Runners and Riders

PGMOL certainly put themselves under pressure last week with Anthony Taylor’s appointment to the Liverpool-Man United game, and Jose Mourinho echoed YATR’s Keith Hackett in suggesting that the official shouldn’t have been put under so much pressure.

Those comments look to have landed the Portuguese in hot water with the FA who are going to investigate his comments.

Fortunately, the game was devoid of much of the controversy and tempo that make it such a classic fixture and as a result, Taylor had no trouble throughout the 90 minutes.

A stop-start game was hardly his fault, both sets of players not really giving of their best on the night.

A relatively quiet weekend for the men in the middle otherwise – unless your name happens to be Martin Atkinson. More on him later.

Let’s see who has been selected for the EPL appointments in week nine….

Craig Pawson: Bournemouth vTottenham Hotpsur
Assistants:S. Ledger and P. Kirkup
Fourth official: R. East

Craig PawsonIf Mauricio Pochettino thought his high-flying Spurs side only needed to turn up on the south coast to give them another three points that would keep them at the top end of the table, he only need look at the way Bournemouth dismantled Hull City recently.

It was one of the Cherries’ best performances of the last few seasons and Eddie Howe was rightly beaming with delight afterward.

Two teams who love to stroke the ball around, this game virtually guarantees goals and excitement.

Craig Pawson’s common sense in terms of his application of the laws of the game shouldn’t detract from the same and it would be a surprise indeed to find any controversy at the Vitality Stadium.

Although the official won’t be able to sit back and enjoy the action like the rest of us, he can play a big part in ensuring a super spectacle.

Craig Pawson – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 7 (5on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 7
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 5

Mike Dean: Arsenal v Middlesbrough

Assistants: S. Long and I. Hussin
Fourth official: T. Robinson

Mike DeanThere is a sense of excitement building at the Emirates Stadium.

Although Arsenal have been in precisely this position before, even leading the Premier League as late as January during season’s past, something appears different this time round.

Perhaps it’s the way in which Arsene Wenger’s side are dominating matches in the main. Even the scares in-game are being brushed aside as an inconvenience and the Gunners are worthy of their lofty current position.

Middlesbrough are a work-in-progress. Good and bad in equal measure presently, Aitor Karanka will be happy nonetheless as long as his team continue to learn from their mistakes.

Mike Dean isn’t the most popular official in the red half of north London, but is unlikely to have too much trouble here.

Without the TV cameras to distract him, he can concentrate on what he’s good at. The only issue he faces is that of fourth official Robinson.

Can he withstand the inevitable heat that will emanate from the benches? 

Mike Dean– all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 8 (4 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Mike Jones: Burnley v Everton
Assistants: A. Holmes and D. Bryan
Fourth official: A. Taylor

mike-jonesSince Ronald Koeman took over at Everton, they’ve looked much more like the team that everyone expected them to be under Roberto Martinez.

One of the brightest squads in the division, their performance at the Etihad Stadium should finally have the public sitting up and taking notice of the Merseysiders’ credentials.

Burnely, with respect, aren’t quite in the same league but what Sean Dyche does have going for him is that he has a set of players that will sweat every last drop of effort for their manager.

Liverpool have already found out to their cost that if you turn up at Turf Moor with the wrong attitude, you’ll come unstuck.

Mike Jones has more Football League appointments than Premier League this season and that’s a travesty.

The official’s composure in the middle is laudable and it will be interesting to see how he perceives any robust challenges from the hosts – which are sure to be flagged up by the visitors.

A decent back up that includes Anthony Taylor will see that this is another game that should pass off without too much controversy. Round of applause for PGMOL so far.

Mike Jones – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 5 (2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 6

Kevin Friend: Hull City v Stoke City 

Assistants: M. Wilkes and C. Hatzidakis
Fourth official: D. Coote

Kevin FriendThere was always going to be one appointment to get up a managers nose and this one is it.

I’m not even sure why PGMOL keep exposing Kevin Friend to the wrath of Mark Hughes and Stoke City.

There’s not been a single game where Friend and Hughes haven’t clashed, be that during or after the game so any attempt by PGMOL to take a conciliatory position is likely to be rebuffed by the Welshman, especially if the official comes up short again.

Against old team-mate Mike Phelan, this game will have everything including, one would expect, some industrial touchline banter. Mr. Coote will also do well to keep both managers in check in this regard – another fourth official with limited experience in the role.

Neither side are playing anywhere close to their best and a tempestuous affair is likely to result, especially in the early part of the match.

How Friend asserts his authority during that period will author the remainder.

Kevin Friend – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 5 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 6
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 7

Michael Oliver: Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Assistants: G. Beswick and M. McDonough
Fourth official: G. Scott

Michael Oliver

The King Power Stadium isn’t quite as formidable as it was last season and Crystal Palace will travel north with confidence, despite losing to West Ham at Selhurst Park last time out.

Leicester need to get an unbeaten run going, even if it’s only for three or four games, because at present, which is highly unusual for a reigning champion, you can see the confidence almost drain out of the players if they go behind.
Alan Pardew doesn’t do sentiment and with Christian Benteke looking a threat in almost every Eagles attack, Robert Huth et al need to be on their guard.

Michael Oliver needs to keep an eye on those challenges in particular with a view to any carding early to take some heat from the fixture.

There’s pace in abundance from Leicester’s front line, so Oliver will do well to stay up with play at the opposite end.

Dynamic running and position in this one is key to a successful 90 minutes for the referee. Good to see Graham Scott as fourth official once more too.

