Who saw the hamstrings/VAR debate coming? Well, it is a work in progress after all… One player injury it would be even tougher to pin on referees would be Marco Asensio’s pimple infection. This unfortunate malaise, caused by shaving a leg, may well have led to a new year’s resolution at the Bernabeu that someone else shave Asensio’s pimples for him. Alas, no sooner had he recovered from this occupational hazard, but his absence was extended due to an external obturator injury, or a painful right thigh, to you and me, and his lack of games has left him a real doubt for Julen Lopetegui’s streamlined Spanish World Cup squad. Let’s see just which poor lambs are in the Select Group 1’s sights this weekend, then.

Martin Atkinson

Burnley v Manchester City

Assistants: P Kirkup & L Betts
Fourth official: Jon Moss

New signings Aymeric Laporte, number 14, and Aaron Lennon, number 25, could well face each other in this lunchtime kick-off rescheduled for the cameras at Turf Moor.

All you need to know about Martin Atkinson:

Matches in 2017/18: 17 (7 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 3

Yellows: 57 Reds: 4

It’s game 97 between the clubs and the first one ever ended 3-1 to the Clarets in Division Two back in October, 1897. City have already won twice against Burnley by three clear goals at the Etihad this season, but the last meeting at Turf Moor, which took place in November, 2016, ended in a slightly less emphatic winning margin, with Dean Marney’s goal being overtaken by two from Sergio Aguero. Andre Marriner showed a yellow card to Marney, Matt Lowton, Nicolas Otamendi, Nolito and Aguero that day.

While ex-Evertonians Lennon and John Stones missed each other in their Goodison spells, Belgian international team-mates Steven Defour and Kevin de Bruyne will not be reunited on the pitch, both having played for Genk between 2005 and 2006, because of Defour’s midweek training knock.

Martin Atkinson has refereed three Burnley games this season (a win, a draw and a defeat) and one City fixture, their 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in September.

Paul Tierney

AFC Bournemouth v Stoke City

Assistants: M Perry & M McDonough
Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh

These teams line up against each other for the 28th time today, the first occasion having been only 30 years ago, in Dorset back in February, 1988. The result was 0-0 in the old Division Two.

The reverse fixture at the Britannia this season ended in a 2-1 away win, while the corresponding fixture, last May, 2017 at the Vitality, ended 2-2.

All you need to know about Paul Tierney:

Matches in 2017/18: 9 (1 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 9

Yellows: 24 Reds: 0

Those goals came from Junior Stanislas; a Ryan Shawcross own goal (the fifth of his career); a Lys Mousset own goal and Mame Biriam Diouf. Both sides secured Premier League safety that day, as Hull City sealed their own fate by losing at the Stadium of Light.

Then Stoke boss Mark Hughes was not shy in opining that referee Paul Tierney, who also referees today’s game, should have sent Harry Arter off in the first half, in addition to booking Cherries substitute Max Gradel.

Tierney has yet to referee Stoke this term but did officiate the Cherries’ 1-0 win at St James Park, when he cautioned Andrew Surman and Simon Francis as well as two players from the home side. His last time in charge of the Potters was last season, in the game mentioned above.

Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United

Assistants: M Wilkes & A Garratt
Fourth official: Kevin Friend

Today is the 49th time these clubs have met in all competitions, with the first on the south coast having ended 3-2 to the hosts in October, 1903 in a Southern League First Division fixture.

This season’s reverse fixture at the London stadium left the writing firmly on the wall for Slaven Bilic, as former West Ham defender Chris Hughton’s side secured all three points with a 3-0 away win thanks to goals from Glenn Murray (two) and Jose Izqueirdo.

The last meeting at the Amex ended in a 1-0 win to the visitors, in a Championship fixture back in October, 2011.

All you need to know about Roger East:

Matches in 2017/18: 11 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 16

Yellows: 35 Reds: 1

Today’s fourth official, Kevin Friend, cautioned Gonzalo Jara, Gordon Greer, Lewis Dunk, Liam Bridcutt and Julian Faubert that day, while the winning goal came from current Notts County manager, Kevin Nolan.

Roger East is yet to referee a Brighton game so far this season, and was last in charge of a West Ham fixture in September, when they beat Swansea 1-0 at home. His last Seagulls engagement came a year ago, when they drew 1-1 with Ipswich in the Championship at the Amex. Dunk and Duffy were the only two Albion players cautioned out of a total of eight.


