Arsenal get 21.7% of VAR decisions overturned compared Premier League average
Arsenal fans are well aware that this hasn’t been a great season when it comes to the decisions of referees and VAR decisions overturned in their favour, but it’s possibly been worse than they thought.
Riding high once again at the top of the yellow card table, despite committing fewer fouls than most, Arsenal have the most red cards by a distance.
Of course, it helps when different rules seem to apply to different teams.
Bukayo Saka won two penalties and both were given, although his first was overturned by Andre Marriner on VAR.
It was a penalty, soft maybe, but still a foul and we see them given on a regular basis to other sides. At the time, I noted how he had recently had an even more blatant, but similar, appeal turned down so wasn’t surprised to see his first penalty against Leeds taken away.
It was, however, far from a ‘clear and obvious error’.
His next penalty saw the keeper take him out in the box when he was in a clear goalscoring position. Was the keeper booked like the laws say he should be? He was not, which kind of makes a mockery of the claims that the officials ‘had no choice’ but to send David Luiz off against Wolves when the Wolves forward grazed Luiz’s knee with his studs as he went to shoot.
All those small decisions add up, like death by a thousand cuts. Not all the decisions that have gone against Arsenal, however, have been small and insubstantial. See the David Luiz example, for instance.
VAR overturns are not a level playing field
When it comes to having VAR do you a favour and correct a decision to your benefit, it is very clearly not an even playing field.
Just like last season, when Liverpool needed around twice the number of fouls to see a card as Arsenal did, so it is this season with VAR.
The average VAR decisions in your favour if you are Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, or Manchester City should be around 4.1.
That figure is obtained how you usually work out an average – take all the individual numbers and divide by the number of teams.
Manchester City have had three decisions overturned in their favour by VAR. That’s a little lower than the average but nothing that would raise an eyebrow.
Spurs are right on the money with four.
Liverpool and Chelsea are a little ahead of the curve with five going in their favour but, as with City being a little under, a little over isn’t a big deal.
That leaves Arsenal and Manchester United.
VAR has overturned a decision in favour of Manchester United an incredible seven times, but that isn’t the worst bit.
When it comes to Arsenal, Mikel Arteta’s side have benefitted from one call.
You could say the difference in the number is down to the quantity of reviews being asked for and you might be on to something. United games have seen 15 reviews while Arsenal’s have only seen six. What’s that about?
I can hear you in the back… It’s a small sample, spread it out across the league and you’ll get different figures.
Ok, let’s do that.
This season in the Premier League there have been 82 overturned decisions. You don’t even need a calculator to do the math here. What’s 82 divided by the 20 teams in the Premier League to give you the average?
That’s right, 4.1.
Have a cookie.
VAR overturns overall
When overall decisions are taken into account, Arsenal have a score of minus four for the season. Only Liverpool, with minus five, have a worse record, but their games have seen 14 decisions sent to VAR and overturned, many more than we’ve had in Arsenal games.
There have been six decisions overturned by VAR in Arsenal games this season. One disallowed an Arsenal goal (Saka’s goal vs Wolves as Lacazette was offside), one ruled out an Arsenal penalty (v Leeds), one awarded Chelsea a goal, one sent off Granit Xhaka against Burnley and another sent off Nicolas Pepe against Leeds.
The only decision in our favour all season was the Aston Villa goal that was disallowed back in November.
One decision in our favour, five against.
VAR decisions overturned (NET SCORE)
- Chelsea +3
- Everton +3
- Brighton & Hove Albion +2
- Burnley +2
- Leeds +2
- Manchester City +1
- Newcastle +1
- Sheffield United +1
- Southampton +1
- Aston Villa 0
- Crystal Palace 0
- Fulham 0
- Leicester City 0
- Manchester United 0
- West Ham 0
- Wolves -1
- Tottenham Hotspur -2
- Arsenal -4
- West Brom -4
- Liverpool -5
Arsenal referee stats 2020/21
Arsenal vs Leeds match referee and officials
The officials have been announced for this weekend’s Premier League match between Arsenal and Leeds United at the Emirates:
- Referee: Stuart Attwell
- Assistants: Dan Cook, Simon Long
- Fourth official: Simon Hooper
- VAR: Andre Marriner
- Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis
Dan Cook on the line for Arsenal vs Leeds. That’s 3 in a row
Stuart Atwell has been let out of the VAR box to ref. His 7th Arsenal involvement but 1st as ref Sian Massey-Ellis also back for her 7th involvement
Simon Hooper as 4th is making his 1st Arsenal appearance
However, of the 6 officials involved this weekend, they have only refereed 1 Arsenal game between them.
