So many an 'expert' seems to think that it is absolutely inevitable that all the big decisions will always even themselves out over a season, I have always thought this theory to be absolutely nonsensical, it relies upon a stupid man's lack of statistical understanding and an assumption that he have a set of excellent unbiased referees who are not swayed by any exterior forces.
I thought it would be interesting to look back over the last couple of months or so to see just how many big crucial decisions have gone for us and how many have gone against us. In order to try to be as fair as possible I have tried to bite my lip and be as objective as possible, hard I know. I have categorised the big decisions as being RED CARDS (correct, soft, incorrect), DISALLOWED GOALS (correct, soft, incorrect), and PENALTIES (correct, soft, incorrect). I feel these are the big game changing decisions, if I have missed any in the following games then please feel free to let me know.
Newcastle (A) 4-4 Draw
FOR - nil
AGAINST - RED CARD diaby (soft), RED CARD barton (incorrect), PENALTY (incorrect), PENALTY (soft), DISALLOWED GOAL for offside RVP (soft)
Wolves (H) 2-0 - nil contentious
Stoke (H) 1-0 - nil contentious
Sunderland (H) 0-0
FOR - nil
AGAINST - DISALLOWED GOAL for offside Arshavin (incorrect), PENALTY and RED CARD for same incident Bramble on Arshavin (incorrect)
West Brom (A) 2-2
FOR - nil
AGAINST - RED CARD Jerome Thomas on Sagna (soft)
Blackburn (H) 0-0
For - RED CARD (correct)
Against - nil
Blackpool (A) 3-1
For - PENALTY foul by Koscielny (incorrect)
Against - PENALTY RVP shoved over 2nd half (incorrect)
Liverpool (H) 1-1
For - PENALTY (correct)
Against - PENALTY Lucas (soft), PENALTY Kuyt handball (incorrect), PENALTY Kiyriakos on RVP (soft)
Tottenham (A) 3-3
For - nil
Against - DISALLOWED RVP goal (incorrect), PENALTY (correct)
Obviously this is always going to be subjective to a degree, however I have tried to be as objective as possible and relied more upon the general opinion of people I respect and trust to be more objective than myself. Overall the results are absolutely startling.
Overall of a total of eighteen big decisions in the last couple of months, 3 decisions have been for us and 15 against us. Of the 15 decisions against us, 9 have been incorrect, 5 soft and 1 correct. Of the decisions given for us which only amount to 3, 2 have been correct and one incorrect. The 3 disallowed goals have consisted of two clear errors and one borderline soft decision where RVP was level. Here is the breakdown
For Arsenal - 2 Correct 0 Soft 1 Incorrect
Against Arsenal - 1 Correct 5 Soft 9 Incorrect
The penalties section makes astonishing reading, we have had only 2 decisions for us, Cesc's against Liverpool and the Koscielny foul at Blackpool, a startling 8 decisions have gone against us in this same period. The fact that cannot be argued with that is 100% objective is that we have been given 1 penalty in this period while our opponents have had 4, strange given the way that we dominate games in terms of both territory and chances.
Despite our failings in terms of squad depth and experience, combined with some clear tactical errors, it is abundantly clear that we have most definitely not had the rub of the green this year in terms of the big game altering decisions. In a similar time frame we have seen Manu escape defeat at West Ham thanks to a dodgy free kick and penalty, Rooney avoid a red card for a reckless elbow at Wigan and Blackpool denied a clear penalty against the Mancs at a key time in the game.
So next time you hear some expert say that luck evens itself out over a season, do not believe them, it most definitely does not. In fact one can argue that when there is very little between the top sides the league title is probably impacted upon more by these key refereeing decisions than anything else. There were defensive failings at Newcastle when Djourou went off but I firmly believe that with a competent official we would still have come away with three points, alas we will never know.