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March 2021

Manchester City v Arsenal 18 Dec 2016 – The Match Officials. Expect a totally biased cockeyed performance

by Andrew Crawshaw

This weekend we have

  • Referee – Martin Atkinson.  Age 45 from West Yorkshire and FIFA Accredited
  • Assistant 1 – Gary Beswick.  From Durham and FIFA Accredited
  • Assistant 2 – Adam Nunn.  From Wiltshire
  • Fourth Official – Robert Madley.  Age 30 from West Yorkshire and FIFA Accredited

Second time this year for both Martin Atkinson and Gary Beswick, who assisted Michael Oliver in our delightful home win against Chelsea.  First time for Adan Nunn and for Robert Madley in the Fourth Official role although he was on hand as referee in the home game against Southampton

I have no ‘flags’ against Gary Beswick from this year but he carries three from our visit to Liverpool last January when he failed to flag for a foul by Ibe on Monreal right in front of him in Min50, then failed to see that Henderson was carded for showing dissent in Min73 and failed to flag Lallana offside in Min78.

He was also on hand in our 5-2 win at Leicester where he was ‘flag’ free.  He was running the line in two games in 2014-15 as assistant to Anthony Taylor (our draw against Leicester and our win over Aston Villa) both times ‘flag’ free.

Adam Nunn was missing from Arsenal games last season but put in a solitary appearance in 2014-15 when he was assisting Roger East in our 2-2 draw at home to Hull.  One ‘flag from that game for one of the Assistants and I’m afraid I don’t know if it was Adam or the other assistant (Mr Foy).  A clear foul by an attacker on Flamini in the build to to a Hull “Goal”.  Mr East too far away to see the incident but the linesman was well placed and should have indicated the foul to the referee.

Mr Atkinson’s first game this year was week 10 our 4 – 1 win away at Sunderland

Ref Review : Sunderland – Arsenal: Was this not knowing the laws? Or just plain bias? The latter looks more probable

Overall weighted score 61%, bias against the two teams of 10/90 and six wrong Important Decisions (second yellow cards, red cards, penalties and goals).

  • Min12 Rodwell should have had a straight red card for an elbow of Coquelin,
  • Min 33 Ndong was wrongly given a yellow card instead of a red for a foul on Coquelin,
  • Min 41 Pienaar was given a yellow card for a foul on Coqyelin but it should have been his second (his first should have been in Min26 for a trip on Sanchez),
  • Min 62 Kone should have been dismissed for fouls on Sanchez in the penalty area which should also have resulted in a penalty (nothing was given).

A pretty poor piece of refereeing made worse by Coquelin being directed off the field following treatment after an offence which resulted in the opposition player being cautioned.  This was contrary to a newly introduced ruling at the start of the season.

How has Mr Atkinson done overall this season?  Here are his charts from our latest weekly review (Week 12)

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  Wrong Important Decisions
Referee Games 2nd Yellow Red Penalties Goal Total Avg
Roger East 5 2 3 8 2 15 3
Mike Dean 10 5 8 8 4 25 2.5
Robert Madley 9 4 10 7 1 22 2.4
Craig Pawson 7 2 8 7 0 17 2.4
Anthony Taylor 10 4 5 8 3 20 2
Graham Scott 2 0 2 2 0 4 2
Mark Clattenburg 8 7 3 5 1 16 2
Michael Oliver 10 5 6 7 2 20 2
Andre Marriner 9 7 5 4 1 17 1.9
Lee Mason 6 2 3 4 2 11 1.8
Martin Atkinson 10 5 9 3 1 18 1.8
Jon Moss 9 6 3 4 2 15 1.7
Kevin Friend 6 1 6 3 0 10 1.7
Paul Tierney 2 0 2 1 0 3 1.5
Stuart Attwell 3 1 1 2 0 4 1.3
Mike Jones 7 3 3 1 1 8 1.1
Neil Swarbrick 7 1 3 3 1 8 1.1