That was Andre Marriner, who is on VAR in what will also be his 7th Arsenal involvement of the season (3 as 4th, 3 as VAR)
Arsenal have won one of those games (v Sheff Utd)
6 February 2021
Chris Kavanagh delivered another refereeing horror show as Arsenal lost to Aston Villa.
Arsenal crashed 1-0 at Villa Park thanks to some woeful defending from Cedric when he played a sloppy ball to Gabriel, getting the Brazilian into all sorts of trouble.
But the match could have turned out quite differently if Chris Kavanagh had applied the laws of the game to Aston Villa the way they are applied to Arsenal.
Arsenal were denied a clear penalty when Emi Martinez hauled Alexandre Lacazette to the ground and the referee, Chris Kavanagh, gave a free-kick to Villa.
Here’s a closeup of Lacazette ‘fouling’ Martinez:
Bukayo Saka was also hauled down when he was through on goal but the Villa defender, Ezri Konsa, was only shown a yellow card.
For all the red card debate last week, this decision is so bad it’s mental. How can this be more of a goalscoring opportunity? Maybe if Villa were playing with no keeper? pic.twitter.com/lIX52ajrxp
— Chris Dixon (@chrismd10) February 6, 2021
In case you’re wondering what happens when Arsenal do this sort of thing, here’s Mikel Arteta being sent off against Crystal Palace in the same area after Marouane Chamakh threw himself at the Arsenal midfielder:
You might also remember Laurent Koscielny being sent off for similar at the Emirates against Newcastle.
Villa rotating fouls and tough tackles on Saka, but nobody is mentioning it because apparently fouls only happen to Grealish🙃
— Adam (ThreeFiveBoo👻) (@ThreeFiveWho) February 6, 2021
'don't know why he's being booked for that' say BT about Partey's yellow
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) February 6, 2021
That looked like a foul throw by Villa but as it wasn't Hector Bellerin it wasn't given
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) February 6, 2021
Up until 7 December 16 foul throws were given in the Premier league, 6 went to Arsenal, 10 the other 19 teams
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) February 6, 2021
After the game, Mikel Arteta was asked about referees and if he felt there was any consistency among them. “No,” he replied. “As you can see me, I was really animated for a few decisions and one big decision that I will not discuss here as well what happened.
“It’s what it is. It’s not an excuse. Regardless of those decisions we have to win the game. It’s as simple as that.”
Asked his opinion on the Lacazette incident Arteta replied simply, “Again I prefer to stay on mute on that.”
4 February 2021
Arsenal have had their appeal over David Luiz’s red card against Wolves turned down, despite referee Mark Clattenburg claiming it was the wrong decision.
Former referee and PGMOL boss Keith Hackett initially reported that Arsenal appealed David Luiz’s red card against Wolves on Tuesday. Simon Collings of the Evening Standard then confirmed the same information.
On Thursday afternoon it was announced that the FA had turned down Arsenal’s appeal, despite overturning the Southampton red received the same night:
The Football Association have confirmed to us that the red card given to David Luiz on Tuesday against Wolves will stand.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 4, 2021
#SaintsFC’s @janbednarek_ will be available for the trip to #NUFC, after the club was successful in its appeal against the red card he received at #MUFC.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 4, 2021
The Arsenal defender made slight contact with Willian Jose to concede a penalty just before half-time, but was shocked to see a red card brandished for the incident. The foul was no more than a tangle of legs (if that!) and seemed entirely unintentional.
The only reason there was even any contact was that Jose was gearing up for a shot. He adjusted his feet to take it, and it was this adjustment that caused the issue.
Mark Clattenburg writes for the Daily Mail that Luiz was incorrectly sent off, and it should have been a yellow card. He argues that Luiz was making a genuine attempt to catch up with Jose to play the ball, not meaning to bring him down in the process.
Clattenburg added that the law was meant to see players sent off only if they’d deliberately fouled an opponent to deny a clear scoring opportunity. That clearly wasn’t the case here, a penalty and a yellow would’ve been enough.
