RefWatch – Arsenal Vs Tottenham Hotspur (26/02/2011 – 13:30)
Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal
•Referee: Mike Dean
•Assistant 1: Stephen Child
•Assistant 2: Simon Long
•4th Official: Phil Dowd
Good morning stat-fans and welcome to RefWatch… I’m wondering something [before I start the statistical breakdown]; I was wondering that if you – like me – were full of confidence in the run up to this North London derby, relishing the challenge and anticipating a home win only to have that confidence dashed upon learning who the PGMOL had appointed as the match officials? Did your optimism, like mine, immediately evaporate at the thought of Mike Dean and Phil Dowd taking control of this fixture?
If so… why?
It’s odd because even some of the most fervoured ‘pull yer socks up and get stuck in’ type supporters who have claimed, in the past, that I was way off track with any theory that ‘all was not quite right’ in the PGMOL; you know, the types that through a twisted sense of pride seek to internalise their frustration and find blame in a straw man such as a certain player or the manager or a shareholder or the board… well, even the hearts of these guys sank like a stone on receiving news of the referee appointments – although that feeling will pass and be forgotten as the days go by and the system receives tacit approval from our chosen disseminators of truth.
What staggers me is exactly how and why Mike Dean and Phil Dowd were selected as ‘appropriate’ to officiate this match – this is surely no coincidence; this is surely no random selection as the odds are so very much against it. We have had Mike Dean in the opposing fixture against Tottenham where we lost the match off a goal scored via a hand ball and we have had the Dean/Dowd combination when we played Manchester United. Added to this there is a long list of spurious calls in matches that involve Mike Dean that benefit teams managed by Harry Redknapp – a list that is too long and one sided to be assumed to be a quirk of chance or human error… it also represents a chain of events that could not have possibly have gone unnoticed by the PGMOL and the FA without assuming them to be fundamentally incompetent in what they do… assuming that ‘what they do’ is first and foremost to protect the integrity of the sport – it could be that the PGMOL, the FA and to some extent FIFA have a entirely different set of priorities that they don’t make public and the shameful standard of match officiating combined with the suspicious and entirely opaque official selection and review process fit that agenda perfectly?
Here is a smattering of non-statistical based research that literally anyone could do with the help of an internet connection:
•Eduardo has his leg broken and Mike Dean ignores a stonewall penalty on Adebayor before cooking up a late penalty for Birmingham.
•Cardiff have a goal disallowed and Harry wins the FA cup with Portsmouth under Mike Dean.
•Tony Pulis compiles a dossier on why Mike Dean is not suitable for the Stoke v Spurs fixture – PGMOL ignore and Dean Whitehead is sent off.
•Eboué has a goal incorrectly disallowed by Dean and is show the red card against Tottenham.
•Wenger suggests inconsistency in the ManU v Arsenal game under Mike Dean and is sent to the stands.
•Mike Dean refuses to explain his decision to award Tottenham their controversial winner
•Rafael Da Silva sees a red card and Alex Ferguson suggests inconsistency from Mike Dean in the Spurs v ManU game.
•Rafael van der Vaart handles for the winner in the last NLD under Mike Dean.
There is no disputing that Arsenal has an appalling record under Mike Dean. There is no disputing that Harry Redknapp has had a fantastic record under Mike Dean. There is no disputing that Arsenal have had a succession of incorrect key decisions called against them under Mike Dean and there is no disputing that teams managed by Harry Redknapp have had a disproportionate amount of key decisions called in their favour under Mike Dean.
What is there really left to discuss here, the choice of fourth official [Phil Dowd] perhaps – or maybe the selection of Stephen Child as a suitable assistant referee – you will remember Stephen Child from the Louis Saha ‘offside’ goal when we played Everton, he was the one who argued, under consultation from the referee [Lee Mason], that the goal should stand even though he had a perfect position to see that it was offside, both eyes open at the time AND there was a replay on the big screens immediately after the incident clearly showing Saha in an offside position:
So why will the mainstream media not cover these angles which appear to me to be standing as an elephant in the room for all to see but nobody to acknowledge… or flatulence in an elevator – we register the stench but not a word is said – the subject is taboo!
