Sunderland v Arsenal



GB at 2016-10-29 15:12:34

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

  • A game which went to script was generally controlled well, but once again Martin Atkinson fails to get through 90 minutes without a major talking point or two about a couple of key match decisions.
  • A clear penalty for Arsenal is not given.
  • A clear penalty for Sunderland is given, but the first possible controversial interpretation of the new law regarding when a yellow card can be issued for a DOGSO.
  • Doubts about the referee’s fitness were raised as he seemed to be struggling to get off the mark quickly and demonstrate the type of dynamic sprints he has shown in recent games.

This game came to life in the second half and raised a few talking points for the purists, which ultimately probably had very little effect of the eventual result. Nonetheless, with all the talk about Additional Video Referees on the horizon, here we had a game which would have led to whoever was in the TV Box earning his or her money today.

The first incident is really and open and shut case, as Alexis Sánchez  (A 7) is brought to the ground from behind in the Sunderland Penalty Area in the 62nd minute, and no penalty kick was awarded. Martin Atkinson looked to be in a great position but keeps up his average of getting another key match decision wrong. Sánchez even got a Yellow card for his protests (one of 7 in the game), I cannot condone players showing dissent, but sometimes you can understand why they get frustrated and end up being diciplined.

Almost immediately, we then had a very interesting scenario at the other end, when Petr Cech (A 33) clearly brings down Duncan Watmore (SUN 14) in the Arsenal Penalty Area and a penalty kick is correctly awarded. But was the following disciplinary yellow card sanction sufficient? When the new law changes were announced before the Euros this summer, YATR raised the likelihood of there being situations where “interpretation” by officials of whether a genuine attempt to play the ball had been made, may effect whether a player receives a Yellow or Red card. It has taken until the 10th set of fixtures for one of these to come up, but I think this demonstrates the difficulty faced by the officials now. To start with, here is the actual words from the Laws of the Game:

Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned unless:

  • The offending player does not attempt to play the ball or there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball

In the incident in this game, I personally cannot see how Cech has made an attempt to play the ball, or, that he even could, as the ball had been played past him. So the next question is, was it a DOGSO anyway, because could it be argued that Laurent Koscielny (A 6) presence made the “obvious” goal-scoring opportunity, not quite so “obvious”. As I said, it may be for the purists and the keen law followers to debate, but it was not a definite YELLOW card for me, as the Arsenal player was not goal-side of the Attacker when he was felled.

Finally, there was a consistent strand throughout my RefCam notes about Martin Atkinson’s movement. Whilst it has to be said that he was never very far away from the play, and even a less than 100% fit Atkinson will still move around better than some of his colleagues in the top flight, he just seemed to be moving gingerly at times. All those explosive dynamic sprints were not there today and he looked to be pulling up short and playing catch-up on some of the quick breaks. The standards of fitness are so important these days, that anything less than perfection stands out a mile. And it is well documented, that if you are thinking about your physical fitness as the game is going on, it can have a detrimental effect on your mental fitness and ability to make correct calls as well. Well the two penalty decisions above may well be something to do with that.

That’s it from me for today, but what do you think? Contact us on Twitter @youaretheref or email us at

More RefCam to come

GB at 2016-10-29 14:25:09

My final summary will follow very shortly.

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

Stay tuned for Crystal Palace v Liverpool at 5.30 this afternoon, when former FIFA Referee Mark Halsey will be casting his eye over Andre Marriner.

We then have 2 more top fixtures which we will be reviewing from the referee’s perspective over the next two days:

30th October – Southampton v Chelsea KO 16.00 pm

31st October – Stoke v Swansea KO 20.00 pm

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


GB at 2016-10-29 14:24:06

Full Time

Sunderland 1 v 4 Arsenal


GB at 2016-10-29 14:20:14

minimum of 3 minutes added time


GB at 2016-10-29 14:19:02

That was NOT good by the referee and/or Stephen Chilld as Olivier Giroud (A 12) is clearly fouled from behind by Lynden Gooch (SUN 46) in clear view of both of them but no foul is given. Not a game to relax concentration yet.


