Martin Atkinson is the right man for Arsenal v Chelsea – Graham Poll

Tackles will be in the spotlight and the referees need to get their calls right



22:39 GMT, 28 September 2012

Tackles will be under scrutiny this weekend after the dismissal of Jonjo Shelvey and Tony Pulis’ understandable questioning of how David Luiz escaped a red card for his tackle in Chelsea’s win over Stoke last Saturday.

Mike Riley summed up the difficulty of correct detection when asked about red card tackles when highlighting that they usually come from nothing and happen in the blink of an eye.

Take the Shelvey/Jonny Evans incident in Liverpool v Manchester United; the immediate reaction was that Shelvey had to be dismissed.

Tough call: Jonjo Shelvey was sent off against Manchester United

Tough call: Jonjo Shelvey was sent off against Manchester United

However, watching and analysing the challenge makes one wonder whether the case can’t be made for both players to be sent off in what would have been a unique double dismissal in the Premier League.

I always found this to be the most difficult decision when refereeing live games and missed a number of clear red card tackles – one from Steven Gerrard and another from Jamie Redknapp are particularly memorable.

But tackles are clearly back in the spotlight and we will all have the luxury of watching any questionable ones again and again on highlight programmes and will have been prepared to look out for the horror challenges before seeing them.

The big games

Martin Atkinson

Arsenal v Chelsea – Martin Atkinson

No surprise that Atkinson has been appointed to the highest profile game of the season and one which should be all about the football and not the officials.

Whilst all of the referees will have been made aware of the necessity to get as much consistency regarding tackles as possible, Atkinson will have to be 100 per cent sure to dismiss after his poor sending off of Jack Rodwell early on in the Merseyside derby last season.

Manchester United v Tottenham – Chris Foy

Another sensible appointment for what is traditionally a routine game and one in which the football flows. Foy has managed to referee 4 Premier League games this season and only cautioned 5 players. Of course his assistants will be on guard not to miss a Tottenham shot crossing the line as happened with Pedro Mendes in 2005 – the referee that day was Mark Clattenburg who is 4th official.

Other appointments:

Sunderland v Wigan – Howard Webb

Reading v Newcastle – Andre Marriner

Stoke City v Swansea – Jon Moss

Everton v Southampton – Lee Probert

Fulham v Manchester City – Mark Halsey

Will the spotlight for this game be on Roberto Mancini and his faltering champions or referee Mark Halsey after his game last weekend at Anfield City are out of the Capital One cup and whilst only one of four teams still unbeaten in the Premier League this season are not firing on all cylinders. In their desperation to secure a win, unless they take an early two goal lead, they may well pressurise Halsey who I hope is strong enough to cope after the dreadful social media attacks on him.

The season so far
RefereePremier League appearances
Yellow cardsRed cardsMartin Atkinson 4160Mark Clattenburg 23
0Mike Dean 350Phil Dowd2
1Roger East242Chris Foy 45
0Kevin Friend 3
71Mark Halsey 242Mike Jones 210
0Andre Marriner 36
0Lee Mason
0Jon Moss290Michael Oliver 35
1Lee Probert3120Antony Taylor20
0Howard Webb 3

*Neil Swarbrick was appointed to Sunderland v Reading which was called off