Are Referees Already Affecting The Title Race?

I’m one of those who strongly believes Arsenal suffer the most at the hands of referees. I realize there are others who would think such issues balance out over the course of the season and that all teams get their share of good and bad calls from the man in black. Supporters of other teams might have their own light to shine on this issue. Somehow, I find all that extremely hard to digest.

This season is only five weeks old and we’ve already seen decisions that range from dodgy and strange to the inexplicable and downright outrageous.

Comparison 1:

Against Sunderland, a Nasri cross struck Ferdinand on an outstretched arm. Phil Dowd allowed play to continue. The defender was just a couple of yards away so the explanation offered was that it was ball to hand. We’ve seen it given both ways; and even though I personally believe an outstretched arm in the penalty area should be penalized irrespective of intention, I can accept the decision of not awarding a penalty.

In contrast, when United visited Craven Cottage, Damien Duff scuffed his clearance and his own shot hit his arm; as unintentional as it can be! Only thing was, Peter Walton pointed to the spot.

It’s a different matter that we got another penalty but failed to score and the draw at Sunderland was not down to the Ferdinand handball incident. Similarly, the fact that Nani failed to score his penalty and United went on to drop two points is irrelevant to this discussion.

The simple point is the inconsistency in decision making by two vastly experienced refs.

Comparison 2:

Song was sent off against Sunderland for two bookable offences. Technically both bookings were understandable. One was for dissent and the other was for a block, which I thought was not that bad, but it could be perceived as cynical. However, in most cases, especially against us I’ve seen players get away with a final warning. There was no such leeway for Song. It was as if the ref was just waiting for a chance to send him off. This is even more relevant because Bramble wasn’t booked for a much more dangerous and cynical challenge in the same game.

Again in contrast, O’Shea blatantly hauled Torres to the ground in the game against Liverpool. He was clearly the last man. The ref allowed him to get away with a yellow card. It’s a different matter that Gerrard scored from the penalty, the telling impact came when O’Shea provided the assist for the winner. 2-2 with United down to 10 would have been very different.

Once again, the issue is with consistency and we can see a trend here.

Comparison 3:

Sunderland scored against us in the fifth minute of four added on. Technically it’s possible to accept that the ref added a few seconds for whatever reason. But if we consider the fact that it’s the same Dowd who didn’t give us a penalty for the Ferdinand hand ball, who sent Song off, and who didn’t book the Sunderland players in the same way; then we begin to wonder what’s going on.

United, on the other hand, got away at Everton when the ref blew his whistle even though the hosts were on the attack with a numerical advantage. In that game Everton had scored a couple of goals in the stoppage time and there was just cause for adding extra seconds. The ref chose not to.

This is consistently inconsistent decision making by all the refs involved and clearly in favour of one team and against another.

I understand that it’s not easy to make the right decisions all the time. Some decisions are difficult to make in real time and some are debatable even after a number of replays. But we do hear a lot about the use of common sense while refereeing. Based on what I’ve said above there seems to be a generous use of common sense as far as one team is concerned, while the other faces the harsher end of the stick.

In this discussion I’ve not even brought in issues like the fouls by Kevin Davies, the horror tackle by Paul Robinson and so on. If I look at Arsenal games just to pinpoint refereeing decisions I’m sure there will be many more contentious calls.

On the whole I get a feeling the refs try to be lenient with the rough tackling teams when they play Arsenal. Not sure if they believe, consciously or subconsciously, these teams have to be allowed to get away with their dirty fouls just so that they can compete. Similarly, it seems Arsenal don’t get as many penalty decisions probably because we create so many chances from open play. The refs might be seeing it as a way of balancing the game.

I’ve long since held the opinion that Arsenal need to win despite the refs. Just like the others stakeholders in an antiquated footballing environment in England, the refs seem to have a bias against Arsenal. I know this is a complicated topic and it’s hard to prove anything conclusively but it’ll take a number of clear examples to make me change my opinion. Barring that, generalizations like – “it all evens out in the end” – are very difficult to accept.


51 Responses to Are Referees Already Affecting The Title Race?

  1. shooter says:

    Totally agree with your article, Desi. Dowd is a ref from 1984, he knows his business and he did it on purpose. To be honest, one of the reasons for the spell of dominace shown by Sunderland in the 1st half was possible because mr. Dowd gave them a lot of free kicks in our half. Of course, he forgot to do the same thing with us.
    Dowd was incredibly biased this Saturday. Probably he’s one of Fat Sam’s drinking pals. 🙂

    • desigunner says:

      😀 Good point. Scary part is that it’s quite a realistic possibility!

    • walter says:

      Agree with this shooter. he gave us hardly any free kick in the first half. I remember a statistic on my TV right before the end of the first half that said Sunderland had made 2 fouls and we 8. A very strange statistic and I have seen a lot of fouls from Sunderland (at least 5 clear ones) that he didn’t punish in the first half. In the second half Dowd was having a better game.