GB at 2016-10-29 14:13:20

In all the excitement in the second half with penalties and non penalties, at least the referee has not been caught out of position. Each of his key match decisions were made from a credible distance and viewing angle


GB at 2016-10-29 14:10:27

Yellow Card for Kieran Gibbs (A 3) for delaying restart


GB at 2016-10-29 14:08:23

GOAL! Alexis Sánchez  (A 7)

Sunderland 1 v 4 Arsenal


GB at 2016-10-29 14:07:00

GOAL! Olivier Giroud (A 12)

Sunderland 1 v 3 Arsenal

This is turning into a nightmare at the Stadium of Light.

There is still a lot of game to referee yet for the officials though



GB at 2016-10-29 14:05:17

Temperature rising again after that “kick in the face” – clearly not intended , but nonetheless still correctly adjudged as a foul by the Sunderland player.


GB at 2016-10-29 14:03:30

GOAL! Olivier Giroud (A 12)

Sunderland 1 v 2 Arsenal


GB at 2016-10-29 14:02:18

So that last few minutes has woken Twitter up!

A clear penalty for Arsenal not given at one end then a quick break brings a clear penalty given at the other end – BUT, was the referee correct in his interpretation of the new “tipple jeopardy” law this year?

Personally I think the keeper was VERY lucky not to be sent off.


GB at 2016-10-29 13:57:31

Nothing wrong with that penalty decision at the other end, but was the Yellow Card for Petr Cech (A 33) the right decision?

In order for that challenge not to be a DOGSO, and a red card, the goalkeeper needs to be making a genuine attempt to play the ball?

Any thoughts on those big decisions? Do you think the officials got them right? Let us know on Twitter @youaretheref or email us at

GOAL! Jermain Defoe (SUN 18)


GB at 2016-10-29 13:53:55

Alexis Sánchez  (A 7) has really put the referee under a lot of pressure in this game, and it has to be said he was VERY hard done by then, as a clear penalty is not given!


GB at 2016-10-29 13:49:52

The referee’s inability to move quickly off the mark is showing up even more starkly as the game goes on for me. He is even looking like he is struggling to keep up. That is not something I have even seen from Martin Atkinson before.


GB at 2016-10-29 13:46:30

Just a quiet word then from the referee to Alexis Sánchez  (A 7) following his outburst. Martin Atkinson was well placed to see no offence when he went down on the edge of the Sunderland penalty area


GB at 2016-10-29 13:43:16

The second half has seen the tempo rise not unsurprisingly and the officials seem to be going up with it so far


GB at 2016-10-29 13:41:28

Nothing wrong with that free kick for a challenge from behind, but Martin Atkinson was a little slow with his whistle. The longer the whistle takes to come it can look indecisive by the referee.


GB at 2016-10-29 13:39:33

Yellow Card for Papy Dilobodji (SUN 5) was bought by the Arsenal player who backed into him. It is better to be strong in those situations right in front of the technical areas though, so MA carries on how he left off in the first half with the 4th yellow for Sunderland


GB at 2016-10-29 13:34:34

2nd half underway


GB at 2016-10-29 13:30:33

Well that was a very sterile first half, which panned out as I predicted with Sunderland eventually showing the aggression they needed to start doing this season. Martin Atkinson reacted positively (although may be one challenge too late), with 3 yellow cards to send out the message that it is OK challenging strongly, but you must do it fairly as well. His control has therefore not been an issue at all in the game so far, which he tried to let breath in the early stages before he correctly raised his profile.

There were, however, worrying signs for me about the way this referee is moving in this game. Right from the start he looked to have lost that dynamic sprint and speed off the mark which he showed in the summer and has been demonstrating this season right up until this game. The classic “tell-tell” signs of stopping that bit shorter of the Penalty Area and not coming into the camera shot until a bit later (or even at all) following a quick break were there from early in this game. He is using his experience well to read the game, but he needs to be careful not to get caught out if he is carrying a calf pull again. So far this season it has been his mental fitness which has been commented on, so I hope he is not now struggling with physical fitness now.

