Tottenham v Royal Arsenal: the match officials

Spurs v Arsenal 07 February 2015 – The Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

Firstly following Walter’s reviews of Mssrs. Moss (Arsenal v Stoke) and Dean (City v Arsenal) here is the updated Table of Shame

Wrong Important Decisions

Favouring Arsenal

Favouring Opponents

2nd Yellow Cards



Red Cards












Possible Cost in Points



Mr Moss scored 72% overall with a bias against Arsenal of 90% and two wrong Important Decisions (second yellow, red cards, penalties and goals),

Minute 10 Arnautovic should have been red carded for his push on Debuchy which resulted in a three month injury and Min 35 and 42 Crouch should have had two yellow cards for his usual elbowing of defenders.

Mr Dean was perhaps slightly better in some ways than usual (he did give us a perfectly justified penalty for the first time in over 6 years) but his overall numbers were still not good – 64% overall and bias against both teams 27/73. One wrong important decision not given, Kompany was allowed to stay on the pitch following a nasty foul in Min 22 (not given yellow card), he was carded in min 40 and should have had a third card in min 55 for two footed challenge on Alexis.

As we won both games, no change in the points total, the wrong decisions are now at nearly 8 to 1 against us so it certainly isn’t evening out yet.

On to Saturday and our visit to the Totts and this is a game that needs a referee willing to be firm but fair, both teams are in good form with exciting attacking players and there is the potential for an excellent game of football. At the final whistle will we be talking about that or the referee?

  • Referee – Martin Atkinson
  • Assistants – S Child and H Lennard
  • Fourth Official – A Marriner

Mr Atkinson is amongst the busiest referees this year – this is week 24 and it will be his 20th game. Mr Child is a regular partner, this will be their 13th pairing. For Mr Lennard it is the seventh time this year partnering Mr Atkinson and they have operated as a threesome four times since 28th December, so we can expect a well oiled machine.


This will be Mr Atkinson’s third Arsenal match this year, we first had him at Chelsea where between them they conspired to beat us two nil. Mr Atkinson was bad on an epic scale that day delivering the worst refereeing we have seen so far this year and getting a dismal 45% rating, bias against the two teams: 14/86 and six wrong Important Decisions.

He is incapable of giving a fair refereeing performance in a game between Arsenal and Chelsea so we should expect him again for the reverse fixture in April. His performance still makes me lose my temper, so for more details read Walter’s review using the link below.

Untold’s Unacceptable Referee Review: Chelsea – Arsenal

We also had him for our home game v QPR where he was better (not by a lot), he got 70% overall rating – the minimum acceptable score, his bias scores were virtually identical 87% against Arsenal, 13% against QPR and there were a further six wrong Important Decisions. Three not given penalties – Min 23 Onuoha fouled Giroud, Min 75 Fer on Mertesacker and Min 90 Gibbs on Zamora. The one penalty he gave for a Debuchy foul on Hoilet was incorrect as there was no contact between the players, the goal they scored therefore also counts as a wrong decision. In minute 52 Ferdinand should have been sent off for grabbing Giroud by the neck. The red card for Giroud was absolutely correct, an inexcusable rush of blood to the Gallic head, even though he was fouled and pushed into their keeper in the build up to the headbut.

Untold Ref Review: Arsenal – QPR

2013/14 – Three games

14 Sept Sunderland 1 Arsenal 3 (with Mr Lennard as one of the Assistants)

Walter’s review

Sunderland 1 – Arsenal 3 : a longer one, some interesting things about referees and booing and hating players

Koscielny penalty was correct, the other big talking point (at least on MOTD) virtually all possible decisions were defendable. The fact was that the referee blew his whistle when he did and the game stopped then, that the Sunderland player continued to play was totally irrelevant. Arsenal were the better team and

14 December Man City 6 Arsenal 3 (again with Mr Lennard as Assistant)

Individual errors, giving it away and not taking our chances

A nightmare from the referee and both assistants, so many wrong decisions that day the true result could have been a win for either team. City scored from most of their chances and we didn’t. We also had two good goals ruled out for bad offside decisions.

6 April Everton 3 Arsenal 0

Everton and a bit of Chelsea – Arsenal 3-0

Everton with the better chances in the first half and the Ref with some poor decisions,

Good early card for booking Coleman for reckless challenge on Sagna, then no card for a late Naysmith challenge on Arteta, or a Baines flying in on Cazorla. Flamini getting a booking for his first foul. Sanogo having a goal disallowed in extra time at the end – he was level with the last defender yet called offside, also why was Barkley not sent off for pushing Arteta to the ground with both hands? Adding insult to injury he actually booked Arteta!

