Here we are with six matchdays left to play and PGMOL have given an official his maiden outing in the top flight.

It almost beggars belief.

Whilst we at YATR wish Chris Kavanagh every success and congratulate him on his appointment, surely he needed to be either brought into the fray much earlier or left until the start of the new campaign?

There’s also an interesting mix this week including a tweedledee and tweedledum pairing in a must win game for both sides. No Mark Clattenburg again. Plainly obvious that ‘working his notice’ was never going to work.

Let’s take a look at who is where on week 32 of the campaign…

Anthony TaylorAnthony Taylor

Tottenham Hotspur v Watford
08/04 – 12.30

Assistants: S. Bennett and H. Lennard
Fourth official: L. Mason

There was a time when Arsenal fans would enjoy the annual ‘St. Totteringham’s Day,’ a time in the season when the Gunners have amassed enough points to be mathematically assured of finishing above their north London rivals.

[quote_box_right]Anthony Taylor – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 25 (10 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 9
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

Only just missing out on the title to Leicester last season and in pole position for the runner-up spot again whilst the Gunners languish way back, it’s fair to say that the pendulum has swung.

Against Watford, this is another fixture that will enthuse Mauricio Pochettino. Spurs have been sensational all season but against teams that come to play football – as Watford will – the Argentine has the formula for picking them off with ease.

Walter Mazzarri is another who likes to see his teams play a continental style and though he’s been nowhere near as successful as his contemporary, he should be lauded for the way the Hornets have played during his tenure.

Anthony Taylor will enjoy this one as much as the rest of us. Experienced enough to know when to have a quiet word or otherwise, the official will let this one flow as much as possible.

Both teams enjoy a counter attack or two, so the only thing Taylor needs to concern himself with is his fitness levels for the entire ninety minutes and his positioning if he’s unable to keep up with play.

Jonathan MossJonathan Moss

Manchester City v Hull City
08/04 – 15.00

Assistants: E. Smart and A. Halliday
Fourth official: M. Jones

For East, read Moss.

Wins required for both sides and as we’ll probably find in most games until the end of the season, results will affect both ends of the table.

[quote_box_right]Jonathan Moss – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 23 (9 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 14
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2[/quote_box_right]

Hull’s Premier League fate won’t be known for a few games yet but, thankfully, they’ve still got a small grace period because of just how congested things are at the bottom.

City are in the top four on merit and their only concern is how high they will finish, determining whether they’ll go straight into next season’s Champions League proper or if there’ll be a need to qualify.

Neither will be happy with Tweedledee (Moss) and Tweedledum (Jones) on duty here though.

Not just one, but a pair of referees who are largely responsible for some of the worst decisions in the EPL over the past couple of seasons.

God help them.

Martin Atkinson

Martin Atkinson

Middlesbrough v Burnley
08/04 – 15.00

Assistants: S. Child and D. Bryan
Fourth official: P. Tierney

More bad news for Boro comes in the shape of Martin Atkinson being given the gig at the Riverside.

On the six previous occasions that this official has been in charge of a match involving the Clarets, Sean Dyche’s side are unbeaten.

[quote_box_right]Martin Atkinson – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 24 (9 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 8
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

Just two wins in all competitions in their last 12 is hardly the form required to drag the hosts out of their current predicament, but they aren’t cut adrift just yet.

A situation that is difficult but not impossible. Though it will be all the harder if Burnley’s good luck charm strikes again.
At one stage, the visitors were flying high in the division but they too have tailed off form-wise. Just keeping their heads above water at the moment, they’ll be well aware of how important the three points will be for their cause.

Atkinson is a good choice here as there are sure to be a few flashpoints, especially nearer the end of proceedings when tired legs and minds can become an issue.

Nothing to suggest the official won’t provide anything other than a high quality of performance here.

Mike Dean

Stoke City v Liverpool
08/04 – 15.00

Assistants: S. Long and D. Cann
Fourth official: J. Simpson

Mike Dean leans towards controversial opinions because he loves the limelight.

Mark Hughes’ opinion, not mine, but that’s the start point the official will be working from as he takes to the field at the Britannia Stadium.

[quote_box_right]Mike Dean – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 24 (11 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 9
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2[/quote_box_right]

That and the fact that Dean is from the Wirral, fanning the flames of the conspiracy theorists.

Controversial he may be, but one thing you can guarantee with Dean is that he gets the majority of the big decisions right.

And managers don’t like it one bit! Least of all Hughes who is falling out with them on an almost weekly basis now.

Having scored almost double the amount of goals that their hosts have, Liverpool come into town with a swagger.

Jurgen Klopp will be keen to keep putting pressure on Tottenham in second, as he looks to ensure his six-year plan for the club is on track.

Chris Kavanagh

West Bromwich Albion v Southampton
08/04 – 15.00

Assistants: P. Kirkup and A. Nunn
Fourth official: B. Madley

This, I’m afraid, is PGMOL’s biggest mistake this week, and I say that with maximum respect to Chris Kavanagh.

I’m not suggesting that he isn’t up to the task but to thrown him in for his opening appointment where there are just over half a dozen games to go in the season is a recipe for disaster.

[quote_box_right]Chris Kavanagh – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 1 (0 on TV)

Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 4
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 22[/quote_box_right]

Looking at the table, there’s a school of thought that it’s ‘just a mid-table clash with nothing at stake’ but try telling that to Tony Pulis and his team. The Baggies remain just a couple of wins away from the European places and will be going hell for leather in every game until the Europa League is an impossibility for them.

Just look at the way they performed at Old Trafford by way of example.

What Kavanagh perhaps has in his favour is that he’s a relative unknown and therefore, both players and managers can’t have built up too much of a profile on him; what he lets go, how decisive is he in the big moments etc…

Probably best to reserve judgment at this juncture and wish him well.


