal goals and penalty claims for Arsenal while Manchester United get the easy ride.  This choice of referee really could spell trouble.


16 Replies to “Arsenal v Manchester United: the teams and the clear and present danger of this referee”

  1. Elsewhere Chris rightly pointed out that our game management has improved, which will hopefully help to mitigate the obvious inherent Manchester United bias of this referee, but why should we have to?

    To clarify, I don’t mean why should we manage our game, every team should have to do that to some degree, I mean why should we have to manage OUR game today more than Manchester United have to mange THIER game, simply because of the referee?

    And even then you can only manage your game so much.

    I did a post a month or so ago regarding the very low soring nature of football compared to almost all other sports, and how that made football such an easy game to manipulate. Add in to the mix the subjectivity of so many decisions within a football match and you have a game that is extremely vulnerable to manipulation.

    As I’ve said many times, you could probably look back at every red card he has given us a find some justification, to greater or lesser degrees, for every one. That is the nature of subjective decisions.

    You could almost certainly go back over all his penalty calls for United and find some justification for him not giving many of them. Again, that’s the nature of subjectivity.

    But when a referee is ‘subjectively’ giving far more calls against one team than another that suggests bias. Whether that is a conscious or subconscious bias who knows, but it certainly appears to be there.

    So we can ‘manage’ our game as much as we like, if it is a close match, as it quite likely will be, if the referee handles the match with this inherent bias today, we will be in trouble.

    We shouldn’t have to beat our opponent AND the referee.

    (version of earlier post in other article)

  2. Arsenal, 11 shots on goal, Manure 2

    Commentators are all over the place aboute Manure, taking the best out of Arsenal who cannot dominate…not surprised.
    Arsenala are not shooting at the goal enough…. I mean…ok yes, shoot better, I’m ok with this, but shoot more ?!?!

    Atkinson had to get Arteta his mandated by PGMOL yellow.

    That said, Manure are dagerous, you can smell that. But Arsenal are defending well. The pressing against them is permanent. Then again, at around 40 min, they flashed an interesting stat : Arsenal 19 touches inside the Manure box…Maure 2 touches inside the Arsenal box. Arsenal need to get more efficient…

  3. Great result, Taylor al usual letting a lot go but I think got the big decisions right apary from Mikel’s yellow.

    The Women’s match was called off earlier in the afternoon, unlike the Chelsea game at lunchtime which had to be abandoned after 5 minutes due to a frozen pitch.

  4. WOW!!!! Big win and fully deserved win! Eddie with a brace and Saka with a screamer and unlucky to not have a second goal when it hit the outside of the post. What a team. What a performance. Intelliging managerial work also from Arteta to take White off for Tomy to give the ref no chance to give him a second yellow card. Have a great and nice Sunday, Gooners!

  5. Fantastic performance.

    Eddie my SON, you done us proud.

    Due a few apologies me thinks. Cant see it happening. Back under their rocks.

  6. I heard that Polish player Jakub Kiwior, was in the stands. So looks to be a second addition to the squad. Don’t know him at all but I trust Mikel and Edu by now….

  7. Yes Jakub was in the stands with his wife. EVerything was finalised today including medicals so should be announced tomorrow.

  8. What I was seeing was a young team and an ‘experienced’ one, the young taking the former taking the better of the later.
    The referee did not dare to screw up the bext game of the season so far even as you could see hime being pro Manure.

    This team has no limits. Apart from his 2 goals, the smartness of Eddie in the last minutes was a image of the team. Yes they are young….but hell, count the number of high level games, they are seniors AND they have a profound belief in themselves. If there is season changing game, to me this is it. Arsenal have played 19 games, Manure and Sp*rs twice, Everton and Cit$ not yet, but are way ahead.

    As for Trossard….he had a scene at the end….this guy is good. Martinelli needs rest and now there is a serious option.

    Ah yes…thanks guys for shuting he f..k up the Canal+ commentators who were all for Manure and had to admit defeat.

  9. Seriously guys….

    Arsenal : shots on goal : 25 (5 on target)
    Manure : shots on goal : 6 (4 on target)

    Considering the way manure were parking the bus and all the bodies in their box…sure we did not have that many on target.
    Bon on the other hand, just think of what it means in terms of pressure, of presence in the Manure box ?

    There must be a stat somewhere of the number of touches in the opposition box… if someone can find it….

    After rebuilding our defence, Mr Arteta built a Detla 6 attacking unit that has no equivalent. Their capability to corner Manure into their own box like this is a pressure play in basketball is just stunning.

    And Trossard…well he’ll be able to replace Martinelli or ESR.

    By the way, the totally pro Manure commentators were saying at the end of the game the the world ‘caldron’ could not do justice to the Emirates : what is more then caldron ? Must have been a game for the ages for those present.

  10. Sky had a stat for touches in the opposite box. They said it was the highest ever recorded in the PL, against any opposition

  11. @seismic,

    not surprised, would just like to know the numbers at the end of the game.

    Apart from that, Zinchenko….this guyis unreal. Quite a few times, he just got rid of several manure players by a move or a pass and a few times, he just ripped them open, passing through 2 lines, inch perfect sniper type. How this guy could be gotten for only 35 millions is beyond me.

  12. Richard Keys is a sad and pathetic whinger. I wonder why the FA are listening to him. I hope it’s not financially motivated, although I suspect it is.

  13. @Nitram, @seismic,

    63 Arsenal touches in the Manure box. Guys think of what this means. The young Guns just went for the jugular, not caring a bit about anything Manure could throw at them. They knew that by keeping the fight there, they’d get the goals. They are fearless and so confident.

    80% of the shots came from within the Manure box. Which is 10 % more then the season average… So the most ‘dangerous team’ ot beat really bad.

    The heat map must be very red there…couldn’t find one for the whole team.

    63 touches against Manure who are back to seriously playing. Incredible.

    And not only 63 individual touches, but how many times did they keep posession for combinations ?

    Believe me, this team will not forget that game. This is how you build true and deserved self-confidence. And how you elevate standards. They have learnt that they can go after a big team and just rip it apart. And by big I’ll admit : with a few very good individualities.

    Just look at the replays and consider the distance Shaw is putting himself away from Saka. He is shit scared each time he comes up with the ball. And 1 yard is all Saka needed to get his shot into the bottom corner.

    Tell you one thing. Had Arsenal allowed 63 touches in their own box, the whole deadwood press would be calling for the coach’s head, for a full change of the defensive line and half a billion in player purchases. But it was Manure…so no one talks about how they were totally outplayed in their own box. It is just Ten Hag is starting his journey, give him time…etc etc.

    There may have been a game 50. Now there is game with 63 touches under your own nose.

    Just stop for a second and think about that number.

    Manure were under water. Overrun. Dominated. Owned.

    This Gunners team has not finished surprising us.

    63 (Manure : 12)

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