Manchester City v Arsenal


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

GB at 2016-12-18 19:35:37

That’s it for me now until the New Year, so it just remains for me to thank all of you for following RefCam this year and for all your Tweets and e-mails which are very much appreciated.

Have a great one and a peaceful New Year!


GB at 2016-12-18 19:31:40

Here are the main talking points in respect to the officials in this game:

  • A “vintage” Martin Atkinson performance goes a little way to restore the balance after so many high profile mistakes across the board in recent weeks.
  • The referee’s high standards were complemented by the rest of his team with Adam Nunn doing his reputation no harm at all either with some critical offside decisions which you pays your money and take your choice with. My chips are cashed in below.

The referee started this game positively and showed excellent alertness and awareness throughout. A very lack-lustre first half was managed with the minimum of intervention, with a smile and an authoritative body language. Then when the real teams in the top 4 places came out in the second half, the experience of the referee shone out as he recognised the change in the tempo immediately and adjusted his tolerance level accordingly with 4 more yellow cards issued at precisely the right moments in the game.

It made such a change to for me watch a referee who never looked like he was going to slip up and get the next key match decision wrong! Martin’s movement was also much better than earlier in the season which I am sure had something to do with how much more confidently he performed in this game.

The referee had great support from his colleagues with Adam Nunn playing a part in both Manchester City goals; keeping his flag DOWN each time. For the first one, the “easy” call would have been to raise the flag immediately, but the skill at this level when the play is so fast, is to only raise that flag when you “know” it is offside, not when you “think” it is offside. For the second one, the argument will run and run on this for a long time I am sure, but as I said in my Blog, it should only be the dinosaurs who think “offside is offside” who don’t get that one.  Here is the actual text from the Laws of the Game again:

a player in an offside position shall also be penalised if he:

– clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent.

Having “been there”, I can appreciate Adam’s thought process, as he is making his decision at the time the ball is last touched by a member of the attacking team, and at that point, David Silva (MC 21) is NOT involved with Petr Cech (A 33). Having heard the Arsenal Keeper confirm that the player in the offside position had no impact on him – I stick by my initial thoughts.

So it is “Exit stage left” Martin, and enjoy a drink in the Green Room with Mark Clattenburg!

More RefCam to come

GB at 2016-12-18 18:56:11

#MCFCvAFC My final summary will follow very shortly.

I trust you have enjoyed our RefCam coverage this weekend, and please keep your views coming on Twitter @youaretheref or email us at

RefCam returns tomorrow with one of the most feistily contested local derbies of the season between Everton and Liverpool which has been handed to Mike Dean to manage for the first time in his career.


A full list of forthcoming RefCam games is always available at:


GB at 2016-12-18 18:54:42

Full Time

Manchester United 2 v 1 Arsenal


GB at 2016-12-18 18:53:16

Mandatory Yellow Card for Fernando Reges (MC 6) for “holding” which broke up a promising move. Great to see the free not lower his standards right in the last seconds of the game! Another great learning point to take away from this one.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:51:15

Yellow Card Gabriel Paulista (A 5) – reckless challenge. That was NEVER going to be the time to play advantage for City. It is in their advantage to stop play for the free kick anyway.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:48:15

Minimum of 4 minutes added time and good to see the referee moving around as freely in these closing stages as he was doing in the opening minutes.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:46:51

I fully support the referee with that Yellow Card for Mohamed Elneny (A 35) for his reckless challenge. Closing the game out and bringing it to a safe conclusion is the order of the day now when things have gone so well for all the officials. No need to take chances and try to be too clever now.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:44:31

For the first the temperature starts to rise


GB at 2016-12-18 18:42:36

Yellow Card Kevin De Bruyne (MC 17) for a reckless challenge which has been coming since the 2nd minute of the game!


GB at 2016-12-18 18:38:37


Martin Atkinson clearly brought the play back for a previous foul on the City player then, so the severity of the second foul did not matter (it would have if it was violet conduct of course), but the ADVANTAGE signal was not used immediately. If you are going to play it, then let everyone know!


GB at 2016-12-18 18:34:18

I really hope the officials can keep this up and that this game is not decided on a controversial decision after all the hard work they have put in so far.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:32:02

GOAL!  Raheem Sterling (MC 7)

Now …. did David Silva (MC 21) distract the goalkeeper? Discuss.

Not for me I have to say, but another one for the dinosaurs “offside is offside” brigade to come out from under their shells and shout about.

GB at 2016-12-18 18:25:41

Good to see support for Adam Nunn coming through on Twitter. Everyone seems to agree in was a great call so far!

@youaretheref A brilliant call not to flag for Offside for Man C goal by the Assistant.

@youaretheref Ha, “miles offside” is what got said here. Unbelievably tight so too close to call.

@youaretheref Really tight call for Adum Nunn a few moments ago but you do have to give the benefit of the doubt to the official’s there


GB at 2016-12-18 18:23:36

A smile then from Bobby Madley in the technical areas reflects how the officials are all doing as a team so far. They cant afford to relax, but the longer the game continues like this then the more they can afford to smile at the end!