Leicester City v Swansea City

Assistants: G Beswick & A Nunn
Fourth official: Bobby Madley

Portugese engine room exponents Adrien Silva and Renato Sanches are due to come face to face at the King Power, although the latter is fully expected to return to Bavaria if not pastures even further afield rather than renew his loan at Swansea at the end of the season.

All you need to know about Anthony Taylor:

Matches in 2017/18: 16 (8 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 6

Yellows: 64 Reds: 0

One Portugeser relishing Welsh pastures with three Premier League wins from five games since his arrival as the fifth Swans manager in two years at the turn of the year is Carlos Carvalhal. And, whatever the future holds for the former Owls boss, at least he has a precious Petr Cech shirt he can auction off to augment his pension.

It’s the 39th encounter between these sides all told, the first in the Midlands having taken place in the FA Cup back in January, 1929, when the Foxes ran out 1-0 winners.

Leicester won the reverse fixture in October 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium, while the last time they played hosts, in August, 2016, they also won 2-1 in a clash of Italian managers, Francesco Guidolin and Claudio Ranieri.

Referee Roger East cautioned Robert Huth, Danny Simpson, Federico Fernandez and Leroy Fer,

while the goals were supplied by Jamie Vardy, Wes Morgan and Fer.

Anthony Taylor has refereed Leicester twice so far this season (a home win over Spurs as well as a home defeat to Liverpool), as well as Swansea’s 4-0 home defeat to Manchester City. He also took the Swans’ 0-0 FA Cup draw at Molineux last month.

Stuart Attwell

Manchester United v Huddersfield Town

Assistants: S Long & H Lennard
Fourth official: Mike Dean

If Old Trafford minds had been wandering towards thoughts of revenge, they may have been jolted by the FA Cup fifth round draw, which pits these two clubs against each other in Yorkshire again as soon as between February 16 and 19, should the Terriers overcome Birmingham City of the Championship in Tuesday’s replay.

All you need to know about Stuart Attwell:

Matches in 2017/18: 10 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 12

Yellows: 35 Reds: 1

Huddersfield will hope recent history is no guide to this season’s final Premier League table, given that QPR, Norwich and Hull City were all relegated in each of the last three seasons having won the previous campaign’s show-piece play-off final at Wembley.

Today sees these clubs meet for the 47th time in all competitions, the first ever on the west of the Pennines coming in January, 1912, when United won an FA Cup first round tie at Old Trafford 3-1.

The reverse fixture in October saw Huddersfield post a famous 2-1 victory this season, while the last encounter in Lancashire was in Division One and ended 2-0 to United in March, 1972.

Stuart Attwell has not refereed Manchester United since they beat Northampton in September, 2016 on their way to lifting the EFL Cup, while he refereed Huddersfield’s December home win over Brighton as well as their 0-0 draw versus Southampton at home in August.

Michael Oliver

West Bromwich Albion v Southampton

Assistants: S Bennett & S Burt
Fourth official: Lee Mason

The first time the clubs met at the Hawthorns was in April, 1928, in a Division Two fixture won, by the Baggies, 2-1.

All you need to know about Michael Oliver:

Matches in 2017/18: 20 (13 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 4

Yellows: 72 Reds: 4

This season’s reverse encounter at St Mary’s was won 1-0 by a fantastic Sofiane Boufal solo effort, while last season’s Hawthorns clash also ended 1-0 to Saints in April, 2017 thanks to Jordy Clasie’s goal. That day referee Chris Kavanagh cautioned Jonny Evans, Matt Phillips, Fraser Forster and Cedric Soares.

Michael Oliver has taken charge of two Baggies games (home draws with Palace and Watford) so far this season, as well as Southampton’s 1-0 third round FA Cup win at Fulham in which Jan Bednarek was cautioned.

Neil Swarbrick

Arsenal v Everton

Assistants: C Hatzidakis & D Cook
Fourth official: Craig Pawson

This late Saturday kick-off for the cameras pits this season’s Europa Cup rivals (until Everton fell at the first hurdle) and sixth and ninth placed Premier League clubs against each other. It also marks the return of Theo Walcott a matter of days after swapping north London red for Merseyside blue.

