Manchester City v Arsenal: the referee and the FA Cup



Manchester City v Arsenal – the FA Cup

The referee for tonight’s game is Paul Tierney – a referee who is much, much more familiar with Manchester City than with Arsenal, having refereed 19 City games but only 12 of Arsenal.

He is 26% more likely to call a foul against Arsenal than against Manchester City, and 25% more likely to see an Arsenal tackle as a foul than a Manchester City tackle as a foul. 

He is also an astonishingly 64% more likely to give a yellow card against Arsenal than against Manchester City, meaning he has handed out 26 yellows against Arsenal in 12 games but only 25 yellow against Manchester C in 19 games.   Across those games he has given Arsenal three red cards to Manchester City’s zero.


Team Games Fouls/game Fouls/Tackles Yel pg Yel Red pg Red
Manchester City 19 9.58 0.64 1.32 25 0.00 0
Arsenal 12 12.08 0.80 2.17 26 0.25 3


Generally, in the league however, Paul Tierney is at the low end of awarding fouls per game – his current ranking is 20.25 compared with 24.44 for Michael Salisbury and 19.15 for Steward Attwell – the least inclined referee to see fouls.

Across recent games we can see that he is more likely to call a tackle as a foul by the away team than the home team.   As a result, he gives more yellow cards against the away team, although to be fair we must add that the two red cards he has handed out this season have both been against the home team.

As a result, we find that when he is refereeing Arsenal away, he gives an average of three yellow cards per game against Arsenal.  But his average for away teams as a whole is just 1.81 cards per game.  His average for home teams is 1.56 cards per game.  In short, we are going to get yellows.

On this basis, there must be an argument for Arsenal claiming that the whole team has covid and simply be kicked out of the competition.  At least that way we would not lose a number of players because of multiple cards.

Overall we can see that this referee calls fewer fouls against Arsenal than he has done against other teams but he sees more of the Arsenal tackles as fouls, and his yellow card rate shoots up.  Yet Arsenal are 13th in the Yellow Card League, picking up cards at just 66% of the rate that Manchester United does.  This is not a referee that takes any notice of what his fellow refs do.  Arsenal for him are a dirty side, and so he waves the cards.

Now I’ve no idea what this referee has against Arsenal so to try and get an understanding, let’s have a look at his matches this season.

In the league the level of home wins this season is 49.3% which is exceptionally high compared with other seasons, but for Mr Tierney his home win record is even more extraordinary: he has 56.25% of his games end as home wins, which probably means a Manchester City victory is already ordained.  This ref is, in short, an outsider.

Indeed, we might note that in his one game with Manchester City before today he oversaw a 5-0 Manchester City win.

If we are looking for a weakness in this Manchester City + Referee side then there is a little glimmer of light in terms of their last ten games in all competitions where in they have won six, drawn one and lost three, those defeats being at home to Brentford, away to Southampton in the league cup, and away to Manchester United.

But since the consecutive defeats to Southampton and Manchester United, they have bounced back with wins over Tottenham (hardly difficult these days) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (ditto) scoring seven and letting in two.  Both games were at home.

Overall, although Manchester City have done better in recent years because of the money that has been poured into the club, overall Arsenal are still ahead of them in the head-to-head.    Arsenal have won 98 of the games and Manchester City 62, with 45 being drawn.

But Arsenal’s recent record against Manchester City has been awful.  True our last two FA Cup games against them have been won: 2-1 in the semi-final at Wembley in 2017 and 2-0 again in the semi-final in 2020, but Arsenal have not beaten Manchester City since 2015 in the league.

Next up: the teams and the FA Cup.


2 Replies to “Manchester City v Arsenal: the referee and the FA Cup”

  1. Paul Tierney was born in Salfords Greater Manchester. He came through the academy and went on to play as a professional for Manchester United FC.
    Does this go some way to understand some of the decisions he has made whilst refereeing or carrying out VAR duties ?

  2. 3 matches against Manchester clubs this season refereed by Tierney (Salford) twice and Taylor (Wythenshawe).
    Expect no caution for Rodri if he plays and scythes his way through midfield.

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