Runners and Riders: Premier League referees | Week 34

Runners and Riders: Premier League referees | Week 34

    Author: Jason Pettigrove

    FA Cup semi final week means that there is a reduced programme in the English top flight for week 34.

    With just four weeks left of the season, every result counts now, and how well teams have been managed to this point will determine who emerges with the most credit in the final furlong of the campaign.

    PGMOL have a duty to ensure that their exponents are up to scratch as lethargy, tiredness and thoughts of a summer holiday begin to kick in.

    Let’s see who’s been handed the baton this week….

    Graham Scott

    Graham Scott

    Bournemouth v Middlesbrough
    22/04 - 15.00

    Assistants: R. West and D. Eaton
    Fourth official: M. Dean

    Simply put, this is one of the games that Middlesbrough have to win if they want to have any chance of staying up this season.

    At present, you’d say that any one from four sides are looking the most likely, but Boro haven’t been cut adrift just yet.

    Graham Scott – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 8 (0 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 18
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 11

    Their problem has been putting the ball in the onion bag. Even Sunderland have scored more and they went 10 games without finding the back of the net!

    Bournemouth will allow the visitors to play but Eddie Howe’s pacey, attack-minded front players, won’t allow the opposition defence a moments peace.

    Good to see Graham Scott involved again, and especially in a game which will present the official with a pressurised environment.

    How will he cope? Will he be able to make a sound enough judgment when all eyes are on him?

    This isn’t a mid-table, mid-season battle where the odd errant decision will be overlooked; a mistake here could be catastrophic for his future employment at the top level – and no one wants to see that.

    Scott has been a willing and able participant so far in 2016/17 – long may that continue.

    Robert Madley

    Robert Madley

    Hull City v Watford
    22/04 - 15.00

    Assistants: A. Nunn and D. Bryan
    Fourth official: A. Taylor

    Mid-table meets bottom four and with little to play for, Watford could be ripe for the picking at the KC Stadium.

    It’s normally at about this stage of the season, if a team can’t be relegated nor is in contention for European honours or otherwise, that players start to take their foot off of the pedal.

    Robert Madley – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 25 (11 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 13
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    No need to do anything stupid and get themselves injured at this point.

    Half-hearted performances won’t be tolerated by managers or supporters of course but that won’t necessarily stop some players from giving not much more than the bare minimum.

    On the other side of the coin, Marco Silva’s team have to give the absolute maximum. For the entire 90+ minutes. Nothing else is going to be good enough if they want to reel in the glut of teams above them.

    Bournemouth are five points ahead of them, but then there are five more clubs within a further two points.

    Their relegation is not a foregone conclusion yet.

    Bobby Madley takes charge of this one, but it would’ve been good to see his sibling, Andrew, get on the roster and getting his hands dirty at the sharp end.

    The former will have no problems keeping control of this one. It’s his 25th top flight appointment, one of the most frequently employed referees at this level. That tells you everything.

    That said, he did miss a handball in the Chelsea v Man Utd fixture last time out, so it will be interesting to see how well he bounces back in this one.

    Watford have already had players sent off under Madley’s watch this season, so the Hornets might have less of a sting here than usual.

    Michael OliverMichael Oliver

    Swansea City v Stoke City
    22/04 - 15.00

    Assistants: G. Beswick and M. Wilkes
    Fourth official: A. Marriner

    Paul Clement has really turned the screw on his players in the lead up to this one by suggesting that it’s Swansea’s biggest game since their May 2011 Championship play-off final win.

    He’d dismissed the issue of ‘must win’ games previously, when asked by journalists, but has conceded that, with games quickly running out, this really is one that they can’t afford not to take three points in.

    Michael Oliver – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 27 (17 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 8
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Not that he’ll get any sympathy to his cause from opposite number Mark Hughes.

    After looking like an outside bet for European football last season, Stoke have been a shadow of that side.

    Given the significant investment in quality players over the summer, fingers could soon be pointing at the Welshman if he doesn’t engineer a brilliant end to 2016/17.

    Michael Oliver has refereed this particular fixture before and on one occasion was actually called a cheat by then Swansea boss, Garry Monk.

    He also incurred the wrath of Mark Hughes earlier this season – (what’s new?!) – after telling the Stoke players that he wasn’t going to be a “penalty area pedant” and then awarding Everton a controversial spot-kick which won the Toffees the match.

