Runners and Riders: Premier League referees | Week 33

Runners and Riders: Premier League referees | Week 33

    The East Bank Holiday weekend has come up trumps for the Premier League connoisseur this time.

    A super set of fixtures across the weekend including an absolute classic in the main Sunday slot.

    Appropriately for the time of year, Mark Clattenburg has been resurrected for what could be his last ever game in the English top flight.

    Let’s see where the flashpoints could come in week 33 of the campaign….

    Michael OliverMichael Oliver

    Tottenham Hotpsur v Bournemouth
    15/04 – 12.30

    Assistants: S. Bennett and S. Child
    Fourth official: P. Tierney

    The first game of the weekend gives Spurs an ideal chance to turn the screw a little tighter on Chelsea.

    Though the Blues remain the odds on favourites, thus meaning the north Londoners will finish as the bridesmaid for the second consecutive season, three points here and Antonio Conte will know that a win is imperative at Old Trafford.

    Michael Oliver – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 26 (17 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 8
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Michael Oliver didn’t have the best game back in January when Tottenham’s rivals Arsenal managed a 3-3 draw down on the south coast.

    A red card for Simon Francis left the home support, as well as those on the bench, livid.

    The Cherries aren’t out of the woods in terms of relegation yet, so Eddie Howe and his men need to be up for the fight here – red cards or not.

    Mike Dean

    Crystal Palace v Leicester City
    15/04 – 15.00

    Assistants: S. Long and E. Smart
    Fourth official: M. Jones

    Both teams have enjoyed a late-season renaissance under their second managers of the season.

    It took Sam Allardyce a while to get going at Selhurst Park but he’s really built up a head of steam now, Arsenal the latest victims.

    Mike Dean – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 25 (11 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 9
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2

    Craig Shakespeare really hit the ground running in the wake of Claudio Ranieri’s departure and should he get another win here, his candidacy for the post full time can’t really be ignored.

    A victory for either team here places them as virtually safe from the drop so the pressure on Mike Dean to produce in the middle will be high.

    An official who is detested by Big Sam, Dean will still go about his work in the only way he knows how.

    Give the man his due. His shoulders are broad and he’ll always stand up to be counted. Can’t be fairer than that.

    Whether he is loved or loathed is a bit of a sideshow that’s hardly relevant at this stage of proceedings.

    Referee Mark ClattenburgMark Clattenburg

    Everton v Burnley
    15/04 – 15.00

    Assistants: D. Cann and D. Eaton
    Fourth official: R. East

    After some time out of the spotlight, Mark Clattenburg is called back into the fold but, typically on PGMOL’s part, not for one of the more glamorous games of the weekend.

    Nothing like holding a grudge is there…

    In what could well be his last-ever Premier League fixture, and with the maximum respect to both sides, he can’t have envisaged bowing out this way.

    Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 21 (10 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 4
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    In fact, he would’ve been bettered served if he had left once the announcement regarding his new employment was made, rather than showing willing to help by working his notice.

    He’s been given a real slap in the face ever since. At least he will realise now he’s made the right decision.

    In any event, he’s back at Goodison Park where, earlier this year, he was blamed by Arsene Wenger for Arsenal’s defeat there.

    On the day, Ronald Koeman uttered a few choice phrases in his direction too, none of which will bother one of the best officials the Premier League have been lucky enough to have.

    Burnley certainly won’t care a hoot whether it’s his last appointment or not. Points make prizes and they’re one of a clutch of seven teams all within one win of each other.

    The situation for Sean Dyche isn’t desperate just yet, but three points instead of an easter egg will be just the ticket.

    Stuart AttwellStuart Attwell

    Stoke City v Hull City
    15/04 – 15.00

    Assistants: J. Collin and M. Scholes
    Fourth official: A. Taylor

    Stoke are another team that are in amongst it with Hull just a few points further back and clinging onto their survival for dear life.

    As spectacles go, this could provide one of the games of the weekend, not just because of the win or bust nature of it for the Tigers in particular, but also because both sides have been playing some sparkling stuff at times this season – much of which has gone under the radar.

    Stuart Attwell – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 9 (0 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 20
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 9

    At this stage, both managers might prefer to dispense with the pretty stuff in favour of grinding out the win and Stuart Attwell needs to be on point regardless.

    Mark Hughes has accused Attwell in the past of “bottling the big decisions,” so the Welshman will be interested bystander if there are any game-changing episodes across the ninety minutes.

    Though he has Anthony Taylor as a sounding board if things get a little feisty, a pressurised environment where he puts his foot down could be just what Attwell needs to improve his confidence.

    A tonic for someone who was once regarded as the ‘next big thing’ in refereeing circles.

    Andre Marriner

    Andre Marriner

    Sunderland v West Ham United
    15/04 – 15.00

    Assistants: S. Beck and S. Massey-Ellis
    Fourth official: M. Atkinson

    In 12 out of the last thirteen games, Sunderland have been unable to score, but whenever there’s a streak to be broken, West Ham always seem to be the team on the receiving end.

    With Arsenal and then a derby against Middlesbrough following this one, it’s a game that gives the Black Cats the opportunity to get back on the score sheet before they head into May.

    Andre Marriner – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 24 (14 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 19
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 1

    David Moyes has also been in the news for other reasons than a lack of managerial acumen and quite what he’ll make of a female assistant referee – despite it being the excellent Sian Massey-Ellis – is anyone’s guess. Tread carefully sir.

