Atkinson (and Chelsea) v Arsenal Saturday Feb 4 2017 – the Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

Referee – Martin Atkinson  45 years old from West Yorkshire FIFA Accredited

Assistant Referee 1 – Stuart Burt  Northamptonshire FIFA Accredited

Assistant Referee 2 – Stephen Child  Kent FIFA Accredited

Fourth Official – Stuart Attwell  33 years old from Warwickshire

Well it’s finally happened Martin Atkinson appointed as referee for his first Arsenal game this season.  I’ve been looking at his non appointment for weeks now and thought that the PGMO had been saving him for an ‘important’ match.

Here is an extract from the full referee review for Matchweek 16 showing his place in the overall referee league table (arranged in descending order of the average number of wrong Important Decisions – second yellow cards, red cards, penalties and goals) made per game in charge.  Martin Atkinson is exactly mid table and has the same 2 wrong calls per game as the referee average (322 in 160 matches).

His wrong decisions are 16 sending off calls (6 second yellow and 10 straight red cards), 5 wrongly awarded penalties and 1 wrongly awarded goal.  All pretty much in line with the PGMO Select Group averages.

But Mr Atkinson is a FIFA Accredited referee and licensed to take charge of any football match at international or inter-club level and surely he should be better than average to have this level of accreditation?

Season to Date
Referee Games 2nd Yellow Red Pen Goal Total Avg
Roger East 5 2 3 8 2 15 3
Graham Scott 3 0 4 3 1 8 2.67
Robert Madley 13 4 15 12 1 32 2.46
Craig Pawson 11 3 11 9 3 26 2.36
Michael Oliver 14 7 11 12 2 32 2.29
Mike Dean 12 5 9 8 4 26 2.17
Mark Clattenburg 11 7 9 6 1 23 2.09
Andre Marriner 12 7 7 9 1 24 2.0
Martin Atkinson 11 6 10 5 1 22 2.0
Mike Jones 9 6 6 4 2 18 2.0
Jon Moss 12 7 7 6 3 23 1.92
Lee Mason 8 2 4 6 3 15 1.88
Anthony Taylor 14 5 8 10 3 26 1.86
Stuart Attwell 4 2 3 2 0 7 1.75
Kevin Friend 8 3 6 3 1 13 1.63
Paul Tierney 4 1 2 1 0 4 1.0
Neil Swarbrick 9 1 3 3 1 8 0.89

With no Arsenal games to look at in detail from this year how has Mr Atkinson performed in previous years.

2015-16  Last season we had the “pleasure” of his company in three games.

Arsenal v West Ham 9 August (0 – 2)


54% Overall weighted performance, bias against the two teams of 100/0 and three wrong Important Decisions.  In Min 22 Tomkins should have hd a yellow card for a foul on Giroud and in Min 37 he should have had a second for a foul on Monreal.  The ‘goal’ West Ham scored in Min 43 was from a non existent ‘phantom’ foul by Ramsey.  No foul, no free kick so no goal.  In Min 62 Noble dived to win a free kick and this play acting was bought by Mr Atkinson who wrongly booked Monreal.  Noble (already on a yellow) should have had a second booking for simulation and been sent off.

With a one man advantage for 50 minutes and a two man advantage for 30, in my opinion there is no way that Arsenal wouldn’t have scored the goals necessary to win the game.

Arsenal v Spurs 8 November (1 – 1)

Ref Review : Arsenal – Tottenham

41% Overall weighting bias against the two teams of 82/18 and 8 wrong Important Decisions.  In each of Min 18, Min 35 and Min54 Vertonghen should have given away a penalty for a foul on Giroud.  In Min 35 both Vertonghen and Giroud should have been given red cards for violent conduct for a scuffle following the second not given penalty.  Vertonghen should have had a fitst yellow card for a foul on Giroud in Min 18, A second for the Min 35 penalty and a third for the Min 54 penalty – he should therefore been sent off a total of three times in this game.  To complete the game in Min 89 Dier should also have had a second yellow card for a foul on Giroud.

This was one of the worst exhibitions of refereeing that we saw last year and a clear case of the outcome being decided by the referee who robbed us blind on the day and denied us two points.

Arsenal v Leicester 14 February (2 – 1)

Ref Review: Arsenal – Leicester

52% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams of 94/6 and seven wrong Important Decisions.  Arsenal should have had thre penalties Min 9 for a Kante handball. Min 37 Huth for holding Giroud following a corner and Min 55 foul by Morgan on Giroud.  The penalty awarded to Leicester in Min 43 when Vardy barged into Monreal shouldn’t have been awarded, it was Vardy who committed the foul.  The Consequent goal for Leicester also shouldn’t have stood.  In Min 48 Simpson was awarded a yellow card for a reckless challenge on Alexis, it should have been his second – his first should have come in Min30 for pulling Özil away from the ball.  In Min 71 Drinkwater should have had a straight red card for a challenge above calf high on Ramsey.

