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October 2016
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FA Cup semi-final: It is Mr Atkinson. He doesn’t like us, but there is some good news.

Reading v Arsenal FA Cup Semi-final – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

The Officials for the two semi-finals are :-

Reading v Arsenal

  • Referee – Martin Atkinson
  • Assistants – Michael Mullarkey and Gary Beswick
  • Fourth Official – Andre Marriner

and for completeness, Aston Villa v Liverpool

  • Referee – Michael Oliver
  • Assistants – Stuart Burt and John Brooks
  • Fourth Official – Lee Mason

Our game is on BBC One, Saturday, Kick-off 17:20, Villa’s is Sunday BT Sport, Kick -off 15:00.

Firstly – the good news, we surely can’t have Atkinson two weekends running so he won’t be in charge of our game against Chelsea.  That’s the good news.

For the purpose of this review I am going to separate out our performances against Chelsea from all other teams.

Chelsea v Arsenal 5 Oct 2014 (2 – 0); 45% overall, bias against Arsenal 86/14, six wrong Important Decisions – Second Yellow Card, Red Card, Penalty and Goals – (five sendings off – three Chelsea and two Arsenal – and a non given penalty to Arsenal)

Arsenal v Chelsea 29 Sept 2012 (1 – 2); 71% overall, bias against Arsenal 69/31 and one wrong important decision, non-called foul on Torres on Kos as Chelsea scored

Chelsea v Arsenal 20 Jan 2013 (2 – 1); 61% overall, bias against Arsenal 90/10 and seven wrong Important Decisions. Not given penalty to Chelsea in the first minute, Chelsea first goal arises directly from non-given foul and yellow card to Ramires. Wrong Chelsea penalty for Ramires dive, Ramires should have second yellow card and sent off and resulting ‘goal’ shouldn’t have counted – three wrong Important Decisions in one incident.

Another not taken opportunity to send off Ramires in the 61st minute for a professional foul on Walcott and again in Min 77 for pushing Wilshere in the face. Finally in Min 94 a non-given penalty to Arsenal.

So in matches against Chelsea he is truly abysmal from an Arsenal point of view but is he better against the rest?

Arsenal v QPR 26 Dec 2014 (2 – 1); 70% overall, bias against Arsenal 87/13 and five wrong Important Decisions (three penalties, a second Yellow Card for Ferdinand and the QPR goal from a penalty that shouldn’t have been awarded) all against Arsenal

Tottenham v Arsenal 7 Feb 2015 (2 – 1); 61% overall, bias against Arsenal 90/10 and three wrong Important Decisions (the Arsenal goal was millimetres offside (as gleefully pointed out by the commentators) Mason should have been sent off in Minute 78 for a second bookable offence and Rose should have had a straight red in Minute 59.

Sunderland v Arsenal 14 Sep 2013 (1 – 3) Ref review not done

Arsenal v Liverpool 2 Nov 2013 (2 – 0) Ref review not done

Man City v Arsenal 14 Dec 2013 (6 – 3)  Martin City – Arsenal. An utterly unacceptable referee 63% overall, bias against Arsenal 100% (every one of 21 wrong decisions), Five wrong Important decisions, Toure red card for stamp on Giroud, Arsenal should have a pen for handball Min 59, City goal wrongly scored from imaginary foul Min 65, Min 67 Giroud goal wrongly ruled out for offside, Bendtner goal wrongly ruled out for offside in Min 89.

Everton v Arsenal 6 April 2014 (3 – 0) Ref review not done

Arsenal v Aston Villa 23 Feb 2013 (2 – 1) 85% overall and neutral bias 47/53 – a rare good piece of refereeing

There are some records of Reading from 2012/13 season in the Untold Archives but none refer to a game featuring Mr Atkinson so there is nothing that can be gained from that.

So to answer that point: in matches against Chelsea he is truly abysmal from an Arsenal point of view but is he better against the rest – the answer is yes. Up to a point.

In conclusion

1. Unlike our games against Chelsea which are all uniformly bad when Atkinson is in town he can occasionally be fair against other teams (but mostly isn’t).

2. Mr Atkinson is a very poor referee who makes multiple major mistakes in his games

3. Mr Atkinson really doesn’t seem to like Arsenal at all even when Chelsea seem to have no involvement.

4. We should expect most of his wrong decisions to be in favour of Reading.

5. Szcz in particular needs to be careful (assuming he plays) and ensure he gives Atkinson no excuse to award a penalty or a red card.

6. Despite the above, assuming we play to our potential we should have too much firepower in all areas of the pitch and should be back to Wembley in late May.

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37 comments to FA Cup semi-final: It is Mr Atkinson. He doesn’t like us, but there is some good news.

  • JohnW

    We beat Liverpool with Dean as ref. I hope we do it tomorrow, score early or dont concede and we will be ok.

