Mike Dean has a weird record when refereeing Arsenal, it’s probably nothing

Good morning you Deaniacs! Well, it’s morning to me, even if it is approaching noon, because I am finally “up”.  All of which is to say, I have a cold. It’s not a great cold, nor is it a greatly bad cold, but it’s a cold. You know the sort, coughing, fever, snot everywhere. Regular old cold.

I think I got it from my family Thanksgiving. I went over to my sister’s house and they were all coughing like it was a tuberculosis ward. I’ve got their black lung (pop) and now I’m pretty, ehh, meh.

But I do have some good news! Mike Dean is refereeing the North London Derby and I couldn’t be happier. Sure, he’s notoriously the most lavish gifter of penalties in the League (33% of his matches are awarded a penalty) and he’s only awarded 1 penalty for Arsenal in the last 8 years. Sure, if you count the 6 penalties he’s awarded Arsenal’s opponents in that same time, you get him up to 18% but that pales in comparison to the penalties he’s been busy awarding all of Arsenal’s opponents.

For example, Man City has won 9 Dean pens in 42 matches and their opponents have 6, 36% of their matches get pens. And it’s a similar thing for all of the other teams in the top six:

15/40 matches for Chelsea: 38%.
14/40 matches for Man U: 35%
12/38 matches for Spurs: 32%
7/38 matches for Arsenal: 18%

Why am I so happy? He loves to swallow the whistle on pens in Arsenal matches!

Though.. if I look at the data a bit closer, maybe that’s not so good?

9/42 matches he’s awarded Man City a pen: 21%
8/40 matches he’s awarded Chelsea a pen: 20%
8/40 matches he’s awarded Man U a pen: 20%
6/38 matches he’s awarded Tottenham a pen: 16%
1/38 matches he’s awarded Arsenal a pen: 3%


And what about awarded the opponents. He must be fair in that regard and Arsenal’s opponents can’t be getting way more penalties than Arsenal are? Surely…

Awarding opponents pens:

6/42 matches he’s awarded a pen for Man City’s opponents: 14%
7/40 matches he’s awarded a pen for Chelsea’s opponents: 18%
6/40 matches he’s awarded a pen for Man U’s opponents: 15%
6/38 matches he’s awarded a pen for Tottenham’s opponents: 16%
6/38 matches he’s awarded a pen for Arsenal’s opponents: 16%

Whoa.. super weird. It looks like despite the recent return of decent results with Mike Dean as referee, Arsenal are 5.3 times more likely to concede a penalty than win one.

But wait! There’s more!

In terms of red cards, Arsenal have been penalized 5 times in 38 matches (twice against Chelsea, 13%) and their opponents just twice in 38 games (5%). Let’s see how both percentages stack up against the other top clubs:

Against Man City: (3/42) 7%
For Man City: (7/42) 17%
Against Chelsea: (5/40) 13%
For Chelsea: (3/40) 8%
Against Man U: (5/40) 13%
For Man U: (3/40) 8%
Against Tottenham: (1/38) 3%
For Tottenham: (7/38) 18%
Against Arsenal: (5/38) 13%
For Arsenal: (2/38) 5%

Mike Dean is six times more likely to give a red card to Tottenham’s opponents than he is to Tottenham and 2.6 times more likely to give a red card to Arsenal than Spurs.

Anyway, I’m sure all of this is just down to a sampling problem. It seems unlikely that the PGMOL and the Football Association would allow a referee with a clear bias to take charge of important games that team played. That would be super weird.

Also, it may be that Dean’s problem was Wenger. In the New Year’s Eve match between West Brom and Arsenal, Dean awarded Albion a penalty for what was a very harsh handball on Calum Chambers. Wenger was incensed and confronted Dean after the match. According to the Guardian report it went down like this:

“In Dean’s report, the official stated: “As we’ve entered the dressing room after the game Mr Wenger stood behind us in the doorway and told the West Brom steward to ‘let him in’. He was very aggressive leaning towards me, pointing aggressively at me saying ‘you’re not honest’ on numerous occasions. I replied ‘so you’re calling me a cheat’. He replied ‘I maintain what I say, you’re not honest’.

“He then said ‘you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace’. He was then ushered out of the room by the West Brom safety officer.”

An independent disciplinary panel handed Wenger the three-match ban on 5 January and a £40,000 fine for the incident with the manager accepting his “language and behaviour was abusive, improper and questioned the integrity” of the referee.”

Anyway, I’m sure that there’s nothing to all of this. Mike Dean can’t possibly be throwing Arsenal matches or making biased calls against Arsenal. That would be an explosive allegation. This all just must be random statistical variation, for example, he has to have other teams that he’s given just 1 penalty in the last 38 matches. (checks stats), huh, weird, nope.



