Thoughts on Martin Atkinson’s Blunder and Goal Line Technology



The clash between Sunderland and Arsenal will be remembered for more reasons than one.

Mesut Ozil capped a scintillating debut with his first of many assists in Arsenal colors, Olivier Giroud’s first-timed finishes are becoming a stuff of legends, even a cool, calm and collected finisher like Theo Walcott can actually have a bad day at the office and Aaron Ramsey, my word, is maturing to one of the finest complete midfielders in the Premier League.

However, this article isn’t focused on all the nice stuff that happened from an Arsenal perspective but I want to share my unbiased thoughts of the moment of controversy that occurred in the 69th minute when the game was tensed up at 2-1 to Arsenal with the next goal being the all-important goal. A goal for Sunderland would have leveled the contest and brought them back into the game while a goal for Arsenal would have clinched the tie. The latter happened.

After receiving a through ball, American powerhouse, Jozy Altidore, got involved with a mini wrestling match with Arsenal’s captain of the day, Bacary Sagna, as both players tussled for the ball. With Altidore weighing more and probably more built than Sagna), he won the contest with the French defender and closed in on Wojciech Szczesny. As you would expect from an agile keeper like Szczesny, he rushed out of his line to close in the gap on Altidore but the American’s placed effort crept under Szczesny and rolled beyond the goal line but it was swept off by Carl Jenkinson (I think?).

jozy altidore goal Jozy Altidore Robbed Of A Clear Goal For Sunderland Against Arsenal [GIF]

Play actually stopped and we all thought that Atkinson was going to refer to the all-new goal line technology initiative that was recently adopted into the Premier League. Instead, Atkinson adjudged that it was a foul on Altidore outside the box and Craig Gardner blasted the resulting free kick over the bar. Shortly afterwards, the event was reconstructed on the big screen and the HawkEye goal line technology system showed that it was actually a goal, as the ball had crossed the line. To rub salt into the wound of Sunderland, Aaron Ramsey stepped up to score the third that put the game to bed.

I’m not taking anything away from Arsenal’s brilliant away performance but that goal should have stood. Had Theo Walcott converted at least two of the chances that were afforded to him in the first half, this wouldn’t have been a cause for debate because the game would have been over before the second half began. But at 2-1 down, scoring a goal that was wrongly disallowed would take its toll on the team’s morale, and in most cases, the game is always lost from there.

Permit me to take you down memory lane in a certain 2010 FIFA World Cup first knockout round fixture between Germany and England. At 2-1 down, Frank Lampard rifled in one of his trademark bullets that smashed the underside of Manuel Neuer’s bar, went beyond the goal line and crept back into play. However, the ref and his assistant didn’t see it and a crestfallen England went on to concede two more goals that sealed their elimination.

The catalyst for change: Frank Lampard's 'ghost goal' at the 2010 World Cup finally made Sepp Blatter change his mind on goal-line technology


In the Premier League, decisions involving goal line errors have been been a menace and in most cases, the referee’s decision not to allow the goal often results in a backlash, as the manager, players and fans alike of the affected team leave no stones unturned in voicing their frustrations.

I can’t remember the season, but Tottenham’s Pedro Mendes blasted a long-range shot that brought out the worst in Manchester United’s Roy Carroll and after he fluffed at making a simple save, the ball went beyond the line but he managed to bring it back into play. If my memory serves me right, the game ended in a goalless draw.

To err is certainly human and referees are no cyborgs but the goal line technology system was meant to help them mitigate such occurrences from happening again in the Premier League.

In Arsenal’s first game of the season against Sunderland, Fabian Delph fired a shot in the edge of the area that hit the inside of the post before it crept away. The man with the whistle, Anthony Taylor, had a stinker all game long, but he still managed to call on the all-new HawkEye Decision System and he was duly notified that the ball didn’t cross the line.

Martin Atkinson could have resorted to this and Sunderland should have gotten their rightful equalizer. Even with the game tied at 2-2, I still believed that Arsenal would have had enough in the tank to get a third and kill off the game. Many Arsenal fans wouldn’t really care that this decision went their way citing Lady Luck and all that, but if it was Olivier Giroud that had a chance that went beyond the line and was not given, the vitriol and abuse at the ref would have been incessant.