  2. viktor says:

    your analysis? spot on mate.

  3. Shevo says:

    Spot on Desi. There is definitely a biased attitude amongs refs ( especially those from the North) against Arsenal football club and Arsene Wenger in particular. You only have to look at the number of ref cards this club has recieved under Arsene. No other club has been treated so unfairly and the sending off if Song on Saturday only highlights this. I’m sure that won’t be the last dodgy decision either. Phil Dowd was a disgrace but as usual nothing will be done to stop this fat useless cunt from reffing another Arsenal game again.

    • desigunner says:

      That’s the sad part – it won’t be the last dodgy decision against us. In fact, other refs might just get inspired by that.

  4. TheGooner says:

    holy shit! that sould surly be spotted by somone and sorted out cause its true he was soooo biased!

  5. MSL says:

    It has been going on for a while now. I think if we start collecting the evidence from each match, it should give us enough to back our claim.
    Phil Dowd was rather disgraceful.

    • desigunner says:

      That’s what I had in mind. Every time there are three or four such incidents one article could capture the essence and we can refer back at a later date. Let me know if you notice anything that I’ve missed.

      • MSL says:

        I saw the match again yesterday and noticed a few decisions weren’t as bad. If we are going to try and keep a record then we must also look at things that went out way.
        a) The handball is very debatable.
        b) Nasri kicked the ball away after giving away a free kick. Dowd didn’t look but I think he was informed by the fourth official or so. He let it slip.
        c) Song held Malbranque with his shoes after the latter skipped past him. It was a definite yellow.

        Some decisions were dodgy at best but I wouldn’t think he was heavily biased against us.

  6. Roy says:

    Well said Mr Author!

  7. francis says:

    you couldnt have made it any clearer…i’ve always said that the premiership is made for man utd to win…a combination of biased officiating and ganging up of teams from the north make it difficult for arsenal ….throw in the fact that once upon a time david dein ws so influential on the fa

  8. Neveragoon says:

    You idiots, you pick three examples that suit you, write an article and you’re all singing the same song! You’ve had enough players sent off for little reasons already this season, but we won’t talk about them. The FA are punishing Wenger because he pushed an official in the back, that’s unheard of!
    You are the most despicable team in the premiership by far, and when you talek about people hating you, it’s true, and with good reasons.

    • alwaysagoon says:

      If it trolls like a spud, moans like a spud, and stinks like a spud, it must be a spud.

      typical stupid spud thinking says we’ve had enough people sent off for little reasons. a clear lie as all three were red card offences. just because three have been sent off doesn’t mean others like davies and robinson should not have been, but you won’t talk about them.

      wenger barely touched the ref and the charge against him is another example of bias against the mighty Arsenal.

      people hate us because they know we are far superior. now fuck off.

    • desigunner says:

      Care to elaborate on “enough players sent off for little reasons”? As far as I know Cole and the Blackpool defender didn’t even appeal the red card and Cahill’s appeal was dismissed by the same FA you’re talking about.

    • Shevo says:

      Fuck off you yid cunt. No one not even Refs will ever have a problem with you wankers as you’re a threat to no one. Just a boring mid table team with a tax dodging manager who loves jumping on the back of Arsene just to get noticed. Bit like what you’re doing now you muppet. Wenger should gave chinned the cheating cunt. Rednapp would have just stood there and twitched – No heart, no desire, no game. That’s why we’ll always be bigger than you tossers.

    • MSL says:

      |Wenger because he pushed an official in the back, that’s unheard of!

      Bullsh*t. He patted the fourth official sarcastically. It would rarely be considered manhandling unless you are a pussy. Its hilarious that your id should say Never a ‘goon’. Your life revolves so much around hating us that its your identity. If you weren’t this pathetic and moronic you would identify your club and raise a good question. Do you see how the rest of us are actually able to discuss?

      Oh here is my post from above:
      “I saw the match again yesterday and noticed a few decisions weren’t as bad. If we are going to try and keep a record then we must also look at things that went out way.
      a) The handball is very debatable.
      b) Nasri kicked the ball away after giving away a free kick. Dowd didn’t look but I think he was informed by the fourth official or so. He let it slip.
      c) Song held Malbranque with his shoes after the latter skipped past him. It was a definite yellow.

      Some decisions were dodgy at best but I wouldn’t think he was heavily biased against us.”

  9. afo says:

    we need to speak up! lets not suffer in silence

  10. Byo says:

    “Neveragoon”:
    Bitter much?
    I have always wondered how people, under the anonimity of the internet cannot get into a conversation without being foul.
    I am sure your opinion could have been expressed better considering your great command of the language. Or maybe it is just a reflection of latent rage.