For once his antics didn’t cost us any points but so nearly did (it was only the last minute heroics of Danny that earned us the points).  Overall though three refereeing performances all of a dire level of competence with a total of 15 wrong Important Decisions, 14 of them against Arsenal.  Bias figures of 100, 82 and 94% against Arsenal – hardly representative of a referee licensed to take charge of the most important matches in Football

Was he any better in 2014-15?

Chelsea v Arsenal 5 October 2014 (2 – 0)

Untold’s Unacceptable Referee Review: Chelsea – Arsenal

45% overall weighting, bias against the two teams of 14/86 and six wrong Important Decisions.  In Min 20 Cahill should have had a straight red card for a foul on Alexis and in a separate off the ball incident Ivanovic should have had a red card for an elbow on Özil.  Oscar should have had a yellow card in Min 6, a second in Min 40, a third in Min 45+2 and a fourth in Min 74 thus he should have been sent off on three separate occasions.  Fabregas should have given away a handball penalty in Min 62, Alexis should have had a straight red card for a punch on Ivanovic in Min 43 and for an assault on Fabregas in Min 90.

The key turning points were in Min 20 with the score at nil-nil.  Two Chelsea players should have been sent off for separate incidents.  Against a nine man Chelsea team for 70 minutes there is no way that Arsenal would not have won this game.

Arsenal v QPR 26 December (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 Onuoha wrapped himself around Giroud like a coat but no penalty was awarded.  Min 52 Ferdinand grabbed Giroud by the neck – as he had already been booked the only question should have been the number of games he would miss – Mr Atkinson saw nothing wrong. Min 75 Arsenal should have had a second penalty for a foul by Fer on Mertesacker, Min 77 QPR were wrongly awarded a penalty when Debuchy cleared the ball and Hoilett went down.  The subsequent goal by QPR was also incorrect.  Min 90 Gibbs brought down Zamora and a QPR penalty should have been awarded.

A game where for once Mr Atkinson achieved the Minimum acceptable 70% weighted score.  That and the fact that his errors didn’t cost us points are the only mitigating factors in yet another dismal piece of refereeing.

Spurs v Arsenal 7 Feb 2015 (2 – 1)

Ref Review Tottenham – Arsenal

61% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams of 10/90 and three wrong Important Decisions.  In Min 10 the Arsenal goal should have been ruled out for offside, In Min 59 Rose should have been given a straight red card for a stamp on Giroud’s achilles and Min 72 Mason should have had a second yellow card for stopping a quick free kick (his first should have come in the 12th minute for a scissor challenge on Özil.

Another sub standard performance but one I thought probably didn’t cost us points.  Our goal shouldn’t have stood and I thought it unlikely that man advantage for a half hour would have given us enough of an advantage to score more than one goal.  On reflection with a two man advantage for 18 minutes it is possible that we would have been able to score a second goal.

To answer the question No I don’t consider Mr Atkinson to have been any better in 2014-15 than he was last year.  He certainly cost us 3 points against Chelsea and possibly 1 against Spurs and made our win against QPR far harder than it should have been.  15 wrong Important Decisions in 3 games is ridiculous.

I don’t normally go back to 2013-14 because we haven’t got formal referee reviews but here are links to Walter’s post match reviews  The one of the City game is a minute by minute review the others are just our ususal post match musings.

Sunderland v Arsenal 14 Sept (1 – 3)

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

Arsenal v Liverpool 2 November (2 – 0)

Arsenal – Liverpool 2-0, Who had predicted this league table in August?

Man City v Arsenal 14 December (6 – 3)

A referee review Martin City – Arsenal. An utterly unacceptable referee

62.9% overall weighted score, bias against the two teams of 0/100 and a minimum of 3 wrong Important decisions plus 2 wrong offside calls when Arsenal had very promising goal scoring opportunities.

Everton v Arsenal 6 April 2014 (3 – 0)

