The only Englishman leaving the country on European duty this week was UEFA delegate and PGMOL chair Mike Foster, whose business it was to attend the Nou Camp for Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Barcelona and Roma.

Missing from the middle back in Blighty this weekend are Neil Swarbrick, Craig Pawson, Mike Dean, Chris Kavanagh and the brothers Madley, while it’s hello to David Coote at the Hawthorns, with Tim Robinson, scheduled to return for only his 5th fourth official appointment of the season, also helping welcome assistant Nick Hopton to the top flight at Vicarage Road.

Michael OliverEverton v Liverpool

MICHAEL OLIVER
Assistants:
S Bennett & D Cook
Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh

This early kick-off for the cameras represents game 281 overall, the last having come in the FA Cup, when Liverpool prevailed 2-1 as Virgil van Dyke, aka VVD, scored the winner on his debut for Liverpool.

All you need to know about Michael Oliver:

Matches in 2017/18: 25 (15 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 6

Yellows: 90 Reds: 5

The first ever meeting ended 3-0 to the Toffees, however, in Division One back in October, 1894, while the last Goodison encounter saw Liverpool win narrowly in December, 2016 when referee Mike Dean showed yellow to Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman, Idrissa Gueye and Dejan Lovren and Sadio Mane scored a last-minute winner.

This season’s reverse Premier League fixture ended 1-1 in December on Matchday 16, when Craig Pawson raised eyebrows with a penalty award that allowed Wayne Rooney an equaliser that contributed to his side’s escape from the Premier League basement.

This is Jurgen Klopp’s 101st Premier League game in charge and Cenk Tosun has notched four of Everton’s last six goals, but beyond the numbers lies an eternal rivalry unique in the British game for transcending family ties and eschewing violence, at least among supporters.

Michael Oliver refereed Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea and Everton’s 1-1 draw at Brighton, but possibly his most memorable moment came in evading Rooney’s scoring shot from his own half during the Toffees’ 4-0 home win over West Ham in November.

AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace

JON MOSS
Assistants: E Smart
& A Halliday
Fourth official: Kevin Friend

It is 10th facing 17th in the 70th meeting between these clubs in all competitions, the first having taken place in Dorset and ended 6-1 to the hosts in Division Three (south) back in May, 1926.

All you need to know about Jonathan Moss:

Matches in 2017/18: 23 (14 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 16

Yellows: 81 Reds: 2

The last meeting at the Vitality was won 2-0 by the visitors in January, 2017, when four away yellows and none for the home side were forthcoming from today’s referee, Jon Moss, and Palace’s goals were supplied by Scott Dann and Christian Benteke.

The corresponding game at Selhurst Park on Matchday 16 this season ended 2-2.

While Jermain Defoe has scored a Premier League record of 15 goals in the last minute or later, it’s not as easy as he makes it look, even for a regular ‘impact’ sub. This stat did not apply in the aforementioned game because he scored twice in the first half, having started, and was replaced late on himself, by Callum Wilson. They were his eighth and ninth goals against Palace in 10 league appearances against them, and the third consecutive time he had scored twice against the Eagles.

Moss refereed Palace’s 0-0 draw at home to Manchester City on New Years Eve, in which he cautioned nine, and their 3-1 defeat at Goodison Park, plus AFC Bournemouth’s 1-1 draw at home to Southampton in December.

anthony-taylor-2Brighton & Hove Albion v Huddersfield Town

ANTHONY TAYLOR
Assistants: A Nunn
& P Kirkup
Fourth official: Lee Probert

This is the 56th meeting in all competitions between the sides currently occupying 13th and 16th respectively in their first ever seasons in the Premier League.

All you need to know about Anthony Taylor:

Matches in 2017/18: 22 (12 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 7

Yellows: 77 Reds: 0

It’s no goals in four games for Huddersfield, who have by far the tougher run-in, although they notched twice in winning the reverse fixture 2-0 back in December. For the first encounter we must go all the way back to an FA Cup tie in January, 1922, which ended 0-0, only for the Terriers to progress by winning the replay 2-0 four days later.

The last south coast encounter came in September, 2016 when a goal from Anthony Knockaert, who is suspended today, won the Championship fixture 1-0. Referee Andy Woolmer booked Lewis Dunk and Christopher Schindler that day.

Taylor refereed the Terriers’ 1-1 home draw at home to Stoke on Boxing Day and Brighton’s 0-0 draw at Newcastle four days later. He also oversaw Brighton’s 1-0 win at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round. Of the five bookings that day, four went the Seagulls’ way and all of those came in the second half.

Stuart AttwellLeicester City v Newcastle United

STUART ATTWELL
Assistants:
S Burt & A Holmes
Fourth official: Lee Mason

The first City v United Premier League encounter of the weekend pits 8th against 12th and kicks off two and a half hours ahead of the next, while a United entertain a Town, and vice versa, in Leagues One and Two respectively, and Cambridge United entertain Exeter City, all with 3pm starts.

