It is fun to believe that your club is on the wrong end of a conspiracy, be it from the referees, the media or other authorities but, for the most part, they just don’t exist.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 31: Calum Chambers of Arsenal appeals as referee Mike Dean awards a penalty against him during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns on December 31, 2017 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Sure, some teams are treated differently based on their perceived reputations, that’s just human nature. But a real conspiracy? Against Arsenal? Of course there isn’t.

That being said, that doesn’t mean individuals can’t have ‘issues’. The very definition of a conspiracy is that it needs multiple people to be involved, but what of rogue referees or reporters? Couldn’t they cause havoc?

Anyone who has watched Arsenal play when Mike Dean is in charge will know the answer is a resounding YES!

For a while, Dean was appointed to the biggest matches of Arsenal’s season because he was seen as one of the top officials in the country. During a large part of that time, Arsenal just weren’t very good, so it stands to reason that our record under him would be skewed somewhat.

A look at his penalty stats, however, shows something different, something concerning if you’re a person who likes to trust numbers above all else.

Chelsea – 68 games, 12 penalties
Arsenal – 65 games, 3 penalties
Manchester City – 64 games, 11 penalties
Manchester United – 64 games, 16 penalties
Tottenham Hotspur – 63 games, 10 penalties

The second thing that jumps out, after how ridiculously skewed these numbers are, is that Liverpool are missing.

Could it be that Dean was just as miserly with their penalty awards and would weaken the conspiracy case? Well, yes and no. Dean doesn’t award Liverpool penalties because, on the whole, Dean doesn’t referee Liverpool games because he hails from the Wirral.

Perhaps that explains it. Maybe, like Phil Thompson and co. he simply cannot get over 1989.

Or maybe Arsenal just shouldn’t win penalties? That seems a bit of a stretch given how much football they play in and around the box, but let’s look at the stats from some other refs to see if they are similar (I picked five refs at random, they were the ones who came to mind first):

Michael Oliver

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Referee Michael Oliver gestures during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on September 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 17: Referee Michael Oliver gestures during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on September 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
  • Liverpool 35 games, 6 penalties
  • Arsenal 32 games, 11 penalties
  • Tottenham Hotspur 30 games, 4 penalties
  • Chelsea 30 games, 3 penalties
  • Manchester United 28 games, 5 penalties
  • Manchester City 27 games, 7 penalties

Martin Atkinson

English referee Martin Atkinson (L) speaks with Arsenal's German defender Shkodran Mustafi during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in London on January 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS /
AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS
  • Liverpool 55 games, 5 penalties
  • Arsenal 51 games, 7 penalties
  • Chelsea 48 games, 10 penalties
  • Manchester City 45 games, 8 penalties
  • Manchester United 41 games, 2 penalties
  • Tottenham Hotspur 37 games, 4 penalties

Anthony Taylor

Referee Anthony Taylor.
  • Liverpool 32 games, 8 penalties
  • Arsenal 26 games, 2 penalties
  • Chelsea 26 games, 3 penalties
  • Tottenham Hotspur 25 games, 0 penalties
  • Manchester United 25 games, 3 penalties
  • Manchester City 19 games, 2 penalties

Howard Webb

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Referee Howard Webb looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on December 13, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 13: Referee Howard Webb looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on December 13, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
  • Manchester United 47 games, 10 penalties
  • Liverpool 42 games, 8 penalties
  • Arsenal 39 games, 2 penalties
  • Chelsea 39 games, 3 penalties
  • Tottenham Hotspur 37 games, 2 penalties
  • Manchester City 36 games, 6 penalties

Mark Clattenburg

Mark Clattenburg
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
  • Manchester City 42 games, 4 penalties
  • Arsenal 40 games, 11 penalties
  • Tottenham Hotspur, 40 games, 6 penalties
  • Manchester United 40 games, 4 penalties
  • Chelsea 33 games, 6 penalties
  • Liverpool 30 games, 7 penalties

Totals (including Dean)

Mike Dean
  • Arsenal 253 games, 36 penalties (approx. 1 pen every 7 games)
  • Chelsea 244 games, 37 penalties (approx. 1 pen every 6.6 games)
  • Liverpool 194 games, 34 penalties (approx. 1 pen every 5.7 games)
  • Manchester City 233 games, 38 penalties (approx. 1 pen every 6.1 games)
  • Manchester United 245 games, 40 penalties (approx. 1 pen every 6.1 games)
  • Tottenham 232 games, 26 penalties (approx. 1 pen every 8.9 games)

If anything, these stats point towards a north-south bias on the part of referees, which is no surprise considering the overwhelming majority of them hail from up norf.

The average is one penalty every 6.7 games. Arsenal are a little below average and Spurs are a lot below it, which, if you think about it, is how the teams have played over the last decade.

Liverpool are a clear outlier, well above average and it’s hard to point to their form consistently over the past decade as a deciding factor. Sure, they’ve been good for a few seasons but not much more than that.

The point of this, I guess, is to show that there isn’t really a conspiracy against any club, although Spurs might wonder just what is going on. One team has to get the least amount of penalties in a season and another the most, so that’s what that is. Anyone who watches the penalties Spurs do win will surely highlight that, like Liverpool, they win more than they should, regardless of what the stats say. Or perhaps that’s just my own bias in play, skweing how I view events.

As for Mike Dean, as much as it pains me to say it because I loathe his face, he is no more against Arsenal than Michael Oliver was for us.