  11. Donnyfan1 says:

    Song was booked for dissent- that is true- but a more competent or less biassed ref would have noticed that the victim dived. Song’s foot missed him by six inches! No wonder he was mad! No whistle- no booking! What has happened to ‘simulating cheats’ anyway? They deserve to get a booking. Another wonderful FIFA idea ground into the mud. I have been told that Brucie warned his players not to go over the top but pull and push Arsenal players instead because they would get awawy with it. They certainly did! Do refs attend team talks?

    • desigunner says:

      That a valid point. I left it out because I didn’t want to get into a debate about the decisions.

      If Song had gone to ground and the other player had been booked we would have seen countless opinions on what Arsenal players do! With others it’s acceptable.

      • jp says:

        English players are allow alot more leeway when it comes to dissent. Foreign players are booked quickly in this league.

  12. Phil23 says:

    What frustrates me the most is that it is obvious the refs let a lot go against us. I can accept this even though it shouldn’t happen. The reason for this could be (other than the reasons others have mentioned) that they want to keep the premiership “tough”. Sure they want to keep the league tough so obviously they are going to let the small fouls go right? Wrong!!! When it comes to Arsenal we are reffed like a Spanish league team. That folks is where it all goes down hill. It is absolutely pathetic that there are quite obviously two sets of rules for two different teams playing on the same pitch! The thing is that the Sunderland game was just one in a long line of games where we have been consistently done over by the refs. Worst part? We can’t do anything about it because we sound like bitter fans even though for anyone whos willing to see, its plain as day.

    • desigunner says:

      well said.

      I’d have accepted it if all big teams suffered a little against the smaller ones. But as this article shows it’s not the case. I think we suffer the most, Chelsea also suffer a bit, while United benefit the most from the generosity of refs.

  13. gooner4lyf says:

    what pisses me off the most is that the stokes and boltons get warning after warning and the same opposition player will make 3 or 4 cynial challenges before he even gets a talking to, as its so normal for an arsenal player to be taken out to stop a beautifully flowing move. Someone like song however will make one challenge and get a booking simply because it seems unusual to the referee and therefore more noticeable to him. I therefore think it is subconcious from the refs in that respect, but still horribly and atrosciously unfair. something needs to be done. and @ neveragoon, how mch fucking time must you hav to go on another clubs blog, and actually read and coment on an article

  14. Alex says:

    Rosicky vs. Sunderland:

  15. Sonu says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the refs are biased against Arsenal but it is just a hard fact to accept when as an Arsenal supporter you have seen your team battle it out for 94 minutes,fighting for the 50-50s, winning the long hoofed balls, playing with 10 men for 35 odd minutes and still created better chances and for all that to be undone when the ref just keeps going on and on till maybe the opposition score is really hard to stomach.Remember it happens at O.T more often than not.If Utd are losing then the injury time increases 10 fold and still get some sickness time added on maybe if they haven’t scored at the end of the already extended injury time.
    Ref’s need to be reminded that the injury time is not a rule they can bend the way they like.If someone goes down injured and the ball goes out of play stop the clock and add time,if a goal is scored then add 15 seconds ,if not hit the buzzer(final whistle) right on the mark ,your job is effin done ,go home grab a beer and relax.

  16. Furovich says:

    There is undoubtedly alot of evidence that supports the theory that refs are 1. biased 2. Incompetent and 3. Dont get help from replay/post match review when it would make their job alot easier.

    Arsenal over the last 10 years has had a great non-English influence. Certain managers don’t like it, certain fans don’t like and no doubt certain referees don’t like it.

    While we’re talking about poor refereeing, the favouritism Man U get is quite absurd. The fact that Howard Webb (England’s supposed best referee) didn’t send O’Shea off, yet gave him a yellow, makes absolutely no sense in reference to the rules of the game.

    • MSL says:

      He must thanks his stars after his abysmal performance at WC final because Spain won. If Spain had lost, he was dead meat. Of course its all pointless now but he is prone to mistakes too.

  17. aravindvr says:

    How many titles Manure Chelski n Pool have won with the help of refs.They have the media,refs,pundits on their side.
    MAnUre n Chelski wil try to ‘buy’ the titles this season again.
    ManShitty is in the bidding too..Who ever offers the higesht bidding amt will get it.
    As Wenger says, wat we can do is keep on working,take each match at a time and the hope for the best.

    Anyway if we wanna win title we need to produce awesome football which cud beat even the refs.

