Runners and Riders: Premier League officials | Week 37

Runners and Riders: Premier League officials | Week 37

    Author: Jason Pettigrove

    In order that the fixtures on the final matchday of the season can all be played at the same date and time, the penultimate week is spread across 15 games (two of which are not listed here) and six days. A veritable feast for the armchair fan awaits!

    PGMOL have therefore had to dig deep into their reserves of staff but it still doesn’t account for the couple of howlers they’ve made in terms of appointments.

    Why are we surprised?! The sooner that 2016/17 is over, the better for all concerned. Both the referees themselves and PGMOL as an organisation will have plenty of time in the summer to reflect on what has been a poor campaign by and large.

    Let’s see if they’ll have a last hurrah on week 37…

    Kevin FriendKevin Friend

    Everton v Watford
    12/05 – 19.45

    Assistants: H. Lennard and D. Eaton
    Fourth official: M. Dean

    A Friday night game under the lights at Goodison Park, but a match where the hosts have nothing but pride to play for, and the visitors have Premier League position – and therefore extra money in the pot – to worry about.

    Kevin Friend – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 20 (2 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 22
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 3

    Bizarrely, Watford could find themselves in 16th place with a defeat or as high as 10th with a victory. That’s worth a few million quid at the end of the campaign so it would be a surprise to see the Hornets come out with anything other than the bit between their teeth.

    Kevin Friend was something of a nemesis for Ronald Koeman when the latter was at Southampton and it will be worth keeping an eye on how the Dutchman in particular perceives Friend’s application of the laws.

    Back in August, a flurry of unnecessary bookings for Watford from Friend left him in their bad books too.

    Who’s he going to upset this time?

    Michael OliverMichael Oliver

    West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea
    12/05 – 20.00

    Assistants: J. Collin and C. Hatzidakis
    Fourth official: S. Attwell

    The game where the title could be won and no one would begrudge Chelsea on this occasion.

    Highest scorers in the division, second lowest in terms of conceding, a manager who is more concerned with making his player’s the special one’s rather than himself…what’s not to love.

    Michael Oliver – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 30 (19 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 8
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Antonio Conte and his side have been a breath of fresh air.

    But how Tony Pulis would love to be a party pooper, just as he was when Crystal Palace manager and Liverpool could only manage a 3-3 draw at Selhurst Park (despite being 3-0 up with 11 mins left), ironically handing the title to Chelsea on that occasion.

    The Baggies won’t climb any higher than eighth but a win would at least consolidate their position and ensure that any title shenanigans have to wait for a little longer.

    Michael Oliver is the most used official in the Premier League this season, hinting at just how well thought of he is by PGMOL.

    Conte is sure to be in forgiving mood if the man in black has an off day – which is unlikely – but Pulis won’t put up with anything less than an A1 display.

    With both managers as passionate as the other on the sidelines, Stuart Attwell could have his hands full too.

    Robert MadleyRobert Madley

    Manchester City v Leicester City
    13/05 – 12.30

    Assistants: P. Kirkup and A. Holmes
    Fourth official: P. Tierney

    Since Claudio Ranieri’s services were dispensed with, Leicester have bounced back from the abyss and are one of the form teams at this point in the season.

    Robert Madley – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 28 (12 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 14
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Just a few short weeks ago, the Foxes were staring a relegation dog fight in the face but are up to ninth and could finish the season as high as eighth.

    The best Pep Guardiola’s Man City side can hope for is a third-place finish, and with a game in hand over current bronze medal placed Liverpool, every point counts.

    As such, expect to see a rip-roaring game of football with a cup-tie feel, which can only be enhanced by Robert Madley.

    Though there are one or two areas that the official needs to improve upon, this is the type of game that referees love and should be able to officiate with ease.

    Madley benefits from the fact that only a late penalty award for Tottenham against Leicester is something that can be pinned on him by either side.

    Other than that, his track record when overseeing these clubs is flawless.

    Long may that continued.

    Lee Probert

    Lee Probert

    Bournemouth v Burnley
    13/05 – 15.00

    Assistants: M. McDonough and S. Massey-Ellis
    Fourth official: R. East

    Here’s where it starts to go awry for PGMOL.

    This fixture represents only the third of the season for Lee Probert since his return from a long-term injury.

    Lee Probert – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 3 (0 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 7
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Whilst no one is questioning his judgment, this page has questioned the wisdom before now of bringing him back at the tail end of the season when pressure is at his highest.

    Forget the fact that no promotion or relegation issues will be decided in this game – there are still much-needed points at stake.

    It’s baffling why Probert wasn’t given a slightly longer sabbatical in order to come back fully refreshed in 2017/18.