Correct Important Decisions
Referee Matches 2nd Yellow Red Penalties Total
Andre Marriner 9 0 1 14 15
Anthony Taylor 10 0 0 6 6
Craig Pawson 7 0 0 10 10
Graham Scott 2 0 0 3+1* 4
Jon Moss 9 0 2 5+1* 8
Kevin Friend 6 0 0 5 5
Lee Mason 6 1 0 5+1* 7
Mark Clattenburg 8 1 0 19+1* 21
Martin Atkinson 10 0 0 7 7
Michael Oliver 10 0 0 11 11
Mike Dean 10 1 0 16 17
Mike Jones 7 0 0 7 7
Neil Swarbrick 7 0 0 11 11
Paul Tierney 2 0 0 4 4
Robert Madley 9 0 0 12 12
Roger East 5 0 2 7 9
Stuart Attwell 3 0 0 4+1* 5

So apart from his six wrong decisions in his one Arsenal game he has made 12 wrong Important Decisions in nine games which is actually pretty good but makes you ask the question why six wrong ones in a single Arsenal game?

2015-16 Season Looking back to last season though Mr Atkinson didn’t cover himself in glory.  We had him three times and he barely got half of the decisions right in any game.

Arsenal v West Ham 9 August 2015 (0 – 2)


54% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams 100/0 and 3 wrong Important Decisions;

  • Min 37 Tomkins should have had a second yellow card for a foul on Monreal,
  • Min 43 Mr Atkinson awarded a ‘phantom foul” against Ramsey from which West Ham scored – there was no foul so neither free kick or goal should have happened and
  • Min 62 Noble should have been given a second yellow following a dive – a foul was wrongly awarded against Giroud.  I reckoned that we were robbed of one point.

Arsenal v Spurs 8 Nov 2015 (1 – 1)

Ref Review : Arsenal – Tottenham

41% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams of 82/18 and eight wrong Important Decisions.

  • Min 18 not given penalty to Arsenal following foul onGiroud by Vertonghen;
  • Min 25 second not given penalty following another foul by Vertonghen on Giroud;
  • Min 35 Following yet another incident between Vertonghen and Giroud in th epenalty area both players should have been red carded for violent conduct;
  • Min 54 Arsenal should have had a third penalty following yet another foul in the penalty area which should have earned Vertonghen a second yellow card and in
  • Min 89 Dier should have had a second yellow card for a foul on Giroud.

Mr Atkinson lost control of the game in the first quarter and never regained it.  The three not given penalties to Arsenal should have ensured a comfortable win so two points robbed.

Arsenal v Leicester 14 Feb 2016 (2 – 1)

Ref Review: Arsenal – Leicester

52% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams of 94/6 and seven wrong Important Decisions.

  • Min 9 not given penalty to Arsenal following Kante handball (for which he should have had a yellow card),
  • Min 37 second not given penalty to Arsenal for Huth holding and pulling Giroud following a corner kick,
  • Min 43 Vardy barged into Monreal to win penalty, it was a foul by Vardy.  Min 45 the subsequent goal from the penalty shouldn’t have counted;
  • Min 48 Simpson was given a yellow card for a foul on Sanchez it should have been his second (the first should have been given in Min 30 for pulling Özil away from the ball)
  • Min 55 Arsenal should have a third penalty for a foul by Morgan on Giroud and
  • Min 71 Drinkwater should have had a straight red card for a challenge above calf high on Ramsey.  Another shockingly bad example of refereeing from someone who knows better.  This time it didn’t cost us points but Mr Atkinson did everything possible to deny us the win.

Going back to 2014-15 and we again had Mr Atkinson three times

Chelsea v Arsenal 5 October 2014 (2 – 0)

Untold’s Unacceptable Referee Review: Chelsea – Arsenal

45% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams 14/86 and six wrong Important Decisions.

  •   Min 20 Cahill should have had a straight red card for  a foul on Alexis and in a separste off-the-ball incident Ivanovic should have had a red card for a deliberate elbow on Özil;
  • Min 40 (0r 45+2 or 74 Oscar should have second yellow cards;
  • Min 43 Alexis should have had a red card for a punch on Ivanovic;
  • Min 62 Arsenal should have had a penalty for handball by Fabregas;
  • Min 90 0Alexis should have a straight red card for foul on Fabregas.

