When the news was announced that Mike Dean would referee Arsenal’s game against Spurs this weekend, the first thought that popped into my head was ‘why always Dean?’

Mike Dean books Shkodran Mustafi
during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2016 in London, England.

It seems, to my brain (and those of a few others) that Mike Dean gets awarded this game more than other referees, but is that actually the case or just my brain playing one of its tricks that makes me think something is true that really isn’t?

Mike Dean became a select group referee in 2000. Since then, he has taken charge of just eight Arsenal games against Spurs but it often feels like he gets a larger share of these matches than any other ref, but is that true?

Dean has only refereed one club more than Arsenal – Chelsea, but in large part that is down to his longevity.

In total, he’s taken charge of 65 Arsenal games. Arsenal have won 28 of those, drawn 21 and lost 16. While we’ve won the fewest games of any top side under Dean, we haven’t lost the most. That honour goes to City (20 v 16).

Dean has issued three straight reds to Arsenal players (six Chelsea, the most again) but he, oddly, has not seen fit to award a single straight red against any Tottenham player – and this is a referee that has even sent off two United players with straight reds. Dean’s record with two-yellow reds is far more even. Three Arsenal players, four Spurs’, five City.

But what of Arsenal v Spurs?

As I mentioned, he’s taken charge of eight Arsenal v Spurs (or Spurs v Arsenal) games since 2000. In total, the sides have faced each other 44 times since Dean’s first Arsenal match (a 2-1 win over Coventry on 16 September 2000), meaning he’s been in charge of just under 20% of those games.

To compare, I picked a referee I knew also got a lot of the big games – Michael Oliver. He became a select group referee in 2010. He’s been in charge of four Arsenal v Spurs games and there have been 17 played in the same period. That means Oliver has taken charge of 23% – more than Dean!

As much as my brain tells me Dean gets more than his fair share of Arsenal v Spurs games it seems that it only appears that way because he’s been around for 18 years and tends to hog the limelight when he’s involved.

Now aged 50, talk of retirement should be on the horizon, however, he is no longer obliged to hang up his boots at a set age. While many refs give it up around the age of 50-52, you can’t help but think Dean will continue until he’s carried from the pitch – in full view of the cameras, obviously.