Back to a full calendar this week, before we break for the internationals.

No news is good news it seems as the four top flight games that took place this past weekend had no real flash points to be concerned about.

If the officials can get it right again then we have the potential of three full weeks without incident. When was the last time that happened?!

Let’s take a look at who is where on week 29 of the campaign…

Neil SwarbrickNeil Swarbrick

West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal
12.30 – 18/3

Assistants: S. Ledger and C. Hatzidakis
Fourth official: K. Friend

This isn’t really a game that Arsene Wenger would want on the back of protests to oust him from his position.

[quote_box_right]Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 17 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 18
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 4[/quote_box_right]

West Brom can be an unforgiving bunch and with genuine European aspirations of their own, Tony Pulis’ side are unlikely to offer much in the way of tea and sympathy.

It’s a game that the Gunners simply have to win because Manchester United are breathing down their necks having played the same amount of games.

Finishing the season as low as sixth won’t ever have been contemplated by the north London faithful but unless a run of wins are put together, it’s a distinct possibility.

Pulis will love having Neil Swarbrick in the middle. The referee that made such a poor error in a West Brom game that the manager suggested in light of it that there needed to be a referral system for officials.

Good luck!

Martin Atkinson

Martin Atkinson

Crystal Palace v Watford
15.00 – 18/3

Assistants: J. Collin and G. Beswick
Fourth official: K. Stroud

Expect an old-fashioned London derby at Selhurst Park.

Though Watford aren’t an ‘up and at em’ type of outfit, the Hornets could still be sucked into the relegation battle if they’re not careful.

[quote_box_right]Martin Atkinson – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 22 (9 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 7
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

A win here pushes them into mid-table and leaves Sam Allardyce’s Palace side looking desperately at the fixture list to see where more points can be gained.

With five teams at the bottom within five points of each other, a victory for the Eagles at this stage will be welcomed.

Martin Atkinson has often come under fire when Allardyce has been one of the manager’s in charge at a game and there’s no love lost between the pair.

Perhaps a truce of sorts will be required here to let the official go about his work without undue pressure from the sidelines.

After all, a top class refereeing performance – of which Atkinson is more than capable – will be of benefit to the hosts here.

Paul Tierney

Paul Tierney

Everton v Hull City
15.00 – 18/3

Assistants: H. Lennard and M. McDonough
Fourth official: C. Pawson

A massive win against Swansea last time out will have given Hull a boost that they needed just at the right time.

[quote_box_right]Paul Tierney – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 8 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 17
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 9[/quote_box_right]

Their problem has been – both under Mike Phelan and Marco Silva – consistency.

Everton haven’t really set the EPL alight in that regard either, and arguably their squad should be performing much better.

Ronald Koeman hasn’t really been talked up as a candidate to be the new Barcelona manager and with average results at best, you can see why.

Win, lose or draw, they’ll stay at least in seventh but perhaps a complacency will let in the visitors for their second shock in a week.

Paul Tierney could well reach double figures for EPL appointments by the end of the season.

This is his eighth game and it evidences once again a growing appreciation of his work from his superiors.

He has been a real success story in 2017/18 and PGMOL must be commended for their continued support of the official.

anthony-taylor-2Anthony Taylor

Stoke City v Chelsea
15.00 – 18/3

Assistants: A. Nunn and R. West
Fourth official: L. Probert

Mark Hughes heads back to his old hunting ground, eight paces and 30 points behind the Champions elect.

You’d be hard pressed to imagine Chelsea would throw away the title from the position they find themselves in at start of play, and given how easily second-place Tottenham carved them apart, the Potters could be in for another pounding in the capital.

[quote_box_right]Anthony Taylor – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 23 (8 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 8
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

Their problem has been scoring goals – they’re the sixth lowest scorers in the division and four of the other five are in the bottom six places in the league.

Antonio Conte’s side, as well as having the joint meanest defence, are also the second highest scorers behind Liverpool.

Anthony Taylor seems to be given a Stoke game on a monthly basis – much to the chagrin of the Potters.

Twice already this season they have complained about Taylor’s handling of a game, the most recent just before Christmas.

In a game that’s likely to be one way traffic, there’s every reason to believe Hughes condemnation of the official will ensure a hat-trick of complaints in 2016/17 won’t be too long in coming.

Robert MadleyRobert Madley

Sunderland v Burnley
15.00 – 18/3

Assistants: P. Kirkup and M. Perry
Fourth official: M. Jones

This game evidences just what a great job Sean Dyche continues to do at Burnley.

With absolute respect to the Clarets, there wouldn’t have been much surprise if they were down in the lower reaches, battling for their Premier League survival.

[quote_box_right]Robert Madley – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 21 (8 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 10
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

What Dyche has successfully managed to achieve is a sound balance in his XI. Players who have grit and determination mixed with those who are match winners.

Those teams at the top end of the table haven’t had it all their own way against them, that’s for sure.

Sunderland have looked a championship team from the first whistle of the season and this relegation – because they’ll not stay up now – could spell a long period in the Championship wilderness for them.

For such a big club, it’s a great shame but when you have a manager who comes in and almost the first words out of his mouth are along the lines of it will be tough to stay up, what does that tell you about the mindset at the Stadium of Light?

Talking of being in the right frame of mind, Robert Madley will be a decent pick for this one.

A sensible official that isn’t given to knee-jerk decisions and who will be an oasis of calm in otherwise shark-infested waters.

