VAR got it's long awaited trial the other night at Brighton. It was no surprise Marriner got the gig & the game from what i can gather passed without incident. Another one of the FA's 'job' refs takes control of the increasingly unruly Chelsea / Arsenal fixture.
I've taken a look at all fixtures between these two since the turn of the millenium from a bookings point of view and the stats are as follows :
41 games... 179 yellows...14 reds. Average booking pts 52.2 per game.
Martin Atikinson has officiated 5 of the above... 22 yellows...0 reds. Average booking pts 44 per game.
No big deal i hear you cry. This season Atkinson has reffed 15 PL games to date. 55 yellows...4 reds.
Only Robert Madley averages more booking pts than Martin to date this season. What is more relevant to me is Atko's performance when given the big TV clashes.
So far this season : Liv v United just 2 yellows. Chel v City just 2 yellows. Ars v Liv just 1 yellow.
The games with the big numbers & reds were at Burnley v WBA, Wat v Spurs, New v Everton, Leics v Palace.
Small sample size for sure BUT these patterns occur regularly throughout certain ref's careers mainly because i believe they are seen as a safe pair of hands willing to toe the line and not to book players early in certain games to potentially avoid contraversy, keep there own organisation out of the media whilst not upsetting the more clubs powerful in the process.
VAR is only mean't to intervene in obvious errors... be interesting to see if it's required tonight.