Mr Atkinson lost this game in the 6th. minute when he failed to book Oscar and never had any control at all.  Chelsea should have been down to 9 players in the 20th minute with the score at nil-nil and Arsenal should have won comfortably.  Three points robbed.

Arsenal v QPR 26 Dec 1015 (2 – 1)

Untold Ref Review: Arsenal – QPR

70% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams of 87/13 and six wrong Important Decisions.

  • Min 23 not given penalty to Arsenal when Onouha wrapped himself round Giroud like a coat and pulled him to the ground;
  • Min 52 Ferdinand grabbed Giroud by the neck should have been a second yellow card;
  • Min 75 should have been a second penalty to Arsenal for a foul by Fer on Mertesacker;
  • Min 77 QPR wrongly awarded penalty (Debuchy fairly cleared the ball as Hoilet went Down; The goal scored from the penalty spot should not have counted;
  • Min 90 Gibbs brought down Zamora should have been a penalty for QPR.  No cost in terms of points but another game with Mr Atkinson doing all possible to avoid points to Arsenal.

Spurs v Arsenal 7 Feb 2015 (2 – 1)

Ref Review Tottenham – Arsenal

Overall weighted score 61%, bias against the two teams 10/90 and three wrong Important Decisions;

  • Min 10 the arsenal goal should not have counted as the Arsenal player was a couple of inches offside;
  • Min 59 Rose should have straight red card for stamp on Giroud’s achilles;
  • Min 78 Mason should have had a second yellow card for impeding Arsenal attempting to take a quick free kick.  With the Arsenal goal ruled out Mr Atkinson’s decisions probably didn’t affect the outcome of this game.


Whilst Mr Atkinson’s figures from the start of this season look to be good giving an initial impression that we have nothing to fear however, he has been a terrible referee for us over the past two seasons probably costing us seven points in six games.

This year he has made 12 bad calls in 9 (non-Arsenal) games.  In his one Arsenal game he made 6 wrong Important Decisions, fortunately Sunderland were very poor and unable to take advantage of the referee’s largess.

In six Arsenal games over the past two seasons he has 33 wrong calls – averaging 5 and a half a game (so the six in the Sunderland game was bang on average).

If he Continues with his normal Arsenal form then I will have serious doubts about his honesty rather than his competence.

Like all PGMO referees his bias numbers against Arsenal are incredible (90, 100, 82, 94, 86, 87 and 90).  I have absolutely no confidence that this will change on Sunday and I expect us to play against a very tilted field.

We are unlikely to be awarded a penalty but quite likely to have one awarded against us.

Serious foul play against our players will be tolerated

It is quite likely that Man City will be awarded a phantom foul in an area where they can attack our penalty area.

I expect we will see a typically cock-eyed performance on Saturday.  A draw or better will be a very good result


Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Man City’s problem is that they are no longer able to steal players from Arsenal

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #13 complete with video evidence

Man City v Arsenal: a change of tactics is predicted, and the psychological game

Özil asks Arsenal to sign Draxler as part of contract deal and other tales

Ref Review: West Ham – Arsenal: an even bias score, miracles do happen

Football journalism has become a walled wonderland inherently incompatible with reality

All the Arsenal transfers you might have missed and some that may yet happen

The video ref in action: a practical example of video refereeing in the Club World Cup


27 comments to Manchester City v Arsenal 18 Dec 2016 – The Match Officials. Expect a totally biased cockeyed performance

  • Scuba

    Good to see we’re already playing the blame game, it’s never too early to start blaming someone else

  • Like we had against Chelsea you mean? And we have had just as much trouble from Atkinson as you. As for Clutterbug, who gave last weeks game to Chelsea, he did the same to us in Dec 2011. We went on to win the league.

    Anyway, well for done for getting your excuses in early.

  • Usama Zaka

    The only way we can hope for a fair match is if the whistle and the cards gain consciousness of their own, and ref the games themselves. He is an absolute disaster of a ref.

  • Menace

    It is not blame but prempting the shame of the PGMOL method of cheating. If City are successful while the officials are honest, then the world is a better place. Better still would be an Arsenal win despite the cheating sons of the northern counties of England.