    There won’t be a lack of focus from the official despite what appears to be a winding down of his employment with PGMOL, but he still needs to put in his usual high level of personal performance to ensure that fingers aren’t pointing at him again.

    Roger East

    Roger East

    West Ham United v Everton
    22/04 - 15.00

    Assistants: M. Perry and S. Massey-Ellis
    Fourth official: P. Tierney

    Unbelievably, West Ham are still struggling at their new home, and we are hurtling towards the end of their first season there. And what a horrible season it’s been for the tenants of the London Stadium.

    Roger East – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 9 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 22
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 11

    It’s not one that will get better any time soon as Everton are their bogey team. In fact, the Toffees hold one of the best records of any top flight club against the Hammers.

    Though all of the teams around Ronald Koeman’s side have games in hand on them, they are playing well and do have points in the bag already. Europa League is certainly not beyond them at the moment so the fact that they have something to play for should make this an exciting encounter.

    Another win for West Ham sees them virtually safe, but they’ll have to get it without their top scorer, Michail Antonio, after he was ruled out for the season.

    With so much at stake, having the lilly-livered Roger East in the middle is unlikely to fill the hosts with confidence.

    Along with Jon Moss, East really needs to be pensioned off at the end of this season.

    More errors of the type that we’re used to seeing from this official here, and his campaign may come to an abrupt end, a few weeks earlier than planned.

    When a firm hand is needed, who you gonna call? Not Roger East…

    Anthony TaylorAnthony Taylor

    Burnley v Manchester United
    23/04 - 14.15

    Assistants: J. Collin and P. Kirkup
    Fourth official: L. Mason

    Jose Mourinho has been crowing about Manchester United’s 21-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.

    Under normal circumstances, you’d be rightly proud of such a record, and with it being a team still in transition, perhaps more so.

    Anthony Taylor – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 27 (12 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 11
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    However, the run began whilst the Red Devils were in sixth and they currently sit…in sixth.
    Therefore, the value of the run is negligible to some extent.

    Burnley managed to frustrate United at Old Trafford back in October and if fortune had favoured the brave on that day, the Clarets would’ve walked away with a stunning away victory.

    As it is, Sean Dyche’s side are now amongst a clutch of sides for whom one more win could really invigorate their run-in and ensure a relatively stress free last few games.

    The moans are still continuing whenever Anthony Taylor takes charge of a match involving Man Utd., and though he’s clearly shown his impartiality, that isn’t enough to placate some sections of the footballing fraternity.

    Even Mourinho himself fell foul of FA rules when he commented on the situation earlier this season as Taylor took charge of United’s game against Liverpool.

    With suggestions that this official might well be this season’s FA Cup final referee, not only will Taylor ensure that his 90 mins are up to standard, but he’ll likely go above and beyond the call of duty here - and at any other EPL game between now and the end of the campaign.

    Andre Marriner

    Andre Marriner

    Liverpool v Crystal Palace
    23/04 - 16.30

    Assistants: S. Beck and S. Ledger
    Fourth official: M. Jones

    Back in the 1989, this fixture produced a 9-0 victory for the hosts in what was arguably one of the most embarrassing episodes in Crystal Palace’s history.

    Andre Marriner – all you need to know

    Matches in 2016/17: 25 (14 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 20
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 1

    The Eagles have both soared high and had their wings clipped since then but they go into this match on an upward curve. On loss in the last seven is in stark contrast to the run that they were on previously, where they managed just three wins in 21 fixtures.

    Those 16 points achieved by Sam Allardyce’s side since the end of February have moved them seven points clear of the bottom three and another win here will almost certainly see them safe for another season.

    Don’t bet against it. Liverpool have already lost to the likes of Swansea and Wolves at home, and have also drawn with Bournemouth, West Ham and Plymouth at Anfield.

    Andre Marriner has been blasted by Sam Allardyce in the past, and Crystal Palace were critical of his appointment in the reverse fixture earlier in this campaign.

    Alan Pardew even went as far as calling out PGMOL for placing Marriner in charge, saying that it was “just a little bit frustrating.”

    Quite what they’ll make of him being handed the reins again here, we’ll find out at full-time, but there’s little doubt he is in the top bracket of those who are working within the elite group at present.

    Should Palace lose again, perhaps their purpose would be better served by looking at themselves…