Over his little blip earlier in the campaign, this should be meat and drink for Madley.

Roger EastRoger East

West Ham United v Leicester City
15.00 – 18/3

Assistants: D. Cann and M. Scholes
Fourth official: A. Marriner

What a turnaround it’s been for Leicester since the club dispensed with Claudio Ranieri’s services.

Two league wins with three goals in both is probably in spite of the Italian not because of him.

[quote_box_right]Roger East – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 7 (1 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 19
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 11[/quote_box_right]

It’s highly unlikely Craig Shakespeare will get the managers role full-time, but if he can continue the way he’s begun, then it may not be beyond the realms of possibility.

They play a West Ham side that are still looking for their mojo – in mid-March. Nothing really has been quite the same for the Hammers since they left Upton Park.

Though there’s no suggestion that Slaven Bilic will be given the old heave-ho, another defeat here doesn’t strengthen his candidacy.

He’ll not be at all happy that Roger East has been handed just his seventh game of the season.

One of the most underused officials for a reason, this will not be a game for East to produce a trademark under par performance.

He hasn’t taken charge of a West Ham game at all this season and his sole Leicester fixture was back in August.

An accident waiting to happen.

Mike DeanMike Dean

Bournemouth v Swansea City
17.30 – 18/3

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

A super win for Bournemouth against West Ham gave them the three points to take them above their visitors who they were previously on the same points as.

Another home win here and the Cherries can breathe easier with nine games left of their season to go.

[quote_box_right]Mike Dean – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 21 (11 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 9
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2[/quote_box_right]

Paul Clement has done a sterling job in turning around the Swans who looked dead and buried before he took over.

Still just three points above relegation, a big performance is required from the Welshmen.

Clement has already lambasted Mike Dean just six weeks ago so it’s unlikely he will be happy at seeing the same official in charge of one of the most crucial games of the season.

Eddie Howe has also been disappointed with the referee in the past but to Dean’s credit, he’s not frightened of making the big calls and standing by his decisions.

In this sort of game, that’s exactly the attitude required.

Jonathan MossJonathan Moss

Middlesbrough v Manchester United
12.00 – 19/3

Assistants: S. Bennett and E. Smart
Fourth official: R. Madley

This was going to be a game between the master and servant; Jose Mourinho and Aitor Karanka.

However, Karanka’s sudden departure from Boro doesn’t afford us that possibility. The Teesiders haven’t really played poorly in a lot of games but a lack of cutting edge has been crucial when looking to close out games.

[quote_box_right]Jonathan Moss – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 20 (8 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 14
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2[/quote_box_right]

The timing of the announcement is interesting, 10 games perhaps just enough for a new man to get the hosts out of trouble.

United for their part have been stuck in sixth position for months now so this game represents an opportunity to really put the pressure on the teams just above them.

Putting Jonathan Moss in front of the TV cameras for all to see is a huge risk for PGMOL to take. Their stance is commendable but Jose Mourinho will already have prepared his post-match speech before the game has taken place.

He’ll have some idea that Moss will play a part in the outcome of this one but given the ban he received for taking him to task earlier in the season, it’s debatable just how far the Portuguese will go in his critique. Peer at this horror show through your fingers.

andre-marrinerAndre Marriner

Tottenham Hotpsur v Southampton
14.15 – 19/3

Assistants: S. Beck and A. Garratt
Fourth official: K. Friend

Losing Harry Kane in an FA Cup tie that Spurs were always going to win against Millwall was a bitter blow. Losing him for the season is massive.

[quote_box_right]Andre Marriner – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 21 (12 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 16
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 1[/quote_box_right]

Though one man doesn’t make a team and Tottenham are very much more than Kane, his omission could upset the equilibrium to the extent that second place might just be out of reach come May.

Southampton have shown time and again this season that they are an emerging force to be reckoned with and Claude Puel’s tactical battle against Mauricio Pochettino will be just as interesting as the on-pitch fare.

Andre Marriner will have the backing of the Saints for this fixture after seeing the excellence of the official at close quarters in the League Cup Final just a few weeks ago.

On that occasion, there really wasn’t a single issue with his performance.

Mauricio Pochettino should be similarly happy after backing the official in Spurs’ game against Manchester City in January. Marriner waved away two strong penalty appeals and the Lilywhites ended up drawing the game.

Win, win here.

Michael Oliver

Michael Oliver

Manchester City v Liverpool
16.30 – 19/3

Assistants: S. Burt and S. Child
Fourth official: C. Pawson

In pure footballing terms, this could be the match of the season.

Both managers love to play exciting, expansive games and will be at it from the get-go.

[quote_box_right]Michael Oliver – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 23 (15 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 7
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

There’s no doubting that City have the brighter forward line and Liverpool have conceded some comical goals this season.

However, when Jurgen Klopp’s side have been up against those in the top six, it’s invariably been the Reds that have come out on top.

The likelihood of a hundred miles an hour epic encounter is high. Sit back, relax, enjoy.

Something that Michael Oliver would probably love to do after three games in six days – at Chelsea for the Manchester United fixture, then in Turkey for the Europa League and off to Manchester just three days later.

Flights, extensive travel, not a lot of downtime…

No doubting Oliver’s pedigree for these types of matches, but against that backdrop, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that there is some lethargy to his performance.

As a side note, Liverpool have won four, drawn one and lost one this season when Oliver has been in charge. Sorry Pep!