Runners and Riders

At least the powers that be in PGMOL towers took the sensible decision to rest Roger East this week, although throwing Stuart Attwell in at the Stadium of Light might have a few repercussions.

APPOINTMENTS: Premier League and EFL appointments in full

It always seems to be two steps forward and one back for Mike Riley and co., and you can probably count on the fingers of one hand the amount of weeks in a season where his full complement all gain top marks.

Mike Jones misses out, but Robert Madley – an official that can’t even remember his whistle – gets the nod again!

Let’s take a look at the appointments for week seven of the season….

Mark Clattenburg

Mark Clattenburg: Everton v Crystal Palace
Assistants: S. Bennett and R. West
Fourth official: K. Friend

What a turnaround in fortunes for Palace since Christian Benteke joined the south Londoners.

He was always going to be a hit or miss signing. Give him the correct service and his hefty transfer fee would seem like a bargain. Misuse him as Liverpool did for the most part, and he would be another expensive flop.

Fortunately for Alan Pardew he’s been the former and is certainly the main threat to an Everton side that are playing some fantastic stuff this season.

Any Palace fans making the trip will give Mark Clattenburg some stick, many still feeling aggrieved at his FA Cup final performance.

A free weekend after this one will be just the ticket for an official who has also been on European duty this week.

And there’ll be no hangover from that when it comes to making the right decisions here.

Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 5 (3 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 0
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0


Michael Oliver: Swansea City v Liverpool
Assistants: G. Beswick and A. Nunn
Fourth official: P. Tierney

The Red side of Merseyside have also enjoyed a fabulous start to the campaign and Liverpool’s 16 goals is the most that they’ve ever scored in their opening half dozen games in a season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are a threat from all areas of the pitch and if the Welshmen don’t close down their opponents quick enough there’s every reason to expect a healthy away victory.

Swansea have been unable to impose themselves in matches and with rumours swirling that Francesco Guidolin could be sacked, Swansea could even have a new man in charge before kick off.

Michael Oliver had a fantastic weekend last time out and when he’s on that form, he is up there with the best.

His fitness is obviously the best it’s been for a while and he’ll need to be at it because Liverpool will run him as well as Swansea ragged.

Michael Oliver – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 6 (3 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 2
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0


Anthony Taylor: Hull City v Chelsea
Assistants: J. Collin and I. Hussin
Fourth official: M. Jones

After a promising start to the season, Hull have fallen by the wayside and plummeted down the table. A rudderless ship, the Tigers appear to be lacking direction on and off the pitch.

Although Chelsea have suffered in the last couple of games themselves, they do at least have a coach in Antonio Conte that will get the club back.

We can be assured that Anthony Taylor will be getting it with both barrels from the Chelsea bench if things start to go awry again, but one thing the official is not is a shrinking violet.

He’ll stand his ground against Antonio Conte if necessary and is likely to be kept busy in what will be a physical encounter.

Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 7 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Mike Dean

Mike Dean: Watford v Bournemouth
Assistants: S. Long and D. Cook
Fourth official: G. Scott

Two teams who came up into the top flight the year before last and whose paths have been eerily similar since.

It’s unfair to suggest that either will be happy with a mid-table finish but an improvement year-upon-year would be satisfactory and appease both the money men and supporters.

Watford have already shown that they can score goals – West Ham were taken apart on their own patch and Manchester United succumbed to the Vicarage Road hotbed – and the Hornets will be looking to sting the south coast side too.

Mike Dean’s profile continues to author the perception of him. He, perhaps unwittingly, has allowed this ‘showbiz’ persona to come to the fore which actually takes away from him being the pretty decent referee that he is.

A seemingly constant need for the limelight detracting from his excellence if you will.

Just watch the way he will take this one by the scruff of the neck, and then suggest that he’s not quite up to it…

Mike Dean – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 6 (3 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0


Neil Swarbrick: West Ham United v Middlesbrough
Assistants: D. Cann and M. Wilkes
Fourth official: A. Marriner

The Hammers have suffered from injuries to key players and as they come back, there’s every chance that they’ll start to climb the table again. But the plain fact of the matter is that those players already in situ have done nothing to impress this season.

This will be a game where the pressure will very definitely be on the hosts from the first whistle.

Alvaro Negredo has been a thorn in the side of West Ham once before and given that the hosts have been poor at defending the high ball into the box all season long, expect the Spaniard to profit again.

Neil Swarbrick is already in Boro’s bad books after denying them all three penalty shouts against Crystal Palace a couple of weeks ago.

If they were out of luck on that occasion, West Ham have had none since taking up their tenure at their new home.

Anyone in claret and blue will be hoping to get the rub of the green from a sensible, calm and collected official.

Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 4 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 3
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 6


Stuart Attwell: Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion
Assistants: S. Burt and D. Bryan
Fourth official: M. Atkinson

It could be a very long afternoon in the north east, make sure you bring your sleeping bags.

