When Matteo Guendouzi was shown a yellow card for sarcasm (yes, you read that correctly) during Arsenal’s recent FA Cup match at Portsmouth it was another installment of the Mike Dean show. It’s well-known that Dean has a history of making bad decisions, and he has often been accused of seeking to be the center of attention.
Editor’s Note: I gave Jocelyn permission to not write “Mike Dean, who is bad at his job” every time she wrote his name for brevity’s sake. But don’t forget, Mike Dean is bad at his job.
That got me thinking about some of the worst refereeing decisions that Arsenal have been subjected to over the years. There are many, but these are five that stand out to me.
- September 2015, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, from Mike Dean: of course Diego Costa was going to be involved in one of these. In first half stoppage time, Costa manhandled Laurent Koscielny and slapped him in the face in full view of everyone. Gabriel Paulista came to defend his teammate and he and Costa got into a shoving match. Both players were issued yellow cards, but Costa kept needling Gabriel who retaliated by kicking Costa. Dean immediately showed Gabriel a straight red card. Yet, Costa, the guy at the center of all the conflict remained on the pitch. Arsenal played the entire second half a man down.
After the fact, Gabriel’s three match ban was rescinded by the Football Association and Costa was handed a three-match ban for violent conduct. The FA determined that Dean had “made an error of judgement”. Of course that didn’t change the final score.
- December 2017, Arsenal visited West Brom, Mike Dean again: the Gunners had a 1-0 lead when Dean awarded a penalty for a supposed “handball” by Calum Chambers. Thus, Arsenal’s win, became a 1-1 draw.
Afterwards, Arsene Wenger labelled Dean “a disgrace” and “not honest”
Dean later admitted that he got the call wrong. Again that didn’t change the final score and Wenger was punished with a three-match touchline ban and a £40,000 fine. Arsenal got the short end of the stick once again.
- March 2014, Chelsea 6 - Arsenal 0 at Stamford Bridge, Andre Marriner. It was Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge and an overall ugly display by the Gunners. In the 15th minute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handled an Eden Hazard shot which resulted in a penalty to Chelsea and a red card for the Arsenal player. However, Marinner sent defender Kieran Gibbs off despite Oxlade-Chamberlain telling him he was sending off the wrong player. Gibbs left the pitch (he probably was thrilled to get away from this humiliating match) and Oxlade-Chamberlain remained in the game.
Mariner apologized for his gaff several days later.
- March 2011, Arsenal-Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16, Massimo Busacca. The Gunners won the first leg in London 2-1 and headed to the Nou Camp with a thin advantage. With the score tied 1-1 in the 56th minute referee took center stage with an egregious bit of officiating. Robin van Persie took a shot on goal after Busacca had blown his whistle to stop play. Busacca decided van Persie had intentionally ignored the whistle and booked him. However, with 95,000 cheering fans in the stands the ref should have understood that maybe the player hadn’t heard the whistle. It didn’t matter to the Swiss referee. Since van Persie had been booked earlier in the match, the second yellow led to his dismissal from this crucial match
Down to ten men with over 30 minutes remaining Barcelona scored two more times and won 4-3 on aggregate. We’ll never know if Arsenal would have held on to their lead, but Busacca took that opportunity away with his outlandish call.
- Last October, Arsenal at Crystal Palace, VAR. The most recent horrible decision was VAR overturning a call that a referee actually got right. With the match tied 2-2, Sokratis scored a winner late in the match and referee Martin Atkinson signaled goal. As the players and the fans celebrated, VAR disallowed it.
Weeks later, referee chief Mike Riley revealed that VAR had incorrectly overturned four key decisions that the on-field referees had got correct. Of course Arsenal’s disallowed winner against Crystal Palace was one of these.
Do you have any bad refereeing decisions to add to the list?