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July 2021

Arsenal v Liverpool match ref preview: It’s going to be tough.

Arsenal v Liverpool – 2 November 2013 – The Match Officials

  • Referee – Martin Atkinson
  • Assistants – S Burt and M McDonnough
  • 4th Official – M Jones.

Mr Atkinson is 42 years old, he is a Yorkshireman, home county West Riding FA and has been Fifa accredited since 2006 and is one of three UK referees who is an Elite FIFA Referee.  His first Premier league game was Man. City v Birmingham on 20 April 2005


In September he had to re-do his FIFA fitness tests which he passed at the second time of asking.

It is our second time this year with Mr Atkinson, although none of the other officials were with him then.  We had him for the away game at Sunderland on 14th September which we won 3-1, Sunderland 1 – Arsenal 3.  There were two contentious decisions (particularly from Sunderland supporters point of view).

  1. The Sunderland goal came from a penalty given against Koscielny – rightly so according to Walter.
  2. The incident between Altidore and Sagna that Sunderland and MOTD felt should have been a goal and probably a red card for Sagna.  This is covered extensively in Walter’s article which I have linked, again on balance the decision as given seems to have been the most appropriate one.  At the start of the incident both players had hold of each other’s shirt and a free kick outside the box seems an appropriate outcome.

Overall a game which we deserved to win and did win.

However his results for last year were not great overall – indeed, Walter titled his review – “This is not a FIFA Ref”.  He got half of his yellow cards and all of his second yellow cards wrong; 85% of his red cards, 62% of penalties over 20% of fouls and free kicks and even 15% of his goals weren’t right.

His bias graph for last year also shows why he shouldn’t be a FIFA referee as he clearly has favourites.



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Last season we had him for three games – home and away against Chelsea (his most favoured team) and the home game against Aston Villa.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Arsenal Vs Chelsea (1 – 2) [29/09/2012] Overall score (weighted) 71%, bias against 69/31, one wrong key decision (second yellow, red card, penalty or goal decision).  Main talking points :-

Minute 17 – Terry loses his footing and pushes Gervinho into Cole right on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area, Gervinho penalised rather than Terry.

Minute 19 – Chelsea Goal (0-1) Torres has both hands up and pushing Koscielny.  Clear foul, goal should be dis-allowed.

Minute 24 – Mikel jumped into the back of Arteta in penalty area, not given, no review to over-rule ref decision so assumed correct.

Minute 24 – Penalty shout for Torres/Koscielny contact – this was contact by Torres  so correct non penalty

Minute 26 – Luis clearly has arm round Gervinho, foul given but should also have been a booking.

Minute 34 – Ramsey correctly gets yellow card.

Minute 38 – Oscar correctly gets yellow card.

Minute 39 – Torres challenges Ramsey from behind and catches his ankle, ref is 5 yards away with unobstructed view, should be yellow card, doesn’t even see the foul.

Minute 41 – Gervinho scores for Arsenal (1-1)

Minute 47 – Luiz wrongly booked for diving – he went over but never appealed for penalty.

Minute 52 – Mata scores for Chelsea (1-2)

Minute 59 Koscielny should be booked, free kick awarded.

Minute 82 – Ramires catches Arteta on the ankle from behind should be booked, foul given.

Minute 92 – Ramires wrongly booked, just a foul no need for a yellow.

So a defeat that should have been a draw – thanks ref.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Chelsea Vs Arsenal (2 – 1) [20/01/2013]– Overall score 61%, bias against 10/90, 7 wrong key decisions, virtually all against Arsenal.  Main talking points :-

