As I write this the referee review of the Southampton game hasn’t been published, it is written but not yet posted on the site so I’ll not include it in the Table of Shame. This is unchanged from last week.
|Wrong Important Decisions||Favouring Arsenal||Favouring Opponents|
|2nd Yellow Cards||1||30|
|Possible Cost in Points||0||15|
What do we, as supporters expect from a referee? Here is my list, in no particular order
- They should know the rules of the game.
- They should treat every decision on it’s merits regardless of when it happens in a match. A sending off offence is the same in the first minute as the last.
- They should be as invisible on the pitch as possible, in the right place to see what is happening but not getting in the way. If we start noticing them then they are not doing their jobs properly.
- Players from both teams should be treated in an even handed manner.
- I don’t expect a referee to get every single decision correct, but I do expect them to get the large proportion of them right. The normal Premier League referee should be getting 80% right most of the time and those accredited by FIFA should be better still say 85%.
- Where referees consistently score 70% or lower I would expect them to be undergoing re-training to bring their standards back up to a satisfactory level.
- They should keep track of players persistently making fouls and award yellow cards when they reach a set number.
- They should know the difference between possession and advantage. All too often we see referees waving their arms to indicate an advantage when all that is happening is that the team who were fouled have kept possession. The two aren’t the same particularly in the defensive half of the pitch.
- They shouldn’t be pressurised by either team or their supporters. It is normally accepted that the team captain (or a designated deputy) is allowed to speak to the referee following a decision, but referees shouldn’t allow themselves to be surrounded by players.
- They should keep a good track of the time each team wasted during a game. Of the 90 minutes duration, it is rare that we actually see more than 60-65 minutes with the ball in play. Goalkeepers are particularly guilty (but not exclusively so) and should get early warning if they waste too much time and an early booking if they persist. There is little point in booking a player in the last five minutes for something they have been doing since the first five.
- They should liaise with their Assistants and the Fourth Official who may have been in a better position to see an incident.
- We shouldn’t see the same faces too frequently. There should be sufficient referees in the system to ensure that every club has a referee no more than twice, once at home and once away.
- They should be absolutely above suspicion of being corruptible in any way.
Our Officials for Sunday are :-
- Referee – Martin Atkinson
- Assistants – M Mullarkey and S Child
- Fourth Official – R East
As a team how do they match up with my 13 points above? I am referencing the two games so far this year that Mr Atkinson has been in charge of an Arsenal game – Season opener v West Ham and Match week 12, Home to Spurs
1: All are experienced professionals so there is absolutely no excuse for any of them not knowing the rules. In the West Ham game two West Ham players should have been sent off and the ‘goal’ that West Ham scored in Min 43 should not have counted as it was scored directly from a wrongly awarded free kick. Against Spurs Mr Atkinson’s credibility for knowledge of the rules took an even greater battering as he made no fewer than eight incorrect Important Decisions (second yellow cards, red cards, penalties and goals). Three not given penalties for Arsenal, 5 not awarded sending offs for Spurs players and one for Arsenal. – VERDICT FAIL
2: In the West Ham game the first serious foul was in Minute 2 when Noble should have been booked for a sliding tackle on Ozil, Mr Atkinson clearly saw the challenge but decided not to do anything. In Minute 5 Noble made another, late this time, sliding tackle on Coquelin who was already on a counter attack and was rightly booked. Two other West Ham players should have been booked between minutes 21 and 26, fouls were given but no cards. Against Spurs he was bad throughout the game. – VERDICT PASS
3: Mr Atkinson is never invisible on the pitch – he has an enormous ego and ensures that he is the centre of attention – VERDICT FAIL
4: Is Mr Atkinson even handed with his treatment of both sets of players. For this to be true I would expect wrong decisions to be somewhere in a 60/40 range for both teams (50/50 would show absolutely no bias but most of us wouldn’t notice until it gets outside that 60/40 range), outside those limits it becomes increasingly obvious that things are wrong. In the West Ham game there were 17 wrong decisions, all against Arsenal bias 100/0. With Spurs there were 30 wrong decisions 25 against Arsenal and 5 against Spurs bias of 83/17. – VERDICT FAIL
