The referee for this weekend’s match between Liverpool and Manchester United has been appointed. Martin Atkinson. Both sets of fans are unhappy, but who should be more worried?
Atkinson has already refereed a Man Utd match so far this season during the opening weekend of the season where Man Utd beat West Ham 4-0 at Old Trafford. The last 5 Man Utd matches in all competitions Martin has been in charge of Man Utd have won three, drawn one and lost one. They beat West Ham, Blackburn and Sunderland (all very much expected). The draw was against Man City away, where Man Utd received a red card and lost against Chelsea 4-0, where David Luiz should have received a red card for a blatant high foot.
There might still be a bit of bad blood between Jose Mourinho and Martin Atkinson from Utd’s 4-0 loss against Chelsea; Jose had some choice words about the referee after not sending off Luiz:
“You hope you get a really strong referee in games like this.”
“It was a major game for both clubs and you want a fair referee. You want a strong referee anyway and we didn’t get that.”
“I don’t know why he’s got the game. I must say that when I saw who was refereeing it, I feared the worst.”
Will bitter feelings have lingered? I think it’s quite likely.
In comparison, Liverpool’s last five matches with Atkinson in black and white have resulted also resulted in three wins, one draw and one loss. However, unlike Man Utd, they beat Chelsea away 2-1 and Man City at home 3-0. The two matches they didn’t win were in Cup matches against West Ham & Southampton. In terms of results, there’s very little to compare between the two; Liverpool have a better ‘goal difference’ and Man Utd have an extra red card.
From recent history, you’d have to say Liverpool very marginally cut it when Atkinson has been in charge and therefore United fans should be the more worried. However, let’s take a look at the Man Utd vs Liverpool matches that have taken place under Martin Atkinson throughout his career.
This match will be only the fourth time Atkinson has refereed a league match between Liverpool and Man Utd, and the Red Devils have won every time: Winning at Old Trafford once (3-1), and winning at Anfield twice (2-1 & 1-0). In the three derbies there have been 12 yellow cards, two red cards and a missed penalty from Rooney. The yellow cards favouring Liverpool 7-5 and the red cards spread evenly 1-1. The most important statistic is the results and as we stated, Man Utd have won in every North-West Derby officiated by Atkinson. I’d be a very worried Scouser about this referee appointment as it seems to be a good omen for Manchester United.
Lastly, below is the table showing all the Premier League matches Martin Atkinson has been in charge of officiating in both Man Utd and Liverpool matches. Take from it what you will. Please note, that despite Liverpool having one more point, they have also played 5 more matches.
All being said, it’ll be a huge match on Saturday and the game shouldn’t be decided on the referee. All I hope for is that the ref is not the headline act and the only thing the result comes down to is footballing ability.