  • Al

    Man, I hate that arrogant prick atkinson

  • Josif

    Good news: we haven’t lost against Manchester City in the last six matches (including Community Shield). 1:1, 3:0, 2:2, 2:0, 2:1, 2:2. Three victories and three draws.

    Very good news: they are without their best striker and arguably the best striker in the league (Agüero), their best central defender (Kompany) and their best defensive midfielders (Gündogan and Fernandinho).

    Bad news: the last time we lost against Manchester City, it was played in December at Etihad and Martin Atkinson was in charge in one of the most biased performances I have ever seen. It was so biased that I hoped for Flamini to head-butt Atkinson. We were denied a clear goal, Yaya Toure should have been sent off for a dangerous tackle on Giroud and we were denied a penalty when Zabaleta stopped Wilshere’s ball with his hand.

    I don’t expect anything good from Atkinson but I do expect our boys to give their best and thrash City. Anything else than three points and we would be out of the title race already with a realistic chance that our season would be a fight for the Champions League place. With eight or nine points behind Chelsea would be too much as they don’t have either Champions League or League Cup to distract them so they will be in a strong position to win the league. They have won eleven in a row with two home games coming (oh, yes, so much about Moaninho’s claims that he was the only one capable of leading that bunch of players to the title) so we have to win at Etihad if we want to prolong the title race.

    Man City-Arsenal 0:3 (Alexis, Özil, Iwobi)

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Arsenal should not count on their 6 unbeaten times run against Man City, neither should they blame the referring of this match as favouring Man City by ref’ Martin Atkinson match officiating as a ground for dropping points at the Etihad tomorrow nor blame any bad luck for not taking all points in this big game.

    The Gunners MUST out performed the Citizens in all the aspects of this game and rely on this their superior performance in the game to undo Man City in any foreknown, unforeseen and unpredicted issues arising during the course of playing this match and win the match.

    For Chelsea have by their win over Crystal Palace today put us in a precarious position immensely in the PL as the pressure is now on us to succeed totally at the Etihad tomorrow or else, we’ll be into deeper water of trouble in the PL than we’ve imagined. But God forbids this trouble happening to us. Amen!

  • Uzama; here, here!

    Anyone who thinks Atkinson is competent, well……

    Jeremy, you need to get a life, grow a pair, get some glasses and a sould, since you sold the one you had, for cold chips!

    May it be forbidden that such adversity can betray us.

    More so, lets just hope the anti-east middle thing is in our favour.

    Alexis and Ozil will be 100% with it along with Kos The Boss, Xhaka comes to the fore the bigger the match is and Coq in the team phot had that same grimace as Kos.

    I expect the full squad to turn out, City have 0 brains in midfield and this is where you can control and dominate the game, lets bring back the Chelsea result from earlier this season.

    Arsenal lose one, it’s the same old Arsenal, although it is celebrated that the same defeat to us, kick started their run.

    Lets batter the citizens like they were Ukranian students wanting into the EU and we were the Ukranian Titushky!

    We excel when we are wounded, we must respond and begin the year with a hot streak!


  • Mandy Dodd

    The pgmol are really going for us at the moment,
    Amazing how many times we get this ref in big games.
    Could easily concede a dodgy pen, though they will have to be careful, as the stats on the amount of dodgy pens we are conceding will start to look a bit suspicious.
    A tricky enough game, and not helped by this ref.
    Not a good week….at all for Arsenal so far, let’s hope things change a bit tomorrow. At least City will aim to play football rather than the clogball so many play against us…..or at least I would assume

  • nicky

    Arsenal’s perennial answer to a dodgy match official?
    We must just win IN SPITE OF THEM. 😉

  • You can’t beat a good excuse before a big game as I always say !

  • Pat

    It isn’t making excuses to point out the bias and incompetence of the refs. It is a solemn duty and we should be grateful Untold does it. Since we have only lost two premiership games so far this season, and Untold has pointed out the record of the ref before every match, excuses has nothing to do with it.

  • Jammy J

    To the two city fans at the top; it’s got absolutely nothing to do with shifting the blame if Arsenal loose. If Arsenal get out-played and thus lose the game, then the majority of posters here are more than willing to concede to that.