2012/13 – Three games

Match Referee Review: Martin Atkinson – Arsenal v Aston Villa (2 – 1) [23/02/2013]

85% overall rating, no bias against either team (47/53) and no wrong Important Decisions – Atkinson on a good day – here’s hoping for a repeat!

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Arsenal Vs Chelsea (1 – 2) [29/09/2012]

71% overall, Bias against both teams 69/31 and one wrong Important Decision, Minute 19 Torres using both hands pushing Koscielny as Chelsea score – goal shouldn’t have stood.

Ref Review: Martin Atkinson – Chelsea Vs Arsenal (2 – 1) [20/01/2013]

61% overall, bias against 10/90 and 7 wrong Important Decisions.

  • Min 1 Chelsea should have a penalty Diaby holding Oscar;
  • Min 5 Ramirez plants his studs on Coquelin, play should be stopped, Ramires booked and Arsenal restart with free kick – instead Atkinson ignores foul and Chelsea score with no Arsenal player having touched the ball;
  • Min 15 Chelsea wrongly awarded penalty from which they score, Ramires should have been booked for diving and dismissed as it would have been his second;
  • Min 62 Ramires (again should have a yellow card for pulling back Walcott on a promising counter attack;
  • Min 77 ramires (again) should be dismissed for pushing Wilshere in the face quoting the ref reviewer “I can’t remember having seen one player making that many bookable offences in one game and still the ref didn’t give a yellow card. Amazing to be honest.”;
  • Min 94 Foul in the penalty area – Cahill on Vermaelen, penalty not given. In total two incorrect decisions favouring Arsenal, twenty-one favouring Chelsea. Atkinson showing his true colours (blue).

Atkinson v Spurs

Mr Atkinson is a referee to be feared by Arsenal – is there any evidence to suggest that the same should apply to Spurs? For answers we have to go back to 2012/13 as there are no meaningful analyses of referee decisions since then. There were four games reviewed which might give some pointers.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Newcastle United Vs Tottenham Hotspur (2 – 1) [18/08/2012] – 72% overall score, bias against 36/64 and one wrong Important Decision Min 75 Gallas was offside for Tottenham goal, which shouldn’t have counted.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Tottenham Hotspur Vs Wigan Athletic (0 – 1) [03/11/2012]

– 79% overall, bias against 69/31, one wrong Important Decision Min 55 the Wigan goal shouldn’t have stood due to a foul by a Wigan player.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Sunderland Vs Tottenham Hotspur (1 – 2) [29/12/2012] – 72% overall score, bias against both teams 50/50 and one wrong Important Decision when in Min 80 Tottenham should have had a penalty Gardner on Bale.

Match Review: Martin Atkinson – Wigan Athletic Vs Tottenham Hotspur (2 – 2) [27/04/2013] – 67% overall, bias against both teams 69/31 and one wrong Important Decision. Min 64 Jordi came in studs up at head height on Spurs player. Straight red everywhere in the world but the Premier League, not even called as a foul!.

Enough evidence there to suggest that Spurs were also treated badly by Mr Atkinson, probably not to quite the same extent as Arsenal.

In 2013/14 Mr Atkinson was in charge of Spurs twice – their 6-0 defeat at Man City on 24 November and their 3-1 victory at Swansea on 19 January 2013.

This will be the first time Mr Atkinson has been in charge of a Spurs game this season.

In Conclusion

Mr Atkinson is always bad news for Arsenal, the only good news is that we aren’t playing Chelsea where he is at his most biased.

Historically, Mr Atkinson hasn’t seemed too keen on doing Spurs any favours either so there is a (probably slight) chance of him being more even handed than usual in this game, particularly as neither team is a direct threat to either City or Chelsea at the moment.

Worryingly Mr Atkinson still seems to have little grasp of a bad tackle and seems to allow potential leg breakers or other over the top challenges to occur without serious sanction.

He also has particular problems in correctly identifying fouls and good challenges in the penalty area, expect some controversy in that area of the pitch.

I would expect a poor performance with a handful of wrong Important Decisions, mostly (but not necessarily all) against Arsenal.