However, it seems that the reason Arsenal’s red was upheld was because there was no attempt to win the ball.
All this talk of ‘accidental contact’ made the papers are they talked of common sense making it’s way into the game. Sadly, it seems that it was never actually added to the rules.
After Craig Pawson and Jon Moss’s horror show for Arsenal vs Wolves, who is taking charge against Aston Villa on Saturday?
Aston Villa vs Arsenal
- 12.30pm Saturday, 6 February, 2021
- Referee: Chris Kavanagh
- Line 1: Daniel Cook
- Line 2:Constantine Hatzidakis
- Fourth official: Darren England
- VAR: David Coote
- Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis
Chris Kavanagh – Referee
Chris Kavanagh returns for his fifth Arsenal involvement with Arsenal this season in the Premier League, although you will also remember him from the FA Cup against Newcastle (picture above) when he sent off Emile Smith Rowe only to have to change his mind after a VAR review.
You might also remember him from last season when he sent Eddie Nketiah off against Leicester after initially giving him a yellow and then changing his mind after he got another go.
Kavanagh, a 35-year-old ref from Manchester, has been a regular fixture at Arsenal games over the last few seasons. Last campaign only Paul Tierney had more involvements with Arsenal in an official capacity than Kavanagh who took part 11 times (six as referee, two as fourth official and three as VAR).
This season he only has the four involvements so far but the game against Aston Villa will take him to five (all as referee).
Arsenal have won just one of those games, the opener against Fulham, and the Mancunian has flashed a total of nine yellows with three going to Arsenal and six to their opponents (22 Arsenal fouls v 27 opposition).
Kavanagh has not sent off a player nor given a penalty in any of his Arsenal games so far this season.
Daniel Cook and Constantine Hatzidakis – Line
Dan Cook and Constantine Hatzidakis have been involved in a total of six Arsenal games between them this season (three each).
Darren England – Fourth official
This will only be Darren England’s second Arsenal involvement this season. His previous came as fourth official against West Ham which Arsenal won in the second game of the season.
David Coote VAR
This will be David Coote’s seventh involvement with Arsenal making him the official most likely to get an Arsenal match.
Given the fact that Arsenal have played just 22 games, Coote has been involved in a whopping 27% of games with that percentage rising to 30.4% with his inclusion against Aston Villa.
Three of his previous six appearances have come on VAR, making this his fourth time in charge of the TV. To put it another way, David Coote has been in charge of making Arsenal’s VAR decisions in almost 20% of their games.
Does that seem fair or right?
This was a point I made repeatedly last season. That sort of familiarity breeds contempt.
Coote, an official who Wikipedia doesn’t even have a date of birth, age estimate or place of birth for, was on VAR for Arsenal games against Fulham, Aston Villa (the home match we lost), and Burnley.
He’s from Nottingham and used to be “employed as Football Development Manager by Manchester CFA responsible for football and facility development across Greater Manchester, following extensive development experience,” according to his Linkedin profile.
Given he started his degree in 2000, we can assume he’s around 38 or 39.
He was fourth official for both debacles against Wolves this season.
A National List Referee since 2010, with major honours including refereeing the League 1 Play Off Final and FA Vase Final in 2014, Coote also lists three J League fixtures in Japan that same year as part of an exchange programme on his CV.
A full time Championship referee since 2016, he was then promoted to Premier League referees list in 2018.
Coote became a professional referee in July 2016 and is probably most well known for allowing Jordan Pickford to break Virgil van Dijk.
Sian Massey-Ellis Assistant VAR
Still awaiting her first match as referee despite being in the league longer than some of her male counterparts from this game who have all been promoted above her, Massey-Ellis is taking part in her sixth Arsenal game of the season (one as line 1, two as line 2, and three assistant VAR).
Massey-Ellis has been a professional for two years more than Coote. Kavanagh was handed his first Premier League matches three years after he first started in the Football League in 2014.
By that time, Massey-Ellis had been involved with Premier League matches since 2008 and was named as an assistant referee for the first time in 2010. She is still yet to be trusted as referee or VAR despite repeatedly proving her ability.
In fact, in 2020 Massey-Ellis, along with Kavanagh and Coote were named as the officials for the Uefa Youth League final.
She was the least senior of all three officials, taking the second assistant spot.