I guarantee that even if Mike Dean were to pop up and score the winner for Tottenham in injury time off the back of a clear foul and a hand ball the standard reaction from the fan-base and the media would be to reach for blame in the form of the nearest straw man… yes – they would say – it was ‘controversial’ but, like skilled illusionists or confidence tricksters, they will divert our attention to what is ‘important’ and that will be that the referee cannot foul and handball because he is not a player nor is he an ‘outside agent’ on the pitch so this goal stands within the laws of the game… and Tottenham ‘deserved’ to win anyway. It will be pointed out that this late concession is a sign of our defensive and mental frailty and also demonstrates Wenger’s tactical ineptitude as juxtaposed, and standing in stark contrast to, Harry Redknapp’s shining brilliance – yes you were ‘unlucky’ but, you will be told, there is nothing you can do about that now; the history books will record a defeat and the league table does not lie. It will all be apologised away and what will remain for you and I is that feeling of confused injustice and the frustration of the bullied.
On the other side of the elephant we have certain members of the blogosphere who have been talking up great waves discontent. These are the fire starters in search of a straw man or, like the pagan priests of old, they seek a sacrificial victim to appease the footballing gods and stamp their meme in the collective unconscious of the fan base: We gave you Eboué and Denílson, we gave you Arshavin and Almunia – we spilt Chamakh and Djourou’s guts upon your alter but still we do not please you?! What do you want from us – the Manager and the Board?
It is a form of gambling where kudos is staked and debt is doubled through – there is little risk and much to gain for these anonymous pedlars of snake oil – there is no ‘quick fix’ to the state of the game… and yet something bothers me – these voices that claim to speak for you and me are little too loud and well organised.
There was a contributor on this site who compared sections of the fan base, who retained respect for the manager and the team, to “battered wives that think there’s no way out” – this statement is as much confessional as it is accusatory; it is also fairly representative of the tragically ironic appeals to pathos that the disenfranchised and atomised football supporter radiates – easy platitudes, with a grain of truth, are comfortable for the slave mentality of those who have given up all hope for what they once loved…
This is not a stance of the free thinker or one who is courageous enough to face the truth… as Arsenal fans we are abused, yes, but we are only hopeless because we hold ourselves solely accountable for our plight… like Orwell’s horse in Animal Farm – our unshakable belief structure and inability to recognise even the most blatant forms of corruption will work us gradually into the ground and, when the time comes, will see us and our sport sent us gleefully to the knacker.
When I first came here to post on Untold Arsenal as a regular I was given a dubious duty to police the comments section… Walter and Tony, alas, with their unerring sense of fair play took every comment at face value and representative of the Arsenal supporters – I admire their strength to stick to their principles during the onslaughts of negativity and derision they received for their articles – but it seemed that all was not as it seemed.
To my genuine surprise we found that there were a core of users who would use multiple logins in an attempt to influence fan opinion – the core group of 4 users had some 50 separate identities between them. Most of the time they would post as concerned Gooners, sowing the seeds of panic and demanding change but sometimes they would pretend to be supporters of Spurs or as Manchester United fans mocking other posters and/or delivering apophthegms of backhanded pity. Sometimes they would agree with their own statements, congratulating themselves on a brilliant comment that ‘nailed it’ and sometimes they would spend hours arguing the toss between two sides of the same coin – always seeking to polarise opinion and engineer their agenda into the debate.
I have seen the same user names all over the arsenal blogosphere posting the same things… this is taking trolling to the next level – this is bordering on a full time job and this is edging towards a Machiavellian subversion and disinformation campaign… fellow bloggers – I suggest you tend your flock, examine your log files and rout out the wolves!
The organisation and determination of those who seek to speak for us is, as I mentioned before, a little suspicious and they are succeeding in their actions as the noise they generate has created a series of feedback loops in the information super highway… negativity is over represented and certain splinter groups arise that will fragment the fan base. These splinter organisations of overt negativity may well be well meaning in their initial intent (if a little self-publicising) but there is no denying the amount of traffic that is being diverted to their shores… do you recall the ‘black bin bag’ protest that found mention in the national newspapers?
Generating a controversial opinion is a way to garner attention and that in itself can bring in traffic, notoriety and advertising revenue but it also feeds further noise into the aforementioned feedback loop that eventually finds its way to the fourth estate. The associated press are not in general particularly well informed – in these modern times of Murdoch they have followed a path of seeking the spectacular and to entertain rather than to inform – there is a lot of competition in journalistic circles and the editorial policies of the majority of mainstream media intuitions will select the most ‘eye catching’ articles that come in before the deadline. I would suggest that it is this environment that has created the rise of the columnist and the ‘lazy hack’ whose true talent is to use Google, and scan discussion forums to ascertain the gist of what is ‘out there’, filter out the juicy bits and build a story around it. The editor also has a role to play here as they will select articles that fit the narrative and that will further feedback into what is proffered for selection and thus we have a vicious circle – a circle of negative feedback that defines our teams perception, performance and confidence on the pitch.
