The thing that’s odd about Mike Dean’s record when referee of Arsenal matches isn’t that he always calls penalties against Arsenal it’s that the pens mysteriously dry up when he’s referee. But when he does decide to make a call, it tends to go against Arsenal.
Here’s his record refereeing the top clubs (plus Tottenham):
Dean isn’t allowed to referee Liverpool matches and has only taken charge of three Liverpool matches in his career. Whether that’s because he’s from Wirral or for some other reason has never been discussed. But as you can see from the matches he’s refereed, there is one team’s record which stands out like a bald man dramatically pointing to the penalty spot.
Looking at the other top four teams, Dean has refereed 246 of their matches and has awarded those teams 49 penalties. That’s about a penalty every five games on average. He’s also awarded their opponents 37 penalties or a penalty every 6.6 games on average. Combined he has awarded 86 penalties in 246 matches for the other top five teams, a penalty every 2.9 games.
Oddly, Dean has awarded Arsenal 3 penalties in 64 matches, one every 21 matches. Just to repeat: Mike Dean awards other top teams a penalty every 5 games on average, but Arsenal a penalty every 21 games.
For the opposition, his number looks a little more like his career average. He has awarded Arsenal’s opponents a penalty every 9 games.
Over his career, Dean has awarded a penalty every 3 games on average (207 pens in 663 matches). That is exactly in line with his average for matches he referees with Chelsea, Tottenham, Man U, and Man City (2.9). But in Arsenal games, for some fucking reason and I can’t for the life of me figure out why, Dean has awarded just 10 penalties in 64 games, one every 6.4 matches, twice as few.
The reason for this massive discrepancy is that he literally refuses to award Arsenal penalties. 3 pens in 64 matches is a massive statistical outlier. If he was consistent with Arsenal the way that he is with all other teams he would have awarded Arsenal an additional NINE (9) penalties.
What’s absolutely crazy is that if this was a small sample of say 24 matches we might be able to wave it away, the way that Dean consistently waves away Arsenal penalty claims. But if you were expecting this record to revert to the mean it has done anything but: he has only awarded Arsenal 1 penalty in the last 40 matches. I have a hard time saying that it’s “just variance” when there’s a referee who awards a team a penalty every six matches and he has awarded one team a pen every 21 matches and just 1 pen in the last 40.
Cech is now 0/14 on penalty saves as an Arsenal player. I guess that’s not that bad, keepers only save about 15% of penalties on target on average and a keeper and if he saves the next two in a row he’ll be back up to 13%.
But the problem is that overall, Cech looks a bit old this season: he’s saving just 33% of the big chances he’s faced, which is average for the Premier League, but down from the high of 48% of 2015/16. And most worrying, Cech is saving just 41% of the shots in prime that he’s faced. These are shots inside of 10 yards around the goal. In 2015/16 Cech’s average was 64% saved and he was best in the League that year.
Here’s the saves and conversions charts for this season, sorted by Shots in Prime (SiP) saves.
We can blame Dean and Cech all we want but the fact remains that Arsenal have struggled during this congested “festive” fixtures period. I’ll probably lose my mind doing this but looking at Liverpool’s attack over the last month compared to Arsenal’s is instructive.
Arsenal have faced Southampton, West Ham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Crystal Palace, and West Brom in their last seven matches. Arsenal have scored 8 goals and have created just 7 big chances in those matches. An average of about 1 each per game. Liverpool have had a fairly similar fixtures list and have played Brighton, Everton, West Brom, Bournemouth, Arsenal, Swansea, and Leicester. In those matches, Liverpool have scored 20 goals and created 25 big chances. What’s that, 3 times as many as Arsenal?
Against West Bromwich Albion today Arsenal only created an expected goals of 0.77, their fourth worst output of the Premier League season (City, 0.39; Liverpool, 0.59; Soton, 0.61). So, while we can complain (rightly) that Dean shouldn’t have awarded them a penalty and should have (maybe) awarded Arsenal a penalty – Arsenal’s offensive output is far from “fuckin excellent” at the moment.
Alexis only had two turnovers today, had 2 through balls (led all players), 3 key passes (led all players), and took 6 shots (led all players). But he didn’t get an assist or even register a shot on goal, and his goal will go down as an own goal. Still (laugh-cry emoji) it’s going to be great when Arsenal sell him in January and get rid of our only offensive threat (JUST CRY EMOJI).
One reason why Mertesacker was brought on was because there were 30 aerial duels in this match and only 4 of them were in the WBA half. After Per came on there was only 1 aerial duel at all in the game (won by WBA).
Wilshere attempted 5 dribbles (led all players) but only won 2. He passed the ball at an 87% rate, which is good, but had 0 through balls and 0 key passes. He did have 2/3 tackles and 2 interceptions, which meant that he was the best midfielder on the pitch today. He also drew 4 fouls and is now averaging 2.2 “was fouled’s” per game.
Chambers had a bad passing game, completing just 81% of his 91 passes. He was 74 of 91. Boy howdy that’s bad for a center back. The problem was that he was 7/13 on long balls. I’m not sure who he thought he was making long ball passes to. Definitely a lineup which cried out “GIROUD!”
That’s it folks, I can’t make the stats lie to you: the game you saw was the game I saw and it wasn’t good.
Sources: transfermarkt (Mike Dean), my database, and whoscored.com