All you need to know about Neil Swarbrick:

Matches in 2017/18: 15 (7 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 17

Yellows: 38 Reds: 0

The clubs have met on a remarkable 210 previous occasions, the first in London having taken place in April, 1905 in Division One, a game won 2-1 by the Gunners.

The Goodison reverse fixture this season ended in a 5-2 win for visitors Arsenal, while the last Etihad encounter finished 3-1 in May, 2017, when Hector Bellerin, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey scored for the home side and Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty by way of reply.

Michael Oliver sent off Laurent Koscielny and booked Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams and Morgan Schneiderlin.

Neil Swarbrick refereed Everton’s opening day home win over Stoke, as well as Arsenal’s defeat at Watford. He also refereed Everton’s Carabao Cup defeat at Chelsea in October and was VAR when Arsenal drew 0-0 at the Bridge in their Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg.

Andre Marriner

Crystal Palace v Newcastle United

Assistants: S Beck & R West
Fourth official: Lee Probert

This 43rd ever game between Eagles and Magpies was chosen for the early Sunday kick-off slot, and the very first meeting in London ended 1-1 in a Division Two fixture back in April, 1965 after the first four meetings happened all to be played up north.

All you need to know about Andre Marriner:

Matches in 2017/18: 17 (14 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 14

Yellows: 45 Reds: 2

The reverse fixture this season resulted in a 1-0 home win thanks to Mikel Merino’s goal, while the last meeting at Selhurst Park, in November, 2015 ended 5-1 with two goals each from James McArthur and Yannick Bolasie and one from Wilfried Zaha. Papiss Cisse replied for Newcastle on the day his former boss Alan Pardew’s Palace racked up the club’s first ever Premier League five-goal haul. Zaha and Chancel Mbemba were cautioned by referee Stuart Attwell.

Andre Marriner has refereed Newcastle (all defeats) and Palace (a win, defeat and a draw) three times each in the Premier League so far this season, as well as the Eagles’ third round FA Cup exit at Brighton, the very first English fixture to feature VAR.

Jonathan Moss

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur

Assistants: E Smart & A Halliday
Fourth official: Martin Atkinson

It’s 26 Liverpool goals in all competitions plays 30 Spurs goals, in Mo Salah versus Harry Kane going into this mouthwatering late Sunday kick-off for the cameras.

The first of the previous 169 games to take place on Merseyside came in March, 1910, ending 2-0 thanks to goals from Jack Parkinson and Jimmy Stewart in a Division One fixture.

All you need to know about Jon Moss:

Matches in 2017/18: 18 (12 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 11

Yellows: 69 Reds: 2

This season’s reverse encounter ended 4-1 to Spurs and was overseen by Andre Marriner at Wembley, while the last clash between these sides on Merseyside was in February, 2017. It ended 2-0 thanks to two quick-fire Sadio Mane goals in the first half, and referee Anthony Taylor cautioned Joel Matip, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Harry Winks and Harry Kane.

Jon Moss has refereed each team once in the Premier League this season: Spurs when they lost at Old Trafford and he cautioned Valencia for simulation, plus Liverpool’s 5-0 defeat at the Etihad in September during which he cautioned Can and Alexander-Arnold and dismissed Sadio Mane after he clashed with City’s Ederson in the 37th minute. It’s Moss’s first big Wembley gig since the 2015 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Villa.


Watford v Chelsea

Assistants: I Hussin & A Holmes
Fourth official: Bobby Madley

This is game 33 of which the first in Hertfordshire took place in February, 1980 and was won 3-2 in Division Two by visitors Chelsea.

In the reverse fixture earlier this term, Chelsea had to come from behind to win 4-2, while last August, 2016, it was 2-1 to the Blues at Vicarage Road thanks to goals from Etienne Capoue for the Hornets and Michy Batshuayi and Diego Costa for the Blues.

All you need to know about Craig Pawson:

Matches in 2017/18: 17 (12 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2017/18: 15

Yellows: 63 Reds: 4

Referee Jon Moss cautioned Miguel Britos, Valon Behrami, Jose Holebas, Troy Deeney, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Costa that day.

Craig Pawson has only refereed Watford in the FA Cup this season, their 3-0 win over Bristol City, as well as Chelsea’s away Premier League win at Bournemouth and their 3-2 home defeat to Burnley on the opening weekend. He was on duty in the technical area for Everton’s visit to Arsenal 24 hours prior to this fixture.


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