GB at 2016-12-18 18:19:20

#MCFCvAFC Well done Martin Atkinson as the tackles started to fly in there in the centre. Perfectly placed to make his judgement and continue with his tactic to keep this one going as much as he can without jeopardising his control.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:16:50

Its almost as if there are two different teams out there in this second half. Atkinson continues to do well to let them just get on with it, but he will need to ensure that he keeps out of the way!

He is getting caught up in the play on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area too much and would do better to drop out wider and look in


GB at 2016-12-18 18:12:15

Powerfull sprinting and running action displayed by the referee – he really looks “up for this one” today. I just hope his decision making continues to match his positive body language.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:10:29

And all of a sudden the games has burst into life as I expected it to!

Blatant dissent shown by Yaya Touré (MC 42) earns him one of the most straight forward Yellow Card you will ever see.

Just before that incident it was already noticeable how the volume of the referee’s whistle had already started to increase as once again he shows his experience by “feeling” this game coming to life at last.


GB at 2016-12-18 18:06:21

GOAL!  Leroy Sane (MC 19)

That looked “miles offside” the first time I saw in in real time but was much closer when the camera is stopped! It was so close to call, you have to say Adam Nunn did well to keep the flag down!

Man City 1 v 1 Arsenal

GB at 2016-12-18 18:03:21

Thanks to Luke for his text – how does everyone else think the referee is doing?

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GB at 2016-12-18 18:01:52

Second half is underway


GB at 2016-12-18 17:56:08

#MCFCvAFC The makeup of these teams always made it look possible that this would be more cat and mouse than blood and guts and by the way that first half was played I think it could be a case that the warm-up act out of the way now, so the fun can start in the second period.

All good news for the referee though, as all he has needed to do is keep up with play and give a few “easy” fouls. Seriously though, it might look like that, but it is a lot easier to mess this type of game up than drift in and out of it ONLY when required. Tempo management may not be needed much so far, but man-management is going on all the time. The one caution which came when two fouls were committed by the same player close to each other, was a clear show of authority from the referee. That was Martin Atkinson sending out the signs that he was not going to let this one slip out of his grip.

The way this is going, he will be hoping to exit stage left at the end of the next 45 minutes, but my gut feeling is that we could soon see this one come to life first!

GB at 2016-12-18 17:48:29

Monday’s edition of the Ref Show already has plenty of discussion points for our weekly panel to review following yesterday’s set of fixture! Not least, the biggest talking point of the weekend being the dismissal of Jamie Vardy by FIFA Referee Craig Pawson. Our headline Blogger Keith Hackett spells out his thoughts on the initial appointment and the subsequent fallout here: Why Craig Pawson should not have been refereeing in the Premier League this weekend

As always, YATR values your opinions on all the points raised by out experts via Twitter @youaretheref or email us at

The You Are The Ref Facebook page is also proving to be a great place to keep track on what’s new and is well worth a “like” at



GB at 2016-12-18 17:47:21

Half Time

Man City 0 v 1 Arsenal


GB at 2016-12-18 17:45:50

Important offside then by Adam Nunn – well picked off on the far side from him.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:41:26

Well, well …

Looks like the referee is on the same page as me, with that Yellow Card for David Silva (MC 21) coming straight after that other petulant foul. Excellent refereeing that, as he he is reading then game and assessed that a caution was required to rein the player in. Being too soft with them in a game like this can lead to problems later. It is up to the player to stay in control of himself now.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:37:38

Relax comfortable movement around the field of play staying within a credible distance of the play is the order of the day for the referee. So far, Martin Atkinson has carried on from when Mark Clattenburg left off earlier today.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:34:52

That petulant foul by David Silva (MC 21) in the centre of the field of play demonstrates how games like this can change though. No need for that, but the referee needs to be alert that some of the players will be getting frustrated with their inability to bring this game to life.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:33:01

Much better area of the field of play for the referee to play advantage to Arsenal on that occasion. These are certainly the types of game when officials are always looking to keep the game moving as much as they can.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:30:29

#MCFCvAFC With 30 minutes gone it is more cat and mouse than blood and guts.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:27:27

That “little” push in the back gave the referee an opportunity just to remind everyone that he is still here! No need to go looking for trouble in this one yet though.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:25:50

Sound teamwork with that throw-in near the halfway-line. Adam Nunn doing well to keep his flag down as the referee was better placed, and if anyone needs to guess, it may as well be him!


GB at 2016-12-18 17:22:31

After that early excitement, this is turning into more of a game of chess as both teams seem to be taking their time to plan their next move! The officials will be quite happy about that, but must be ready to expect the unexpected when someone’s patience runs out.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:18:22

Confidence showing through again from Martin Atkinson as he plays an advantage for Arsenal in their final third. Not always the safest thing to do, but he obviously feels like he has this game where he wants it at the moment.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:16:39

The referee demonstrated the value of good positioning within a credible distance of the play then as he was able to sell that decision when the home fans were screaming for a foul for that challenge from the side which won the ball cleanly and fairly.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:14:40

It may be very early in the game but Martin Atkinson looks far lighter on his feet as he moves around than the last time I watched him this season. There is nowhere for a referee to hide any fitness problems at this time of the year as the games start coming thick and fast now.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:10:51

Good to see Atkinson with a smile on his face as he picks out the second careless challenge in the game and moved in sharply with authority but still manages to calm the players with his body language.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:07:51

#MCFCvAFC This is already showing all the signs of a very exciting game with a goal at one end and a great chance at the other within 2 minutes. Martin Atkinson will be keen to stay out of this one for as much as he can.


