Just what is likely to happen with Martin Atkinson in charge on Saturday?
Martin Atkinson used to be the go-to-ref if you wanted to ensure that a game didn’t finish with 22 men on the pitch but he seems to have mellowed somewhat with the passing of time, although that didn’t stop him sending off Olivier Giroud on Boxing Day for his stupid headbump.
Can’t really blame the ref on that one, can we Oli?
Taking charge of 27 games in all competitions so far this season, Atkinson has issued a total of 101 yellows and three just reds and you have to go back to 11/12 for the last time he was really red-card-happy, sending off 11 people that season.
The season before (10/11) he sent off 13 (including Laurent Koscielny at Anfield on the opening day of the season and Jack Wilshere against Birmingham), six in 09/10 (including Thomas Vermaelen against West Ham after only 44 minutes), and 13 in 08/09.
Atkinson, who hails from Leeds (I’m sure we’ll encounter a ref from the south before the season’s out) is one of many refs who have been accused of being biased against Arsenal in the past with some very questionable decisions.
He was the referee at Stamford Bridge who thought it was acceptable for Gary Cahill to almost snap Alexis Sanchez in two, issuing only a yellow when the Atkinson of old would have taken great pleasure in the chance to get his red out.
That day, when Chelsea kicked us all over the pitch, he issued four yellows to them and three to Arsenal.
Atkinson also allowed Arsene Wenger to shove Jose Mourinho that day without sending him, so it wasn’t all bad.
The Chelsea and QPR games are the only two Arsenal matches he’s been in charge of this season and this will be his first Tottenham game of 14/15.
He was also the ref in charge when we lost 6-3 at City last season, ruling two perfectly good Arsenal goals out for offside. That was also the day he failed to send off Yaya Toure for his stomp on Olivier Giroud.
Given the tackles he’s allowed to go against us, it’s quite amazing that Giroud saw red on Boxing Day really.
A referee that I didn’t used to like to see in charge of Arsenal matches, Atkinson has long since been passed by others who are much worse although he still comes in for heavy criticism from a number of other clubs, managers and players.
Starting refereeing at the age of just 16, Atkinson is now 43 and not only a FIFA referee, but one of only three who is an Elite FIFA referee.
Expect him to referee with a firm hand at White Hart Lane on Saturday with Ryan Mason and Francis Coquelin both in danger of picking up a red.