This week we are trying something new on Fridays and instead of bringing you a run down of the news stories you’ve probably already heard (did you know that Kevin Cyrill Davies is incapable of cooking a pop tart?) I would bring you a preview of the referee who will be in charge of Arsenal’s next match. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you’ll think I’m just a whinger, either way, that’s what the comments are for. Have at it, I can take it.
The one thing you can say for certain is that matches with Phil Dowd in charge are rarely boring. In fact, there are quite a number of them that are fiery affairs marred by frustrated players making rash decisions. John Terry (above) has been sent off exactly three times in the last 5 years, twice by Dowd. He’s the referee who Wayne Rooney famously threw the ball at in frustration and was promptly sent packing. In that same game, he also sent off Paul Scholes and (of course) was roundly criticized by Sir Alex Ferguson. He was the referee who was in charge when Joey Barton assaulted Xavi Alonso and he was in charge when Karl Henry broke Bobby Zamora’s leg.
As shown above, contests with Phil Dowd in charge sometimes devolve into niggling affairs where frustrated players’ tempers boil over and he then punishes them for it. At that point, unlike many refs, he’s not afraid to show a double yellow card (ask Alex Song) and he’s not afraid to give red cards to English internationals.
With that in mind, I looked at the last 11 Arsenal and Tottenham matches with Dowd in charge and a few things popped out.
First, he’s not afraid of the early yellow card and has dished out 13 early yellows in his last 11 Arsenal matches — 7 to Arsenal’s opponents, and 6 to Arsenal players. If you throw out the Blackburn game where he gave three cards in 15 minutes to Blackburn, then he’s given 4 for Arsenal and 6 against. Meaning that he’s got a slight bias toward punishing Arsenal players early.
He’s given out 45 total yellow cards in those games, including two red cards (one to Song and one to Carlton Cole). Depending on how you count it, it’s either 18 or 19 yellow cards (because the Song red was two yellows) for Arsenal in those 11 games — which closely matches Arsenal’s season average last year at 1.72. The three he’s given this year (including the double yellow to Song) is above Arsenal’s current season average, though since he’s only been in charge of one game, that’s hardly fair. I’d have to say that overall, he might punish Arsenal players early but he evens things out.
Last season, he only dished 5 red cards and this season he’s already on 4. That said, all but the Song red were deserved and the total could have been higher since he was in charge when Karl Henry broke Zamora’s leg.
Up front, Arsenal have scored 25 goals in the games with Phil Dowd at the whistle and have only allowed 9 — four of which went directly to Chelsea. All told, though, that’s a good scoring record and reflected in our 7-3-1 overall record. In fact, until the draw against Sunderland this season, Arsenal romped our opponents with Phil Dowd on the whistle, a run of 5 clean sheets against Blackburn (H), West Ham (A), Sheffield United (H), Bolton (A), Villa (H) — winning 15-0 in the process.
As for particular players, he’s had an eye on Alex Song of late and has given him a yellow card in each of the last three league games that the two have been paired, he also gave Song the second yellow away to Sunderland that many felt was undeserved. Song is a good bet, then, for a yellow card on Saturday.
Tottenham’s record with Phil Dowd is not nearly as good as Arsenal’s at 5-4-2 and Dowd’s record of giving red cards in Tottenham matches should be something to keep an eye on. Last season he gave out a total of 5 red cards and 3 of them came in Tottenham matches: 2 against their opponents and 1 for Tottenham. From what I’ve read all three cards were thoroughly deserved but it’s still a strange record. In addition, all the Tottenham wins were scrappy (1 goal settling the dispute), with the exception of the 5-1 win over Preston.
Oddly, given that he’s been in charge of many Arsenal and Tottenham matches, he’s never taken charge of the North London Derby. Given his record and the history of the two clubs, combined with Tottenham’s irrational belief that “the difference in quality between the squads is paper thin” as Ben Rumsby put it on Arsenal.com leads me to believe that tomorrow’s match could spark some real controversy.
I wonder if you can put a bet on there being a red card in a game? If so, I might put some money on that. Hell, with his record, I might even put money on more than one.