Arsenal blew the opportunity to go within just one point of Manchester United at the top of the league, after being held to a 0-0 draw at home to Steve Bruce’s Sunderland. This means that even if United lose tomorrow and Arsenal win their game in hand (away to Tottenham), the Gunners will still be 2nd, unless they do away with our goal difference, which is currently better by five.
However, Arsenal fans will feel aggrieved that referee Anthony Taylor, born in Wythenshawe, missed two crucial decisions which could have gifted them the three points.
First, Andrei Arshavin was pushed off balance by Titus Bramble in the box as he struck the ball from a few yards out. The push was enough to see his shot go wide and a penalty should have been awarded. Then, Arshavin beat the offside trap but was wrongly flagged for offside.
These were certainly what you could call match deciding decisions. All Arsenal wanted was a fair referee.
Just like on Tuesday, when all United wanted was a fair referee. Instead, we got Martin Atkinson.
The Daily Mail: Referees are remembered for their big decisions in big games. Unfortunately Martin Atkinson got some wrong on Tuesday night and they cost Manchester United. Atkinson failed to deliver consistency in similar incidents, the basic requirement for match officials.
In the first half, Manchester United were denied a penalty when John Terry handled a shot from distance. Although his hands were by his side, the ball travelled a long way and Terry ensured that the ball did not pass – a clear offence. Nothing was given. However, when Yury Zhirkov took the opportunity to go over Chris Smalling’s outstretched leg, Atkinson had no hesitation in awarding the home team a spot kick.
An even clearer example came when David Luiz deliberately tripped Wayne Rooney off the ball – a clear cautionable offence. As he had already been cautioned, Luiz should have been dismissed. Nemanja Vidic was not afforded such tolerance later in the game.
Atkinson has previous. He was the referee in charge of the game at Stamford Bridge last season, when it was unanimously agreed that he changed the result of the game through his dreadful decisions.
He was also the referee in charge of our FA Cup quarter-final against Portsmouth in 2008, who failed to award a first half penalty to United before later sending off our goalie and awarding a penalty to Portsmouth.
Piers Morgan, world famous Goon, was quick on Twitter after the final whistle today. “Another disgraceful decision, clearly onside. Ref is costing us the title.”
I’m sure he, like all Arsenal fans, was very sympathetic towards United when the ref was costing us the title on Tuesday. I share this level of sympathy for them today. All together now, awwww.