Arsenal referees and officials 2019/2020
|home/away||opposition||result||score||referee||line||line||fourth||var||ass var||yellow arsenal||red arsenal||yellow op||red op|
|1||away||Newcastle||win||0-1||Martin Atkinson||Lee Betts||Constantine Hatzidakis||Darren England||David Coote||Nick Hopton||3||0||1||0|
|2||home||Burnley||win||2-1||Mike Dean||Darren Cann||Dan Robathan||Peter Bankes||Chris Kavanagh||Andy Halliday||2||0||1||0|
|3||away||Liverpool||defeat||1-3||Anthony Taylor||Gary Beswick||Adam Nunn||Jon Moss||Stuart Attwell||Andy Halliday||1||0||1||0|
|4||home||Tottenham||draw||2-2||Martin Atkinson||Lee Betts||Constantine Hatzidakis||Andre Marriner||Paul Tierney||Stephen Child||3||0||5||0|
|5||away||Watford||draw||2-2||Anthony Taylor||Gary Beswick||Adam Nunn||Peter Bankes||Chris Kavanagh||Daniel Cook||3||0||3||0|
|6||home||Aston Villa||win||3-2||Jon Moss||Harry Lennard||Eddie Smart||Simon Hooper||Peter Bankes||Andy Garratt||7||1||1||0|
|7||away||Man United||draw||1-1||Kevin Friend||Scott Ledger||Richard West||Chris Kavanagh||Mike Dean||Stephen Child||2||0||4||0|
|8||home||Bournemouth||win||1-0||Martin Atkinson||Adam Nunn||Constantine Hatzidakis||Peter Bankes||Anthoy Taylor||Andy Halliday||1||0||2||0|
|9||away||Sheffield United||defeat||0-1||Mike Dean||Darren Cann||Dan Robathan||Simon Hooper||Andre Marriner||Neil Davies||4||0||4||0|
|10||home||Crystal Palace||draw||2-2||Martin Atkinson||Lee Betts||Peter Kirkup||Tim Robinson||Jarred Gillett||Neil Davies||2||0||0||0|
|11||home||Wolves||draw||1-1||Michael Oliver||Stuart Burt||Simon Bennett||Andy Davies||Paul Tierney||Harry Lennard||0||0||2||0|
|12||away||Leicester||defeat||0-2||Chris Kavanagh||Daniel Cook||Constantine Hatzidakis||Anthony Taylor||Staurt Attwell||Andy Halliday||1||0||1||0|
|13||home||Southampton||draw||2-2||Stuart Attwell||Richard West||Neil Davies||Gavin Ward||Andy Madley||Eddie Smart||6||0||2||0|
|14||away||Norwich||draw||2-2||Paul Tierney||Constantine Hatzidakis||Harry Lennard||Gavin Ward||Michael Oliver||Neil Davies||1||0||2||0|
|15||home||Brighton||defeat||1-2||Graham Scott||Simon Bennett||Neil Davies||Tim Robinson||Jon Moss||Marc Perry||3||0||1||0|
|16||away||West Ham||win||1-3||Mike Dean||Ian Hussin||Dan Robathan||Lee Mason||Kevin Friend||Andy Halliday||0||0||2||0|
|17||home||Manchester City||defeat||0-3||Paul Tierney||Constantine Hatzidakis||Harry Lennard||Andre Marriner||Chris Kavanagh||Sian Massey-Ellis||1||0||4||0|
|18||away||Everton||draw||0-0||Kevin Friend||Adrian Holmes||Mark Scholes||Lee Mason||Graham Scott||Andy Halliday||3||0||2||0|
|19||away||Bournemouth||draw||1-1||Chris Kavanagh||Sian Massey-Ellis||Adam Nunn||Matt Donohue||Lee Mason||Matthew Wilkes||4||0||4||0|
|20||home||Chelsea||defeat||1-2||Craig Pawson||Lee Betts||Richard West||Martin Atkinson||Michael Oliver||Stephen Child||5||0||4||0|
|21||home||Man United||win||2-0||Chris Kavanagh||Sian Massey-Ellis||Constantine Hatzidakis||Craig Pawson||Paul Tierney||Stephen Child||2||0||0||0|
|22||away||Crystal Palace||draw||1-1||Paul Tierney||Ian Hussin||Marc Perry||Keith Stroud||Craig Pawson||Andy Halliday||3||1||2||0|