For those connoisseurs who like their football played the right way, this is not the game for you.

With the greatest of respect, this will be a real battle of Britain type 90 minutes with no quarter asked or given from either side. However, moments of great skill or those that are aesthetically pleasing will be in very short supply.

Perhaps that’s what’s required sometimes, a good old scrap where your XI dig in and gives everything for the cause. Not pretty or entertaining necessarily, but this is a results business and there’s more than one way to win football matches.

The pressure is already mounting on David Moyes whose side are three points from safety after six games and have only scored five goals in that time. Hardly the type of impact Sunderland would’ve expected from a new manager.

Tony Pulis can point to a stunning victory over West Ham as a guide to just how well his West Brom side can play when on song, but he can’t surely expect the same here.

Stuart Attwell continues to suffer in the elite group. He just isn’t employed enough in the top flight by PGMOL and it leads to nervousness amongst players and managers. Is he really up to it and if so, why isn’t he getting more games?

He’ll need to be on his best form for this match for he can well do without any game-changing decisions being his fault.

The same would blow his brittle confidence out of the water.

Stuart Attwell – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 2 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 5

Bobby Madley

Robert Madley: Manchester United v Stoke City
Assistants: M. Perry and E. Smart
Fourth official: M. Jones

This is one trip back to Old Trafford that Mark Hughes will almost certainly not enjoy.

Second from bottom with no wins and only West Ham having let in more goals than the Potters, the last thing Hughes and Stoke needed was to be up against a United side that have hit their stride.

The Red Devils first-half performance against Leicester last time out was scintillating and if they come anywhere close to replicating that, the game will again be over before half time.

As long as Robert Madley has his whistle, we’ll get a game on here and it’s one that the official should enjoy.

Although still green in terms of top-flight experience, he continues to learn all the time and take on board new instruction and interpretation with ease.

Makes the job look simple when on his game and Stoke will be relying on that here.

Robert Madley – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 5 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 4
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0


Andre Marriner: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
Assistants: S. Beck and A. Garrett
Fourth official: J. Moss

Game of the season so far in prospect.

The only two unbeaten sides in the Premier League face off and if things go the way of City and elsewhere, Pep Guardiola could be looking at a minimum five-point lead in the league at the conclusion of proceedings.

From what we’ve seen already, City are rejuvenated under the Catalan and are playing their best football for years.

Ditto Tottenham, which is why it makes this such an intoxicating fixture. The table-toppers have passed every test set them so far with aplomb, but they’ve not come up against a side that will match them in every department.

Although the season is still young, there is enough in Mauricio Pochettino’s side to note that they’ll be there or thereabouts at the business end of the season again.

Andre Marriner likes to talk to players and whilst not being friendly as such, will treat the 22 as adults, and that’s appreciated and goes a long way to allowing games like this to breathe.

Both managers should be happy with the appointment and it gives Marriner a chance to prove once again that he can mix it at the top table.

Andre Marriner – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 5 (3 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 4
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Martin Atkinson

Martin Atkinson: Leicester City v Southampton
Assistants: S. Child and P. Kirkup
Fourth official: R. East

Hard to believe that Leicester have already lost as many games this season as they did in the whole of the last campaign.

Even taking into account Claudio Ranieri’s stance that things would be very much different in 2016/17, the Italian surely couldn’t have expected that it would happen so quickly.

The Foxes are a shadow of their former selves, confidence shattered. That said, they sit in a reasonably healthy mid-table berth and at least have the Champions League to take their minds off of Premier League drudgery.

Southampton were looking ragged and disjointed but a stunning win at West Ham will have given them confidence.

Martin Atkinson continues to enjoy the fruits of his exemplary labour, and although this game could be perceived as a slightly less higher profile game than some, the official will give it his fullest attention.

A solid pro, if we don’t see or hear him much in this game, we’ll know he is continuing where he left off…

Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 6 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 2
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0


Craig Pawson: Burnley v Arsenal
Assistants: A. Holmes and S. Ledger
Fourth official: L. Mason

With less than half a dozen goals scored this season, it’s obvious where the problem lies for Sean Dyche and his Burnley team.

The limitations of the Clarets can be overlooked if they would just put the ball in the onion bag.

Contrast that with their visitors who’ve score five times as many in the same time frame.

After a solid 3-0 victory over Chelsea, Arsene Wenger’s side are purring and maybe, just maybe if they can hold their nerve this time, they will be in with a genuine chance of silverware.

Craig Pawson has fallen foul of both Arsene Wenger and Sean Dyche in the past and his arrival in the north won’t be universally welcomed by the locals.

Very definitely a game to keep his head down, a low profile, get the big decisions correct and then move on. Could be an uncomfortable 90 minutes for Pawson and his group otherwise.

Craig Pawson – all you need to know
Matches in 2016/17: 6 (4 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0