Aston Villa v Arsenal



GB at 2015-12-13 16:27:49

I can’t help having a lot of sympathy for the referee at the end of this one. He actually did not get very much wrong at all in the whole game. If we park the indecision over the correct penalty award (which just looked ugly), there really is not much left to criticise in this performance. He looked fit and moved well. He managed the players in a calm controlled manner and never let the game get away from him despite periods of extreme pressure due to the frustrations of the Home team. He dealt with the players with respect at all times and generally got the same in return.


All-in-all this was the most confident performance I have seen from Kevin for a very long time. The Teamwork continued at the same level throughout the second half, which enhances the overall perception of the officials


Although I said I wanted to park the penalty call, I still have a sneaky feeling that someone assisted the referee from a distance. It was almost as if he had a video referee on his side talking into his ear. The only person on the referee’s team who I have not mentioned so far in my deliberations – could it have been Darren Cann who tipped off the referee I wonder? I must say that if he did make the call from his position, then is was a fantastic shout, and I would not be surprised that the referee took it from him – as he is very rarely wrong! May be we will get the definitive answer one day – stay tuned to You Are The Ref to find out!


Well that’s it from me for today, I good overall performance, despite a very high profile talking point. But as we always say, as a team of officials it never matters who gets the decision right, as long as one of you does.

More RefCam to come today

GB at 2015-12-13 16:21:44

My final summary will follow very shortly.


I trust you have enjoyed this RefCam coverage so far this weekend and please keep your views coming on Twitter @youaretheref or email us at

Still to come this afternoon we have Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United KO 4pm when Roger East takes the reins for his first appearance on RefCam this season.

Then on Monday night we have the very intriguing encounter between this season’s high flyers Leicester City and a Chelsea team who are at last beginning to show a few signs of getting their season back on tract. This one will be managed by the equally high flying Mark Clattenburg and kicks off at 8pm.


A list of all the big games coming up on YATR is always available at:


GB at 2015-12-13 16:21:01

Full Time

Aston Villa 0 v 2 Arsenal


GB at 2015-12-13 16:19:40

Looks like we are going to get through the whole game with no yellow cards so credit to the referee for that as well


GB at 2015-12-13 16:17:35

great to see that Villa have not given up yet


GB at 2015-12-13 16:17:04

4 added minutes of play at end of 90 minutes


GB at 2015-12-13 16:15:46

All the talk after this game is bound to be about the penalty call in the first half


GB at 2015-12-13 16:13:09

the game is certainly going through a quiet period at the moment but the officials need to remain focussed right to the end


GB at 2015-12-13 16:07:22

not a deliberate hand ball then as the ball did not even touch his hand


GB at 2015-12-13 16:06:09

Clear holding offence, but not in the right area of the field of play to warrant a caution.


A caution for unsporting behaviour must be issued when a player holds an opponent to prevent him gaining possession of the ball or taking up an advantageous position


Still no cautions in this game so far and not even the hint of one


GB at 2015-12-13 16:04:32

I know that the referee has been mentioned a few times in this game, but to be fair to him he has looked pretty conformable in the way this have gone so far


GB at 2015-12-13 16:02:43

looked like an accidental clash then as the Villa player ran into his opponent


GB at 2015-12-13 16:00:27

sounds like someone was not impressed with the referee at Bramall Lane today –

As refereeing performances go, that was abysmal today at Bramall Lane @youaretheref @AlanBiggs1 Most if not all big decisions were wrong!

I have no doubt this will be cover red on the Ref Show tomorrow!


GB at 2015-12-13 15:58:35

Kevin Friend had obviously sussed that Villa were content to play those corner to the front post so he did not need to vary his position


GB at 2015-12-13 15:57:27

interesting position for the referee on the front post for each of these corners


GB at 2015-12-13 15:56:25

thinking back to the frenetic nature of the challenges in the opening minutes, you must give the referee credit for the fact that this game has never actually boiled over


GB at 2015-12-13 15:53:36

good to see the referee had the awayness to move swiftly into the penalty area then just in case there was a challenge on the keeper – so often this season I have seen referees who seem to think that the edge of the penalty area is a brick wall


GB at 2015-12-13 15:51:47

The referee is always spot on with his side on positions for the dropping ball in the centre of the field of play


GB at 2015-12-13 15:47:26

excellent energy and running style demonstrated again by the referee as play switches from end to end


GB at 2015-12-13 15:44:50

I know a referee will ultimately always be judged on the accuracy of his decisions, but the perception of his performance also always comes down to his positioning, movement, and body language. Kevin Friend at least looks very comfortable in those areas in this game.


