Former top Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg, says that Arsenal were hard done by against Manchester City on New Year’s Day as he highlighted just what he thinks Stuart Attwell got wrong – and backing Arsenal against officials is something Clattenburg has done regularly.

Mark Clattenburg
Mark Clattenburg

The debate has raged since New Year’s Day with most pundits agreeing that Arsenal were more than a little hard done by given the decisions Stuart Attwell did and didn’t make – and none of them even touched on the numerous other incidents in the game, such as the clattering of Gabriel Martinelli on the edge of the City box that wasn’t even given as a free kick, or Attwell’s atrocious positioning that blocked the same player off when he looked certain to score.

Stuart Atwell previously removed from Premier League for 4 years

The three decisions Mark Clattenburg analysed from the Arsenal game were:

Martin Odegaard’s penalty claim

Martin Odegaard of Arsenal is fouled by Ederson of Manchester City (Photo via Stuart MacFarlane on Twitter)
Martin Odegaard of Arsenal is fouled by Ederson of Manchester City (Photo via Stuart MacFarlane on Twitter)

Writing in the Daily Mail’s Monday edition, Clattenburg said, “Referee Stuart Attwell was right not to award a penalty.

“Martin Odegaard saw Ederson rushing out towards the ball.

“Odegaard went flying and instead of using his arms to break his fall, he threw them in the air. That’s a tell-tale sign of a footballer looking for a spot-kick.

“It didn’t fool Attwell or VAR Jarred Gillett, who saw the ball change direction because of Ederson’s intervention.

Manchester City’s penalty

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal reacts after Bernardo Silva of Manchester City goes down in the box during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on January 01, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 01: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal reacts after Bernardo Silva of Manchester City goes down in the box during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on January 01, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“The referee didn’t award a penalty in real time but VAR told him he had made a clear and obvious error and everyone in the Emirates Stadium knew what was going to happen the moment Attwell started to make his way to his pitch-side monitor.

“He overturned his original decision, awarding a penalty to City.

“Attwell should have stuck with his initial instincts.

“Bernardo Silva pushed the ball past Granit Xhaka, whose leg was out, granted.

“But Xhaka withdrew his leg and Silva still dropped down in a bid to buy a penalty.

“It was a cheap spot-kick and it’s no wonder Arsenal’s supporters and players were furious when shown the clip on the big screen.”

Gabriel’s red card

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal is shown a second yellow card leading to a red card by Referee, Stuart Attwell for a foul on Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on January 01, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 01: Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal is shown a second yellow card leading to a red card by Referee, Stuart Attwell for a foul on Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on January 01, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Clattenburg said, “I have no issue with the first yellow card — originally it was thought to be for unsportingly scuffing up the penalty spot, whereas actually he was booked for dissent as he ran to the referee after City scored.

“But I don’t think Gabriel’s collision with Gabriel Jesus on the halfway line was worthy of a second yellow.

“This is a normal foul, nothing more and nothing less.

“Jesus was clever in how he controlled the pass from Ederson but it is not as if Gabriel stopped a promising attack — plenty of Arsenal players were covering.

“VAR could not challenge it, because it was a yellow.”

Mark Clattenburg’s history of calling out decisions against Arsenal

This is far from the first time Clattenburg has pointed out big decisions that have went against Arsenal at the hands of the officials.

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace, 2019

Both VAR calls wrong during Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal reacts to having his team's third goal disallowed following a VAR check during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 27, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 27: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal reacts to having his team’s third goal disallowed following a VAR check during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 27, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Writing in his Daily Mail column in October 2019, the 44-year-old said, “Watching England in the Rugby World Cup semi-final, I did not agree with the decisions of TMO but at least I understood them.

“By comparison, VAR left me puzzled at the Emirates Stadium yesterday. I’m still lost as to why they got involved to award Crystal Palace a penalty against Arsenal when, in my opinion, Wilfried Zaha clearly dived.

“Referee Martin Atkinson was right to book the Palace man for simulation.

“He was in a perfect position to make the call, too. Calum Chambers’ leg was planted and Zaha threw himself to the ground.

“Atkinson spotted his ploy and produced a yellow card. Then VAR got involved. They told their man on the ground to overturn his original decision and award a spot-kick instead. It was a gift for Palace.

“Then in the last 10 minutes, Sokratis scored to make it 3-2, only for VAR to chalk it off. Meanwhile, those at home and inside the stadium were left trying to work out why.

“Australian Jarred Gillett was the video official at Stockley Park and I would love to have heard his reasoning.”

Arsenal vs Tottenham, 2018

Both Tottenham’s goals should not have been allowed

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Match Referee Mike Dean awards a penalty to Tottenham Hotspur as Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur react during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on December 1, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 02: Match Referee Mike Dean awards a penalty to Tottenham Hotspur as Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur react during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on December 1, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Mark Clattenburg was just about the only person on the planet who wasn’t an Arsenal fan that was talking about Eric Dier’s goal.

