Runners and Riders

For once we at YATR are completely lost for words. Genuinely.

What on earth has possessed PGMOL to hand out the set of appointments you’ll read about below.

Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot. With a double-barrelled sawn off…

If the Select Group of officials are happy about it, then there is something seriously wrong in the game. Mark Clattenburg as a fourth official – are you being serious?!

Strap yourselves in for these week eight EPL appointments….

Andre Marriner: Chelsea v Leicester City
Assistants: S. Beck and A. Garrett
Fourth official: S. Attwell

andre-marrinerA role reversal from this time last year and the expectation from the home crowd will be that the Blues upward trend will continue.

Antonio Conte won’t write his countryman and elder statesman Claudio Ranieri off that easily however.

Chelsea have shown their vulnerabilities already and although Leicester are already far from the championship winning form of last season, there’s still enough in the Foxes side to trouble the hosts.

Gary Cahill for one won’t be too enamoured at the choice of official, given his two-minute post-match diatribe on Andre Marriner’s performance as Chelsea drew two-apiece at Swansea just a month ago.

There are some odd appointments made elsewhere this week, so Marriner needs to up his game at the Bridge. He simply cannot afford to give Cahill or anyone else an excuse to mock his work again.

Andre Marriner – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 6 (4 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 4
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Jonathan Moss: Arsenal v Swansea City
Assistants: H. Lennard and M. Perry
Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

Jonathan Moss
Jonathan Moss is on FA Cup duty this weekend

So…..when one of your officials who, by common decree, isn’t having the greatest of seasons so far, makes an unquestionable howler – that simply cannot be defended in any way, shape or form – what do you do?

Well if you’re PGMOL, you reward him with another appointment. But of course, how could we possibly have thought otherwise.

Utterly ridiculous.

YATR’s Keith Hackett rightly flagged the decision for Everton’s free-kick against Crystal Palace as an indirect one at the time, yet this simple enough decision for an official at this level was missed and Romelu Lukaku scored from the direct kick that was incorrectly awarded.

This game is interesting for two reasons. The debut of Bob Bradley in the Swansea dugout – a man not known for holding his tongue when it comes to the criticism of officials – and the opportunity for Arsenal to keep pace at the top of the table.

This will be dynamite. Trust me on that.

Jonathan Moss – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 6 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 3
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Lee Mason: AFC Bournemouth v Hull City
Assistants: M. McDonough and A. Halliday
Fourth official: T. Robinson

Lee MasonJust his fourth appointment of the campaign, Lee Mason has been handed a 13th plays 15th fixture – which probably reflects Mason’s own contributions.

A referee who blows hot and cold, when he’s on his game, Mason is a competent official – but when he’s bad, he’s horrid.

Certainly Eddie Howe still hasn’t forgiven him for an appalling decision made when Bournemouth were back in the Championship.

Mike Phelan doesn’t really know whether he’s coming or going at Hull and the former Manchester United assistant could really do with another win to kick-start the Tigers season again after it started so promisingly.

Let’s hope he’s no reason to growl at Mason at full time either.

Lee Mason – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 4 (1 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 4
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 4

Michael Oliver: Manchester City v Everton                                                                                                               Assistants: G. Beswick and S. Burt
Fourth official: A. Taylor

Michael Oliver

Pep Guardiola is back home and he’ll certainly not be taking any teams lightly again after Celtic gave City an almighty scare in the Champions League.

It’s gone under a lot of people’s radar that Everton’s defence have been pretty rock solid this year – only Tottenham have conceded less – so a swashbuckling home side could find their pathway to glory blocked.

It will be interesting to see what influence John Stones has against his old side who can get to within a point of his current employers with an away victory.

Michael Oliver is well used to this ground, if not this manager but the official does know what Ronald Koeman is all about.

Koeman and Pep are two peas from the same pod, both in the way that they view football and in their style on the sidelines. Oliver has been known to clamp down to those who are a little ‘over animated’ on the touchline, but to reduce that element of their personalities here, will take something from the game within the game.

That Manchester-born Anthony Taylor is the one who’ll be bringing the good news as it were, will leave a lot open to interpretation. More on him later…!

Oliver’s focus is beginning to return after a dip in form so how he fares here will give us an inkling as to whether his own personal trajectory continues to rise.

Michael Oliver – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 7 (3 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 2
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0      

Mike Jones: Stoke City v Sunderland
Assistants: M. Scholes and R. West
Fourth official: G. Scott


In seven games so far in this campaign, neither Mark Hughes or David Moyes have managed to get three points on the board and if there’s another failure here, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one fall on his sword.