I am worried about uneven application of the offside rule, typically Arsenal are offside a half yard behind the last defender when he is referee, I suspect that he gives his linesmen instructions to be extra strict. Hopefully Mssrs. Child and Lennard won’t let such an instruction affect their judgement.


Untold Arsenal

If you want to make a comment please read this first

Curious anniversary of the day: 

  • 6 February 1894: Ly Burrows debut for Woolwich Arsenal v Rotherham. As an amateur he swapped between Arsenal and Tottenham over several seasons.

8 Replies to “Tottenham v Royal Arsenal: the match officials”

  1. Yea, because it’s Spuds v Ars maybe we will get a third unexpected ref performance tomorrow too. Yet I somehow think they are trying to show that refs are un-baised against Arsenal, hence being “nice” all of a sudden. No doubt at the end of the season they will come out with their stats to show this.

    Anyway let’s see how it pans out on sat and we get 3 in a row.

    All i want is a great continuing team performance from Arsenal, who ever plays. Alexis will be gutted(really?) he is not playing. Hope the team continues on in their determination to win.

  2. Some time ago, there was an article on Untold about Google using Spurs defending as an example when defining “lackadaisical”.

    Do you know that another definition has cropped up on Google? If you search for “dodgy meaning” in Google, you will find the following example:


    of low quality.
    “Spurs’ dodgy defence had thrown away a 2-0 lead”

    Thought I’d let you guys know!

  3. Para, I share your sentiments about the “niceness” of the previous two referees who had our last two games(coincidence? Or Pattern?). Just as you said, I think its a deliberate attempt to make us feel there is no bias against Arsenal that’s why M.Dean gave us a penalty and they brought A.Taylor to make forced amend for his previous error with the same teams.
    Now we have a third worse referee for the NLD. I have the feeling that he will be unnaturally good to us tomorrow. Not because he is a fair ref but to serve as a further reference that there isn’t an agenda against Arsenal.
    On the game, I think Alexis’ absence is a sort of challenge to the other players cos they know if they perform below expectation, the press will make them realise it was Sanchez that had been carrying the team and thus lower their importance in the team.

  4. I’m expecting some feisty challenges from Totts midfield players to stop the Cazorla-Ramsey-Coquelin axis. I hope Per and Kos can keep Harry Kane quiet, cause I think he’s really that damn good and on fire at the moment. This is gonna be tougher than MC game.

  5. I suspect they the current ‘truce’ called by the PGMO will turn out to be a temporary affair and that we will soon get referees returning to their original instructions. I will be delighted to be proved wrong.
    Of The last three referee performances – Moss 72% andDean at 64% are still not good; albeit better than previous and the anti-Arsenal bias is still appalling Dean having the best figures with 27/73 against both teams. Taylor with a mid 80% performance was the level we should expect to see every week still managed to get every wrong decision against Arsenal.

    Potentially this is a game between two more evenly balanced teams and referee errors could be far more costly for either. As I said in the article I hope we end up talking about the game and the players, not the referee.

    Our players seem to be getting better at not giving the Officials the excuse to punish them unjustly as well as seeing challenges coming and vaulting over the low ones. If they all stay awake there is no reason not to look for three points tomorrow – COYG

  6. Agree Andrew, any truce, if there is one , will be temporary, especially as we are playing well for now.
    This is a ref I will always be wary of. But as with Villa, this team are good enough to beat both the opponent and a ref who seems not to like us very much.
    This is an important game, elements of the AAA/Media would love to see us fail….the question is, do the football establishment want the same?
    I think our defenders will have to watch themselves, Spurs get a lot of penalties, but then again, we are now getting the same, surprisingly.
    If this referee is under orders, or is just plain biased, as well as the kicking we will get, a penalty/red card against us for the likes or Per/Kos or the wonderful Bellerin could be the order of the day if we are not careful.
    I expected another ref for this game, thinking Atkinson has done a few of our games already, and would be reserved for our Chelsea game, how naive of me not to not consider he could well end up doing both.

  7. Sam

    I had looked for that Dodgy definition, and couldn’t find it. Maybe it is only Google in England doing it?

    So magazine (Paste) has a different sort of article about the North London Derby. I don’t think they spent enough time at it, perhaps others can add to it?

    In any event, they listed 3 situations for Arsenal and 3 for Spurs, and it any of them were to happen, they suggested a particular beer to drink. I believe they suggested 5 different USA craft beers and 1 from Spain.

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