GB at 2015-12-13 15:40:42

Wonderful flag work on display then again by Dave Bryan for that routine off-side call


GB at 2015-12-13 15:39:54

Every decision is likely to be challenged more by the Villa players now as the tension increases the longer the game goes an as they were so desperate to get something out of this game


GB at 2015-12-13 15:38:43

Just the type of quality “close” off-side decision we have become accustomed to from Darren cCann


GB at 2015-12-13 15:37:34

Villa players starting the second half how they finished the first with their reactions towards the referee


GB at 2015-12-13 15:35:58

Could that Villa attack be a sign that we may get a game on in the second half after all?


GB at 2015-12-13 15:35:10

Once again the referee demonstrates his nimble footwear to back awy from the players having sensibly squeezed the play over towards his assistant’s side


GB at 2015-12-13 15:31:57

Villa get second half underway


GB at 2015-12-13 15:29:56

So this is a very interesting game for RefCam – Big decision correct, yet all the focus is on the referee for the way he gave it – what do you think? @youaretheref


GB at 2015-12-13 15:23:05

It make seem like I have been critical of the referee in that first half, but generally I have been impressed by his calm, controlled body language. Kevin friend seems to be showing a maturity in this game, even if his decisions have not been given with so much confidence and assurance. He has clearly kept control of this game, even if his decisions have has not gone down well with the Home team and their supporters. He won’t worry about not being popular – that comes with the job.


It is all about credibility at this level though, which is a point I am sure will be discussed on the Ref Show tomorrow night in respect to the early penalty decision. Regular followers of RefCam will have read me talk about “no surprises” in the past – there is no doubt that is was a surprise when the referee eventually awarded the penalty in the first half. Yes, is was the correct decision, but it looked awful, because it came so late! The teamwork has actually been faultless so far, as I predicted, but it will NEVER be known for certain just who or what influenced the referee to eventually give that penalty.


The problem is that the decision throws a shadow on all the rest of the decisions made by the referee.


GB at 2015-12-13 15:19:01

As the referee’s marking season has just passed its half way mark, the following article posed by our headline blogger Keith Hackett is a must for all those referees looking to improve their positions in their respective merit lists, as it outlines precisely how to get the best out of your assessments.


It had been a relatively quiet weekend so far in respect to officials being mentioned is despatches, however, I expect tomorrow’s edition of Ref Show to pick up on that penalty call in this game as well as the performance of Martin Atkinson as reported on RefCam yesterday, along with praise for an excellent lining decision for a change in the Bournemouth game. You can always catch up with all the previous editions her videos


All the other content on our site continues to provide a deep insight into refereeing matters with video features and Blogs with regular contributions from all around the world.


With such impressive content and access to top officials who are willing to give help and support, YATR followers know this is the place for all referees to improve their knowledge, understanding and performance.


The You Are The Ref Facebook page is also proving to be a great place to keep track on what’s new and is well work a “like” at


As always, YATR values your opinions on all the points raised by out experts via Twitter @youaretheref or email us at


GB at 2015-12-13 15:17:15

sound off-side call from DB right at the end of the first half

Half Time

Aston Villa 0 v 2 Arsenal


GB at 2015-12-13 15:16:17

I would love to be a fly on the wall in the referee’s dressing room at half time!


