Man City v Arsenal 14 Dec 2013 – The Match Officials. With bias like this, is it worth turning up?

Manchester City v Arsenal 14 December 2013 – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

  • Referee – Martin Atkinson (3rd time this year)
  • Assistants – S Burt and H Lennard (2nd time for each of them with Atkinson this year)
  • 4th Official – R Madley (first time this year)

So a third game by Mr Atkinson this year, he was in charge when we won at Sunderland on 14th September and when we beat Liverpool at the Ems on 2nd November.  Surely it is a bit too soon to have him again?  Do his bias numbers have something to do with this appointment?

You will recall this table :-


Martin Atkinson is on -29 and so worse than Webb.

You might not recall the equivalent graph for City.


A couple of points – firstly note that some of the bars are on green and to the right hand side of the Zero line (all of the lines in the Arsenal graph are in red and are to the left of the line), this means that the decisions of some of the referees were in favour of City and some were against.

I looked at these two graphs before the announcement was made on Monday afternoon and thought :-

  1. The PGMOL wouldn’t dare send Webb two weeks running so it won’t be him
  2. Moss is on +8 for City but only on -8 for Arsenal – not a big enough difference
  3. It will be either Atkinson or Clattenberg then.
  4. Here is the link to the article with the Chelsea Graph, make your own predictions for the  game on the 23rd 64. Chelsea and the bias of the refs.

Come on PGMOL it is getting too easy to predict who you will send us!

OK back to Mr Atkinson and time to put some flesh on his numbers with Arsenal.

This year he has done two games so far

Sunderland 1 – Arsenal 3 : a longer one, some interesting things about referees and booing and hating players  For me the main talking points were :-

  • Minute Ö – Özil starts his first game for Arsenal
  • Minute 10 – Özil to Giroud scores (0-1)
  • Minute 43 – Ki booked for foul
  • Minute 47 – A correctly given penalty against Koscielny and correct for there to be no card.  Gardner scores from the spot (1-1)
  • Minute 51 Gardner rightly booked for blocking Ozil on the break
  • Minute 58 – Fletcher ‘goal’ rightly ruled out for offside
  • Minute 59 – Flamini rightly booked for foul
  • Minute 66 – Ramsey scores from a cross by Jenkinson (1-2)
  • Minute 69 – Incident between Altidore and Sagna, which the referee judged to be a foul by Bac and blew for a free kick (both players were holding).  Altidore then played on and put the ball into the net.  The first foul was given and at the time there was no clear goal scoring opportunity.
  • Minute 75 – Wilshere to Ramsey who scores (1-3)
  • Minute 80 – Ozil substituted TV5 on
  • Minute 85 – Ki could easily have had a second booking for a poor challenge on Flamini
  • Minute 95 – Game ends and we were top of the league.

A game where he got the major calls more or less right and gave the usual bias against Arsenal for the small fouls.

Arsenal v Liverpool on 2nd November (2-0)  For me the main talking points were:-

  • Minute 16 – Possible card for Toure
  • Minute 18 – Bac crosses to Cazorla who plays a great one two with himself via the right hand post and scores (1-0)
  • Minute 24 – Sagna fouls Tevez and is in the process of rightly being booked when Liverpool attempt to take a quick free kick and the ball ends up in the net.  Ref rightly points out to Liverpool that they need to take the kick when he tells them to.
  • Minute 28 – Cissokhu rightly booked for tackle on Sagna
  • Minute 35 – Sturridge dives to try and win a penalty – possible booking.  Arsenal fans sing “are you Suarez in disguise” – nice touch!
  • Minute 58 – Ramsey gets the ball from Ozil, lets it bounce three times, hits it on the half volley and scores a screamer (2-0)
  • Minute 82 – Szczesny quickly off his line twice to smother Liverpool chances.
  • Minute 87 – Szczesny plays a one two with Sturridge in one of his ‘moments’
  • Minute 90 – Jenkinson rightly booked for shirt pulling
  • Minute 93 – Game ends and Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the table.

A game which both teams played in a great spirit with very few fouls from either team.  Little for Mr Atkinson to get wrong.  Arsenal deserved both the win and the clean sheet.

