As if one Mike this week wasn’t bad enough, Mike Dean has been appointed to take charge of Arsenal’s FA Cup game against Middlesbrough on Sunday.

If it feels like we only had Dean officiate one of our games five minutes ago then you’re almost right. He was the man in the middle for the game away to City.

Enduring something of a jinx under the man from the Wirral, Arsenal’s form with Dean in charge has take a turn for the better recently and this was reflected in a more balanced display at the Etihad than we are used to seeing from him.


You mention Mike Dean’s name to an Arsenal fan and they are unlikely to respond without the use of at least one swearword. In fact, when I did his Manchester City preview, I opened like this:

Five little words that strike terror into the heart of Arsenal fans everywhere – Mike Dean is in charge.

This will be Dean’s third Arsenal match of the season (United at the Emirates in addition to the win over City) and represents something of a step-down for the 46-year-old who is normally appointed to our matches against the big boys.

Issuing nine yellow cards in his two Arsenal matches, five of those went to Arsenal players (Giroud, Cazorla, Koscielny, Bellerin, Ramsey – how do we always end up with more cards than teams that kick us?) but he also awarded us a penalty, something he’d found a way to do just twice in the 46 games he refereed for us preceding the City win.

Dean is a pernickety little referee who prides himself on spotting things many of us would miss and knowing the more obscure laws of the game. If he spent as much time on the big decisions and common laws he might actually make a decent referee, but he is a man who, one feels, struggles with an inferiority complex, something that often comes out in his over-the-top gestures and ‘RESPECT MY AUTHORITAY’ attitude.

Given his recent record, it’s hard to call how he will behave on Sunday in the Cup so to be safe we’d best prepare for him to be the Mike Dean that we all know and despise, allowing anything else to be a pleasant surprise.

Referee Michael Dean
Assistant Referees Stuart Burt & Andrew Garratt
Fourth Official Oliver Langford