  • Abhishek Kumar

    I heard he belongs to Bradford.. Can someone confirm

  • bjtgooner

    Atkinson has shown by his record of consistent gross incompetence that he should not be allowed anywhere near a football field. Shame on Mr Webb for appointing him to this important match – well beyond the Atkinson competence level.

  • Gord

    Abhishek Kumar

    I assume you are talking about Atkinson. I don’t know what you mean by “belong”.

    The current Wikipedia page, says he was born in Bradford. The Talk page associated with that page suggests (no proof) that he was born in Washington, County Durham and then moved to Bradford as a teenager.

    For someone in favour of Chelsea, the records of the 2006 Community Shield game look odd.

    But, what do I know? I am just a Canadian. How’s it going, eh?

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Hi Gord,

    Walter’s reviews for the past five or six years have him as strongly in favour of Chelsea overall.

    Weather for tomorrow is bright sunshine but a strong and gusting easterly wind so a good day for football rather than hoofball. I’m meeting Tony before the game and expect us to emerge with a win although not necessarily an easy one. Form counts for little in these games but we should have enough quality on the field to prevail.

    Our team will need to be careful and avoid situations where they can be carded or sent off as I wouldn’t put it past Atkinson to send off a key player to weaken us before the Chelsea game if he can.

  • Gord

    Enjoy the game Andrew. The article at Wikipedia does seem to have a bit of yellow in it.

    What counts for strong/gusty at Wembley? Last Sunday, we were getting gusts up to 90 kph. We’ve been windy since last Suturday, with winds up to 60 kph (excluding Sunday).

  • Nonny

    Looking at the current form and position of the two teams, it’s easy to predict an easy win for Arsenal but… Recall how many teams started the tournament and how many games Reading FC won to get to this stage then this game cannot be taken for granted. This is the FA Cup. A cup so magical, Chelsea and MCFC were humiliated at home by lower tier teams on the same weekend. No team should be taken for granted.

    However, I expect some changes to the Arsenal with starts for Walcott, Welbeck, Rosicky, Gibbs, Gabriel, Szczesny and Debuchy. That means 7 changes to the 11 that stated last weekend.

    I hope the ref does not make himself a topic for discussion after the match. COYG!!!

  • Gord

    Okay, I visited BBC and MetOffice sites. It looks like temperatures about 13-15C, steady winds of 15 mph, gusting to 31 mph (so to 53 or so kph).

  • Genorm

    I think I fear Atkinson more than Dean now. His FIFA standing is a joke and he is terrible in every match (obviously more so in Arsenal games). My dread is for Kos or Coq to be sent off in a wrong decision. This man is working for Chelski success, for sure.

  • Mandy Dodd

    This has all the hallmarks of a setup should Arsenal put a foot wrong. If we are not careful, or on our game, Reading will find a helping hand.
    But, I think this team are far too goo at the moment to let a ref who doesn’t like the club derail them , at least not without the ref revealing his agenda to a massive global audience. I expect the boys to put this one to bed, and render any pgmol agenda null and void.
    Good that we will not have him against Chelsea, but with that game so near, Atkinson would surely love to put us on a downer this weekend, if he can, without making himself look stupid.
    This game calls for a early goal, but think we will have to be patient. I am told they have a couple of pacy wide players so fullbacks need to be on their toes. Coq might have to watch himself as well, there are those who would love to land a three game ban on this vital player.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Abhishek, Atkinson supposedly supports Leeds, but think ref agendas can move away from who they support. He certainly does seem to have something with Chelsea, even Fergie said he should not be allowed to ref Chelsea matches, and he , of all should know of such things

  • Al

    Atkinson is a joke. I too fear him more than any other ref in the league. He’s naturally rubbish to begin with, and when you throw in the deliberate ‘errors’ as he tries to do his masters’ bidding he just gets twice as rubbish.

  • nicky

    I still feel that this season, particularly the past couple of months, we have had a fairer deal from referees.
    Now whether it’s because we are winning games in spite of them, I know not.
    Inept decisions are still being made, of course, but I’m not so worried now about PGMOs directly affecting our results.

  • Mandy Dodd

    It has been suggested that refs are not forced to inflict their league agenda on the FA Cup, though Probert did his best in last years final. Would be nice to get a neutral Oliver or Clattenberg should we make the final. Still think Oliver’s performance when we played Utd last round was a big feck off to Riley, that gives me hope that there is a challenge to the status quo, even if it is in its infancy.

  • Rantetta

    Marriner is 4th off. This could mean he’ll do the next match at the Ems. He’s the one who sent off Ox and also allowed Chelski to kick is around.
    Jo-say says Andre’s the best ref!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Not able to watch the games tonight , but hope to be kept abreast of the scores. Hope we do the deed tonight and win comfortably and keep a clean sheet. And no injuries. Come on guys , do your stuff !
    Hoping for a 3-0 win.
    Up the Gunners !

  • Andy Mack

    I don’t know anything about the reading team so I have to ask, Which of their players will Atkinson let try to break Alexis ankles? He gave that job to Cahill for the Chavs.

