Arsenal Overcome Pompey… and Mike Dean

Online Editorial: Gunners make last eight of FA Cup despite refereeing horrorshow

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As expected, Mikel Arteta rang the changes for the FA Cup fifth round tie at Fratton Park, a venue where Arsenal last suffered defeat in the 1950s. Some of Portsmouth’s challenges in the first half would not have looked out of place back then, but the game has thankfully moved on, not that anyone seemed to have informed referee Mike Dean. But more of that later.

Only two players were retained from Arsenal’s defeat at the hands of Olympiacos, David Luiz and Bukayo Saka. Rob Holding and Ainsley Maitland-Niles might have thought they had a decent chance of starting, but both were on the subs’ bench. Arteta featured six players of 20 years old and under, putting his trust in youth. Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett fielded a mix and match side of his own, his priority understandably the attempt to get into the Championship next season.

As it turned out the home side’s best performer in the opening half was referee Mike Dean, who, whilst having an absolute shocker, certainly assisted Pompey in an attempt to even up the odds – and if you ever feel like a flutter on how one of Dean’s matches will turn out, use one of the bet365 promo codes for mobile before placing your bet (I’d advise not backing him awarding a penalty to Arsenal!). To start with last night he blew the whistle when Eddie Nketiah was elbowed in the face, giving a foul to Arsenal, but no yellow card to the offending player. He wasn’t done yet though. I was under the impression that dangerous challenges do not go unpunished if a player happens to touch the ball before poleaxing his opponent. Lucas Torreira had to be stretchered off after a reckless challenge with an ankle injury, but Dean did not even see the lunge at the injured player as dangerous. It turned out to backfire on Pompey because Dani Ceballos entered in the Uruguayan’s place and took control of the game.

Portsmouth may not have had too much in the way of possession, but they certainly got the ball forward a few times before the break. That they did not register a single effort on target in the first half suggested that ultimate their chances of progress would depend heavily on keeping a clean sheet.

Anyway, back to Mike Dean. After failing to give as much as a caution for an elbow in the head and a career-threatening slide tackle, decided to book Matteo Guendouzi for placing the ball for a free kick in an exaggerated manner. At times, I wondered if I had tuned into an episode of Monty Python instead, so farcical was the decision making of Mr Dean. Wags on Twitter suggested Gunedouzi’s booking was actually in fact for taking the spotlight off of Dean, which if that were the case is normally a straight red.

Still, things picked up as half-time got closer, with Dean actually yellow carding Portsmouth’s McGeehan for punching Joe Willock in the stomach as he took his legs away on the edge of his penalty area. It was a hallelujah moment. There was quite a bit of stoppage time before the interval, due to Torreira’s injury, and justice was done as Arteta’s team took the lead with Sokratis slotting home a cross from Reiss Nelson that followed the clearance of a Gunners’ corner.

Perhaps Pompey had run out of steam or maybe the Arsenal head coach’s half-time team talk had some effect, but in the second half, the visitors completely controlled the game, and a second goal followed six minutes after the restart, when Nelson once again turned provider, beating his man for pace and then placing the ball in the danger area for Eddie Nketiah to latch onto and poke home from within a yard of the upright. Happy days, and little danger of a comeback from the hosts, even when Pompey sent on their first choice attackers to try and claw the tie back. Realising that trying to intimidate the opposition with stray elbows and punches had not worked, the home side saved more of the rough stuff for another day, in spite of the referee’s leniency.

Pablo Mari made his Arsenal debut in this game and did the little he was required to do capably. It’s difficult to judge him on this performance, but it would have been good to get 90 minutes under his belt. Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock were the Arsenal players who kept the team moving, both heavily involved.

Ultimately though, the real memory of this cup tie will be the decision-making of Mike Dean in the opening 45 minutes. This man really cannot retire soon enough. How he must have wished VAR was in operation to find some reason to disallow Arsenal’s goals. I recall when Alex Ferguson didn’t like a referee, his team never seemed to be officiated by them again. What a shame the same cannot happen with the Gunners and Dean.

Nevertheless, it was important for the team to get back on track with their ambitions to climb the table, to at least secure Europa League football next season, with its attendant £30 - £40 million to help the bottom line. The lack of involvement in the rest of this season’s competition will surely help them in this regard. A win against West Ham on Saturday is vital though.


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  1. markymark

    Mar 5, 2020, 20:01 #116621

    Been reading about the crazy world of Darren Burgess. Including such oddity as installing a fair ground at London Colney. Sound like everything he input has been rolled back. Highly suspect it’s a classic Ivan G appointment.

  2. northbankvet

    Mar 4, 2020, 23:26 #116620

    Off on a golf day tomorrow there's some spurs supporters going don't care if it chucks it down with rain and i play rubbish the day will be memorable...........really MEMORABLE

  3. markymark

    Mar 4, 2020, 22:33 #116619

    Thank God I picked the Spuds Norwich game . Not had so much Spuds fun since Coventry about a 100 years ago

  4. ArsenalMagna

    Mar 4, 2020, 22:29 #116618

    Oh and the Spuds, go tumbling down, oh yes the Spuds go tumbling down!! They are the gift that keeps on giving!! I know they've got an injury crisis right now, but really think think they've blundered by getting Mourinho in. He doesn't suit what the game's become.