Everton and a bit of Chelsea – Arsenal 3-0


  1. In his Premier League games this year Mr Atkinson averages 2 wrong Important Decisions per game exactly in line with the PGMO average.
  2. In the 7 games in the previous 3 seasons where we have detailed referee reviews he has made 36 wrong decisions 5.2 per game.  Put simply his performances in Arsenal games are utterly atrocious and frankly he shouldn’t be allowed near an Arsenal game.
  3. His bias numbers of the wrong decisions in those 7 games has been 100, 82, 94, 86, 87, 90 and 100 against Arsenal and in only one game has he achieved the minimum acceptable score of 70% accuracy.  His other scores have been 54, 41, 52, 45, 61 and 63 so tossing a coin would be about as accurate.
  4. Arsenal, if they haven’t already done so, should protest this appointment in the strongest possible terms.  It is an insult to Football to have this man in charge of an Arsenal game as he is totally incapable of refereeing us in an honest manner.
  5. You will know in the first five minutes or so if he has ‘changed his spots’  Look at the first couple of fouls committed by each team.  If he gets those calls right then we might just be OK but I wouldn’t put any money on it at all.
  6. I expect Chelsea players to be allowed to kick the shit out of Arsenal with complete impunity.  I very much fear for injuries in the game.  Should our players heve the temerity to respond in kind they will be carded immediately.
  7. If we are awarded a penalty it will be a miracle but we could well have one or more against us.
  8. He is another referee fond of the old ‘phantom foul’ routine – watch out for these being given in attacking positions or if Chelsea need a breather.
  9. This game will be on an extremely tilted pitch – any points for Arsenal will be extremely hard won – be prepared for us to be robbed.


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15 Replies to “Atkinson (and Chelsea) v Arsenal Saturday Feb 4 2017 – the Match Officials”

  1. Hopefully it’s an Arsenal win and the beginning of a longer winning streak. The team can beat Chelsea, they just need to be fully focus and believe in themselves. Best of luck boys!!!!

  2. It may be a “must win game” but with Atkinson, it may be an “impossible to win game”. We can beat Chelsea but we will have to be much, much better than them and beat them without as much as going near a 50/50 challenge.

  3. @ Polo

    That’s a really interesting article. It’s a shame the British media can’t come up with factual articles like this which show a positive side to Arsenal and our manager. Although if facts end up demonstrating something positive about the club, I guess that’s exactly the reason our media steer clear of them……………….

  4. Nice read @Polo. I have been pondering on the suitability of the present crops of players for the realization of the expectations of the manager and fans. Could it be that some of the players are not good enough or that they are letting the manager down? Is it possible to honestly look at each of the players we got and see if some of them are not just good enough?

    Szczesny for instance was deemed a liability by the manager even when some of us kept excusing his inadequacies. Same seems to be going for Jekinson.

    My take is that some of our current crop of players might have been good in time past but may just not be good enough for our goals now. We seem to have a penchant to hold on to some players beyond their relevance. Diaby, Rosicky, Arteta and Sanogo come to mind in recent years

  5. I’ve got a good feeling about this game and have all week . We definitely need a good result and Chelsea have to come unstuck at some point . We have to put the dire game against Watford behind us and come out firing on all cylinders .
    So us to do the double but think they’ll still win the PL
    1-2 To the Goon

  6. @ Yommex, in my opinion I think the club want to treat their players with respect and dignity for their service to the club especially players whose careers were affected by serious injuries hence why some players are kept on hold even if they aren’t playing at the expected level.

  7. I would like to see this starting lineup against Chelsea.

    Bellerin Mustafi Kos Monreal
    Ox Coq
    Perez Ozil Alexis

    But I think it probably be.
    Bellerin Mustafi Kos Monreal
    Ox Coq
    Walcott Ozil Iwobi

  8. Off topic – next week Parliament will debate a motion of no confidence in the governance of the FA.

    This is the time now to email your MP and describe in your own words your concerns about the FA and esp the PGMO and the established incompetence of the refs – the secrecy surrounding the the PGMO etc.

    I will be doing this in advance of the debate – even although I consider my MP to totally wasted space!

  9. Atkinson is every bit as bad as Dean.

    Let’s hope that our team plays as well as it can, so that we can defeat our 12 opponents.

  10. has a note up, about tickets for the Sutton United game.

    There are about 750 places in the allocation, most of which are for standing positions.

  11. think we all know whats coming, atkinson vs chelsea is not a good combination, a bit like dean in games against the spuds.
    he will show his true colours should we threaten,or take the lead
    I am sure wenger is well up for protesting such appointments, our board, sadly it appears not.
    Good luck to the team tomorrow, in what will be the next installment in wengers real punishment for his incident with Taylor

  12. BBC Sport ‏@BBCSport 11h11 hours ago
    Parliament will debate a motion of no confidence in the governance of the Football Association on Thursday.

    More to follow.

    Great News!! Hope they expose PGMOL at the same time. Write to your MP & point them to the Reviews that Untold has done.

  13. Andrew, we had him before this season. Away at Sunderland. My title was: Ref Review : Sunderland – Arsenal: Was this not knowing the laws? Or just plain bias? The latter looks more probable.
    It was a match in which he made 23 errors and one of them was very important as with the score 0-1 he ignored the clearest of penalty fouls on Alexis (a pull and a stamp at the same time – yes two fouls and nothing given – should also have been a second yellow card) and then at the other end he gave the correct penalty for Sunderland immediately when he could. for those who want to read it again and shiver. His score was 60% and he won a lot of points even because of the fact that 5 valid goals were scored.
    This will be what we are up to against.

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