    As their manager is ex-chav, will the ref use that association for his loyalty…..

  • para

    I wonder if Coq will play he may be rested, maybe Carzola will be used as midfield commander today with Jack. AW may well tweak the team, at least after half time. Oh it is fun to be able to speculate who will play, we have not been able to do that for a while now.

    OK, my suggestion for a nick name.
    Chezzy. Easier to write than Szcz (man aren’t we lazy peoples?).

  • para

    It seems to me also, as Mandy says, our team is now good enough and prepared to include refs as part of the opposition.

    Haven’t we had a 7-5 win some time ago? NOT that our defense is going to let that many goals in today, but there seems to be an upwind at Reading, and we know how that can “give one wings”. Their manager seems a capable person and i’m sure we will hear more from him, we just don’t want that today.

    I will predict 1-3.
    Come on Arsenal.

  • I am going to go against the tide on this one and say that the ref’s actions shouldn’t stop us from advancing in this game. This team won 2-0 away to Man City with Dean in the middle. We have won 2-1 at Old Trafford with Oliver. If we don’t win today, I will be less inclined to blame Atkinson. It would be because we failed to take the many chances that I am certain we are going to create or – heaven forbid – just plain bad luck.

    There are games in which it is rational to worry about the referee but I just don’t see this as one of them. My only worry is that Atkinson does not give ridiculous cards or allow Reading to kick and injure our players.

    We only need to take our chances (as we have been doing very well in the last couple of months) and hope that lady Luck does not stand against us.

    Come on Arsenal!!!

  • Jambug


    I too, think we will win, but it will have to be in spite of the Referee.

    My worry is, as is yours it seems, the potential for collateral damage along the way.

    IE injuries and cards.

    This Referee hates us with a passion. The stats prove without doubt he is prepared to cheat us. I have no doubt he will be out to inflict as much collateral as he can possibly get away with.

  • ARSENAL 13

    go ARSENAL

  • Jambug,

    Of course, all our victories have always come in spite of the officials. We are neither Man United nor Chelsea for crying out loud!

    Nonetheless though, Arsenal are the masters of beating smaller teams without any doubt. Against teams like Chelsea, Man United, Man City or Liverpool, I would be more worried because in these games, the refs’ actions can have huge effect but as we so often see in the league, we are just too good for the smaller teams and our expansive attacking style always carry the day. Only bad luck and profligacy can hurt us today.

    I hope that I am not jinxing the team with my explicit expression of confidence 🙂

  • Jambug

    It’s the injuries and cards I’m worried about.

    Not so much the injuries as I have no reason to believe Reading are the type of team to break legs, but the ref is very likely to issue cards like confetti.

    I expect early Yellows for our defenders first transgressions, then a tight rope walk likely to end in at least one dismissal.

    The game to bed by HT is our best chance of avoiding this scenario, but if we are in a battle towards the end of the match I sense trouble.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree, we should have enough whoever the ref is.
    Could be tougher than some think though, the Reading manager Steve Clarke was once Jose’s assistant, if he has learned from the master of anti football, doesn’t take much imagination to see what we could be in for if we do not score early.

  • Gord


    Wolves are playing Ipswich, and Benik Afobe has scored for Wolves (1-1 final).

    Reading fans are pissed at Piers. Someone should have snuck him onto the New Horizons spacecraft many years ago. He would be very close to Pluto by now.


  • goonersince72

    Even Mr. Atkinson can’t make enough errors to stop an advance to the Final. Unless of course he sends someone off early. In that case I’m hoping our team defending will carry the day.

    I’m honestly more worried that any PGMO ref will be be looking to give Mr. Gerrard a going away present if Arsenal and Liverpool contest the final. That’s not paranoia talking.

  • Gord

    Apparently it is Szczesny’s birthday today. Have a good one!

    > Wojciech Tomasz Szczęsny (Polish pronunciation: [ˈvɔjt͡ɕɛx ˈʃʧ̑ɛ̃w̃snɨ]; born 18 April 1990) is a Polish footballer who plays for Arsenal and the Poland national team as a goalkeeper.


  • goonersince72,

    Apart from being a weaker team on paper, that is exactly why I am hoping to that it is Aston Villa and not Liverpool that make it to the final. I have nothing against Gerrard but the manner in which English pundits expect him to go away with some parting gift is pathetic. He got his gift in May 2005 and he has milked it for a decade now. He is not owed anything.

  • Mandy Dodd

    That’s assuming Gerrard plays, from what we have seen this season, his presence weakens their team

  • Kenneth Widmerpool


  • Gord

    Here is home for the game? Sounds like Ozil came close.


  • Gord

    “Columbo” was close to a booking?


  • We are in trouble now because our good friend the ref likes it that way we need to score thanks to our FA keeper sczenzeny.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool


  • Kenneth Widmerpool


  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Come on Arsenal, come on Arsenal, come on Arsenal.