Mike Dean is the match referee for the North London derby on Saturday and Gunners supporters are already crying foul, saying he shouldn’t be involved because of a Tottenham bias.
You can clearly see Dean heading for the sidelines, motioning in a celebratory way, appearing, at first glance, as if he’s either a Spurs supporter or bet a wad of money on a Tottenham win.
Both of which, if you were wondering, are prohibited.
Dean played a perfect advantage in the lead up to the goal, the real reason for his discernible excitement. He finally got a call right, and that in its own right is cause for celebration.
Gunners supporters can moan and complain all they like about Dean’s appointment as the match referee, but it doesn’t change the fact the controversial referee has, as recently as September, also done Spurs wrong numerous times in the past.
You might recall Dean missing two handballs – one of which was a stonewall penalty – at home against Swansea in September. If don’t remember the 0-0 draw it’s probably because the memories are suppressed, unwilling to surface for fear of mental trauma.
Here’s what Pochettino said to the BBC in regards to Dean’s missed calls:
"“It is so clear. What is not clear why Mike Dean justify in front of our players that it was handball but it was not handball.“If you are not sure about the situation then why say it was handball? It was unlucky but we need to look at ourselves and try to be better next time and score before this situation.“It was unlucky for us. We did not get the one penalty we deserved. In that situation the referee had a not good afternoon.”"
Dean’s hop, skip and a jump when Louis Saha scored at the Emirates in 2012 is a bit harder to explain.
Maybe he’s trying to gain a better vantage point. Maybe Dean was so focussed on the game, he felt like he was actually playing. Nobody faults managers like Antonio Conte for simulating every kick of the ball from the touchline, so why blame a referee for a visceral, non-malicious bunny hop?
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand how Dean’s hop can be perceived as anticipation, like he’s wishing the ball over Wojciech Szczęsny’s head. But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and so too is the FA.
He could have simply had ants in his pants, or maybe he harbours a deep reverence for the jumping ability of kangaroos and is merely trying to emulate his favourite animal’s impressive vertical.
Saturday’s match will mark the seventh time Dean has presided over a North London derby, six of which in the Premier League. He has doled out two red cards and 10 yellows in matches between the hated rivals.
Gunners supporters are going ballistic on social media, conjuring up conspiracy theories of the FA’s purported unabashed detest for Arsenal Football Club. About 100,000 Arsenal fans signed a petition trying to get Dean banned from refereeing their matches in the aftermath of a 2015 defeat to Chelsea. Dean refused to send off Diego Costa and gave both Gabriel and Santi Cazorla their marching orders.
Sounds like sour grapes to me, especially when considering Arsenal have enjoyed the more favourable results in North London derbies officiated by Dean. Arsenal have lost just once when he is at the helm.
Trust Arsenal to start jumping the gun, shooting from the hip with excuses five days before the match kicks off.