Kevin FriendKevin Friend

West Ham United v Swansea City
08/04 – 15.00

Assistants: A. Garratt and D. Eaton
Fourth official: S. Hooper

Depending how the midweek fixtures have panned out, West Ham could, theoretically, find themselves right in amongst the relegation battlers at close of play here.

[quote_box_right]Kevin Friend – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 18 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 18
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 3[/quote_box_right]

What’s worrying for the Hammers is that no matter how hard they’re trying now, nothing is working. Frankly, they look every inch a bottom three side and they need to arrest the slide quickly.

It was Crystal Palace that went through something similar last season and they couldn’t buy a win. Had the campaign been 2-3 games longer, the trap door would’ve opened.

Swansea know that Hull are coming up on the rails in terms of their form and Palace are grabbing victories at just the right time.

It’s sure to be a tasty affair with the London Stadium filled to the rafters with patrons expecting a big home win to take the pressure off.

Kevin Friend needs to allow the game to settle before making judgment on tackles in the opening stages of the game, unless they’re a blatant attempt to injure an opponent.

In a match where full-bloodied contact is to be expected, Friend and his team have to have their finger on the pulse. He, as much as any player, can make this a real spectacle.

Andre Marriner

Andre Marriner

Bournemouth v Chelsea
08/04 – 17.30

Assistants: S. Beck and S. Ledger
Fourth official: G. Scott

Oddly enough, both teams were unhappy with Andre Marriner for decisions he made in their games against Swansea earlier in the campaign, both of which finished in 2-2 draws.

[quote_box_right]Andre Marriner – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 23 (14 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 18
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 1[/quote_box_right]

Bournemouth squandered a two-goal lead and Eddie Howe suggested that the official had treated his team harshly.

Chelsea felt hard done by because of a free-kick decision that wasn’t made, leading to a Leroy Fer goal. YATR’s Mark Halsey called it a ‘game changer.’

Though it was a surprise to see the Blues downed by Palace, Antonio Conte would’ve been well pleased with his side’s work-rate. Try as they might, and boy did they try, Chelsea just couldn’t break down a stubborn rearguard.

Bournemouth’s best method of defence is attack but that could mean they are picked off with ease here.

Craig Pawson

Craig Pawson

Sunderland v Manchester United
09/04 – 13.30

Assistants: I. Hussin and R. West
Fourth official: M. Jones

David Moyes receives his old team to the Stadium of Light and, despite recent issues with a female reporter and the inevitability of relegation, he can hold his head high when greeting the ‘Special One.’

[quote_box_right]Craig Pawson – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 21 (12 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 14
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2[/quote_box_right]

Why? His record at Old Trafford was no worse than Jose Mourinho, who arguably arrived at the Theatre of Dreams with a higher profile and has had more money to spend in the transfer market.

That won’t make a jot of difference to the long-suffering Black Cats fans who flirted with relegation under Dick Advocaat and are odds-on to go down now.

Even an unlikely victory would still keep Sunderland rooted in the bottom three.

United were hopeful at one point of Champions League football, despite being stuck in sixth position for months, but a poor 0-0 draw against West Brom has seen the doom mongers out in force again in the red half of Manchester.

Craig Pawson was fourth official when Mourinho and Klopp almost came to blows earlier this season, and he was calmness personified in the melee that ensued.

He might tip off Mike Jones to keep an eye on touchline proceedings mind you.

Moyes criticised Pawson earlier in the campaign, suggesting that a penalty that the official gave to Swansea helped send Sunderland to the bottom of the table – where they’ve been ever since.

That’s just clutching at straws and I’d expect Pawson to see this through with ease.

Robert MadleyRobert Madley

Everton v Leicester City
09/04 – 16.00

Assistants: M. Perry and A. Holmes
Fourth official: P. Tierney

With a Champions League quarter-final to come in the days after this fixture, Leicester manager, Craig Shakespeare, has the difficult decision of whether to play a full-strength XI in the hope that another three points takes them closer to safety, or, resting a handful of his best players in order that they’re fresh for European duty.

[quote_box_right]Robert Madley – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 23 (10 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 13
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

Everton only have the Europa League to aim at, something that’s well within their grasp at present, so expect Ronald Koeman to employ his best generals for the Foxes visit.

Robert Madley has built up enough credit with both sides to be given the benefit of the doubt as he goes about his work.

There’s still a tendency from the official to jump right in and make the occasional knee-jerk decision, rather than giving himself time to digest play before rationally delivering his verdict.

Neither team can afford that to happen here.

Michael OliverMichael Oliver

Crystal Palace v Arsenal
10/04 – 20.00

Assistants: G. Beswick and J. Collin
Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

Earlier in the campaign, this would’ve been a nailed on three points for the visitors but the tables have turned and it’s Palace that are in the ascendency now.

Sam Allardyce loves nothing more than upsetting the status quo as he showed in the post-match press conference after an epic victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

[quote_box_right]Michael Oliver – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 25 (16 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 8
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0[/quote_box_right]

Big Sam couldn’t buy a win when he was first appointed but he has found the right blend for the Eagles in the nick of time and, at this stage, looks capable of pulling off another escape.

That won’t be music to the ears of Arsene Wenger but at least the Frenchman is away from the Emirates Stadium where any protests against his proposed contract renewal will be drowned out by the locals.

Michael Oliver’s halo has slipped on occasions during this season so he needs to keep his focus solely on the game and not, as has been suggested, on a big pay day elsewhere – particularly as we are so close to the end of the campaign.

Putting all of the ‘noise’ to the back of his mind and applying himself correctly should be all he is concerned with.