  1. Can I just say I love this blog.
    Great work – very funny
    If we have a prejudice, we have to first recognise/admit it to ourselves; then actively control it or it can subconsciously control what we do. Does it make it any better if it is subconscious and not intentional/consciously done? I dont thinks so.

  2. I have to say that this may be more down to Arsenal having had very few players of the divey/cheat variety over the last decade or so. Equally very few tricky wingers e.g. Zaha and Hazard who actively look for penalties every game.
    Not just with Dean, but could you check the overall penalty statistics over that time? I would be very surprised if this same ratio wasn’t consistent across all matches.

  3. Fair question and one I wondered as well, otamotpuos. I do think some of this is down to Arsenal’s terrible defensive record, which is no secret, and big penalties go against us regularly in the CL as well. In short, we face some terrific forwards who are willing and able to simulate at first contact with a shoddy defense and that’s always likely to yield penalties and red cards. It’s true that Hazard and Robben love to go down like they’re shot when anyone tries to challenge them in the box, but it’s also true that they are incredible players and they draw lots of legitimate fouls that aren’t given in the box as well. I don’t think Arsenal have had a player on Hazard’s level for several years and so we don’t win as many penalties.

    All that said, my gut says Tim’s right, Dean seems to love to hate on the Arsenal and there’s only so much explaining away you can do for such discrepancies. The link posted by Dean McDonald is also quite disturbing.

    1. If it was more down to Arsenal and not Dean, wouldn’t that suggest that other referees should, on average, have a similar record when they referee Arsenal matches?

  4. Nicely done, Tim. Dean’s just effing awful. Theatrical, showy, inconsistent. And now you’ve supplied the receipts. Today Jose Mourinho wrecked a crate full of drinks to celebrate Fellaini’s goal. Arsene once kicked a bottle, fourth official Lee Probert Head Prefected the situation, and Dean banished Arsene to the stands.

    That sums him up more than his silly theatrics playing the advantage. Or demanding that a player come over to THIS blade of grass, to partake in the honour of receiving a yellow card.

    He simply does not give Arsenal penalties. He just doesn’t.

    1. When you are a gentleman, you get the shaft. When you are a bastard, people will part the Red Sea for you.

    1. I always thought Wenger should’ve done more taking on the PGMO clique but his inability to address the most obvious Arsenal needs would’ve made it to easy for pundits and media to dismiss any of his grievances as sour grapes.
      Not to mention any such action might’ve jeopardize Kroenke’s investment and protecting it was always job one.

      Can anyone imagine Ferguson or Mourinho not cite these statistics publicly over and over had they been in charge at Arsenal?
      Fat chance.

      On the other hand after Mike Riley’s master class of footballing equivalent in ratfu#king Arsenal at Old Trafford to break Wenger’s unbeaten run who could really blame Arsen for not doing more to try and unmask this PGMO $hit show.

  5. We’ve actually won the past three NLDs that Dean has been in charge of:
    2017 (2-0) November
    2014 (0-1) Rosicky thunderbolt goal
    2012 (5-2) After being 0-2 down.

    So that’s good stats.

    1. I don’t think he has a bias toward Spurs. Just against giving Arsenal penalties and toward giving Arsenal red cards. I also think this is/was about an extreme dislike of Arsene Wenger.

      1. I agree, Wenger was a chronic whiner on the sidelines, especially in the latter years. That kind of behavior very seldom ingratiates yourself to referees.

        That said, Mike Dean is a bad referee because he seem to want to be the centre of attention. The best referee is one that you can’t remember their name afterwards.

  6. And if Mustafi has one of his regular brain farts in the penalty box, Lord help us! He is a gift for Dean.

  7. He’s only a cheat.
    He’s only a cheat.
    Mike Dean’s not honest,
    He’s only a cheat.

  8. “You are dishonest to your federation” is one of my all-time favorite quotes. It was addressed not to Mike Dean but to Anthony Taylor, but whatever.

  9. Humorous post, but with a tinge of biting reality or worse.
    Might want to look at this guys games and betting that went on, might be much worse than just his hate for Arsene- look into the NBA they had a crooked ref on the books for years!

  10. I will never be a Deaniac. If I was forced to choose, maybe a Clattenburger or an Atkinsonian but never, ever a Deaniac.

    Whenever you write these kinds of pieces, I question watching and following a Premier League club.

    Maybe that’s why I grasp at straws like video refereeing. As if…

  11. Dean has both implicit and explicit bias towards us.
    It is bad enough watching this match hoping for the best from our team with a clean, clinical mistake-free game and then we get the referee who is wearing his ” “We luv ***** t-shirt”. We know Mike Dean likes shite because he has such a brown nose.

    ***** did bring on Son and Ericksen to get the win over Inter Milan.

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