All you need to know about Stuart Attwell:

Matches in 2017/18: 13 (1 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 17

Yellows: 49 Reds: 1

While Algerian international Islam Slimani is prevented from participating against his parent club, former Newcastle defender Danny Simpson is in the running to face the team for whom he made over 100 appearances between 2010 and 2013, in this 122th edition of this fixture in all competitions.

The first was in Division Two in October, 1894, a 4-4 draw, while the last in the Midlands was in March, 2016, ending 1-0 thanks to Shinji Okazaki, while the result of the reverse fixture this season was 3-2 to Leicester at SJP.

Stuart Attwell refereed Leicester’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Liverpool in the Carabao Cup back in September, as well as two home Newcastle wins (2-1 over Stoke and 1-0 over Palace) plus their away defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League.

Graham Scott

Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur

GRAHAM SCOTT
Assistants: G Beswick
& C Hatzidakis
Fourth official: Andre Marriner

The Potters, in 19th place, take on 4th-placed Spurs in game 94 of a series lasting 122 years and counting. The first ever meeting ended 5-0 to Stoke in the FA Cup first round of February, 1896, but the odds on a recurrence of that margin might well reach three figures this time around.

All you need to know about Graham Scott:

Matches in 2017/18: 16 (5 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 16

Yellows: 31 Reds: 1

The last encounter at the Britannia was in September, 2016, when referee Anthony Taylor showed Stoke players three yellows and Spurs players two, as Spurs won 4-0 with two goals for Son and one apiece for Alli and Kane. Spurs also cruised their way to a 5-1 Wembley win in the reverse fixture this season.

Graham Scott refereed Stoke’s 3-0 defeat at home to West Ham in the Premier League earlier this term, as well as Tottenham’s 5-2 home win over Southampton and their 3-0 win at Everton.

Paul Tierney

Watford v Burnley

PAUL TIERNEY
Assistants: R West
& N Hopton
Fourth official: Tim Robinson

Sean Dyche made an early appearance on the subsequent merry-go-round of managerial appointments at Vicarage Road, losing his job after a creditable single Championship campaign in charge in 2011/12.

All you need to know about Paul Tierney:

Matches in 2017/18: 12 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 13

Yellows: 31 Reds: 0

There have been nine new bosses since, including Javi Gracia, not that the Hertfordshire club appear to regret letting anyone go, given their mid-table Premier League pedigree since promotion in 2015.

Clarets boss Dyche also played for the Hornets from 2002-2005, scoring three times in 72 games, and his Burnley side has won their last three games, having gone without a win for the 11 games prior to that.

Burnley were until recently lagging behind Swansea, if only just, in the lack-of-a-penalty stakes, only for the Swans to convert one awarded against West Ham in March and leave the Clarets still waiting impatiently for their first since April, 2017, when Sam Vokes converted at Goodison.

Watford have won three of their four Premier league home games under Gracia and although Burnley won the reverse fixture 1-0 this season, history is on Watford’s side, having won the first ever meeting 2-1 in Division Two in November, 1971 and the last in Hertfordshire, by the same scoreline, in February, 2017. Referee Michael Oliver booked five Watford players and showed a straight red card to Jeff Hendrick on six minutes that day, when goals from Troy Deeney and M’baye Niang bettered one from Burnley’s Ashley Barnes.

Paul Tierney refereed Watford’s recent 1-0 Premier League home win over West Brom, and their 1-0 defeat at Brighton, as well as Burnley’s 0-0 draw at Huddersfield and their 1-0 defeat at Leicester this season.

Nick Hopton, from Derbyshire, is a new name to the Premier League, having run the line 27 times in the Championship and five times in the FA Cup this season, where he has been assistant in matches featuring Southampton, Bournemouth, Brighton and Huddersfield.

Roger EastWest Bromwich Albion v Swansea City

ROGER EAST
Assistants:
S Beck & D Eaton
Fourth official: David Coote

Jamaican international and managerial rookie Darren Moore welcomes the well-travelled Portugeser Carlos Carvalhal to the Hawthorns hoping he can halt a run of eight straight defeats for its own sake, as opposed to laying foundations for a miraculous relegation escape, the like of which he played a full part in as a player back in 2005.

All you need to know about Roger East:

Matches in 2017/18: 14 (1 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 19

Yellows: 45 Reds: 2

Swansea were rock bottom themselves when Carvalhal came along at Christmas and have still only made it to 15th place, although they have grabbed headlines in doing so thanks to wins over Arsenal, Liverpool, Burnley and West Ham.