    He’ll need to be on his mettle too because with Roger East on fourth official duties, he’ll not get the backing he requires on the contentious decisions.

    Sorry, but this is a recipe for disaster. A Molotov cocktail waiting to happen.

    Anthony TaylorAnthony Taylor

    Middlesbrough v Southampton
    13/05 – 15.00

    Assistants: G. Beswick and M. Perry
    Fourth official: M. Jones

    It’s a shame for such a well run, respected and family friendly club as Middlesbrough to be contemplating life in the Championship again, but after the Chelsea game the players were right in there assertion that they haven’t been good enough across the season, to keep their place in the top flight.

    Anthony Taylor – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 29 (13 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 13
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Aitor Karanka left at just the right time it seems. Reputation still intact, and with the team not yet gone and forgotten. Now, with relegation already confirmed before kick-off, we are likely to see the hosts back to their swashbuckling best, free of the shackles that have inhibited their play over the last few weeks.

    One of Southampton’s longest journeys north is set to cause them real problems, for they’ve not really travelled too well under Claude Puel. A 4-0 bashing of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light is their one glimmer from all of their games north of the Midlands.

    Anthony Taylor is looking as ready as it’s possible to be for an expected FA Cup Final appearance, and the only thing he needs to concern himself with is not letting his focus shift onto that. Nerves won’t get the better of him but he must be fully concentrated in these final EPL matches.

    Andre Marriner

    Andre Marriner

    Sunderland v Swansea City
    13/05 – 15.00

    Assistants: S. Beck and S. Ledger
    Fourth official: C. Pawson

    One of the games of the weekend at Sunderland with Swansea hanging on for dear life to Premier League safety.

    A win against Everton has taken them out of the bottom three and another three points on Wearside will mean that the Swans have their destiny in their own hands come the final day of the season.

    Andre Marriner – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 27 (15 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 22
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 1

    The Black Cats showed with their win against Hull that they might be dead and buried but they can still inflict the harshest of wounds if needed.

    Andre Marriner will certainly have his work cut out but as one of the most regularly employed of the elite group, there shouldn’t be any problems as far as his work is concerned.

    He’s something of a bogey referee for the hosts, Sunderland only have a 22% win percentage from all of the games that Marriner has overseen.

    Paul Clement prefers to deal in cold, hard facts, rather than superstition, but it’ll be hard for Sunderland, especially if the Swans are allowed to fly high in the first period.

    Mike DeanMike Dean

    Stoke City v Arsenal
    13/05 – 17.30

    Assistants: S. Long and I. Hussin
    Fourth official: G. Scott

    After a stunning win over Manchester United, Stoke is probably the last place that Arsene Wenger wanted to play next. Why? Because the Potters have become a real thorn in the side of the Gunners over the last few years.

    Mike Dean – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 28 (11 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 12
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2

    If the north Londoners can sneak into fourth spot again, and win the FA Cup to boot, the dissenters may just go quiet again, but if they produce another sub-standard effort, the players will certainly feel their wrath.

    Mark Hughes says of referee Mike Dean that “he loves to be the centre of attention.” Given that this one is live on television, will the Welshman’s prophecy come true?

    Hughes’ continuous, and nauseating rants about the officials might just be so focus is deflected away from how much his own side have underperformed this season…For once, he’ll find a kindred spirit in Wenger who has no time for this particular official either.

    Even though he always rules with a smile on his face, Dean is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea. But if he gets the big decisions right, as he will do here, does his demeanour really matter?

    Martin AtkinsonMartin Atkinson

    Crystal Palace v Hull City
    14/05 – 12.00

    Assistants: S. Burt and A. Nunn
    Fourth official: K. Friend

    Selhurst Park will be one of the places to be this weekend as the hosts go seeking the win that will make them mathematically safe whilst their visitors go for three points to get to within a point of Sam Allardyce’s side.

    Martin Atkinson – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 26 (11 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 10
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Were the Tigers to emerge victorious, nails will be bitten down throughout the week in the lead up to the final day, where the Eagles will still require a win to be absolutely certain of Premier League football next season. The pressure of both teams and managers will be immense, and the old ground will ensure that there’s an atmosphere that reflects the importance of the fixture.

    With fire and brimstone expected throughout, Martin Atkinson is a sound choice in the middle. He showed how well he can marshall the biggest games with his recent expert handling of Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final first leg against neighbours Atletico.

    That no one was talking about his performance in derogatory terms after that match said everything.
    With respect, the pressure on his shoulders at the cauldron that is the Santiago Bernabeu, especially for a Madrid derby and with a European final at stake, will have far exceeded what he might expect in south London.

    If there are any talking points, they won’t be because of Atkinson’s decision making.

