- Aston Villa v Arsenal: the Unai Emery factor
- Aston Villa v Arsenal: how to tackle without conceding free kicks – the Villa way
- Aston Villa v Arsenal: there is something seriously amiss with the refereeing.
By Bulldog Drummond
Arsenal.com does give a brief mention of the officials for the Aston Villa game saying, “This is just the second time Simon Hooper has been handed one of our matches to oversee, following on from October’s 5-0 success over Nottingham Forest. Only Paul Tierney has booked more players than him in the division this term.
“He has also officiated Villa once in the current campaign when they drew 1-1 against Manchester City. In fact, the Villans are unbeaten the last four times they have been refereed by Hooper, a run stretching back to December 2019.”
So what did Arsenal.com miss? Or put another way what have they deliberately ignored?
Well, quite a big story actually. In fact an absolute horror story.
But first the background…. (figures are from WhoScored).
Hooper has appeared 16 times in Premier League games this season and is 18th out of 20 referees for handing out fouls. In fact referee, Michael Salisbury hands out on average 22% more fouls than Hooper does. In terms of fouls per tackle, Andy Madely sees 20% more tackles as fouls than Hooper. And given those figures, it is not surprising to find that referee Anthony Taylor hands out 24% more yellows than referee Hooper.
This may not be good news for Arsenal given that although Aston Villa only get called out for 13% more fouls called than Arsenal and yet normally get 30% more yellow cards than Arsenal. For this is a referee who doesn’t like to wave the card.
This whole approach of Salisbury will of course have been noted by Aston Villa and it would be perfectly reasonable, given the crazy state of refereeing in the Premier League for Mr Emery to tell his team to “go and get them – the ref won’t mind and they won’t like it.”
But that is not the half of it, for this referee is the biggest horror story in the league.
To find that horror story – which is of course utterly and totally ignored by all the media today, all one has to do is ask the very simple question: how does this referee relate to the average figures when it comes to home teams, away teams and draws? And this is where it gets very bad for Arsenal. The table below only includes referees who have overseen 14 or more games this season in the Premier League, and you can see it is a horror story.
Simon Hooper does not oversee away wins. And that is not to say, he oversees fewer than average. Simone Hooper does not oversee away wins. Not at all.
Indeed Hooper is the only referee who has overseen 14 or more games in the PL this season who has not overseen a single away win.
Of course you can argue that this is pure chance, but the chance of this one referee only getting league games which end with home wins or occasionally draws is so tiny that it call be described as vanishingly small.
Nothing rational nor reasonable can explain this referee’s figures other than the fact that he is totally and utterly influenced by the home crowd. If you want to read how this happens you might want to examine the research undertaken by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, who was on the board of Athletic Bilbao for seven years and is professor of management, economics and strategy at the London School of Economics – part of the University of London. The findings have been reproduced and openly discussed elsewhere. See this article on home bias in refereeing decisions from the journal Science Direct, for example.
But in case you don’t have time to flip back – referees can be influenced by the crowd and this has been proven by research in which professional referees are given games to watch on monitors. Two referees watch each game with one hearing the crowd noise and the other not. In game after game after game, the referee who hears the crowd noise is more favourable (often much more favourable) to the home team.
But not only are these figures of today’s referee Hooper outrageous, even more outrageous is that there is not a single mention anywhere in the media of this issue. Every single news report that I can find has totally ignored this lunatic situation of employing a referee who simply does not oversee away wins.
Instead, the media focus on the fact that “Mikel Arteta has called for the Premier League to afford top-flight fixtures the same privilege as Champions League away games and avoid scheduling Wednesday-to-Saturday-lunchtime turnarounds in future.” That’s from the Guardian, and yes Arteta said it, but that is not the main story today. Today’s story is the referee and nothing else.
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