  • Minute 0 – Diaby held his arms around Oscar, then stopped the ball with his feet.  Foul started outside the area but continued inside so penalty should have been called.
  • Minute 5 – Ramires plants his studs on Coquelin’s foot in the centre circle, should have received a yellow card.  No foul given.  Directly from this not given foul Juan Mata scores a goal which shouldn’t have stood.
  • Minute 15 – Penalty awarded to Chelsea as Ramires deliberately makes contact with Szcz who has spread himself.  Ramires should have received a second yellow card for a dive and should be sent off.  Szcz receives a yellow card and Chelsea score the awarded penalty.
  • Minute 61 – Ramires (who should already have been sent off in minute 15) pulls Walcott back by the arm to stop a promising attack..Ref signals that he got the ball!
  • Minute 77 – Ramires pushes Wilshere in the face, again the ref sees nothing wrong!
  • Minute 94 – Cahill acting like a scarf to prevent Vermaelen jumping for a cross should be a penalty to Arsenal but (surprise surprise!) this is quite all right to do in Cahill’s own penalty area and nothing given.

A travesty of a refereeing performance where Chelsea were allowed to do whatever they wanted with absolute impunity.  It could be argued that the not given penalties in the first and 94th minutes evened out but nothing else did.  That’s a loss that should have been a win – thanks a lot ref.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Arsenal Vs Aston Villa (2 – 1) [23/02/2013] – Overall score 85% bias against 47/63 and no wrong key decisions.  Main talking points :-

  • Minute 5 – Cazorla scores a goal (1-0)
  • Minute 24 – Weimann passed to Agbonglahor who shot at goal, parried by Szcz, the ball came back to Weimann who had been offside when the initial shot was made, error from linesman almost leading to incorrect goal.
  • Minute 35/36 – yellow cards to both Lowton and Diaby
  • Minute 67 – Weimann scores a goal (1-1)
  • Minute 84 – Cazorla scores a goal (2-1).

At last he acted like a referee – no major talking points, very little wrong and an unbiased performance (Chelsea not involved).

Now looking at his performances last year for Liverpool

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Sunderland Vs Liverpool (1 – 1) [15/09/2012] – Overall score 69%, bias against 31/69 one wrong key decision.  Main talking points :-

Minute 26 – Larsson pushes Shelvey over in penalty area should be a Liverpool penalty – nothing given.

Minute 28 – Fletcher scores for Sunderland (1-0)

Minute 34 – Sunderland wall no more than 7 yards away – free kick should have been re-taken.

Minute 36 – Suarez booked for a dive (correctly)

Minute 62 – Skirtel booked for foul

Minute 70 – Suarez scores (1-1)

Minute 80 – Larsson booked for a foul

Minute 84 – Bramble should be booked for a foul on Suarez

Minute 85 – Gardner should be booked for foul on Sterling who avoids challenge by jumping over it.

So Liverpool should have had a penalty and can rightly feel that Mr Atkinson robbed them as well.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Wigan Athletic Vs Liverpool (0 – 4) [02/03/2013] – Overall score 84%, bias against 23/77 and again one key wrong decision.  Main talking points :-

Minute 1 – Downing scores a goal (0-1)

Minute 2 – Wigan player makes frontal tackle getting ball and player – always a foul but not given

Minute 17 – Suarez scores  (0-2)

Minute 20 – Boyce slaps McCarthy on the head and should have been sent off.  Ref had a word which was inappropriate.

Minute 29 – Lucas should be booked for third foul. Free kick given.

Minute 33 – Suarez scores (0-3)

Minute 46 – Lucas finally gets his yellow card for persistent fouling.

Minute 48 – Suarez scores his hat-trick (0-4)

Minute 58 – McArthur gets a yellow card.

A comprehensive win for Liverpool and not a bad game from the Referee apart from not sending off Boyce when he slapped his own team mate.

Going back to 2011/12

Atkinson was placed 10th overall out of 15 – so he wasn’t very good then either.  He got 13% of his goal decisions wrong as well as 25% of fouls/free kinks, 47% of penalties, 83% of red cards and 44% of yellow cards wrong, so not a lot of difference to last year.  Can someone please tell me why he is accredited to the highest level in FIFA?

His bias numbers that year were

MartinAtkinson2011 bias


So Arsenal still towards the bottom but Liverpool at the top.

Another referee who doesn’t fill me with confidence, he gets far too many decisions wrong.      Last year he probably cost us four points and Liverpool two.

