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October 2016
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Emirates FA Cup 2015/16 Third Round Arsenal v Sunderland – the Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

  • Referee – Martin Atkinson
  • Assistants – Mark Scholes and Matthew Wilkes
  • Fourth Official – Lee Collins

Martin Atkinson is probably the second most distrusted referee that Arsenal have to cope with in the Premier League, regularly twisting his decisions to ensure that the outcome of the game suits his agenda.  This is particularly the case in matches involving Chelsea, although it happens in most other games as well.  The interesting question is – will he be as rabidly anti-Arsenal in a Cup game which should be free from any influences from most of the usual possible external sources.

Here is a table showing his record in Arsenal FA Cup games (please note he has never issued a second yellow or red card or given a penalty in these games).

Year Round Game Result Yellow


6 Arsenal v Blackburn 0 – 0 4


Arsenal v Newcastle

3 – 0




Cardiff v Arsenal

0 – 0




Arsenal v Chelsea

1 – 2




Stoke v Arsenal

3 – 1

2014/15 Semi Reading v Arsenal 1 – 2 AET


The record is Played 6, won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2.  There aren’t any full referee reviews for any of these games but there are some post match reports in the Untold Archives but not for the Blackburn game which pre-dates Untold.

Arsenal v Newcastle (3 – 0).  This goes right back to the start of Untold and was the 12th post on the site!  No mention of the referee just a one-sided game and a solid win.  Arsenal 11 shots on target, Newcastle 1 (cleared off the line by a full back doing exactly what he was placed there to do).

Arsenal 11 Newcastle 1

Cardiff v Arsenal (0 – 0).  A dour game, Cardiff seemingly more interested in the potential income form a replay at the Ems than in winning the game.  Again no mention of the referee.

Money first, football very much last and Police 4 (or more) Arsenal 0

Arsenal v Chelsea (1 – 2)  This was the semi-final at Wembley, we were playing Chelsea and boy did it make a difference to Mr Atkinson.  He was up to all of his usual tricks in this game, allowing Chelsea to foul with impunity.  “Despite being given an endless series of benefits from incidents where their team tripped, kicked, tapped, pushed, and pulled they simply couldn’t work out how to get through a solid Arsenal Reserve back five.  Indeed some of the Reserves were injured making the whole set up extremely make-shift”.

5th rate KGB Fulham + bent ref struggle to defeat Arsenal reserves

I can’t find a post for the Stoke  v Arsenal game.

Now to last Year’s semi-final Reading v Arsenal (1 – 2 AET)  Atkinson being his customary prattish self

“Atkinson letting a few rough challenges go like a poke in  eye on Ramsey and some kicking on Alexis…..Atkinson missing an elbow to the face of Koscielny, not stopping the match despite a clear head injury…….On the stroke of half time finally the first card when Chalobah hacked Gibbs down with his umpteenth foul in the first half. 0-1 to Arsenal at half time……Özil then being kicked on the achilles without Atkinson doing anything once again.”

Reading – Arsenal, 1-2 after extra time. We didn’t make it easy for ourselves

There is one other cup match I want to mention – somehow or other Mr Atkinson got an invitation to referee in our own pre-season tournament The Emirates Cup in 2014 and he managed to ‘cock up’ that performance as well.  With ten minutes to go Arsenal who were losing 1-0 to Monaco at the time should have had a penalty when Chuba Akpom was clearly brought down by Monaco’s goalkeeper Daniel Subasic.  The incident was a full yard inside the 18 yard area but, after initially pointing to the spot, Mr Atkinson changed his mind after speaking to his assistant.  He gave a free kick outside the area!

I have no flags against either of the Assistant Referees.  As far as I can see it will be a first Arsenal game for Lee Collins who is from Surrey and is on the National Referees List and normally works in Football League games.  A warm welcome to him.  Surrey is to the south-west of London on the south side of the Thames.

At the start of the article I posed the question – will he be as rabidly anti-Arsenal in a Cup game?  Sadly I fear that the answer to that will be No, so brace yourselves for a rocky ride.

In Conclusion

  1. Mr Atkinson is a terrible referee for Arsenal, he can’t even award a penalty to Arsenal in a friendly tournament.  His two league games this year have resulted in weighted overall scores of 54 and 41% and almost certainly cost us three points.
  2. There is nothing to indicate in his past matches in the FA Cup that he is likely to be any different to how he performs in the League.
  3. A penalty to Arsenal is most unlikely, mind you he hasn’t awarded one against us in the cup either.  If he does give one, my money would be on it to be down our end though.
  4. Sunderland will be allowed to be far more physical than Arsenal and will likely not be carded for all except the most blatant of assaults.
  5. In the six cup games involving Arsenal he is yet to issue a second yellow or red card so it is probable that both teams will finish with 11 men on the field.
  6. As ever we should avoid as much as possible any contact that will give him the opportunity to award a free kick from a ‘phantom foul’ enabling Sunderland to have an unwarranted opportunity to attack our goal.

I will be at the Emirates with my son and his two children and will be holding my breath (when not shouting support) until the final whistle when, hopefully, we will be going into the draw for the fourth round of OUR Cup.


Two more anniversaries

8 January 1962: David Court signed as a professional.  He returned to Arsenal as head of youth development and became the last member of the Swindin era at the club.

8 January 1980: Arsenal 2 Cardiff 1, FA Cup 3rd round replay, part of another adventure that ended in at Wembley.  Sunderland got both goals after a 0-0 draw, meaning that Arsenal had now gone 13 FA Cup games without defeat.

The Untold Books

Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football, is now available on Kindle at £9.99.  For more details and to buy a copy please click here or go to Amazon Kindle and search forWoolwich Arsenal.

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