  5. northbankvet

    Mar 4, 2020, 16:26 #116616

    Hate to bring up VAR but would it be too simple to say that if the attackers feet are onside then that is onside. That would do away with armpits, elongated nipples, or a bulbous hooter having to have lines drawn. Perhaps the real problem is the person in charge of referees Mike Riley..... nuff said, spose it could be worse Mike Dean might be his assistant.

  6. northbankvet

    Mar 4, 2020, 16:26 #116617

    Hate to bring up VAR but would it be too simple to say that if the attackers feet are onside then that is onside. That would do away with armpits, elongated nipples, or a bulbous hooter having to have lines drawn. Perhaps the real problem is the person in charge of referees Mike Riley..... nuff said, spose it could be worse Mike Dean might be his assistant.

  7. markymark

    Mar 3, 2020, 20:09 #116615

    Ps not sure if anyone saw newspaper pictures of our dear referee’s on a Thailand trip? Looked like a Bunch of dirty western sex tourists with bar girls draped all over them. Definitely need new controlling I’d say

  8. markymark

    Mar 3, 2020, 20:03 #116614

    CG - you need to regularly go out with Arsenal Stickers so that foolish van drivers can be Arsenal’d ! I’m sure it’s only a minor legal infringement. On the subject of the PGMOL I’m wary of going down the tinfoil hat wearing Untold line . But .... What do we know of the set-up of this mob? Who had ultimate decision making , why are so few referees based in the M25 area? Is VAR always reviewed from Northern studio rooms ? Why was Clattenburg (spelling ) not interviewed after admitting he referreed the Chelsea Spurs game to wind up the Spuds. To my mind it appears very insular , geographically out of synch and secretive. Unfortunately these conditions in any shape of life tend to generate corrupt practices ( Operation Countrymen is an extreme example from the MET) It needs route and branch change. I’d say Chelsea and Spurs have been even more effected than us


    Mar 3, 2020, 19:17 #116613

    Walking my dogs on Tuesday morning, full of grim forebodings, when I came upon a BT OpenReach van parked near a neighbour's farm, engineer atop telegraph pole with long ladder. Inside his cab, stretching along the front seats, was a huge black flag with TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS embroidered upon it! I had to think & act fast - I knew our telephone line was OK so there was only one thing to do - with the assistance of my dogs we removed his ladder. In the Cornish countryside, no-one hears you when you scream. I made the right decision, a bad omen or curse was removed & I claim the sole credit for last night's excellent performance. Thought the new bloke had some calm assurance about him which augers well & we have unexpectedly stumbled upon a world class Greek centre forward. Blimey, what a strike!!

  10. ArsenalMagna

    Mar 3, 2020, 14:52 #116612

    Refereeing in England is a joke generally - how many VAR controversies did we witness in the last rounds of Europa League and Champions League games? Only one that I can recall - the professional foul on Pepe - though I think a yellow was the right call there as there were two defenders on him. Compare that with the EPL where avoidable mistakes are repeated again and again. I know we apparently had a long run of success with Dean as ref, but then we've been on a long run of defeats - with a few blips - since then.

  11. Deighty

    Mar 3, 2020, 14:33 #116611

    I’m glad Mike Deans performance was highlighted here, the man epitomises the arrogance of our referees association, it’s their arrogance that makes VAR in our league such a joke. Mind you it’s gone on for years where we have to play to different rules to the opposition in the same game if they think roughing us up levels the playing field. A mention for Mari though, solid no nonsense performance, hopefully he’ll be exactly what we need there

  12. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Mar 3, 2020, 13:56 #116610

    Thought Eddie took his goal really well - he has something when it comes to scoring goals - have we found our "fox in the box" I would have been happy with a draw - good win, we now need a kind draw.

  13. Paulward

    Mar 3, 2020, 11:32 #116609

    Dean is little short of a disgrace , his performance reminded me of the period when we were going toe to toe with Fergies Utd and we consistently got the rough end of the decisions, whilst our opponents Utd and Allardyces Bolton in particular got away with murder.

  14. GoonerRon

    Mar 3, 2020, 08:47 #116608

    Honestly I thought whilst watching the game I had entered some bizarre parallel universe where football had become a handicap sport. Dean is such a twat at the best of times but he took it to a new level last night. It was as if he was miked up to the commentary where Jenas jizzed in his pants every time Pompey got into our half and thought he’d jump on the underdog bandwagon. The booking of Guendouzi was literally the most ridiculous yellow card I can ever remember. The scissor challenge on Torreira (which I thought refs were coming down on more harshly) is third one we’ve had this season and I think it’s been a yellow, a free kick and no free kick as ‘punishment’. Then Keown said we ‘got away with one’ at HT, as if we were on the ropes and they missed lots of gilt-edged chances (they had zero shots on target). Then Jenas compounds it all by giving the MOTM to Luiz who played well but was on his deckchair for an hour, rather than overlooking Nelson with two assists, which for a young winger playing his first game in two months, is very good, decisive output. Overall though, a really decent performance and let’s hope for a good draw in the QF.