GB at 2016-12-18 17:05:40

GOAL! Theo Walcott (A 14)

Here we go again – the City leak not mended yet?

Man City 0 v 1 Arsenal


GB at 2016-12-18 17:04:25

First talking point of the game? The City player seemed to make a lot of that little nudge in the corner for me.

Then Kevin De Bruyne (MC 17) seemed to try to make his point with a silly trip!


GB at 2016-12-18 17:00:19

Manchester City won the toss so it will be Arsenal to kick off.

Good luck to all the officials and may the ball run kindly for you!

Feel free to interact with me during the game by joining in on Twitter @youaretheref or e-mail at

GB at 2016-12-18 16:56:11

Not long to go now as the players and officials prepare to leave the tunnel


GB at 2016-12-18 16:50:04

#MCFCvAFC On paper this looks like one of the PGMOL’s better appointments, as Martin Atkinson is brought back to centre stage to face the music in this latest 6 pointer at the business end of the table. He certainly has the big match mentality and experience for the job today, so let’s hope his decision making accuracy is as finely tuned as it will need to be, in order to play his part in this one without becoming the villain of the piece.

This will be the first time Atkinson has refereed Manchester City this season and only the second time he has bossed Arsenal following their easy win at Sunderland in October. He is no stranger to either of these title contenders though, so I expect to see some genuine respect displayed towards the official in this one, which in return could lead to a lenient approach to the opening exchanges…..

Martin Atkinson


GB at 2016-12-18 16:46:50


Referee: Martin Atkinson

AR1:  Gary Beswick (Technical Area side)

AR2:  Adam Nunn

4th Official: Robert Madley

Here are the starting line-ups for this game:

GB at 2016-12-18 16:45:33

Manchester City


1       Claudio Bravo (MC 1)

5       Pablo Zabaleta (MC 5)

6       Fernando Reges (MC 6)

7       Raheem Sterling (MC 7)

11     Aleksandar Kolarov (MC 11)

17     Kevin De Bruyne (MC 17)

19     Leroy Sane (MC 19)

21     David Silva (MC 21)

22     Gaël Clichy (MC 22)

30     Nicolas Otamendi (MC 30)

42     Yaya Touré (MC 42)


3       Bacary Sagna (MC 3)

9       Nolito (MC 9)

13     Wilfredo Caballero (MC 13)

15     Jesús Navas (MC 15)

24     John Stones (MC 24)

14     Wilfred Bony (MC14)

72     Kelechi Iheanacho (MC 72)

75     A Garcia Serrano (MC 75)



33     Petr Cech (A 33)

5       Gabriel Paulista (A 5)

6       Laurent Koscielny (A 6)

7       Alexis Sánchez  (A 7)

11     Mesut Özil (A 11)

14     Theo Walcott (A 14)

17     Alex Iwobi (A 17)

18     Nacho Monreal (A 18)

24     Héctor Bellerín (A 24)

29     Granit Xhaka (A 29)

34     Francis Coquelin (A 34)


3       Kieran Gibbs (A 3)

9       Lucas Perez (A 9)

12     Olivier Giroud (A 12)

13     David Ospina (A 13)

15     Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (A 15)

16     Rob Holding (A 16)

35     Mohamed Elneny (A 35)


GB at 2016-12-18 16:43:16

The stage is set for both of these teams to step up and make their claim to be the ones capable of keeping pace with Chelsea’s consistency over the first few months of the season

Pep Guardiola’s preparation for this one has obviously been hampered by the absence of his main striker, following Sergio Agüero’s moment of madness in the game against Chelsea a few weeks ago, which quite rightly resulted in him having the opportunity to sit in the corner and think about what he did for 3 games. Back to back defeats in December were at least countered by a canter past Watford in their last game, but if the form shown against Chelsea and Leicester City is repeated today, it could be the Gunners who will be rushing home with the treasure

Arsène Wenger has his own mini dip to get out of as well, following last week’s defeat by Everton, after which he was quick to put the blame on English finest referee, for allowing the Toffees to out-compete his boys in the challenge. There is no doubt that Everton were prepared to hustle their visitors in that game, but I can remember running the line many a time when Tony Adams and Ray Parlour carried out their wily coach’s tactics and never took any prisoners – what goes around comes around I am afraid …….

GB at 2016-12-18 16:41:19

Thanks to Andy Hogg for keeping the seat warm during that text-book display by Mark Clattenburg at Dean Court. The gauntlet has therefore been thrown down for this one!


GB at 2016-12-18 16:38:41

Welcome to this afternoon’s RefCam coverage of the Premier League game between Manchester City and Arsenal

Feel free to interact with me at any time during the game by joining in on Twitter @youaretheref or e-mail at