The untold ref review : Arsenal – Birmingham

By Walter Broeckx, referee

With the visit of Birmingham came also ref Atkinson to the Emirates. Since the Eduardo incident a very tricky game and with from Arsenal’s point of view games where the casualty list was high in the past seasons: Eduardo, Walcott, Cesc…just to name a few.

Just take a look at the first incident:

OTHER/CARD/GOAL The first major decision was a foul on Chamakh from Carr. He came in with his studs showing and his foot slid off the shin pads of Chamakh. A foul and for the way he came in should have been a yellow.

From the resulting free kick a Squillaci headed in but the goal was disallowed for off side. From the angle on the TV it looked as if he was just offside. But no one could offer me an image with a line on it so I will hand the linesman and the ref the benefit of the doubt. I will try to include a picture and if he was offside it would have been inches/centimetres.

The call for the foul was correct, the card kept in his pocket was wrong and the not giving goal looked correct also and if the call is this close I can understand it. Just one note in case of doubt the linesman should give the advantage to the attacker. 1/1, 0/1 and 1/1

GOAL : there was nothing wrong when you look at the rule book with the Birmingham goal. 1/1

OTHER/CARD Foster is already playing for time, taking the ball to the other side of the six-yard box for his goal kick. And we all have seen the time wasting from the start but from the moment Birmingham took the lead the efforts were doubled. Shortly before half time the ref called over Carr the captain and made it clear that he would not allow it any more. But they did it for the rest of the game apart from the last 10 minutes and the ref did not act with a card. So telling a team that they have to stop is worth a point but after that not give a yellow card when they continue loses him a point. 1/1 and 0/1

PENALTY/OTHER/GOAL We have seen here a thing that happens very rarely in football, in fact it is one of the first times I have seen it on this level. A Birmingham defender does a tackle from behind on Chamakh and clips his foot. Chamakh goes down, the ref let play continue as the ball falls for Arshavin who can shoot at goal. Arshavin misses and the given advantage goes away and the ref comes back to the initial foul and gives the penalty.

First the foul itself: the defender comes nowhere near to the ball and touches Chamakh. The fact that Chamakh went down with what could be described as a very impressive tumble doesn’t take anything away from the fact he was touched and had a right to go down if he felt he was impeded.

So yes it was a penalty for me 1/1 and the ref had every right to wait to see if Arsenal would have scored directly from the first shot and then come back to the foul. In fact this was a piece of great refereeing skill if you ask me. 1/1 and the penalty was converted without problems so another 1/1.

OTHER/CARD Chamakh goes down in a heap after a vicious attack  in the back after a throw. It was clear to see that the Birmingham players attempted to hurt Chamakh and the ref did nothing to protect him at the time. In fact the Birmingham player came in with his elbow leading against the head of Chamakh and as he was coming in from behind he knew the player was in front of him and so he had to take care that his elbow did not hit the players head.

So in fact it can be described and should have been described as a deliberate elbow and for this is only one punishment: a red card.  So not giving the foul and not seeing the elbow are two misses from the ref.  0/1 and 0/1

CARD/CARD/CARD Nasri is booked for a knee at the bottom of Ridgewell. What the ref didn’t see was the fact that after the first little foul from Nasri that same Ridgewell had given a little kick at Nasri who then found it necessary to give him a nudge with this knee. So both players should have got a yellow card for their stupid behaviour. And also keeper Ben Foster should have been booked because he found it necessary to run out of his goal to the halfway line to give his thoughts on the whole matter and to get involved in the incident.

In my country the instructions are clear on this: if a keeper comes out that far to get involved in an incident he should be sent back to his area and be rewarded with a yellow card. So should have been 3 yellow cards and only one given. 1/3

GOAL apart from the fact that it was a great build up from Wilshere and Song nothing to report when it comes to the rule book. 1/1

OTHER/ CARD Bowyer commits a foul against Wilshere, the ref gives advantage. Then he goes after Diaby who is being fouled but who can free himself and suddenly finds himself in a great position but the ref stops the game and gives a yellow card. Bowyer committed two fouls in a row and within seconds. So the first advantage was correct and the booking also but he could have given Diaby advantage. But I can understand the ref for blowing his whistle. It is one of those times that you blow the whistle a fraction of a second to soon. But I think I will not deduct him a point for the stopping play as he thought he had to stop Bowyer at that time. 1/1,  1/1

