Arsenal fans the world over shudder when they hear the name Anthony Taylor, but maybe we shouldn’t.
The referee has been appointed to the upcoming game against Watford at the Emirates Stadium and Arsenal have a surprisingly encouraging record when he’s in the middle.
In fact, the Gunners have won all three games he has presided over this campaign, beating Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley before securing Premier League wins against Manchester United and Newcastle United.
Last season wasn’t too bad either: Taylor was the referee when the Gunners beat Liverpool, who saw Emre Can sent off in north London.
It’s hard to shake memories of Taylor’s horror show against Aston Villa on the opening day of the 2013/14 season, where 90 minutes saw him send off Laurent Koscielny and award the Villains with two penalties. An incredibly mixed record in our first nine or so games with Taylor as referee has undoubtedly sullied some thoughts on him, but our recent record is strong.
That doesn’t mean he won’t ruin Saturday’s game, though.
Taylor can be incredibly slow to get his cards out even though he doesn’t allow the game to flow. Fouls aplenty but no significant or apt punishment is given and it helps opposition sides break up play against technical superior rivals. Arsenal are often on the receiving end of such tactics. It ruined the Gunners’ day at the Britannia Stadium last season, when a comeback was on the cards before Taylor cheaply booked Calum Chambers yet refused to do anything about Stoke’s bullying tactics, which included Charlie Adam strangling Alexis Sánchez.
We can only hope that isn’t the case at the weekend and cross our fingers that Taylor has no big calls to make because there’s little doubt he’d screw them up.