In the long term, I hope referees would have to understand that the goal line technology system is meant to assist them in making those decisions and the quicker they embrace this new system, the better for the Premier League.

They can like to practice what has been preached.


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About enigma106

An Arsenal fan with a good sense of humor

Posted on September 16, 2013, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. The reason the goal wasn’t allowed was because Atkinson had already whistled for the foul. Once he did that, he could not have allowed to goal.

    Also, Arseblog’s writer seems to think Koscielny (Who was the one who tried to clear it, not Jenkinson) had stopped running for a second when the whistle blew. Had their been no whistle, he probably wouldn’t have stuttered and been there in time to clear the ball before it crossed the line.

    Sunderland can fuss all they want, but it’s over and we clearly deserved the 3 points

  2. U are getting it wrong here and we all know the goal should have stood but the referee whistle had gone b4 the ball went in so that’s why he didn’t bother confirming from the Hawkeye technology whether it was a goal or not.

  3. Ur article is all well and good BUT u missed a vital point. The Referee had blown his whistle for a free kick for sunderland before Altidore scored the goal. He didn’t refuse to consult his GDS cuz he had alreadi brought the play back for a free-kick. The blunder he did commit was not allowing Sunderland the advantage by blowing his whistle too early and not giving Sagna a red card for obstructing the last man and denying a clear goal scoring opportunity.

  4. No. I’m with Atkinson on this one, no bias.

    He had blown for a foul when Altidore and Sagna struggled for possession, at least I heard the sound of a whistle go during the wrestling between both. Now, Altidore indeed may not have heard the whistle but Sunderland – and every other – fans who feel aggrieved by what HawkEye showed as evidence should move on as thag ‘evidence’ is actually an inconsequential one.

    I don’t even know why it had to be used anyway.

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  5. This is just so wrong. I know I’m a gunner (like many others who come to this site) and there’s probably a tendency for us to be biased but I think you’re wrong. First, like you said, as a gunner, I really don’t care much that the goal didn’t count since we’ve had our own fair share of bad days like that but I really wouldn’t crucify Atkinson for not using the GL-Tech if the decision had been against us after watching replays.

    Truthfully, it was a good goal and it probably should have stood if the ref had allowed play to go on. That, I think, is the only fault of Atkinson. He should’ve allowed play to go on. But the fact is, if he didn’t blow for a freekick and Altidore failed to score, the analysis would’ve been that he overlooked an obvious freekick and the same backlash would result. If the ball didn’t go in and he had to call back play for the free kick, it would be the match against Villa all over again, which we all agree was poor refereeing.

    Watching the match again carefully, I realized he had actually blown his whistle for the freekick when the arm-wrestling was going on and he decided to stick with the decision regardless of what happened after. THAT was why he didn’t use the GL-Tech, (not because he wasn’t sure as this article portrays). Even on first glance, we all knew it was a goal without the tech. So, yea, maybe we were fortunate that he did call back play instead of allowing it, but it wasn’t such a poor refereeing decision as it seemed at first when the ball went in.

    That’s my take on the issue. Nice article tho’.

  6. There was a foul. Both were fouling. The whistle and free kick awarded to Sunderland indicates that they won the foul. It was a fair conclusion. One rewarded with fk and other with yellow. Both were level with the ball and same ball was never touched by Altidore. Merely a fight for an uncontrolled ball. By weight and physicality, Altidore won the foul.

    NOT a clear goal-scoring opportunity as Sagna was still goalside of the attack. Add to that the fierce shove Altidore committed which I also consider a foul. So last fouling loses the benefit of the doubt.

    Sorry. Whistle blown. Fair and correct call.

  7. Incorrect, if you go back to replay you will hear that the ref actually blew the whistle in the mid of the wrestling match, so while the ball indeed went over the line the game was already stopped.

  8. I was just saying play should have and rightly been stopped during the handbags.

  9. From the analysis from skysports, the ref blew the whistle, but the controversy is why he didn’t send Sagna off.

  10. As far as I can see, Sagna fouled Altidore first, but then Altidore shoved Sagna. So there was no advantage because had the ref not given the free kick against Sagna, he’d have to have given a free kick to Arsenal! Until Altidore shoved Sagna out of the way, he didn’t have a clear goalscoring opportunity.

  11. yep

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