Luckily, they have Mike Jones to steady the ship on the pitch and even though the appointment of Graham Scott as fourth official – given the magnitude of any potential fall out – could comeback to haunt PGMOL, Jones has enough about him to smooth the waters.

If anything, Jones might need to work on keeping his concentration levels up because with the two lowest scorers in the league, this could become a bit of a bore fest at the Britannia.

Mike Jones – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 4 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 5

Kevin Friend: West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur
Assistants: J. Collin and D. Cann
Fourth official: M. Clattenburg

Kevin Friend

With the greatest of respect to Kevin Friend he’s no Mark Clattenburg, so why their respective roles aren’t reversed here only PGMOL will know.

Jealousy on the part of the organisation perhaps? Clattenburg getting too big for his boots so we’ll bring him down a peg or two??

Fair enough questions to be asked because there is no way an official of such standing should have taken charge of just half of the EPL appointments available thus far.

As it is, Friend will have to feel the wrath of Messrs. Pulis and Pochettino. If results go well elsewhere, this game could produce the table toppers at the end of play, so the Argentine coach in particular will be looking for an extremely high standard of professionalism.

Something that, frankly, has been beyond Friend on occasion.

Kevin Friend – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 4 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 6

Martin Atkinson: Crystal Palace v West Ham United                                                                                                   Assistants: P. Kirkup and E. Smart
Fourth official: B. Madley

Martin AtkinsonMartin Atkinson is the right choice for what is bound to be a firebrand London derby, but there is history between the official and both managers.

Slaven Bilic is hanging onto the West Ham managerial job by his fingernails if rumours are to be believed, and the Croat placed the blame for the Hammers not making the FA Cup semi finals last season squarely at Atkinson’s door.

Alan Pardew’s gripe goes a little further back but in the same vain, is a blame-leveller.

Although Palace have picked themselves up and dusted themselves down after a horrific early part to the year, Selhurst Park will be as unforgiving as ever if the official makes himself unpopular.

The east Londoners appeared to have picked up the baton from their neighbours with confidence and character at its lowest ebb as they go into this one.

Martin Atkinson – all you need to know

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

Roger East: Middlesbrough v Watford                                                                                                             Assistants: A. Nunn and D. Eaton
Fourth official: M. Oliver

Roger East

East takes charge of Watford for the first time since opening day, a game against Southampton in which he sent of the Hornet’s Ben Watson for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

There should be plenty of those here with both sides this season looking to win games by playing the right way. On the deck, short, sharp passing movements.

It brings back memories of the glory days of both sides and if either can get close to a decent finish in the league and a good cup run, the supporters will be happy.

Aitor Karanka’s side are bound to come out of the blocks quicker so what little authority East seems to possess will need to be wielded firmly in the opening exchanges.

Roger East – all you need to know Matches in 2016/17: 4 (1 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 6
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 6

Mike Dean:  Southampton v Burnley                                                                                                                           Assistants: S. Long and I. Hussin
Fourth official: P. Tierney

Mike DeanGood to see Paul Tierney getting a look in as fourth official again although arguably he does need to be fast-tracked now if we are going to see him make the jump up to join the likes of Mike Dean.

Once again, Mr. Limelight himself ensures that the TV cameras will be present for another show-stopping performance. Football as theatre….never a truer word in Dean’s case…..dahhhling.

In any event, the game itself is unlikely to provide too many talking points save for the odd late challenge here or there. Perhaps the grappling rule that so many are struggling with will provide Dean with an interesting conundrum in-play.

A win for the visitors will see them leapfrog their hosts so we might see, unusually, an expansive attacking game from the Clarets.

Mike Dean – all you need to know Matches in 2016/17: 7 (4 on TV)#
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17:1
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Anthony Taylor: Liverpool v Manchester United                                                                                                         Assistants: S. Bennett and S. Child                                                                                                              Fourth official: M. Atkinson

Anthony Taylor

And so here’s the kicker this week. The big one. Gobsmacked doesn’t even begin to describe the arrogance of this appointment.

A referee that comes from a David De Gea goal-kick away from Old Trafford is allowed to referee the biggest game of the weekend that involves the club closest to him geographically?
Whichever way you look at it, there is absolutely no logic or common sense that has been applied by PGMOL here. How can there be?!

Imagine, just for one moment, that there is a contentious decision. Worse still, it’s a game changer. And Taylor gets it wrong.

The sheer stupidity in allowing him anywhere near this game is staggering.

He will absolutely need to be as disciplined as ever and he and his team must get every single decision spot on for there to be no repercussions.

A full to the brim Anfield, under the lights and under the scrutiny of millions of TV viewers.

Nice one PGMOL!

Anthony Taylor – all you need to know Matches in 2016/17: 8 (3 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 2
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0