Ref Review 2012/3: Refs give opposition freedom to kick Arsenal off the park

By Walter Broeckx

This article is part of the series of the Referee Review 2013. Other articles to this subject can be found on this site. Including reviews of games, reports on teams an reports on refs

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In this part of the series we have a look at each team and see how the bias panned out for each team. This is based on the decisions themselves without putting any weight on each decision. A total table will be published at the end of this series and then you can compare each team with the other teams.

And it will be an interesting table I can assure you of that.

First we are providing a table for each team highlighting each type of decision. This gives the totals as for when the team in the article got a favourable decision and when they got it against them.

If the traditional mantra, “it all evens out at the end of the season” is true it should show in these statistics – and indeed for some clubs we have already reviewed, that is the case.

But as I said, in the table we just show the decisions as a decision and we didn’t put any weight on the decisions. That is something for later on. Now we just take each decision at the same value, which is of course not saying all because a wrong penalty call is a bit more important than a wrong throw in decision.

But now let us move to the last team in our survey:  Arsenal

We did all 38 games of Arsenal last season. A 100% score.  It can’t get any better.

Now of course some of you might argue: oh well on an Arsenal blog (or a website once started from an Arsenal blog)  the numbers will be biased. I would like to point at one of our first articles in this series where we showed you how many refs in total were active in these reviews and in this article you can see that the majority of refs were not Arsenal supporting refs.  So what did our reviewers found about Arsenal in last season? Let us find out the numbers as they are and remember this is for all the games of the season.

Arsenal

In the second column we see the type of decision. And in the column “Favoured” we see how many decisions favoured this team when we reviewed them.  In the column “Penalised” we see how many times a wrong decision went against them.  The total swing is the difference between the favoured decisions and the penalised decisions.

A negative number in this column means that the total was against the team and a positive number means that the total decisions was in their favour.

In the last column we see the average swing per game, based on the games we reviewed. And this gives an indication on how many decisions went against a team or were in favour of a team. The lower the number the lower number of decisions that were wrong. And a positive number indicates that in each game they get some decisions in their favour and a negative indicates how many decisions the team has to overcome.

We had a total of 584 wrong decisions in the 38 games we did with Arsenal.  That is the highest number and that is understandable as this is the highest number of games.  But it also means that we had more than 15 wrong decisions per game when Arsenal was playing.  This surely is way too high.   But more importantly now is to see how the dividing was of those wrong decisions.

Of those 584 wrong decisions we found 131 in  favour of Arsenal  453 going against them. The difference is 322 decisions going against Arsenal  in total. This is more than a rather big  bias against them. We are talking about more than 8 decisions in total going against them each and every game.

And to make things worse…I know we have found games when there was a bias in favour of Arsenal. This means that when the bias was against Arsenal it was even higher than 8 decisions.

When we look at the decisions in detail we first see what went in favour of Arsenal. And then we see that in fact no real type of decision was in favour of Arsenal in total. The good thing for Arsenal is that they had no real problems with the goal decisions. As this in fact was evened out at the end of the season. They had some 5 wrong goal decisions in their favour and also 5 against them. Of course this could still mean that they lost points because of them. Because it is a big difference when the score is 1-0 or 5-0.

The other neutral decisions are the advantage and the goal kicks. Not that important in terms of overall decisions.

Let us move on to the negative decisions. And there were a lot. I will leave the not-that-important out of this article as we don’t have enough space and time and go to what really matters and that are the important decisions.

If we look at the penalty decisions we see a negative swing, but Arsenal also got 7 penalty decisions going their way.  On the other Arsenal had 9 penalty decisions going against them. But that is not that big a difference.

What however is really bad is the fact that the foul/free kick decisions are totally out of order. This is a complete mess. It seems that before Arsenal get a foul/free kick in their favour the foul really has to be very obvious and clear.

And what is for me completely unacceptable is the fact that the decisions about yellow cards, 2nd yellow cards and red cards are as wrong as can be. It seems that there is no room for Arsenal players to get away with. But on the other hand other teams seems to be able not only to kick Arsenal players and foul but also get away with murder before they get a yellow or a red card.

If you look at the record of broken legs Arsenal players have suffered over the years I wonder if there is any link between the visible lacklustre performances of referees in the PL and those broken legs. It looks as if there is a license to kick in the PGMOL against Arsenal players. Kick them and kick them hard. We will cover your acts and leave you unpunished.

And finally again I like to point at the fact that most of the reviewers WERE NOT ARSENAL SUPPORTING REFEREES!

Editorial note: if you want to comment it is perhaps worth having a look at some of the background to this research in the articles below, if you have not come across Referee Decisions before.  We have had situations in which supporters of various teams have not done this, and made comments which, in retrospect they maybe wish they hadn’t.

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