runnersriders-1000x500Good to see Neil Swarbrick come in from the cold and get a look in again this week, and credit to PGMOL for handing Graham Scott only his second top-flight game of the season.

Indeed, some well thought out appointments here, particularly Mark Clattenburg’s trip to the Emirates Stadium for what is sure to be a white-hot north London derby.

Plenty more going on before the international break so let’s see who has been selected for the EPL appointments in week eleven….

Kevin Friend: Manchester City v Middlesbrough


Assistants: R. West and A. Holmes
Fourth official: M. Jones

Kevin Friend

City come into this one off of the back of their Champions League game against Barcelona, and former assistant to Jose Mourinho, Aitor Karanka, will relish going head to head with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola.

This promises to be a great, expansive and attacking game of football, end-to-end might not be so far from the truth.

Aside from Kevin Friend’s inability to really grab a game by the scruff of the neck and assert his authority, he could have issues keeping up with play, so let’s hope he’s worked on his dynamic sprinting throughout the week.

Occasional mistakes with decision making can be excused, not being fit for purpose cannot.

A few short weeks ago, this would’ve been a nailed on three points for the hosts, but the past few fixtures have shown the difficulties Pep’s players are having coming to terms with his particular demands.

The Catalan doesn’t have knowledge of how this official operates but Karanka will remember him from the Championship when Friend sent off his namesake George in a game against Fulham.

11 v 11 required in this one please Kevin.

Kevin Friend – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 6 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 7
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 8

Anthony Taylor: Burnley v Crystal Palace
Assistants: G. Beswick and E. Smart
Fourth official: J. Moss

Anthony Taylor

Burnley continued to surprise a few people but maybe that’s doing Sean Dyche’s team a disservice.

After all, before tiki-taka and sports-science etc. etc., teams played in a certain way, played to their strengths and they were good at it.

The Claret’s football might belong in another era if we look at how the game has progressed, but each and every one of Dyche’s players give their manager 100 percent every single week. That’s what supporters come to see. Sweat on the shirt. Pride in battle.

Beating Liverpool and drawing at Old Trafford suggests that Dyche isn’t as out of touch as some would have you believe.

With that backdrop in mind, and off of the back of a four-goal Liverpool blast, Alan Pardew and his Crystal Palace side will be taking nothing for granted.

The Eagles also have a few players who can ‘mix it’ when needed, so if anything, Anthony Taylor just needs to keep on top of a few wild lunges or late tackles.

Christian Benteke will take this type of game all day long and his own personal battle with Burnley’s central defenders should be a joy to behold.

Taylor would also do well not to card too early because this could be the type of game that if he sets his stall out with a yellow in the opening exchanges, he could be dishing them out left, right and centre.

Let players ease themselves into the match and take a view after the first 15.

Anthony Taylor – all you need to know 

Matches in 2016/17: 10 (4 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 3
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Robert Madley: Chelsea v Everton

Assistants: M. Perry and M. McDonough
Fourth official: S. Attwell


Robert Madley

Another super game in prospect at Stamford Bridge as both sides go hunting for the three points which will keep them where they need to be in the table.

Ronald Koeman’s Everton will take the game to their opponents because it’s the only way the Dutchman knows how to play and that is something that Antonio Conte will appreciate.

Diego Costa at one end, ex-Chelsea star Romelu Lukaku at the other. Two strikers scoring goals for fun and who’ll relish the atmosphere.

Lots for Robert Madley to chew over because there’ll be no quarter asked or given by either side in a game that could have a ‘cup’ feel to it.

In the past, the official has given a last-minute penalty to Chelsea in a game against West Ham, which enraged Slaven Bilic, and failed to give a penalty for Everton at Manchester City which got Roberto Martinez all hot under the collar.

Loved by one set of fans, not the favourite of the other. Will history come back to bite him on the backside again and can he cope with the responsibility here…..questions, questions…

Robert Madley – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 8 (3 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Andre Marriner: West Ham United v Stoke City 

Assistants: S. Beck and A. Garratt
Fourth official: J. Adcock

Andre Marriner

After putting Swansea to bed, Stoke arrive in east London in far better shape than they would’ve been had they not secured all three points.

Somewhat belatedly, Mark Hughes’ side are getting their act together and are beginning to climb the table. Not so long ago they were marooned at the bottom with Sunderland but are now five places and two points above the Hammers.

Getting a home win against Chelsea, despite the crowd trouble, was vital for Slaven Bilic and West Ham. They needed an atmosphere that makes the London Stadium feel more like home. And they must follow it up with another three points in this one.

Granted that Stoke won’t necessarily provide opposition that is conducive to raising the decibel level, but a win’s a win however it comes. The Potters have already shown just how easily is to move up the Premier League with a victory or two.

Andre Marriner isn’t a favourite of Hughes or his club but when has the Welshman not fallen out with an official or two?!

The man in the middle has shown his authority throughout this campaign and continues to impress so the Welshman will be hard pressed to point the finger in this one unless it’s blindingly obvious that he has got a decision incorrect.

Andre Marriner – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 8 (5 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 7
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Mike Dean: Bournemouth v Sunderland
Assistants: S. Long and I. Hussin
Fourth official: L. Mason

Mike Dean and team

Did PGMOL keep Mike Dean out of the limelight on purpose? It’s a question worth asking because once again, it wasn’t his abilities on the pitch that were being talked about after the Manchester derby in the EFL Cup, but the very odd behaviour when he sniffed the shirt of his assistant, Ian Hussin, who is in his line up again here.

With absolute respect to both Bournemouth and Sunderland, it’s not quite the glamour fixture that someone of Dean’s experience should be taking charge of. Slapped wrist? Not that it will make a blind bit of difference. Leopards, spots and all that.