  18. durban_gun says:

    to be honest man united and fergies success has been based on dubious decisions .him and his team are so overrated and are such cheats its not even funny. how many times in the league and in europe have u seen opposition managers and players squabbling after a united victory….COUNTLESS !!!.coincidence i think not !if u cant see that the refs favour united u obviously dont knw your football.to be honest i have gone used to us playing wit our backs against the wall coz believe me its only for the better,soon we will be UNSTOPPABLE,no ref or players will be able to stop us coz we will be scoring 3 before halftime,the only times the refs take advantage of the situation is wen the score is tight ie.1-0 1-1…phil dowd is a cunt but rosicky should have buried dat penalty to cancel out the refs influence..moral of the story,always keep a high scoreline

  19. James Arsenal says:

    The analysis is spot on. In a way I am inclined to believe some referees are anti Arsenal/Wenger and will do everything they can to hurt the gunners ie points/players booked.
    That is why I agree with the guy who wrote that with this type of referees who condone injury threatening tackles,England will never win the wc.Why?The thugs will think they can get away in wc ties.They are so used to tackling robustly/violently it is difficult for them to stop it.
    Btw the red faced got away with many farcical decisions. Who could have forgotten the incident when the ball crossed the line and Spurs were not awarded a goal. Then there was the penalty incident when Birmingham went to OT.The gk brought down the blues forward and being the last man shd have been sent off but was given a yellow.To rub salt in to the injury,the gk went saved the spot kick.The rfc went on to win the title in 2003.
    Need I say more.

  20. makenzi says:

    We need to highlight such issues more frequently so that refs/FA will be forced to act. We can send comments/e-mails to FA websites highlighting such glaring mistakes.

  21. AP says:

    Suggestion – can someone open a site or youtube channel on refs’ bias/incompetence in the EPL? No use saying this per-instance with text, need all videos in one place, updated weekly.
    Incase that becomes a high traffic thing, it will definitely get attention. From what i see regularly, its never difficult to get the tabloids to report internet stuff. If its on the net its gotta be true 🙂

  22. jp says:

    Did you see Nani flopping around on the weekend. NOT A WORD SAID but yet the newspapers pick up Fergy saying Torres dived. Eduardo getting lambasted by the bias media last year was a disgrace. The outright bias in this league – IS TOTALLY LAUGHABLE and sickening. Bramble’s foul on Jack goes without a card, shocking. The referees favoring United is plain for the world to see, from them not having a penalty against at old Trafford for a very long time, to the standard 7 minute extra time etc etc etc. The media in England is terrible.

  23. jp says:

    At the end of the day we should have won the game despite the ref. Rosicky’s penalty was trash for a paid professional – bottom line. But even when I looked around the team there didn’t seem to be any leaders to take it. Which brings me back to my injury argument. If we don’t get a handle on it (and it’s only September) I am afraid we will under achieve again. It pains me to say this but it is true. We do a remarkable job, I must say, considering the amount of players we have injured regularly and still compete albeit with a undeniable limpness. The match against Chelsea next week will be more about those off the pitch than those on it unfortunately. FRUSTRATING to say the least. Other teams best player play and ours watch far too often.

  24. drvics (mumbai gooner) says:

    Spot on Desi.
    The Man U bias is evident to all but the FA.
    I am just wondering, if the EPL games have a system like the international cricket matches under the ICC, where each team at the end of the match, gives a written review of the two umpires to the ICC match referee. Dont know what the review is like or if its just a formality, but I have heard that the ICC does take the reviews seriously, as was the case during a triangular ODI series in Sri Lanka where there were 5-6 ridiculous decisions against India.
    Of course, it would entirely be up to the FA to gauge the seriousness of such reviews, if they existed, but it would be nice to know if the practice even exists.

    • desigunner says:

      Excellent point. Such a system should exist. That would make it far more formal and noteworthy rather than random comments in the media.

      The chief of refs was saying if managers used the formal channels they would listen to them. Not sure exactly what that means.

  25. Daryl Booth says:

    Hi Block6Gooner,

    Just a small point in regards to Torres v Man Utd and the red card that was not given for the `last man`
    The rule is not last-man but more accurately “any offence that denies the attacking player an obvious scoring opportunity”

    Just a small point, but it then is down to the match official(s) to make a call on whether or not he was quids in to score (nailed on).. If not then it is a yellow. The key being “obvious scoring oppo”
    Not seeing the tackle I cannot say on way or the other..

  26. munawwar says:

    perfect. i am gonna post this link non stop for everyone to read.

  27. munawwar says:

    what was also not mentioned in this article was that the ref who didn’t add the extra time in the man u everton game was the same ref as the 4th official in our Sunderland game… so if that fuck as no power to make any calls.. no power to talk to the main ref… why the fuck is he there?

    and when wenger gets angry he gets fined a game and 8k.. fucking shit!

  28. Dondagooner says:

    I went to White Hart Lane yesterday, and noticed how green and lovely their pitch was. So i summoned over the groundsman and asked him what his secret was, his reply was:
    “Well i do nothing, just every Saturday afternoon we put £100m worth of sh-t over the pitch and it works wonders”

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