Heading into last April, Arsenal fans winced when Anthony Taylor was named as a referee for any game. And why not?
Most memorably, Taylor sent off Laurent Koscielny and awarded Aston Villa with two penalties on the opening day of the 2013/14 season, as the Gunners lost 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
That was just one of ten Arsenal games refereed by Taylor by the start of April 2015. Arsène Wenger’s men had won five of those games and lost four, receiving three red cards in the process.
Ever since, things seem to have turned around. Arsenal have now beaten Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United with Taylor as the referee.
He gave Liverpool a penalty in April but also sent off Emre Can as the Gunners beat the Reds 4-1, he was in the middle for the Community Shield defeat of Chelsea, and he also calmly and unnoticeably presided over Sunday’s 3-0 win over Manchester United.
At the end of last season he refereed a 0-0 draw with Sunderland too, but once again the game passed without Taylor particularly involved. What has changed?
He was on the verge of becoming a referee like Mike Dean, always involved and never positively. Arsenal fans can maybe breathe easier the next time Taylor is in charge of a game, given the recent record under him.
As fans we’re always on referee’s backs too easily but when we play well, the ref can’t influence the result. On Sunday, Taylor managed the game well and Arsenal did the business. More of the same, please.