    Andre Marriner continues to be a bogey referee for the hosts but diverting the blame onto him if the right result doesn’t arrive is a neat side step that David Campese would be proud of.

    It’s worth pointing out that only Anthony Taylor has booked more Hammers players than Marriner this season, so Sunderland might want to bear that in mind during the various passages of play.

    After all, a numerical advantage might help their cause on the day, even if their season is all but over.

    Lee Mason

    Watford v Swansea City
    15/04 – 15.00

    Assistants: H. Lennard and I. Hussin
    Fourth official: C. Pawson

    A narrow defeat at West Ham still had enough plus points for Paul Clement to believe that he can still ensure Swansea’s stay in the top flight for another season.

    Hull are still within touching distance and if Crystal Palace are beaten by Leicester then a win here brings the Eagles into view too.

    Lee Mason – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 18 (2 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 16
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 1

    Just six games remain, including against Manchester United. Watford can be stubborn opponents but this does represent a winnable fixture for the Swans.

    Lee Mason has often been accused of being a shrinking violet but there’s no place for dilly-dallying here.

    If PGMOL’s elite group aren’t up to the task during this most pressurised part of the season, then frankly they should be sent on an early summer holiday.

    Which is what Mason will get if he reverts to type at Vicarage Road.

    Neil SwarbrickNeil Swarbrick

    Manchester City v Southampton
    15/04 – 17.30

    Assistants: S. Ledger and A. Holmes
    Fourth official: G. Scott

    With Southampton playing for precisely nothing but pride as they wallow in their mid-table mediocrity, this probably isn’t the best time to be playing a City side that are desperate to get into next season’s Champions League without the need for qualification.

    Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 19 (3 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 20
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 4

    With a game in hand over Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s side are well-placed to do so, but that means not being complacent in games such as this.

    City rivals United are just one place and four points back, and also have a game in hand over them, so the motivation is there if Pep hasn’t provided enough in his incredibly detailed player briefings to this point.

    Neil Swarbrick has coasted through this season too. In the main, his performances have been consistent and worthy of his continued employment.

    But it only takes bad one game to ruin a well-earned reputation, as he’s found out to his cost before.

    Time to switch on, Swarbs.

    Jonathan MossJonathan Moss

    West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool
    16/04 – 13.30

    Assistants: C. Htzidakis and A. Halliday
    Fourth official: K. Friend

    On precisely this weekend last season, YATR’s Keith Hackett took Jon Moss to task for “the worst refereeing performance of the season,” in the 2-2 draw between Leicester City and West Ham.

    Jonathan Moss – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 24 (10 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 14
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 2

    Suggestions at the time were that Moss could even be a mental wreck by the time of his next appointment, and it was certainly an occasion, as Hackett rightly pointed out, that was “too big for him.”

    Liverpool in particular won’t want reminding of such things given that they’ve still much to play for this season.

    West Brom under Tony Pulis have surprised quote a few people this season but their current eighth place is likely to be where they will finish unless they have an almighty collapse in their last half dozen games.

    Ten points away from Everton, who are just a place above them, we could see the Baggies already start to take their foot off the gas, as there’s little change of making up such a gap.

    That mindset against Liverpool could be a very dangerous tactic indeed.

    Robert MadleyRobert Madley

    Manchester United v Chelsea
    16/04 – 16.00

    Assistants: G. Beswick and P. Kirkup
    Fourth official: A. Marriner

    He’s had his critics this season including in this column, but Robert Madley appears to have found his mojo again.

    PGMOL obviously agree and have handed him the plum game on week 33.

    Robert Madley – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 24 (11 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 13
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    This Sunday 4pm kick off will be watched by a worldwide footballing public and though it doesn’t carry quite the same cachet as it did a few years ago, it is still one of the Premier League’s classic fixtures.

    Jose Mourinho against his former side is always going to get everyone talking and the ‘Special One’ was well beaten on his return to Stamford Bridge.

    Unrest is growing at Old Trafford in that, despite the many millions spent, United still seem to be an average side.

    Madley is strong enough not to be swayed by the ‘noise’ that will inevitably surround this fixture and if there are to be any talking points, the likelihood that the official will be involved in them in a negative way is low.

    anthony-taylor-2Anthony Taylor

    Middlesbrough v Arsenal
    17/04 – 20.00

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

    Who would’ve thought that both teams would’ve been as desperate for the points as each other at this stage of the season.

    Arsenal’s grip on Champions League football looks to be over. Seven points behind Manchester City in fourth and nine behind Liverpool in third is surely too big a gap to bridge at this late stage.

    Anthony Taylor – 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

    Not taking into account just how poorly the Gunners are playing, particularly away from home.

    Crystal Palace made a mockery of their league placing and were worthy of the three points against Arsene Wenger’s side, and for the first time this season, their loyal fans turned on the players.

    All in all it’s become a very unsavoury situation and it would be a brave man that would bet on Wenger riding out this one.

    If he were to lose again here, then the Frenchman has nowhere else to go, except graciously through the exit door.

    Anthony Taylor was told to “f**k off” by Wenger in January, and was even labelled “dishonest” by the Arsenal coach. That behaviour earned him a four-game touchline ban and a £25,000 fine.

    It would be very easy for the blame to be deflected onto the official if the game is slipping away from the north Londoners…but it would also be very stupid.

    Taylor remains one of the better exponents that PGMOL have to offer.