There could now follow a very in-depth discussion to try and work out where this is all coming from – I would say the main Actors for our model in terms of the perception of Arsenal FC are:
•The mainstream media editors
•The mainstream journalists and columnists
•The match day crowd
•The teams on the pitch
•The player agents
•The Asian black markets
•The mainstream fan base
•The discussion groups
•The Fire-starters and trolls
Some of these people are honest in their motivation it that they are looking to get paid or provide a constructive platform of support for their team… but there are some of the above that I would say that we get short shrift from:
•The mainstream media editors – in terms of how they define the narrative.
•The PGMOL – for the one-sided officiating.
•The FA – for the fixture schedule that gives high black-market exposure and retrospective punishment for rule infringement.
•The Fire-starters and trolls – who haunt the discussion groups and blogs and are a little too well organised in terms of subversion and disinformation.
This last of that group are the most interesting – they seem to have set themes and the latest is that we will fall foul of FFP if we don’t get into the Champions League next season – this is not so as they wilfully ignore what can be written off under the FFP i.e. stadium debt, youth investment and infrastructure. These are in my view the birth of the ‘talking points’ campaign that Media Watch has examined, journalists pick up on these and regurgitate them back into the well. I have also heard of late a lot of chatter about how Stan Kroneke and the current board must go and Alisher Usmanov should take over the club with David Dein… Alisher Usmanov – they say (after stating, as fact, how ‘mediocre’ the current squad is and how self-destructive and greedy the board are) ‘loves Arsenal’ and will shower us with money to buy world class players; he and David Dein will put the power and dynamism back into the board room and we will spend money, clear out the dead wood and sweep the competition aside!
I will agree that Alisher Usmanov is very rich and that he (and Farhad Moshiri) hold influence over David Dein [the man who first introduced Stan Kroneke to Arsenal FC as an investor] through their investment vehicle (Red & White holdings) and that David Dein has not only respect among the Arsenal fan base but also strong political ties to the FA and therefore the PGMOL… which brings us nicely onto to of the other two Actors in our model – the FA and the PGMOL and what could possibly influence them to deal us such a rotten hand… all speculation is welcome at this point and the use of Occam’s razor is advised!
As for the mainstream media editors, the final piece of the puzzle, I don’t know – all I’m hearing from that camp is that this match will be the ‘Watershed’ and the ‘Arsenal Spring’ will ensue – they are inciting a revolution and anticipating a very important day for Arsenal football club…
…and they are not wrong – this match is important but not as important as how we, as fans, react to the aftermath and, indeed, the path we choose for our revolution.
Asian Handicap (betting line) market:
Home Handicap Away
2.200 0 – 1/4 1.760
The Under/Over market:
Over Handicap Under
1.875 2 3/4 2.025
Let’s have a look at the Referee:
•Full name: Mike Leslie Dean
•Date of birth: 02-Jun-1968 (Age 44)
•Place of birth: The Wirral
•EPL/ECH Referee Since: 1999/2000
•EPL/ECH Games to date: 312
Mike Dean – the Cheshire cat.
It’s Mike Dean again… you remember him from the excellent Ref Review series:
Season Score Match
2011/2012 70.450% Newcastle United 0 – 3 Chelsea
2011/2012 54.550% Arsenal 1 – 1 Fulham
2011/2012 73.680% Manchester United 2 – 3 Blackburn Rovers
2011/2012 69.700% Manchester City 3 – 0 Stoke City
2011/2012 62.500% Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 0 Sunderland
2011/2012 80.000% Manchester City 4 – 0 Swansea City
2011/2012 83.330% Chelsea 4 – 1 Swansea City
2011/2012 68.290% Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 1 Arsenal
2011/2012 77.370% Blackburn Rovers 0 – 1 Chelsea
2011/2012 73.530% Manchester City 3 – 0 Fulham
2011/2012 76.000% Arsenal 1 – 2 Manchester United
Average Score: 71.764%
Let’s check out his stats!
Mike Dean has had 30 games for Arsenal consisting of 13 wins, 10 draws and 7 losses.
Arsenal are currently in 7th in Mike Dean’s personal Points Per Game League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an average of 1.63 PPG.
In Mike Dean’s personal Handicap Swing League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Arsenal come 19th with an average negative swing of -0.23.
Arsenal are currently in 26th in Mike Dean’s personal Booking’s Per Match League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an overall average of 2.10 BPM.
In Mike Dean’s personal Fouls Per Booking League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Arsenal come 29th with an overall average of 5.51 FPB.
And there it is like an old familiar sting, in the above graph, the anaemic blue line that represents (2008/2009 season excepted where I think we beat Chelsea at the Bridge) a consistent sub-zero underperformance against the handicap and a very low, on average, points per game.