    Neil SwarbrickNeil Swarbrick

    West Ham United v Liverpool
    14/05 – 14.15

    Assistants: D. Cann and M. Scholes
    Fourth official: R. East

    The final home game of an awful opening campaign at the London Stadium, called the ‘worst football ground in the world’ by some! What a way to finish though, against a Liverpool side who’ll come to play a high-octane brand of football and to take the game to the hosts.

    Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 22 (4 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 20
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 4

    The Reds need to get maximum points in their final two games to be in with any chance of finishing in the third automatic qualifying spot for the Champions League, but a fourth place finish would be far from shabby. As long as the German is allowed to continue building, then the Merseysiders will remain on their upward trajectory.

    Neil Swarbrick might have Klopp’s in-his-face tirade in his mind when he takes charge here.
    It came when Swarbrick was fourth official for a game against Chelsea and the Liverpool manager’s actions were branded as unacceptable.

    As long as there are no more touchline issues to deal with – because Roger East is unlikely to be of any assistance in that regard – then the likelihood is that Swarbrick will breeze through this.

    Jonathan MossJonathan Moss

    Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
    14/05 – 16.30

    Assistants: E. Smart and A. Halliday
    Fourth official: L. Mason

    Strong and stable leadership aren’t words that are readily associated with Jon Moss, so why on earth he’s been handed this game, and on TV to boot, is a mystery.

    Jonathan Moss – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 27 (11 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 16
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2

    Spurs’ title challenge may well be moribund by the time this one kick’s off, but it is the last game at the old White Hart Lane so we can expect a rollercoaster of emotions in the stands and on the pitch.

    United were the visitors to Upton Park for West Ham’s last game there at the end of 2015/16, and they’ll want to go one better and not be overawed again by the sense of occasion.

    With fourth place still not out of reach, Jose Mourinho’s side will be well up for a game that promises to have everything from beginning to end.

    I’m not sure that Moss is the right person to handle all that this match entails.

    Lee Mason

    Chelsea v Watford
    15/05 – 20.00

    Assistants: H. Lennard and D. Eaton
    Fourth official: M. Jones

    If they’ve not already won the title by this game, Chelsea can do so in front of their own fans here. Either way, a party atmosphere is guaranteed in west London.

    Lee Mason – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 19 (2 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 21
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 1

    If there’s anything that Lee Mason will need to look out for, it’s likely to be over-exuberance from hosts whose adrenalin will be pumping hard even before kick-off. Being a London derby, Watford certainly won’t want to be disgraced. It’s hard to imagine that this will end up as anything other than a home win however.

    The Premier League trophy won’t get presented at the end of the game as Sunderland are still to visit but a win here and another against the Black Cats would be a fine way to end the campaign.

    Mason has needed to work on his positioning often during this season, and it’s worth keeping an eye out to see how well he does in that regard here.

    Roger EastRoger East

    Arsenal v Sunderland
    16/05 – 19.45

    Assistants: P. Kirkup and M. Wilkes
    Fourth official: L. Probert

    Roger East and Lee Probert swap places after their work at the Bournemouth v Burnley game.

    Roger East – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 11 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 26
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 11

    Just East’s 11th top flight appointment of 2016/17, he has the perfect opportunity to silence all of the naysayers with his best performance of the season here. He needs a big 90 minutes because his grip on the Premier League is slipping. His ususal lily-livered decision making will almost certainly see a permanent demotion to the Championship next season.

    Sunderland supporters won’t need reminding that it was East who mistakenly sent off Wes Brown rather than John O’Shea a couple of years ago – one of the main reasons the official has been kept away from Black Cats games since.

    Depending on Arsenal’s result at Stoke, this game could have a lot riding on it. Good luck Mr. East…you’ll need it if you don’t want your career to head west.

    Craig Pawson

    Craig Pawson

    Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion
    16/05 – 20.00

    Assistants: S. Ledger and R. West
    Fourth official: J. Moss

    Wrapping up the penultimate week is a clash of styles at the Etihad Stadium. Another home game for City to hammer home their advantage in the race for the European places, but WBA will prove the toughest of opponents to break down.

    Craig Pawson – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 24 (14 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 18
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2

    Just a few weeks ago, when Liverpool were in town, Craig Pawson was the fourth official and Pep Guardiola gave him a piece of his mind on more than one occasion. Though his ire predominantly related to Michael Oliver’s handling of the match in question, Pawson can’t fail to have been affected by what was a persistent diatribe.

    Jon Moss could be the lucky recipient this time, with Pawson out in the middle here.Tony Pulis complained to PGMOL back in 2015 over Pawson’s decision to award his side a goal and then chalk it off after speaking with his assistant…who had failed to raise his flag for any infringement. When he’s good, Pawson is very good, but when he’s having an off day…