Bound to be an interesting game in any event at the Vitality Stadium because Sunderland simply have to win. The same narrative is being written week after week by David Moyes – who couldn’t even remember the official’s name when interviewed after Sunderland’s recent cup defeat at Southampton.

By setting themselves up in an attacking framework, this will play right into Eddie Howe’s hands. Frankly, the Cherries have better players who are in a better place mentally than their counterparts.

Keep your beady eyes on this one for all sorts of reasons….!

Mike Dean – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 9(4 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 2
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 10

Mark Clattenburg: Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

Assistants: J. Collin and S. Bennett
Fourth official: A. Marriner


Mark Clattenburg

The game of the weekend gets exactly the referee the fixture demanded. Europe’s best.

Rarely has a north London derby carried so much significance for both parties. Arsenal can, at the very least, keep pace with Man City if they win too, whilst Spurs can draw level on points with the Gunners if they secure an away victory.

We should see the return of Harry Kane for this game along with Toby Alderweireld, and as such the Lilywhites should be a much more effective force offensively than they have been of late.

For once, Arsenal supporters are behind Arsene Wenger to a man, his side gelling in all areas of the pitch but particularly up front, where they are only second on goals scored overall by a single goal.

Clattenburg can get his pipe, slippers and smoking jacket ready and sit back to enjoy the action with the rest of us. He’ll have no issues with allowing this one to flow, stepping in only when necessary.

If you can’t watch it live, set your recorders – to make sure you get to watch a football and refereeing master class.

Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 7 (5 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Michael Oliver: Liverpool v Watford 

Assistants: S. Burt and A. Nunn
Fourth official: J. Moss

Michael Oliver

Jurgen Klopp will again say it’s far too early to consider his Liverpool side as title contenders, but when you’re playing as good as the Reds are at present, it’s no wonder the Anfield faithful are getting excited.

Just the one loss so far shows that the Merseysiders have learned their lesson from their performance at Burnley and Watford could be lambs to the slaughter here.

The Hornets aren’t playing badly, far from it, and opposition teams are finding them hard to break down, but Klopp’s desire to have his side incessantly press for the ball, keep it when they have it and then strike like a cobra has been shown to be too much for most opponents this season.

At this moment in time, they’re probably the most confident side in the division and have the luxury of already knowing the exact system and way of playing that the manager expects. Manchester City are the Liverpool of a year ago – still getting used to a certain way of working.

Michael Oliver has had a quiet season thus far, steady but not spectacular. He’s a bad omen for Liverpool mind. In three games last season that he oversaw, the Reds didn’t win any. In fact, they were unable to get three points from the previous six that Oliver refereed!

As long as the official keeps things simple in this game, there’ll not be too much to concern himself with. He could probably improve on his positioning if we want to be picky.

Michael Oliver – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 10(5 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 3
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Graham Scott: Hull City v Southampton 

Assistants: P. Kirkup and D. Bryan
Fourth official: M. Jones

Graham Scott

A brave decision to hand Graham Scott just his second EPL fixture of the campaign, but the correct one if PGMOL are intent on promotion of their Championship officials to the top flight.

Mike Jones as fourth official and ‘mentor’ is exactly the right appointment too, so round of applause due.

Correct decision making is crucial for a more regular employ at this level, as is Scott’s command of the game in general.

This game shouldn’t be one to stretch him too much, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be on top of every little thing throughout the ninety minutes.

Furthermore, any sign of weakness will be jumped on straight away by either side. Scott and PGMOL can well do without that.

Graham Scott – all you need to know 

Matches in 2016/17: 2 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 7
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 9

Neil Swarbrick: Swansea City v Manchester United         

Assistants: S. Ledger and M. Wilkes
Fourth official: R. East

Neil Swarbrick

The pressure is on Jose Mourinho after some disappointing performances and results – as it is on Bob Bradley who hasn’t had the start at Swansea he would’ve wanted.

Therefore, we could see quite a fast opening to this game as both sides look to dominate and get a foothold in the match.

On paper, United have far the better side but as Burnley showed – with a lot of luck it must be said – the Red Devils have still got to take their chances when presented with them.

Putting the ball in the back of the net has been a problem for the Swans and they’re amongst the lowest scorers in the division.

Bradley has to contemplate what taking the game to his opponents could mean for Swansea’s hopes of collecting at least a point. Five adrift of fourth from bottom already at start of play, the reality is only a win will do for the hosts.

Neil Swarbrick will enjoy being back in the limelight after a short hiatus. An official who impresses most weeks, he even enjoys the dubious honour of having the Special One come out after a game and praise his handling of a match. For a manager who’ll now be serving a touchline ban, the irony is amusing.

PGMOL really need to be handing this referee a regular fixture week-in and week-out and another top-level performance at the Liberty Stadium should ensure exactly that.

Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know 

Matches in 2016/17: 6 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17:5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 10

Craig Pawson: Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion 


Assistants: S. Child and H. Lennard
Fourth official: M. Atkinson

Craig Pawson

Only two points separate the sides prior to this Midlands derby and after a humbling at home to Manchester City, we can expect that the Baggies will come out all guns blazing at the King Power.

Fixtures such as these will always have cachet in the locale, regardless of position in the league or indeed which division the game is played in. Bragging rights are at stake.

Tony Pulis might not be happy at the choice of official for it was Craig Pawson who caused the West Brom manager to complain to PGMOL 11 months ago because of confusion surrounding a goal he gave for his side at Liverpool, only to rule it out after consultation with his assistant.

The confusion was a result of this assistant not even raising his flag yet the goal being chalked off for offside. Pawson can’t afford a repeat here.

Leicester need to get back on the horse they rode last year. They’re doing so in Europe, why not on these shores?

Craig Pawson – all you need to know 

Matches in 2016/17: 8 (6 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 6
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 9