|23||home||Sheffield United||draw||1-1||Mike Dean||Ian Hussin||Dan Robathan||Lee Mason||Martin Atkinson||Sian Massey-Ellis||1||0||2||0|
|24||away||Chelsea||draw||2-2||Stuart Attwell||Ian Hussin||Richard West||David Coote||Paul Tierney||Constantine Hatzidakis||1||1||2||0|
|25||away||Burnley||draw||0-0||Chris Kavanagh||Daniel Cook||Sian Massey-Ellis||Jon Moss||David Coote||Gary Beswick||3||0||1||0|
|26||home||Newcastle||win||4-0||Lee Mason||Ian Hussin||Harry Lennard||Andy Madley||Kevin Friend||Stephen Child||2||0||0||0|
|27||home||Everton||win||3-2||Stuart Attwell||Adam Nunn||Simon Long||Simon Hooper||Craig Pawson||Stephen Child||0||0||4||0|
|28||away||Manchester City||defeat||3-0||Anthony Taylor||Gary Beswick||Adam Nunn||Martin Atkinson||Stuart Atwell||Stephen Child||1||1||1||0|
|29||home||West Ham||win||1-0||Martin Atkinson||Lee Betts||Sian Massey-Ellis||John Brooks||Kevin Friend||Simon Beck||1||0||2||0|
|30||away||Brighton||defeat||2-1||Martin Atkinson||Stuart Burt||Peter Kirkup||Dean Whitestone||David Coote||Sian Massey-Ellis||1||0||2||0|
|31||away||Southampton||defeat||2-0||Anthony Taylor||Gary Beswick||Adam Nunn||Jared Gilley||Stuart Atwell||Simon Beck||0||1||2||0|
|32||home||Norwich||win||4-0||Peter Bankes||Daniel Cook||Richard West||Darren England||Mike Dean||Ian Hussin||1||0||4||0|
|33||away||Wolves||win||0-2||Michael Oliver||Stuart Burt||Daniel Cook||Andre Marriner||Paul Tierney||Lee Betts||4||0||2||0|
|34||home||Leicester||draw||1-1||Chris Kavanagh||Daniel Cook||Sian Massey-Elis||Darren England||Stuart Atwell||Simon Beck||1||1||0||0|
|35||away||Tottenham||defeat||2-1||Michael Oliver||Simon Bennett||Daniel Cook||Graham Scott||Paul Tierney||Harry Lennard||3||0||5||0|
|36||home||Liverpool||win||2-1||Paul Tierney||Daniel Cook||Simon Long||Graham Scott||Craig Pawson||Stephen Child||3||0||1||0|
|37||away||Aston Villa||defeat||1-0||Chris Kavanagh||Daniel Cook||Sian Massey-Ellis||Graham Scot||Craig Pawson||Mark Scholes||4||0||2||0|
|38||home||Watford||win||3-2||Mike Dean||Ian Hussin||Darren Cann||James Linington||Lee Mason||Adrian Holmes||3||3||0|
|3||home||Leeds||win||1-0||Anthony Taylor||Gary Beswick||Adam Nunn||Kevin Friend||Stuart Atwell||Marc Perry||1||0||2||0|
|4||away||Bournemouth||win||1-2||Martin Atkinson||Lee Betts||Adam Nunn||Simon Hooper||Mike Dean||Marc Perry||1||0||2||0|
|5||away||Portsmouth||win||0-2||Mike Dean||Simon Bennett||Eddie Smart||David Coote||–||–||1||0||1||0|
|6||away||Sheffield Utd||win||1-2||Paul Tierney||Ian Hussin||Marc Perry||Robert James||Peter Bankes||Constantine Hatzidakis||0||0||2||0|
|7||away||Man City||win||2-0||Jon Moss||Simon Bennett||Marc Perry||Paul Tierney||Craig Pawson||Gary Beswick||0||0||0||0|
|7||away||Chelsea||win||2-0||Anthony Taylor||Gary Beswick||Adam Nunn||Chris Kavanagh||Stuart Atwell||Steve Child|
|League & FA Cup||Official||Arsenal involvement||referee||line||line||fourth||var||ass var|
|League only||Official||Arsenal involvement||referee||line||line||fourth||var||ass var|
Premier League 20/21 Foul and card stats
FPY = fouls per yellow
YPG – yellows per game