Martin Atkinson will take charge of Arsenal’s game on Sunday against Bournemouth so we can expect the Cherries to kick with relative impunity.
Once one of the strictest referees in the game, Atkinson has mellowed over the years to the point he often leaves players in danger of picking up a serious injury under the guise of ‘letting the game flow’.
You will, of course, recall that he was in charge of the game against Spurs earlier this season in which he, unusually, booked three Arsenal players and five Tottenham.
Arsenal have lost only one of their last 21 league games at home
He also avoided booking Moussa Sissoo despite him kicking all round the place. That being said, Granit Xhaka committed seven fouls in that game and only got one yellow, so perhaps we shouldn’t complain too much.
Against Newcastle at St. James’ Park, he booked three Arsenal players to just one Newcastle in what was only Arsenal’s second away win since 2010 with him in charge.
Arsenal have beaten Bournemouth every time they’ve played them
Atkinson has been in charge of just one Bournemouth game so far this season, booking two Cherries and no Villa players as Eddie Howe’s men won 2-1 away from home.
Last season, he took charge of three Arsenal games in total (this will be his third already this season) and Arsenal didn’t win any of them (all away games, Chelsea 3-2, Palace 2-2, City 3-1). He booked five Arsenal players to two opposition.
Across his career, Atkinson has refereed 43 Arsenal matches with the Gunners winning 19, drawing 10 and losing 14. He’s flashed 73 yellows in those games and just three straight reds (and another three reds for two yellows) with some of his games witnessing horrific challenges that went unpunished (think Chelsea away the year Alonso just ‘wanted it more’ than Bellerin).
My report from that game shows Atkinson in all his glory.
With Mike Dean on VAR at Old Trafford on Monday, the FA have followed that up by putting Anthony Taylor in charge of it for this game.
As we already discussed this week, Arsenal get booked for fewer fouls than any other side and I fully expect this to continue on Sunday.
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Assistants: Adam Nunn, Constantine Hatzidakis. Fourth official: Peter Bankes. VAR: Anthony Taylor. Assistant VAR: Andy Halliday.