5: Mr Atkinson is FIFA Accredited to take charge of any game of football anywhere in the world. I would expect his results to be right 85% plus in his games. Against West Ham he got 25 decisions right and 17 decisions wrong (before any weighting is applied) His score was 59.5%. Against Spurs he got 34 decisions correct and 30 wrong giving a percentage score of 53.1%. Over the two games the numbers are 59 correct and 47 wrong giving 55.7%. Is this less than 85% hell yes – VERDICT FAIL
6: Are his results consistently below a minimum acceptable 70% level – hell yes so have there been any signs of any form of retraining – not that I can see in fact he is so highly regarded that he is going as one of the two English referees to the European Championships – VERDICT FAIL
7: In the West Ham game the West Ham players didn’t commit multiple fouls. Against Spurs, Alli committed a fourth foul in Min 50, a fifth in Min 56, Vertonghen should have had a third yellow card in Min 54, Dier made a fourth in Min 89 without Mr Atkinson either talking to or issuing appropriate cards. – VERDICT FAIL
8: There has only been one incident of an inappropriate advantage in the two games reviewed, in the West Ham game each side had one correct advantage, Arsenal also having one incorrect, in the Spurs game Arsenal had 2 correct advantages, Spurs 1 with none incorrect one wrong decision in 6 (I can live with that) – VERDICT PASS
9: There were no incidents where Walter has noted players surrounding Mr Atkinson pressurising him for a decision. – VERDICT PASS
10: There is no indication by Walter that timewasting was a problem in either of the reviewed games. – VERDICT PASS
11: In the West Ham game the goal scored in Min 42 by west Ham shouldn’t have counted as it was from a wrongly judged foul against Arsenal, in theS purs game the corner awarded to Spurs in Min46 was incorrect it came of Dembele not Debuchy. It is possible that better communication could have prevented these errors. – VERDICT INCONCLUSIVE
12: For both Leicester and Ourselves this will be the third visit from Mr Atkinson this year. Neither team has yet seen Mssrs, Attwell, Stroud, Scott or Hooper, Robert Madley has only one appearance at Arsenal, none at Leicester, and Swarbrick and Tierney have one Leicester and no Arsenal games. I can see no reason for one of those referees not to have been appointed ahead of a referee who already has done two games for each team. – VERDICT FAIL
13: Mandy Dodd has already reported a link to insider trading on the game on Sunday being announced by Jeremias Bolivar on his football is fixed blogsite. This alone should require the PGMO to change the referee for Sunday regardless of the veracity of the accusation. Additionally, Mr Atkinson’s earlier performances seemed to have ingratiated him sufficiently into the PGMO for him to be awarded one of the two slots available to English referees for the European Championships this summer. Will he still have to prove his loyalty, probably. – VERDICT FAIL
- Mr Atkinson fails to meet 8 of the 13 criteria that I expect of referees, including all of the most important. He is not fit to carry the whistle and we should be very afraid that he will cost us more points on Sunday.
- In his two games at the Emirates this year alone he has failed to award 8 Important Decisions, seven against Arsenal. That has almost certainly cost us three points (one against what should have been a a 9 man West Ham) and three not given penalties in a game we drew against Spurs.
- He is a master at the award of the ‘phantom foul’ – the one in the West Ham game on Min 42 being a classic
- He won’t award a penalty against our opponents without one of them actually wielding a machete.
- Leicester will be allowed to foul us with impunity all over the pitch whilst we will most likely be carded at the first available opportunity. Flamini if you play please no sliding tackles, you won’t be lucky two weeks running. Coquelin and Gabriel be very careful with timing your challenges.
- It should be a great game against the two best teams in the league this year, that’s what the first game between us was. Craig Pawson was in charge for that one and got a (weighted) score of 84% with no wrong Important Decisions. I’ll wager that won’t be the story at the end of this game. My money is on it being more of a Valentine’s Day Massacre than roses and chocolates.
The Untold Books
The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon. Details of this and our previously published titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.
Anniversaries – the first ever Arsenal song
13 February 1892: The first ever recorded incident of a club song being sung at a football match. “Ta ra ra Boom de ay, The Arsenal’s won today.” There were 10,000 at Chatham of whom 3000 were Arsenal fans. Arsenal won 2-3.
13 February 1988: Lee Dixon’s first game. Arsenal 2 Luton 1. He played 458 league games for Arsenal between this date and 2002, scoring 24 league goals before his retirement. After eight games without a win this was the first of eight without a defeat. Arsenal came sixth in the league, and lost in the League Cup final… to Luton.