I did a thorough review of Mr Atkinson’s performances with us in 2012/3 and 2011/12 in my preview for the Liverpool game Arsenal v Liverpool match ref preview: It’s going to be tough. so I won’t go back over all of that again here.

Looking at his games last year with Manchester City there were two reviewed:-

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Manchester City Vs Swansea City (1 – 0) [27/10/2012] Overall rating 87% bias against 0/100 but no wrong key decisions (second yellow, red cards, penalties and goals)  The main talking points were :-

  • Minute 16 – Barry puts his body in the way of Rangel, a clear foul, the referee judges it to be a dive from Rangel and books him – four wrong decisions from one incident.
  • Minute 38 – Richards rightly gets a yellow card for an off the ball foul, ref played a great advantage  leading to a goal scoring opportunity – three right decisions from one incident.
  • Minute 60 – Tevez scores a goal (1-0)
  • Minute 71 – claim for handball from Kompany – rightly turned down
  • Minute 75 – Balotelli should be booked for dissent at decision by assistant
  • Minute 84 – Dyer rightly booked

A game where Mr Atkinson got a good overall score, but every one of his eight wrong decisions were in favour of City.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Manchester City Vs Manchester United (2 – 3) [09/12/2012] 66% overall bias against 52/48 and four wrong key decisions.  The main talking points were :-

  • Minute 4 – Valencia should be booked for a dive, nothing given
  • Minute 4 – Ferdinand should also be booked for pointing and shouting at the ref for the not given foul against Valencia, should have been booked, nothing given
  • Minute 13 – Balotelli should be booked for a stupid tackle near the corner flag, foul given
  • Minute 15 – Rooney scores a goal (0-1)
  • Minute 25 – Toure should be booked for a dive, nothing given
  • Minute 28 – Rooney scores a goal (0-2)
  • Minute 53 – Nasri rightly gets a yellow card for dissent
  • Minute 58 – United goal wrongly ruled out for offside – goal by Ashley Young should have counted
  • Minute 59 – Toure scores a goal (1-2)
  • Minute 61 – Ferdinand should have had a second yellow card and been sent off
  • Minute 72 – Rooney rightly given yellow card
  • Minute 74 – Toure rightly given yellow card – this should have been his second and he should have been sent off
  • Minute 85 – Zabaleta scores a goal (2-2)
  • Minute 88 – Tevez rightly gets a yellow card
  • Minute 91 – RVP scores (2-3), Phil Jones gets a yellow card for excessive goal celebration
  • minute 94 – Barry rightly gets yellow card
  • Minute 95 – City player (not named) should have been sent off for kicking at Jones was already on a yellow card should have been his second.

With an overall rating of 66% a really bad day at the office for Mr Atkinson and four wrong key decisions, one goal and three second yellow cards.  The bias was as even as you can get so it was a bad day for both teams.  United should have had another goal, City should have played against ten men for 15 minutes.  Maybe those decisions balanced out, maybe not.  With three not given yellow cards in the first 13 minutes, he had already lost control of the game by then and a flurry of yellows in the second half didn’t help him regain it.

There should be no excuse for a FIFA accredited referee ever having this bad a game.

He is inconsistent in his decision making and wrong far too often.  He doesn’t impose the need to respect the rules of the game on the players, has an aversion to second yellow cards and has clear favourites among the teams he referees (Arsenal are not one of those teams).

The only good thing for Arsenal is that by having him for City, we can’t have him for Chelsea who are his most favoured team.


The books…

Arsenal books for Christmas at discount prices


18 Replies to “Man City v Arsenal 14 Dec 2013 – The Match Officials. With bias like this, is it worth turning up?”

  1. The only problem then is that he might screw us so Chelsea come closer and then we’ll get Dean for Chelsea to round it all off. Hopefully I’m just paranoid and we’ll have a fair referee. Thanks Andrew for this article.

  2. Well I hope it is worth turning up as I will be going again. Last year we were by far the better team and came away with a draw in a very one sided match which we should have won easily. A 1-1 hammering comes to mind. Anyway a repeat will leave me happy on the on the long drive home.