CARD: Carr goes in the book for hauling down Rosicky. It was his second foul in just over a minute against Rosicky so no doubt about that card: fully deserved card. 1/1

CARD against Eboue. Totally deserved yellow card and a totally unnecessary tackle. I really didn’t like the tackle at all and not in that position and place on the field. Could it be that is was payback time for the challenge last season on Walcott? Anyway I don’t want to see it.  1/1

CARD for Wilshere. The first heavy touch from Wilshere and when he wants to make up for this he goes in hard and dangerous against Zigic. Luckily Wilshere is a small player with not that much weight because if it would have been a player like Djourou who comes in like that we could have had some bones broken. So yes I can only agree with the ref’s decision to send him off. 1/1

Goals 3/3

Cards: 5 /10

Penalties: 1/1

Other: 3/5

TOTAL SCORE: 13/19 (68%)

About the time wasting as I explained in my article already when the ref notices that it is happening and he warns the team captain to stop it and they continue and the ref doesn’t give the yellow card(s) you make a fool of yourself and this is the last thing you should do as a ref.

About the red card I think it was a good move from Arsenal and Wilshere to acknowledge the fact it was a good decision and accept the red card and the punishment. I only hope that this will be the standard for everyone from now on. But it wouldn’t surprise me if by next week we have seen a dozen tackles like that without any cards or a yellow card at the most. I also hope that from now on ref Atkinson will make these decisions in the rest of his career from now on.

21 Replies to “The untold ref review : Arsenal – Birmingham”

  1. The foul by Eboue was a clear red card. A scissor tackle from behind. Thats the same tackle that Joe Cole committed on Koscielny in the opening game. And he deserved a red card and so does Eboue. But i agree with you on the rest of the points.

  2. Again, outstanding work Walter and, as usual, an unbiased view.
    Being a regular at the Emirates I’ve seen blatant time wasting going on very regularly over the years but little action taken to quell the annoyance of the crowd or the frustrations of the Arsenal players. The continued rejection of a ball rotation policy in the EPL doesn’t help. I know this is nothing to do with the ref or with the rules of the game but does anyone know what happens in other leagues re keeping the game flowing?

  3. After reading the Sunday Papers,about match fixing bent players and bent officials, who cares about marking a ref, he’s just making a living.(THERE ALL BENT)

  4. Great article Walter, and I think including images of some of the incidents is an excellent idea.

    Getting back to the match, I see your report didn’t include any mention of Zigic’s ‘bodycheck’ on Wilshere. It left Jack with a bloodied lip and it seemed like Zigic might have struck him in the face with his arm/elbow. Did you miss this incident or just forget to include it in your report? I would be interested to know your opinion on it.

  5. wow at last! thnx wrenny and jordan. was beginning to think i imagined it!
    i thought it was a blatant elbow to the chops and wilshere took matters into his own hands as no one stepped up. good on him i say. broken bones arent nice but if they start happening to the culprit teams maybe it’l stop before the f.a step up in ten years time.

  6. Poor Jack – he’s just not that kind of player, he loves his mum, he does crochet and needlework – he would not harm a fly!
    Is this what we say? NO! NO WAY! Sorry, but we are are THE ARSENAL, we tell the truth, we own up and acknowledge a misdemeanor. Yes,of course it was deserving of a red card, but to compare his challenge with these despicable 100 m.p.h. flying leg-breaking assaults is ridiculous.
    Jack, you are young and you must learn from this and I’m sure you will, yes, you were given a kicking throughout the game and, fair play to you you did not retaliate, but right at the end you made a massive error.
    Don’t give our great club’s mindless critics any amunition – empty vessels make the most noise – and there are those who may listen.

  7. Does anyone have 2 tickets for Shakhtar Donetsk.

    I have my 10 year old nephew here from Australia and am keen to further his Arsenal education.

    Please email me at

  8. About the incident between Zigic and Wilshere earlier in the game. I did see it and I had it in my first draft. But after reviewing the incident I really think I cannot prove that Zigic did anything els than just standing his ground. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that Zigic is about 40 cm (1 foot?) bigger than Jack and when you clash like that the smaller player can risk being hurt in his face.