This is the 41st occasion these sides have met, dating back to a Division Two encounter in October, 1927 won 5-2 by the Baggies. The last time at the Hawthorns was in December, 2016, when Michael Oliver kept a ‘clean sheet’ and a Salomon Rondon hat-trick replied to by Wayne Routledge left the score at 3-1. Swansea won the reverse fixture this season, however, 1-0.

Roger East has refereed these sides once each this season, and needed to put five names in his book when the Swans lost 1-0 at West Ham in September, including Renato Sanches and Leon Britton, both for fouls. He also oversaw the Baggies’ 0-0 home draw with Everton on Boxing Day.

It’s been a long wait one way or another for David Coote, but 24 Championship appointments, two in the FA Cup plus a handful of League One, Two and FA Trophy games have put the Nottinghamshire official in the frame as fourth official today.

Martin AtkinsonManchester City v Manchester United

MARTIN ATKINSON
Assistants: L Betts
& S Child
Fourth official: Craig Pawson

Jose and Pep might go way back, yet should Guardiola’s City pull off their 28th win of the season in their 32nd game, the title is theirs and Mourinho’s occasional triumphs against Barcelona will count for nothing.

All you need to know about Martin Atkinson:

Matches in 2017/18: 24 (11 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 6

Yellows: 82 Reds: 5

The issue of team selection, however, has been more a source of rampant speculation than the rivalry between the coaches, since the Champions League quarter-final draw matched City with Liverpool, leaving this 176th Manchester derby as secondary in the eyes of some commentators if not quite so many supporters.

The first encounter hosted by City was in October, 1891 and won by Newton Heath, 5-1 in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup. The last in east Manchester ended 0-0 in April, 2017… the 43rd anniversary of the Law goal at Old Trafford that helped usher United into Division Two. It was to be the last senior game for referee David W Smith, who died in 2010, aged 84. Last season, today’s referee, Martin Atkinson, showed one card to Gabriel Jesus and two to Marouane Fellaini as neither side managed to break the deadlock, while Michael Oliver refereed this season’s reverse fixture at Old Trafford, a 2-1 win for the Blues.

Atkinson has refereed United a total of four times this term (two wins and two draws), and City twice, the last time having been in February in their 1-1 draw at Turf Moor and before that their September win at Stamford Bridge.

By far the busiest he has been all season was at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, when he cautioned three United and seven Burnley players in their 2-2 draw, and he did not produce a single yellow on his last visit to the Etihad: Argentina versus Italy in March.

Andre Marriner

Arsenal v Southampton

ANDRE MARRINER
Assistants:
S Ledger & S Long
Fourth official: Mike Dean

This is another 2003 FA Cup Final re-run, reviving memories of a a time when new Saints boss Mark Hughes had only recently switched from part-time Wales player-manager to full-time manager, having been sold by Glenn Hoddle to Everton in March, 2000, to end his short spell as a Saints player.

All you need to know about Andre Marriner:

Matches in 2017/18: 22 (16 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 18

Yellows: 55 Reds: 2

The first ever encouner between Gunners and Saints came in March, 1927, a 2-1 Arsenal win, and the last was in November, 2016: an EFL Cup tie won 2-0 by Southampton. The last Premier League encounter at the Emirates ended 2-1 to the hosts in September, 2016, when Bobby Madley dished out seven yellow cards, and goals from Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla overcame a Petr Cech own goal.

Andre Marriner has refereed Arsenal twice so far this season and had to wait until March to take his first Southampton fixture, their 3-0 defeat at St James Park.

Both times when he officiated at the Emirates the hosts suffered defeat at the hands of a Manchester club. Against City (0-3) he cautioned only two, including Kolasinac, while against United (1-3) he cautioned five, including Bellerin, Koscielny and Sanchez, before he switched sides, as well as dismissing Paul Pogba.

Chelsea v West Ham United

KEVIN FRIEND
Assistants: H Lennard
& M Wilkes
Fourth official: Neil Swarbrick

This clash of managers with uncertain futures (for different reasons) is game 110 overall, and David Moyes will hope to extend Antonio Conte’s disproportionate record of defeats in London derbies, one of which came at West Ham’s London Stadium in the reverse fixture that saw Marko Arnautovic seal a 1-0 December win. Referee Anthony Taylor dished out six West Ham yellow cards and one to Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso that day.

All you need to know about Kevin Friend:

Matches in 2017/18: 16 (12 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 25

Yellows: 38  Reds: 0

The last collision at Stamford Bridge was in August 2016, when this time Taylor dished out six yellows between the sides, and goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa bettered one from the visitors’ James Collins. The first ever encounter was dull by comparison, with no goals in a Division One contest in October, 1923.

Kevin Friend’s list of appointments this season includes Chelsea’s 4th round FA Cup win over Newcastle and West Ham’s 1-0 Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat at Arsenal. In the Premier League he oversaw two Chelsea home wins (over Newcastle and Stoke) plus West Ham’s 2-0 victory over Huddersfield in September.

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