  3. If I remember right, Atkinson was very favourable with some of his decisions against Sunderland and the scousers. Both times he didnt allow an advantage when he could have.

    I am not worried about this choice of official one bit. Hope I aint eating my words come 2.50pm tomorrow!

  4. Arsenal will win ManC, they will be up for it. Both teams will be tired in the second half, so i can see why AW says we have to not take time to get into gear.
    There is something about ManC that Arsenal can usually deal with, even with all their “big” stars, so i hope the ref is truly neutral and does his job well, and we will be 8 points ahead of them by end of match, although they will try to make it tough for us. Mind you, i am thinking they may probably make quite a few changes, but we should still have their measure if we play well.

  5. My fear is that he will play the card game. Next opponent for Arsenal is Chelsea.
    So let us say a double yellow card or a red card could come in handy as that will make sure that that player will not be able to play against Chelsea. And we all know that he likes Chelsea a bit (a lot in fact).
    But I also wouldn’t be surprised if he would try to force a draw if the game allows him so.
    With a tight score line he might invent a penalty incident to try to level the score. As a draw would bring most benefit to Chelsea. You know the team he rather seems to like (a lot)

  6. I usually use games v Man City as the barometer of how Arsenal are performing against the big boys, ever since they joined the elite. My reasoning is based on the observation that City are just about the only other big side apart from us that doesn’t get that many blatant decisions going for them(well, Liverpool aren’t considered a big side anymore, sorry). Whenever we play them we usually do well, because ref-tilting is usually at a minimum then. Play Chelsea, Utd or the spuds and the most one-sided refereeing performances surface. If it wasn’t for that I believe we would be doing well against the likes of utd or Chelsea too, but we seldom do for these reasons.

    I know last year city won at the ems but one only has to take a look at who the ref that day was to see why things happened the way they did. Unfortunately the ref this time will be keen on aiding Chelsea, so I’m not sure what he will try and do but don’t expect a fair game; help city while holding us back to reduce the gap, or help us so the gap between Chelsea and city widens? I don’t know. But I think he would rather we don’t widen the gap as it could get harder to peg us back later on.

  7. Walter,
    Yes, your conclusion answers the dilemma I was talking about in my last paragraph. I was thinking that too, forcing a draw might be his best choice as it will benefit Chelsea the most without particularly helping either of the two teams tomorrow.

  8. Arsene Wenger says forget the fixtures and just play our game. It makes me feel confident! Despite the ref!

  9. Hello everybody !
    I come back from a short tropical getaway, I poke my head in on some of the blogs and what do I see?
    Walter questioning Wenger’s squad selection for the Napoli game?
    Arsen Wenger criticizing his players for a slow start to a Man U game?, albeit weeks after the fact.
    What the hell is going on ?
    Has the world gone mad? 🙂

    Then I quickly stumble on to Untold’s CL ref bashing and breathe a sigh of relief , it’s back to normal.

    I realize us ex- footballers aren’t very bright bunch ( we do get hit on the head a lot :)) but can anyone explain to me please why UEFA referees have it in for Arsenal.

    I know PGMOL and English FA “hate “Wenger because he is sophisticated , speaks five or six languages and introduced new and revolutionary ideas to English game, but why continental referees hate him escapes me.

    On to the City game.
    Getting past the ridiculousness of scheduling of the Man City game for early Saturday should’ve taken Mr Wenger the whole of five seconds and any more time spent commenting on it either by him or the players is counterproductive .

    As good as City have been at Etihad , I believe we can beat them but only with the right approach to the game.We can il afford to start slow again.
    Slow starts to games don’t manifest composure and self confidence but rather scream lack of confidence and nervousness .

    I have all the confidence in Kos and Mertesacker to be able to deal with Aguero and Dzeko or Negredo and I believe this game will be decided in the midfield . If Arteta and Flamini start the game , it will speak volumes as to what Wenger wants to get out of it and I think it would be a mistake.

    So let’s be aggressive from the off and bring the fight to City .


