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United's hot head could land himself in trouble with tonight's official

Even the bookmakers can't price a market on who is the more lucky to be playing this evening in the Chelsea - Manchester United match: Ashley Cole  for aiming an air-rifle bullet in the direction of a work experience student, or Wayne Rooney for aiming an elbow in the direction of a fellow professional?

Tonight's referee Martin Atkinson will have his hands full dealing with the England international team-mates. Cole, with his habit of turning his back to officials, and Rooney who has inherited the title of 'backchat king' from Hristo Stoichkov. However, unlike the great Bulgarian his heir apparent has yet to master the art of insulting referees in multiple languages.

Martin Atkinson has the task of handling the pair and if history is anything to go on he'll be getting out his trusty red card at some point. The official has already handed out an impressive nine of them this season including two to Wigan players in their 2-0 defeat to Manchester United last November.

Atkinson started as he meant to go on, flashing two on the opening day of the season in the Liverpool - Arsenal match, another in the Arsenal - Birmingham game in October with one red being shown in the Sunderland - Stoke game in November.

Michael Essien will remember Atkinson after he sent him off after scoring against Fulham before handing out two in the Wigan - Man Utd game also in November.

His red card went into temporary hiatus (five games) before it came out again just in time for Christmas. Atkinson handed out six yellows and a red in the boxing day clash between Tottenham and Aston Villa and then went a full eight games before handing out another red in the recent Villa - Blackburn game.

Martin Atkinson Stats (2010/11)
Games - 28
Yellow Cards - 94
Red Cards - 9

Perhaps unsurprisingly the bookies have factored this in pricing another Atkinson red tonight at 2/1 compared to 4/11 against. Usually that price would be around 4/1.

Don't be surprised if Atkinson points to the spot either. He's awarded more penalties than any other official this season (10) and is worth a punt at 11/4 to do so again at Stamford Bridge.

After getting away with it against Wigan don't rule out a bit justice/refereeing solidarity kicking in this evening and United's hot head seeing red.

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