Michael Oliver – 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

Paul Tierney: Swansea City v Watford
Assistants: S. Beck and A. Garratt
Fourth official: A. Marriner

Paul TierneyCongratulations to Paul Tierney for what is only his second appointment of this Premier League season.

The game also marks Bob Bradley’s home debut in the Swans dugout and after a just being edged out of a five-goal thriller at Arsenal, hopes will be high that the American can deliver a home victory.

Watford continue to quietly and effectively go about their business and should prove every bit as difficult to break down as the Gunners.

This shouldn’t be a difficult game to officiate but Tierney will feel under pressure to impress. The reality is that keeping the top brass at PGMOL towers happy is something he must ensure that he does do – if he wants a more regular employ at the top level.

Cool, calm and collected is therefore the order of the day please Mr. Tierney.  

Paul Tierney – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 2 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 3
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 8

Robert Madley: West Ham United v Sunderland 

Assistants: M. Perry and A. Nunn
Fourth official: K. Stroud 

Robert MadleyNo doubt who needs the points more in this game, and Sunderland’s prayers might just have been answered with a trip to the London Stadium.

West Ham’s new home feels anything but at this point and David Moyes’ men could capitalise in what is fast becoming a huge millstone around the Hammers’ necks.

Jermain Defoe, should be play, will enjoy twisting the knife into the hopes of his old employers whilst simultaneously helping his current side climb off the bottom of the table.

Robert Madley doesn’t really want to give a restless crowd any excuse to make the atmosphere more funereal that it has been to this point but he is a capable official who continues to work hard on every aspect of his trade.

Slaven Bilic will keep a keen eye on Madley’s performance after he described the official’s awarding of an 89th-minute Chelsea penalty as “unacceptable” back in March. It was a decision which resulted in the Blues drawing the match, the Hammers losing out on two vital, and well deserved, points.

Robert Madley – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 6(2 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Neil Swarbrick: Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion   

Assistants: D. Cann and R. West
Fourth official: L. Mason

neil swarbrick1Liverpool will be keen to get right back at it after a lack lustre home performance against Manchester United.

Unfortunately, Tony Pulis and his West Brom side will come to Anfield with much the same mindset as Jose Mourinho. That is, to stifle the life out of the game and to limit any attacking intent from the Reds.

The Welshman makes no apology for the style of his side and nor should he. Games are there to be won by hook or by crook.

Neil Swarbrick does have a history with the Baggies, albeit from a while ago now, for it was he who sent off the wrong player in a case of mistaken identity at Manchester City. A decision that Pulis described as “amateurish” and that left him livid.

Jurgen Klopp has held his tongue in the main as far as performances from officials are concerned and if Swarbrick is at it, he won’t have cause to bleat here either.

Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know 

Matches in 2016/17: 5 (0 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 4
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 8

Mark Clattenburg: Manchester City v Southampton

Assistants: J. Collin and S. Bennett
Fourth official: K. Friend

Mark ClattenburgFinally back where he belongs, Mark Clattenburg still missed out on the big game of the weekend.

After inexplicably being left out in week eight by PGMOL, they’ve seen the error of their ways, albeit this is still only the fifth top-level appointment of the season for England’s top official.

Southampton shouldn’t be discounted from this one. Although it’s one of their more arduous journey’s and against opponents who are formidable when on their game, City will be playing on the back of what is likely to be a gruelling examination at Barcelona in the Champions League.

The result, performance and outcome of that game could well affect this and City’s league form has stuttered a little of late.

Claude Puel finally seems to be getting things together with the Saints, who sit in a respectable mid-table position at start of play.
They’ve conceded less than their hosts so could provide a more difficult opponent than perhaps many expect.

A free-flowing affair will be appreciated by both teams and if it’s refereeing controversy you’re looking for, you won’t find any here. 

Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know

Matches in 2016/17: 5 (4 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

Martin Atkinson: Chelsea v Manchester United  


Assistants: S. Child and S. Burt

Fourth official: A. Marriner

Martin Atkinson 5The big one. Stamford Bridge will be full to bursting and the TV audience will run into millions for the return of Jose Mourinho to his old stamping ground.

How ironic that Martin Atkinson – the referee who sparked one of the ‘Special One’s’ biggest tantrums against PGMOL and its officials – is the man in the middle here.

The likelihood of United doing to Chelsea what they managed at Liverpool is high and that won’t endear the Portuguese to the thousands who idolised him on the Stamford Bridge terraces.

A midfield battle is likely to provide Atkinson and his team with the most work in this real clash of footballing titans and the official will certainly need to be on his mettle – unlike last weekend at Selhurst Park.

YATR’s Keith Hackett was scathing of Atkinson’s performance especially relating to the two key decisions that saw West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell sent off.

“The first one was a clear penalty kick,” said former PGMOL chief Hackett. “He wrongly cautioned Cresswell for an act of simulation.

“Less than a minute later, Peter Kirkup, his assistant, wrongly advised Atkinson to issue a caution to Cresswell when it was difficult to see a foul!!

“Player dismissed…..totally wrong.”

The pressure to perform will be on his shoulders from the first minute and Atkinson is an official who has laid bare how much the Burnley incident with Mourinho affected him. Will he cope?

A win for the visitors will see them leapfrog their hosts which is enough of a reason for the crowd to get behind Antonio Conte’s side and help them to hopefully draw level with those at the top of the table at the end of 90 minutes.

Martin Atkinson – all you need to know 

Matches in 2016/17: 8 (4 on TV)
Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 3
Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0