    If you want to talk about an elbow you must take a look just before half time as that was in my opinion a blatant and deliberate elbow. And the more I look at it, the worse it gets. That the ref let this go is incredible as he had a clear sight on this.

  9. insideright, you are rigth about bal rotation. I know in the CL it is the normal principle to keep the game as fluent as possible and to avoid time wasting as much as possible.

    I think that any league should take this as the normal principle.

  10. Dark Prince, I think that apart from the fact that the tackle from Eboue was stupid, over the top, and all you can say but it was a tackle from the side. But he did it with one leading leg and then closed down with the other leg.
    Today I have sent off a player with two yellow cards for this kind of tackle. He did it twice and he also claimed on both occasions, like Eboue, that he played the ball but as I have said a thousand times by now: touching the ball is no excuse when you get man and ball.

  11. And finally for now Wrenny, including pictures is a good thing as it exposes sometimes things that have gone unnoticed but it is a hell of a job to stop the image right at the split second you want it.

    Things going unnoticed like the dangerous tackle from Carr against Chamakh is a good example.
    And the elbow against Chamakh was also something. I remember the twat guest commentator on my stream (former Birmingham tug and manager if I remember right) said it was all very well within the rules and that Chamakh was play acting. After reviewing the incident several times I can only come to the conclusion that it was with intention to hit him with his elbow. I think Chamakh is a beast and the way he took it and went of with a big smile on his face at half time showed them that he was nog affraid for them and willing to receive some kicks and elbows if needed. And all this without doing something back except….scoring a goal when he got the chance. 🙂

  12. Re Fosters time wasting…On one occasion as he strolled the width of his goal to place the ball ready for a goal kick he paused, picked up a container & took a drink from it before continuing to walk & then place he ball on the ground.It’s common to see the goal keepers of visiting teams blatantly time waste when taking goal kicks but this was a first. Should he have been yellow carded for this Walter???

  13. Wilsheres dad, the way you tell this is very much out of order. The problem when you sit in front of your TV or PC when the ball is out for a goal kick you get replays and so I cannot see these incidents. But this is ridiculous to say the least.

    But all those drink containers in the goal…I don’t like it.

    I think it should be stopped somewhat and certainly when its used to do some time wasting. I’m not saying we should forbid them by law but there should be some clear instructions that for example a goalkeeper can have a container in his goal but he can only drink from it when the ball is in play. He will not die from thirst if he first has to kick the ball and wait 10 seconds before he can drink.

    Before you know it he is having a lunch also during the game…

  14. So nice guys can also get caught out by the pace of the game. I saw no malice in Jack’s tackle, just bad timing. Sure, it was very fortunate that it did not result in serious injury. Thuis will happen time and time again. Get use to it!

  15. I was more disappointed with Chamakh that Wilshere. Yes there may have been the fainted of touches on him (but possibly not. He should have stayed on his feet. However, he made amends for me with his goal. Clearly too good a player to have to play act for a penalty.

    I thought Nasri and Eboue let us down with bad challenges, but poor Jack will have to deal with the headlines

    3 well deserved points, roll on Tuesday!

  16. Walter, I think Wilshere’s tackle was not that bad after looking at it very carefully. You can see he is clearly trying to move the ball to his left while going into the challenge. He had his leg completely outstretched in the whole movement he would break Zigic’s leg. Did you notice the movement of Wilshere’s leg in the tackling process?

  17. great Blog, thank you. stonewall penalty – and the contact is obvious, Cham is flying and if you tap the foot of a “flyer” he goes down, tap the foot of an “english-type” central defender and nothing happens. Jack`s challenge was a mistimed one and not over the ball , no recklessness and so should have been a yellow in my opinion, but imagine wenger or jack saying that to the media-types post match!!

  18. Thanks Walter for producing this. It was a penalty and I love the fact that Chamakh scored our second goal too. He hasn’t even completed half a season and has quickly become such an important player.

    Same thing with lil’ Jack, he has stepped up and looks more confident and assured with each game. I am so surprised by the media’s negative attitude towards him this weekend because he played really well for over 90 mins, which hardly got a mention. It was a justified red card and I am happy that the brummie player wasn’t injured, but I was even more happy and impressed the way Wiltshire and Wenger handled the situation like real men, owned up and took it on the chin. No appeals, no excuses which made Alex Mcleish look like even more of an albino toad.

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