GB at 2015-12-13 15:15:33

minimum of 1 minute of added time


GB at 2015-12-13 15:11:36

The referee could not have been closer to the tackle which the Villa fans thought was a foul before the second Arsenal goal – anyone else out there think is was a foul? @youaretheref


GB at 2015-12-13 15:10:02

Kevin Friend just doesn’t seem to be able to keep out of the limelight in this one


GB at 2015-12-13 15:08:49

GOAL! Aaron Ramsey (A 16)

Aston Villa 0 v 2 Arsenal


All started from what looked like a foul on the Villa players to me


GB at 2015-12-13 15:06:16

Darren Cann just looked a yard off the pace to me then – he would have been right on the goal line a few years ago


GB at 2015-12-13 15:04:09

That was much better by the referee – a nice clear advantage signal and a promt change of decision when no advantage accruded


GB at 2015-12-13 15:03:03

Good to see the referee running backwards as easily as he moves forwards – not so many referees run backwards enough for me these days


GB at 2015-12-13 14:59:27

The players gets a public warning next time ball goes out of play, but I mentioned earlier that the referee must read the signs – the next challenge from behind which results in a yellow card will look inconsistent by the referee


GB at 2015-12-13 14:57:52

advantage played for a poor challenge from behind in the centre of the field of play? Just Give IT! – dont risk control in those areas


GB at 2015-12-13 14:56:16

The referees movement so far has been very purposeful and he has never been very far from the play and always looks on his toes


GB at 2015-12-13 14:54:34

Good team work there as the flag and whistle were in unison for that foul near to the touchline


GB at 2015-12-13 14:53:40

Darren Cann just in the picture running along the line as that ball raced away for a goal kick – always important to keep running just in case it does not go out – good lining


GB at 2015-12-13 14:51:33

With games like this it is paramount for the referee to read the signs and try to be pro-active in managing the players so that they do not allow their frustrations to manifest in serious foul play


GB at 2015-12-13 14:50:16

Kevin looks calm, but he will need all his experience and presence to keep the lid on this one as the pressure on the Home players is already showing on their faces


GB at 2015-12-13 14:48:51

That seemed like a bit of a soft free kick then – I was just about to say that at least the game had begun to settle down and the attention was shifting away from the referee

GB at 2015-12-13 14:47:01

Keep your comments coming on Twitter about that penalty call


GB at 2015-12-13 14:46:15

The more times I see the penalty replayed the more indecisive the actions of the referee look – cant knock the fact it was a penalty though but I also can’t believe Dave Bryan got involved from so far away


GB at 2015-12-13 14:44:36

The 4th Official can hear everything over the communications kit – but as I said, it would be most unusual for him to tell anyone from Sky what had been said


GB at 2015-12-13 14:43:15

Going back to the penalty the commentators seem to think the referee got help from Dave Brayn on the far side for the decision. To start with the only way could know that would be from the 4th Official, but that would be very poor practice for Jon Moss to let that slip. I have to say it did look like an after thought – he did get the call right though


GB at 2015-12-13 14:41:00

I did say this could provide a test for today’s referee and it has certainly started like it is going to be


GB at 2015-12-13 14:40:07

Tempers are raising already – Kevin Friend doing well to try to calm the players down


GB at 2015-12-13 14:39:07

GOAL! . Olivier Giroud (A 12)

Aston Villa 0 v 1 Arsenal


GB at 2015-12-13 14:37:48

great position by Kevin Friend to view that big call




Not exactly decisively given


GB at 2015-12-13 14:36:20

Did you notice the rubber rising from the artificial turf put down for the assistants to run on? A lot more grounds have that these days which makes running the line a lot easier


GB at 2015-12-13 14:35:03

Kevin Friend already looks to be running with plenty of energy in these early stages – good first impression!


GB at 2015-12-13 14:33:49

Nice clear flag from BD then and good to see him right on the goal line to signal that goal kick


GB at 2015-12-13 14:32:35

AR1: Dave Bryan (DB) is patrolling the touchline in front of the technical areas.

GB at 2015-12-13 14:32:05

I wish referees would not drop the coin on the floor when they toss it – I have seen many a clash heads when they bend down to pick it up. Looks funny but not good when everyone is laugh at the referee even before the game has started!


GB at 2015-12-13 14:30:40

Aston Villa  won the toss so it will be Arsenal to kick off.


Good luck to all the officials and may the ball run kindly for you!


