Earlier in the season, I wrote an article looking at how unfairly referees had been treating Liverpool. Although the league campaign was only six games old, Brendan Rodgers had already felt compelled to mention in an interview how the Reds were not getting the rub of the green from officials, and that prompted my earlier investigation.
The bad news is, it is still not any better, and at the business end of the season, the cost of the errors by refs is looking increasingly expensive.
Using the information on the Debatable Decisions website, where a panel review the major decisions by referees in every Premier League match, I have compiled the figures for the seventeen teams who have been in the top flight for the last two seasons to see who the men in black have favoured over the previous sixty-eight matches.
At the opposite end of the table, Stoke City have almost the identical record to the Reds, except in reverse. This is presumably down to a number of referees allowing them to get away with their alehouse bully-boy tactics.
If we look at the figures more closely, we can see that Liverpool get an incorrect call in their favour every 3.8 games; as each team listed here receives one every 3.7 games on average, the Reds don’t really have too much cause for complaint here.
However, by having a bad call go against them every 1.9 games (against a league total of one every 4.8), this means that Liverpool have been unfairly punished 60% more frequently than the average.
Debatable Decisions also provide the points difference that the incorrect decisions have had. It’s not a flawless system, as for instance it assumes that all penalties are scored, but it certainly provides a decent guide.
As you’d expect, the Reds are comfortably at the bottom of the table, with refs having cost them eleven points last season, and ten as at the 31st game in this campaign (which is the most recent info that Debatable Decisions have published).
Whilst Liverpool may have had some decisions go in their favour since then, if they did have ten more points this season, then they’d be going into Sunday’s final match of the season against Queens Park Rangers with an outside chance of finishing fourth. Brendan Rodgers would certainly have a lot more Reds fans on his side if that were the case.
But I think the key thing to take from the above table is this: over the last two seasons, Liverpool have lost one point every three games on average thanks to incorrect decisions by referees.
Think about that: a side which has averaged 4.4 points every three games across the last two seasons should really have earned 5.4 points per three matches, and that equates to 68 for a whole season, and enough to contest fourth place in the league.
However, whilst it’s unrealistic to expect every single decision in the Premier League to be correct, it would be nice to think that it evens itself out eventually.
For Arsenal, this has very much been the case; the Gunners were the only side to finish below Liverpool in the decisions table last season, and have been rewarded with the top of the table spot this time around, as the below table shows:
No prizes for guessing which team is farthest away.
I’m not going to claim that there is any kind of conspiracy here, as down that road madness lies, but I’d like to think that Liverpool might get their deserved ten point boost in each of the next two seasons. Or even twenty bonus points next season, and we’ll call it quits?
Related articles you might like:
Blame Suárez - Liverpool’s striker is more harshly treated by refs than most entire teams are.
Who’s The Ref? – The Liverpool stats for various refs.
Ref Justice – A look at how the men in black have been treating the Reds.
Howard Webb, Penalties, and Manchester United – The stats suggest that Webb favours United over the other top English sides…