    Why is it that we can predict when there will be an absolutely awful performance from the ref? When we were given Oliver for the Chelsea game, it was predicted then that he would have a good game; which indeed he did.

    Who the ref is should be utterly inconsequential, but that is never the case, as it is proven time and time again that certain refs will be put in charge of certain teams more than any other and will put in consistently bias performances, consistently favouring certain teams.

  • Jammy J

    @ Shoot – Again, it’s got nothing to do with excuses. If you check out the ref review for the Chelsea game, you will see that because the referee was Michael Oliver, people predicted he would have a good game.

    You can make all of the baseless claims/statements that you like, but when there is evidence that completely contradicts the points you are making, then you just end up looking like a bit of a idiot (which I know isn’t hard for you).

  • para

    Whatever, we have to win this game, else we have to rely on Chel$ to lose a game for us to catch them. (And with Pool barking at our heels too).

    We cannot afford to lose concentration at any time this season, else we can kiss PL cup goodbye!

    That said, we should win this if we put in a proper performance even though the ref is hovering.

  • para

    City appears to be wounded and if we play right we could teach Pep a big lesson as well as upping our GD. 🙂 “you are at our home now Pep”.

  • Menace

    OT so many trips from behind worse than that by Xhaka only draw yellow cards. Shoulder barge, after the ball has gone, by Ibrahimovic only given a yellow. Two footed flying tackles ignored or given yellow cards. Amazing double standards by PGMOL officials.

  • Robido

    Maybe if Pep, as reported, does not practice to the English league interpretation of nearly fair play it would explain how his players get pushed to the edge without having the tools to fight back; when they do try to they make a hash of it and the ref feels obliged to act. A thug being half decent feels more acceptable than a half decent chap trying to be a thug?

    “Letting the game flow” rules and this season’s meaning of handball mean the refs are often not making mistakes as such they are pipers doing as they are paid to do. (Even so there are too many obvious errors everyone agrees to but it remains to be seen if there is a script being followed).

    Today’s game between two teams that want to play football should be close enough that they don’t have to give the underdog a fighting chance.

    I am not (ever it seems) as confident as Samuel but hope we are analysing chances thwarted and taken, not debating the possible implications of decisions we may or may not disgree with in a game played to different interpretations than we would apply, and of course a great gunners victory.

  • Leon

    Amy’s looking for an eff-off win. This could be the one.

  • John L

    I recall Atkinson’s malign influence in the 6-3 game at Man City a couple of years ago.

    Definitely cheated us of 2 points on that occasion.

  • Leon

    John L

    A game that should have finished 5-5 if the correct decisions had been applied.

  • Al

    With Arsenal’s rivals winning Atkinson will want to make sure we fall even further behind. The fixture list was never kind to us in first place; two away games up north few days apart…but sure we would have been ok without biased refereeing.

  • Al

    John L
    Yes, that one was painful to take. And the one versus Chelsea where a stamp on Coquelin wasn’t punished went on to score at the other end directly from that foul. To rub salt into our wounds he gave a penalty for a blatant ramires dive, for 2-0 Chelsea win.

    The not so politically correct inner me wants to say he has honesty issues, rather than competence issues.

  • Al

    …wasn’t punished *and Chelsea went on to score at the other end…

  • It’s shocking the level mediocrity or should I say bias in refeeing in the EPL. A friend of mine rightly said that soon fans will lose interest in the game on account of refereeing. It seems to get even worse if the team in question is from the red divide of North London. It’s horrible. I hope that this match will have some semblance of fairness..

  • Somesemblance, ofside goal one by a similar margin to the goal which woul have put us in a commanding 2-0 first half lead, Silva offside in the build up.

    Silva should have gone for two yellows!

    Iwobi shouldn’t have started, Ox and Perez pace and power.

    If anyone says anything to me about Monreal again, Sane was eating him all game and then Sterling!

    It’s worse than Mert, which shows the quality of Per and his positioning!

    It’s not half as bad, we need to win our head to heads and beat the small frys. Chelsea are 1-0 for how many games, it can’t last!

  • dan

    We are good at chasing games, but holding onto leads is a different matter, 3 we lost in the league, we were leading.