You can also see by the fatness of the Red line that we get booked more than our opposition (the orange line), under Mike Dean, who sail high and thin indicating that they get away on average with more fouls per booking and are booked a lot less per game than Arsenal.
Above is a seasonal breakdown on how, when and where Arsenal took all their bookings under Mike Dean. As you can see, our defence has borne the brunt of most of the bookings with some whopping figures coming in last season – this season the numbers look a little better but they are trending earlier in the match.
Above is a seasonal breakdown on how, when and where Arsenal’s opposition took all their bookings under Mike Dean. The most notable thing I can see in this graph is the decline in the bookings to the defence – these have dwindled over the seasons to nothing last season and a few this season. If this is representative of leeway in the challenge of our opposition – this would represent a significant advantage against an attacking team like Arsenal.
Let’s move on now and see how Tottenham do under Mike Dean.
Mike Dean has had 33 games for Tottenham Hotspur consisting of 15 wins, 10 draws and 8 losses.
Tottenham Hotspur are currently in 4th in Mike Dean’s personal Points Per Game League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an average of 1.67 PPG.
In Mike Dean’s personal Handicap Swing League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Tottenham Hotspur come 9th with an average positive swing of 0.12.
Tottenham Hotspur are currently in 10th in Mike Dean’s personal Booking’s Per Match League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, with an overall average of 1.61 BPM.
In Mike Dean’s personal Fouls Per Booking League (for teams with a minimum of 5 matches played), for matches in the EPL/ECH, Tottenham Hotspur come 14th with an overall average of 6.79 FPB.
If we look at the graph (above) we can see an interesting crossover of the FPB/BPM [red] and the Opposition FPB/BPM [Orange] lines – this I would say is a text book counter intuitive case for use of the booking data to find bias. As you can see when Tottenham Hotspur’s opposition foul more and get booked less; Tottenham’s PPG/AHS actually gets higher and fatter i.e. they display an over performance.
An explanation for this is that somewhere in the 2008/2009 season, Mike Dean started to give Tottenham a lot of free kicks for innocuous challenges and only gave free kicks/bookings to Tottenham for the more serious fouls – although despite the higher FPB Tottenham exhibit [in the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons] they still get booked less than their opposition under Mike Dean.
Above we can see a breakdown of the booking information for Tottenham Hotspur under Mike Dean. We can see that Mike Dean fairly consistently books Tottenham’s Midfield and defence at some point in the match and this is trending earlier in the match over the last few seasons. We can also see in the 2010/2011 season a few very late bookings going in for substitutes and the Goalkeeper.
Above is a seasonal breakdown on how, when and where Tottenham Hotspur’s opposition took all their bookings under Mike Dean. We can see a large number of bookings in the midfield and the defence around the half way mark from the 2008/2009 season onwards. Although these booking dropped during the 2009/2010 season we can see bookings to the defence trending to steadily earlier in the match since then.
Let’s move on now to check out how Mike Dean performs against selected teams in the EPL:
From this graph we can really put into perspective just how badly Arsenal do under the whistle of Mike Dean, not only have we constantly underperformed (in minus territory) but the thickness of our line shows that we have also taken next to no points from matches under Mike Dean since the 2008/2009 season. The standout ‘up and coming’ performers under Mike Dean are Chelsea who are showing a very healthy trend both in terms of relative performance and also points per game.
Let’s have a look now how certain managers have performed under Mike Dean:
Quite reassuringly (in terms of my calculations) the lines that represent Arsenal and Manchester United (under their respective managers) are the same as the above graph but – this puts into context the performance of Harry Redknapp teams under Mike Dean; this is a strong line akin to that of Chelsea in the ‘Mike Dean Vs EPL’ graph that preceded this… The Sam Allardyce line is showing an interesting over performance under Dean over the last couple of seasons so this is definitely one to watch as and when West Ham bounce back into the EPL.
So what should we expect from this game? I’m not going to lie to you – but it doesn’t look good. We have a referee that is a worst case scenario in that there is not only a strong over-performance of the manager Harry Redknapp in his data combined with a massive under performance for Arsenal but also a strong over performance for Chelsea – these are the teams immediately above and below us in the league. Added to this, this is a high profile fixture and Harry Redknapp is courting the position of England manager and perhaps this is why we have the match official selection that we do?
I do not expect any joy from this fixture whatsoever but I will attend to offer my support and face the music, as it were, for this will be indeed a pivotal moment… and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.
*Signing Ozil is a signing Bergkamp type moment for Arsenal. It changes things utterly.*