  10. Let’s beat the old citizens we’re the young gunners!

    Found on the Refrigerator One Morning :

    My Dear Wife,
    You will surely understand that I have certain needs that you, being 54
    years old, can no longer satisfy. I am very happy with you and I value
    you as a good wife. Therefore, after reading this letter, I hope that you
    will not wrongly interpret the fact that I will be spending the evening
    with my 18 year old secretary at the Comfort Inn Hotel. Please don’t be
    upset—-I shall be home before midnight.

    When the man came home late that night, he found the following letter on
    the dining room table:

    My Dear Husband,
    I received your letter and thank you for your honesty
    about my being 54 years old. I would like to take this opportunity to
    remind you that you are also 54 years old. As you know, I am a math
    teacher at our local college. I would like to inform you that while you
    read this, I will be at the Hotel Fiesta with Michael, one of my
    students, who is also the assistant tennis coach. He is young, virile,
    and like your secretary, is 18 years old.

    As a successful businessman who has an excellent knowledge of math, you
    will understand that we are in the same situation, although with one small
    difference – 18 goes into 54 a lot more times than 54 goes into 18.
    Therefore, I will not be home until sometime tomorrow.

  11. Good article as always Walter! I do feel confident that we will get a result against City no matter who the ref (but then again I always feel Arsenal has a chance no matter the opposition!)

    Then bring on Chelsea and Marriner (more likely than Dowd I think) next week! Walter or Tony, one of these days we should start taking polls a couple days before the fixtures guessing who the ref for the next game will be! It’ll be interesting to see how often we are right the rest of the season! I pick Marriner and Dowd for next week based on your data!

  12. @Jerry

    It was Andrew that wrote the article. 🙂


    A lot of you think that the game starts at 12:45. And I suppose it does. But for me, it starts at 5:45 am. Which doesn’t leave any time to read Dom’s prediction for the lineup. So, I found 5 predictions by other people:

    Jenkson(80)Sagna(20) Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
    Flamini(60)Arteta(40) Ramsey
    Walcott(40)Wilshere(60) Ozil Cazorla

    I think the majority will win out (Jenkinson, Flamini, Wilshere). I think that Cazorla is in need of a little rest, so I would look to put Rosicky in midfield for Cazorla.

    An Arab news source (Al Bawaba) had a nice tidbit. Apparently Wenger is at 1299 points as manager of Arsenal.

    A subject of late, are the pundits and journalists. Well I ran across an article showing that Arsenal has at least ruined the life of one journalist:

  13. I do hope we win today ,its going to be tight ; and as ManShitty do play the ‘right way’, it should be a good entertaining game .
    I’m going for a 2-1 win .
    Up the Gunners !

  14. Teaching English

    A Priest was about to finish his tour of duty, and was leaving his Mission in the jungle where he has spent years teaching the natives when he realises that the one thing he never taught them was how to speak English.

    So he takes the chief for a walk in the forest. He points to a tree and says to the chief, “This is a tree.”

    The chief looks at the tree and grunts, “Tree.”

    The Priest is pleased with the response.
    They walk a little further and he points to a rock and says, “This is a rock.”

    Hearing this, the chief looks and grunts, “Rock.”

    The Priest was really getting enthusiastic about the results when he hears a rustling in the bushes. As they peek over the top, he sees a couple of natives in the midst of heavy sexual activity.

    The Priest is really flustered and quickly responds, “Man riding a bike.” The chief looks at the couple briefly, pulls out his blowgun and kills them.

    The Priest goes ballistic and yells at the chief that he has spent years teaching the tribe how to be civilized and be kind to each other, so how could he kill these people in cold blood that way?

    The chief replied,

    “My bike.”

  15. Gord, thanks for the correction! Andrew sorry for not giving credit where credit is due! But either way, great work on the article!

  16. @ Gord – That Polly seems to be an oddball ( though her husband sounds vey normal !) , whoever heard of a wife worried about their husband’s hobbies and passions ; and god forbid – his feelings ? Doesn’t she shop,nag and/or chat/complain and stuff with/to her gfs ?

    As for you , here’s something for you to chew on and keep you awake till game time. I know you love this shi., oops , meant stuff ! Really !

  17. Arsenal always plays a fantastic football compared to other football clubs in England but Wenger should find out another professional football player to fix number 11 in order to score more goals

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