GB at 2016-10-29 13:19:58

So …..  how is it all going so far? Check out Hackett’s Verdict on the Season to Date

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 2016-10-29 13:19:09

Half Time

Sunderland 0 v 1 Arsenal


GB at 2016-10-29 13:17:08

minimum of 2 minutes added time


GB at 2016-10-29 13:14:20

Steven Pienaar (SUN 20) gets his Yellow Card12 minutes later than he should have, as Martin Atkinson continues to keep hold of this game. Interesting that the Sunderland players are starting to show some aggression. That was always likely, but the experience of this referee has reacted appropriately as there tackles have begun to cross thin line of acceptability.


GB at 2016-10-29 13:11:27

The referee is trying to use his experience to let the players compete in this one but still pick off the foul challenges. He can be seen communicating with the players rather than give a soft free kick here and there. That tactic is working at the moment as the game is being played in a good spirit, but the foul count is definitely rising as Sunderland start to feel the pressure even more.


GB at 2016-10-29 13:06:28

2nd Yellow Card of the game goes to Didier Ndong (SUN 17) for that reckless challenge. Having “let one go” in the 28th minute for Pienaar, the referee has been consistent in the last few minutes and raised his profile as soon as he felt there was a need to show his authority.


GB at 2016-10-29 13:03:45

Martin Atkinson obviously deciding that his tolerance has been pushed too far now as Wahbi Khazri (SUN 10) gets the first Yellow Card of the game for deliberately holding his opponent just outside of the Sunderland penalty area


GB at 2016-10-29 13:01:56

Steven Pienaar (SUN 20) could count himself fortunate not to receive a yellow card for that cynical trip from behind.


GB at 2016-10-29 13:00:20

Two little nibbles from behind by the Arsenal player eventually leads to the free kick, which I suspect was given by AR as MA was playing the waiting game that time.


GB at 2016-10-29 12:57:01

Not as controversial offside decision for Stephen Child as it first looked, as both Sunderland players were offside when the ball was played into the Arsenal penalty area


GB at 2016-10-29 12:54:12

Definite foul then on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area. MA was well placed to see and give the offence and manages the wall effectively.

Good position taken for the restart from where he could see the goalkeeper, the whole of the goal, and all of the players in the wall. He probably asked the player if he was going to shoot as well. Nothing wrong with doing that.


GB at 2016-10-29 12:51:40

GOAL! Alexis Sánchez  (A 7)

Sunderland 0 v 1 Arsenal


GB at 2016-10-29 12:49:51

No problem with the player’s feet both on the line as he took that throw-in – it is not a foul throw unless part of one of the feet are completely inside the field of play.


GB at 2016-10-29 12:47:54

I think there is effeminately something going on with the referee’s movement now – he seems to be running gingerly – like he did last season when he had a calf problem. He is using his reading of the game to stay close, but has not shown the dynamic sprints which he came back from the Euros with


GB at 2016-10-29 12:44:33

Good advantage to Arsenal followed by clear holding by Sunderland. The referee is prepared to keep this one going where he can but knows when not to push his luck so far


GB at 2016-10-29 12:43:07

The first few corners go by without too much holding, in line with what we have seen at the start of most games now – the test comes later when the novelty of not grappling seems to be wearing off in some games


GB at 2016-10-29 12:40:22

It may be very early in the game, but something about Martin Atkinson’s movement in this game does not look quite as sharp as I have seen in his previous games this season


GB at 2016-10-29 12:38:11

That seemed like a classic 50/50 challenge so no foul and MA checked on the player before allowing play to continue. As soon as the player looked more injured than first thought, it was correct for the referee to stop play.


GB at 2016-10-29 12:34:07

Deliberate hand ball the right call then as the player raises his hands above his head to block the goalkeeper’s clearance.

GB at 2016-10-29 12:32:59

AR1: Stephen Child (SC) is patrolling the touchline in front of the technical areas.


GB at 2016-10-29 12:32:24

Sunderland 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 2016-10-29 12:26:05

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


GB at 2016-10-29 12:23:07

Today’s officials are:

Referee: Martin Atkinson (MA)

AR1:  Stephen Child (SC)

AR2:  Stuart Burt (SB)

4th Official: Craig Pawson (CP)

Martin Atkinson
Martin Atkinson is the focus of Ref Cam 

Martin Atkinson will be desperately hoping that the dust has settled on his last two EPL fixtures, each of which have prompted questions about his key decision making. A Red Card which need not have been issued, follow by a Red Card which should have been issued, are not the type of back-to-back talking points associated with one of our widely accepted top officials at the moment.