All over Twitter Arsenal fans were calling for the goal to be disallowed for offside. Not only did it stand, Sky Sports never once even looked at the goal to see if there was a problem.

This is particularly odd because there is nothing Sky Sports love more than creating controversy around every goal.

Spurs’ second came, of course, by way of Son’s dive.

Pundits, especially Jamie Redknapp, desperately tried to legitimise Spurs’ cheating, even going so far as to gaslight Arsenal fans by telling them what they saw (no contact) was not what happened.

“Mike Dean should not have allowed either of Tottenham’s goals,” Clattenburg wrote in the Daily Mail.

“Eric Dier was just offside when Christian Eriksen whipped over the free-kick for 1-1.

“And Son Heung-min dived for Spurs’ penalty. Rob Holding lunged into a tackle but made no contact with Son.

“But Dean deserves credit for spotting Jan Vertonghen’s handball for Arsenal’s penalty — and rightly sent him off for a foul on Alexandre Lacazette.”

Keith Hackett, meanwhile, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said, “On first view, I thought it was a penalty, as did Mike. Holding slides in front of his opponent and appears to catch him. Mike was excellently positioned, took his time and pointed to the spot.

1991: Tony Gale #4 of West Ham is sent off after being shown the red card by referee Keith Hackett during the FA Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest at Villa Park in Birmingham, England. Nottingham Forest won the match 4-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport
1991: Tony Gale #4 of West Ham is sent off after being shown the red card by referee Keith Hackett during the FA Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest at Villa Park in Birmingham, England. Nottingham Forest won the match 4-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport

“However, television replays showed Holding did not touch Son, with the Tottenham forward going to ground far too easily.”

That all sounds perfectly reasonable. Then he adds, and I swear I am not making this up, “But what makes this decision so difficult is that you could argue it is still a penalty, even though no contact has been made.

“Law 12 states that a direct free-kick is awarded if a player makes a challenge “considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force”.

Holding’s tackle was daft, but it was not careless, reckless or using excessive force as they are meant in the rules of the game and Hackett knows it.

He tried to explain, “Holding’s challenge was desperate and, as a result, careless. He made no contact because Son took evasive action rather than because he took any care to avoid his opponent.”

But we all know this is total bull.

Son did not ‘take evasive action’.

He dived. He was not trying to avoid Holding, he WANTED to be caught by the Arsenal defender.

Holding, therefore, did not ’cause’ Son to go down, he did that all by himself.

The definition of ‘careless’ in the rules is to protect players from dangerous tackles, not daft ones.

By Hackett’s logic, any player sliding in to block the ball that misses both ball and man is a free-kick.

Manchester United vs Arsenal, December 2018

Mark Clattenburg criticises official, says Manchester United’s goal should have been disallowed

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on December 5, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 05: Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on December 5, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

For the second game in a row, Mark Clattenburg believes Arsenal’s opponents benefited from an incorrect call that he found ‘disappointing’.

Against Tottenham, Clattenburg said that both Spurs goals should have been disallowed. The first for Eric Dier’s offside while Son should have been booked for diving rather than pick up a penalty.

Against United at Old Trafford, it was another offside call that did not go Arsenal’s way that allowed Ander Herrera to play the ball back to Anthony Martial.

On comms, Steve McManaman said something along the lines of ‘it was so close you can’t expect the linesman to see it’ when that is literally what they are paid to do.

It was at a freekick and his one job was to be in line to look for offsides as the ball was played.

“Manchester United’s equaliser should have been disallowed for offside,” Clattenburg wrote in Tuesday’s Daily Mail.

181206 daily mail mark clattenburg united goal offside
Daily Mail, 6 December 2018

“Ander Herrera’s head was in an offside position when Marcos Rojo struck the free-kick. When the shot was saved, Herrera ran on to the loose ball and pulled it back for Anthony Martial to score.

Manchester United's French striker Anthony Martial (C) scores their first goal to equalise 1-1 during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)
Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (C) scores their first goal to equalise 1-1 during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

“With the benefit of VAR, this goal would not have stood but it is still disappointing that Scott Ledger, the assistant referee, got it wrong.

“He is one of the best assistants in England but this was a static situation and there were no defenders blocking his view.”

Keith  Hackett, meanwhile, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said, “Those who got off lightly included Marouane Fellaini, Alexandre Lacazette and Marcos Rojo.

Fellaini was guilty of pulling Matteo Guendouzi by the hair.

fellaini hair pull guendouzi

“Such an action tends to be more common in overseas football. It normally merits a yellow card for unsporting behaviour, but can on occasion lead to a red for violent conduct.

181206 daily telegraph keith hackett manchester united v arsenal
Keith Hackett, Daily Telegraph, 6 December 2018

“Two minutes later Lacazette headed the ball out of David De Gea’s hand and kicked it into the net.

The ‘goal’ was rightly ruled out although the Arsenal player could well have been shown a yellow for unsporting behaviour.

“Finally, Rojo was lucky to get away with a yellow for the way he threw himself at a rebounded shot and caught Guendouzi.

“It was a reckless challenge.”