In the high-stakes arena of Premier League football, refereeing decisions often have major implications for match outcomes and season trajectories.
A recent case in point comes from Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest, which ultimately handed Manchester City the Premier League title.
- Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, among others, have seen a significant increase in booking rates after transferring from Manchester City to Arsenal.
- Ex-Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher believes that Arsenal should’ve been awarded a penalty in the incident that led to Jesus’ booking.
- This pattern of increased bookings extends to other players like Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor, raising questions about potential refereeing biases.
Gabriel Jesus, who donned the red and white of Arsenal this season after transferring from Manchester City last summer, was booked by referee Anthony Taylor for protesting what seemed like a clear foul and a penalty.
This was just the latest example of Jesus, along with Oleksandr Zinchenko, another player from Manchester City, seeing an ‘interesting’ shift in booking rates since moving to the London club.
Is there a bias at play?
At Manchester City, Gabriel Jesus was booked every 10.7 games, translating to one yellow card every 649.34 minutes.
Since transferring to Arsenal, Jesus has seen a significant increase in booking rate, receiving a yellow card every 4.5 games, or every 322.4 minutes.
A similar trend is observed with Oleksandr Zinchenko.
The Ukrainian international was booked every 1,341 minutes while playing at Manchester City.
Since joining Arsenal, he has been booked every 482.2 minutes.
Zinchenko has collected nearly as many yellow cards in just 33 games at Arsenal (5) as he did over 128 games at Manchester City (7).
Not an isolated incident
It’s not just Jesus and Zinchenko who’ve seen this trend.
Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, and Kolo Toure—all of whom have worn both the Arsenal and Manchester City shirts—have also seen a shift in booking rates.
Clichy was booked every 13.5 games at City, while at Arsenal he was booked every 6.3 games.
Adebayor went from being booked every 1,634 minutes at City to every 650.4 minutes at Arsenal.
Nasri and Toure saw a less drastic change, with Nasri moving from a booking every 7.7 games at City to every 8.3 games at Arsenal, the only player to increase his card count with City, and only marginally.
Toure shifted from a booking every 11.3 games at City to every 9 games at Arsenal.
The Verdict on the Jesus Incident
To add insult to injury for Arsenal fans, former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher believes that Arsenal should have had a penalty for the foul on Gabriel Jesus that led to his booking against Nottingham Forest.
Gallagher argues that Joe Worrall’s challenge on Jesus in the penalty area was a foul, and that Jesus’ booking for his protest was an incorrect decision.
“It’s a massive, massive risk. If Worrall gets penalised, he can’t argue,” Gallagher told Sky Sports.
“If it was a penalty, it wouldn’t be a red card because he wasn’t in control of the ball. But I think it is a penalty for Arsenal and Jesus.”
Ultimately, while the reasons behind these booking rate disparities are uncertain, the numbers raise questions about potential biases or inconsistencies in the refereeing of Premier League matches.
As things stand, the statistics show that players transferring between Manchester City and Arsenal have, on average, been booked more frequently in Arsenal colours in quite a significant way.
The question that remains is why?