Based on last tear’s performances the game is between his two least favourite teams which might make for an even performance, as we got against Villa.  If he reverts to his previous year though where we were at opposite ends of the spectrum it might be a hard evening.




13 comments to Arsenal v Liverpool match ref preview: It’s going to be tough.

  • Nizam

    Hopefully the ref would be impartial and clamp down on
    any over robust tackles.Btw,don’t be surprised the gunners will be nursing some injured players.

  • Danno

    I don’t want this game to be decided on a wrong decision,so hope Atkinson is fair.If he is fair,Liverpool are the easy winners 😉 They have far to many GUNS for arsenal,even if arsenal have a cannon pmsl

  • AL

    Always a concern to have a ref who gets most of his penalty calls wrong with a player like Suarez on the pitch.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Now imagine if you got a ref who supported Chelsea.
    And then imagine what would be the best result for Chelsea? Maybe a draw?

    so if there is only a one goal difference in it in the last minutes… and a player goes down… what could you do…

    Two seasons ago I think in the game between Everton and Liverpool this ref took the side of Liverpool in a very open way.

  • sebjob

    I am more worried about Friend at Everton-Tottenham, actually. This match will be tight, no matter what. Can easily swing any way, as his bias seem to be heavily swung in anyones favor. Just hope for a more stable performance from Atkinson.

  • Sammy The Snake

    BVB had their match on Friday evening (winning 6-1), while Arsenal are slotted for the late Saturday kick-off. Is the Premier Lg giving a fair chance for Arsenal to face BVB on Wednesday?

  • Tasos


    Also, in the French League PSG were allowed to play on Friday night.

    A great example of two separate footballing federations that are actually helping, not hindering, their teams chances in the Champions League.

  • The Premier League cares about the Premier League. Because in England we have the Premier League looking after its own interests, and the Football Association looking after its, plus the Football League looking after three other leagues, there is no unity of purpose.

    In England it is everyone looking after their own bit of the cake – and Sky, the BBC and BT picks them off as they wish.

    Does anyone ever think of the supporters – people like Drew and myself who do a round journey over around 180 miles to watch each home game, and have to keep changing times and dates to fit in with the whims of TV?

    Incidentally there is another story to be told re Arsenal and Liverpool with the supposed £40,000,001 bid for Suarez.

    The £1 has a particular significance for both clubs after that turnip Carragher threw a coin into the crowd at Highbury and got sent off. There were calls (ok, just one call, from me) for Carragher to be banned for life from Arsenal matches, but he just got three games ban.

    Maybe this should be a full article – time to get ready for the match and head south….

  • Tasos

    BTW Off topic but what has happened to the genius tactician today?

    Not only are Chelsea getting beaten by Newcastle but they cannot even manage to score a single goal. Does this result then make Alan Pardew a better tactician than Mourinho?

    Objectively, The Referee Lee Mason has done a bit of a job on Chelsea today.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I only saw the last half hour and Newcastle had some great chances before they scored. So don’t know what happened in the first hour.

    I thought it was the reverse they faced to this week. going a goal behind and then they had to open up and could have been punished on the break a handful of times.

    As this week: the oh so vital first goal…

  • Tasos


    Yes. Chelsea suffer the same as everyone else when chasing a game against a team that has basically “parked the bus”.

    Lee Mason didn’t exactly help Chelsea’s cause though, giving Newcastle cheap free kicks and preventing any kind of flow to the game whilst also turning down two penalty claims from Chelsea. You know the type of decisions, we’ve seen it so many times now ourselves.

    Football is so tribal that the majority of other fans will just laugh at Chelsea’s demise today.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes an interesting result wonder what the aaa self harmers …who proclaimed Chelsea as Brazil 1970 Ajax 1971 Barca 2011 rolled into one ….think of that one. Nobody can question Jose’s success but worth remembering he was not Chelsea’s first choice and Chelsea were not if reports to be believed his first choice

  • Sam

    Tony that sounds like an interesting article. Looking forward to it!