Feel free to interact with me during the game by joining in on Twitter @youaretheref or e-mail at


GB at 2015-12-13 14:25:46

Not long to go now as the players and officials prepare to leave the tunnel


GB at 2015-12-13 14:20:44

Today’s officials are:

Referee: Kevin Friend (KF)

AR1: Dave Bryan (DB)

AR2: Darren Cann (DC)

4th Official: Jon Moss

Kevin Friend

I worked with Kevin a lot when he was earning his spurs on the Football League, before he fully justified his elevation onto the Select Group back in 2009. Since then he has struggled to really make his mark in the top flight, but like many of his colleagues recently, he has shown genuine signs of improvement in this season’s campaign. A solid performance in his last outing in the Bournemouth v Everton trilling 3-3 draw at the end of November will have done his confidence a power of good and should have set him up nicely for his 8th game of the season which has the potential to be a fair test of his ability as top meets bottom. I am sure he will appreciate the opportunity to get back to holding a whistle instead of a subs board which he is regularly accustomed to – 10 times already this season.


There are certainly no easy games at this level and when teams from either end of the table go head-to-head, the pressure can mount dramatically on the man in the middle if the game does not go to form in the early stages, so this appointment gives Kevin the ideal opportunity to prove that he is capable to meet the challenges which could confront him today.


Kevin Friend probably has one of the strongest back-up teams he could have hoped for today. The vastly experienced and well respected deadly duo of Bryan and Cann must have the highest joint years on the Premier League Assistant Referees list between them, to add to their 50+ (Bryan) and 100+ (Cann), international appointments. Bolt on last season’s FA Cup Final Referee to take charge of the technical areas, and there can be no excuses from the referee today that he was worried about what his colleagues were up to!

Starting Line-ups

GB at 2015-12-13 14:15:17

Here are the starting line-ups for this game:

Aston Villa

Aston Villa


Brad Guzan (AV 1)

Jores Okore (AV 5)

Leandro Bacuna (AV 7)

Idrissa Gueye (AV 8)

Scott Sinclair (AV 9)

Joleon Lescott (AV 16)

Jordan Veretout (AV 17)

Jordan Ayew (AV 19)

Alan Hutton (AV 21)

Carlos Sánchez (AV 24)

Rudy Gestede (AV 39)


Ciaran Clark (AV 6)

Ashley Westwood (AV 15)

Adama Traoré (AV 20)

Carles Gil (AV 25)

Mark Bunn (AV 31)

Jordan Lyden (AV 38)

Jack Grealish (AV 40)





Petr Cech (A 33)

Per Mertesacker (A 4)

Laurent Koscielny (A 6)

Mesut Özil (A 11)

Olivier Giroud (A 12)

Theo Walcott (A 14)

Aaron Ramsey (A 16)

Nacho Monreal (A 18)

Mathieu Flamini (A 20)

Héctor Bellerín (A 24)

Joel Campbell (A 28)


Mathieu Debuchy (A 2)

Kieran Gibbs (A 3)

Gabriel Paulista (A 5)

David Ospina (A 13)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (A 15)

Calum Chambers (A 21)

Alex Iwobi (A 45)


GB at 2015-12-13 14:12:17

On paper, today’s visitors will have travelled up from the smoke full of confidence that it should be a formality for them to turn over the League’s bottom team, fresh from using their get out of jail free card on Wednesday night which saw them qualify for the Champions League knockout stages for the 16th year on the trot! But that is precisely what makes football such a fascinating sport, because Villa will be racing out of the blocks today ready to throw the kitchen sink at their opponents in front of their Home fans in an effort to turn round their season.


But form counts for nothing in these games as we have seen so often in the past, so we will soon see whether today is the day that Villa can stop the rot and achieve their first win in 15 matches, which sees them enduring their longest drought in their League history since 1888! It has to be conceded that it is a “big ask” today though, as Arsenal walk out at Villa Park having not lost a game on this cabbage patch in their last 16 visits. And just to put another cap on the task which awaits Villa today, Arsenal keeper Petr Cech is just one game away from equalling David James record of 169 clean sheets in the Premier League.


GB at 2015-12-13 14:10:18

Welcome to this lunchtime’s RefCam coverage today of the premier League game between Aston Villa and Arsenal.

Feel free to interact with me at any time during the game by joining in on Twitter @youaretheref or e-mail at