YATR Director and former PGMOL Head of Refereeing, Keith Hackett, posed the question this week as to whether the workload put upon our top officials, due to the lack of depth of talent in the Select Group, could be a contributing factor to his recent dip in form: Top Referees overworked  Interesting that we have both the main culprits involved in last weekend’s major talking points are on show this lunchtime as Craig Pawson gets “board duty”.

As for Martin, each of his last two games have resulted in plaudits from our RefCam coaches for every other aspect of his performances, apart from the isolated key match decisions errors, but unfortunately that just goes to show how tough it is at the top! A long time ago, when I was suffering a spell of lack of confidence following a run of tight calls which “could have gone better”, my coach sat me down and told me two things to repeat to myself before every game: “You don’t have bad games!” and  “You don’t make mistakes!” The power of positive thinking worked wonders for me, so let’s hope Martin has been given the motivation to go out and ensure there are no more skeletons trying to squeeze into his wardrobe at the end of this Halloween weekend!

Here are the starting line-ups for this game:

GB at 2016-10-29 12:19:55



13     Jordan Pickford (SUN 13)

2       Billy Jones (SUN 2)

3       Patrick van Aanholt (SUN 3)

8       Jack Rodwell (SUN 8)

10     Wahbi Khazri (SUN 10)

14     Duncan Watmore (SUN 14)

16     John O’Shea (SUN 16)

17     Didier Ndong (SUN 17)

18     Jermain Defoe (SUN 18)

20     Steven Pienaar (SUN 20)

23     Lamine Koné (SUN 23)


5       Papy Dilobodji (SUN 5)

12     Mika Domingues (SUN 12)

21     Javier Manquillo (SUN 21)

22     Donald Love (SUN 22)

28     Victor Anichebe (SUN 28)

44     Adnan Januzaj (SUN 44)

46     Lynden Gooch (SUN 46)



33     Petr Cech (A 33)

3       Kieran Gibbs (A 3)

6       Laurent Koscielny (A 6)

7       Alexis Sánchez  (A 7)

11     Mesut Özil (A 11)

15     Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (A 15)

17     Alex Iwobi (A 17)

20     Shkodran Mustafi (A 20)

24     Héctor Bellerín (A 24)

34     Francis Coquelin (A 34)

35     Mohamed Elneny (A 35)


5       Gabriel Paulista (A 5)

8       Aaron Ramsey (A 8)

12     Olivier Giroud (A 12)

13     David Ospina (A 13)

16     Rob Holding (A 16)

25     Carl Jenkinson (A 25)

55     Ainsley Maitland-Niles (55)


GB at 2016-10-29 12:17:53

If there was a prize for the two grumpiest Managers at the end of last weekend, then the helicopter would be on its way here today to make the award to one of these two!

At least Arsene Wenger only vented his spleen at his own player’s inability to score at home against Middlesbrough , whereas David Moyes allegedly  had a right rant both in “private” and public about the officials in charge of the Black Cats game a West Ham on Saturday. Getting sent to the stands by Chris Kavanagh for leaving the technical area and swearing at the 4th Official, in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, won’t go down well at his anger management class on Monday either! Surely he won’t want to blow his top again today, whatever happens?

All that is ancient history now, so the respective bosses need to refocus on getting their teams geared up for another intriguing encounter. All the smart money will be on Arsenal to bounce back to form and come away from the North East with all the spoils, but you can’t help thinking that something has got to click soon for Sunderland, otherwise the future looks really bleak for them again this season.

If I was setting my Assistants up with a game plan for this one, I would be expecting some real passion from the Home team and some real commitment from the visitors, which could make for great entertainment, but could also lead to some sparks flying around this lunchtime.


GB at 2016-10-29 12:17:04

Welcome to this lunchtime’s RefCam coverage of the Premier League game between Sunderland and Arsenal.

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