Against Manchester City on Wednesday, Arsenal will get a set of match officials that does not involve Martin Atkinson, Mike Dean, nor Chris Kavanagh in what almost feels like a minor miracle.
Yes, that’s right, the Premier League have remembered there are 21 referees approved for games at this level and decided to give Arsenal someone different for a change.
After the game against West Ham, Martin Atkinson has now been involved in a full quarter of all Arsenal’s league and FA Cup games either as referee or VAR (as has Chris Kavanagh). When you look at just the officials in charge, just three refs (Atkinson, Dean and Kavanagh) have been in middle of around 50% of Arsenal’s games.
I spoke this week about how unfair this is.
For the game against City, we will get Jon Moss in charge, another ref popular with PGMOL for Arsenal games, but this will only be his fifth involvement with us this season unlike Atkinson and Kavanagh who have eight and Dean who has seven.
Although this will be Moss’s fifth game of the season with Arsenal, it will only be the second time he’s been the referee (the other game being our 3-2 win over Villa in Matchweek 6). He has been fourth official twice and VAR once.
He will be assisted by Marc Perry and Eddie Smart who have already run the line in Arsenal games four and three times respectively – they are certainly not comparable to Constantine Hatzidakis who has done that job eight times this season for us.
Running the VAR will be Michael Oliver, considered the best in the game (although we generally do badly under him). Oliver has refereed just one Arsenal game this season compared to Atkinson’s six and has only been involved a total of three times (both others as VAR).
He will be assisted by Neil Davies.
PGMOL Arsenal officials pre-Manchester City:
(total indicates number of times the official has served as referee, assistant, fourth official, VAR or VAR assistant)