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jason pettigrove

    Author: Jason Pettigrove

    Runners and Riders

    Well, that didn’t take long did it?!

    No sooner have the European Championships finished than we are back in the thick of it at the start of another Premier League campaign. And what a season it promises to be.

    Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola are just two of the new faces to join the likes of Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger et al.

    The new boys arrive from the Championship full of expectancy, with Bournemouth showing them the way last year.

    Seatbelts at the ready, this is going to be one hell of a ride!

    The men in the middle, for whom the responsibility of controlling a multitude of egos over 90 minutes falls, have new directives to contend with which could well see a spate of red cards in the early part of the season.

    APPOINTMENTS: Match officials on duty in England this week

    Let’s take a look at who’s been given the nod for week one of 2016/17…

    Jonathan Moss

    Jonathan Moss: Burnley v Swansea City
    Assistants: M. McDonough and A. Halliday
    Fourth official: A. Taylor

    The last time that Jonathan Moss took charge of a Burnley game, it was in the immediate aftermath of the controversy that surrounded his sending off of Leicester’s Jamie Vardy in the match against West Ham.

    It was, at that stage, seen as a demotion, even though video replays would prove that the official got his decision spot on at the King Power Stadium.

    Fortunately for Moss, the Turf Moor appointment when the Clarets entertained QPR passed without incident, and he’ll be hoping for much the same in this season opener.

    An experienced back-up team should see this one run smoothly.

    Jonathan Moss – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (0 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 0
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Craig Pawson 2

    Craig Pawson: Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion
    Assistants: H. Lennard and Holmes
    Fourth official: A. Madley

    You know this will be a feisty affair with Tony Pulis returning to his old stamping ground and looking to put one over on his former team.

    Alan Pardew will ensure his charges stand toe-to-toe with a team that don’t mind practising the darker arts if it means three points will be on the board.

    Pardew isn’t Craig Pawson’s biggest fan and if things start to unravel for the Eagles, expect a tirade in the official’s direction. It’s an ideal first opportunity for the officials to be seen to implement their directives to apply law more consistently in relation to dealing with misconduct from players and officials.

    Pawson should have enough about him to deal adequately with this one, and hopefully last weekend's Community Shield appointment has helped to shake off any rustiness.

    Craig Pawson – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 2 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Martin Atkinson 5

    Martin Atkinson: Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
    Assistants: S. Child and L. Betts
    Fourth official: J. Simpson

    A decent enough game for Martin Atkinson to open his season with.

    Spurs will be looking to somehow improve on 2015/16, where, although they finished 10 points behind Champions Leicester, they were for long periods within a whisker of reeling the Foxes in.

    Certainly they played some of the best football seen in many a year, and Atkinson can probably stand and admire for the most part at Goodison.

    Ronald Koeman would like to get his Toffees career off to the best possible start and at the time of writing the Dutchman has still managed to keep Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea’s clutches. Kudos to him immediately.

    It’ll be a game for the purist and Atkinson only really needs to concern himself with any mistimed tackles as players feel their way back into the season.

    Another 90 minutes that’s unlikely to trouble those in charge.

    Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (0 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 0
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Mike Dean

    Mike Dean: Hull City v Leicester City
    Assistants: S. Long and S. Bennett
    Fourth official: L. Mason

    The first televised game of the season goes to Mr. Limelight himself – Mike Dean.

    PGMOL must be having a tongue-in-cheek laugh at our expense, placing the effervescent and camera-loving Dean in the firing line. He’s likely to have his work cut out too.

    Hull’s summer hasn’t exactly gone to plan with previous manager Steve Bruce walking out because of lack of transfer funds. With no major reinforcements to speak of, this could be a case of straight back down for the Tigers.

    Leicester arrive looking to get off to a flyer in their first-ever title defence, and it will be interesting to see how the Foxes set up, given the loss of N’Golo Kante, one of their stand out players from last summer.

    Unlike Bruce, Claudio Ranieri has just penned a new long-term deal, and with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy also staying put, who’s to say history won’t repeat itself.

    Dean must have his mind on the game and open the season with a sound performance. Mike Riley can scarcely afford controversy at this early stage.

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

    Robert Madley

    Robert Madley: Manchester City v Sunderland
    Assistants: P. Kirkup and M. Perry
    Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

    One of last season’s success stories, Robert Madley has been handed a plumb opening day fixture.

    The Etihad Stadium will be packed to the rafters for what is Pep Guardiola’s Premier League debut.

    Every football fan has been waiting for a taster of the Catalan’s master plan and a home game against a more rudimentary Sunderland side should provide it.

    David Moyes needs to build a battered reputation after poor showings at both Man Utd and Real Sociedad, and so he arrives with a point to prove.

    His sides are known for being difficult to beat – could this be the irresistible force against the immovable object?

    Interestingly this will be the first time Madley has taken charge of a game involving either manager so a strong and decisive performance is required here – and you can watch it live on our #RefCam service.

    Robert Madley – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 0
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Kevin Friend

    Kevin Friend: Middlesbrough v Stoke City
    Assistants: J. Collin and D. Cann
    Fourth official: N. Miller

    If Mark Hughes thinks there’s a conspiracy against him, he might not be far wrong as nemesis Kevin Friend once again takes charge of a game involving the Potters.

    So incensed has the Welshman been with the official in the past, that he has gone on record as saying that the man in black has influenced certain results, pertaining to his decision making – or lack of.

    Middlesbrough were a joy to watch in the Championship last year but now Aitor Karanka gets to mix it with the big boys and we’ll really see just how well Jose Mourinho’s former assistant is able to cope.

    The Riverside is likely to provide a pressure cooker atmosphere on opening day, and with an inexperienced fourth official in tow, this one could be a recipe for disaster.

    Kevin Friend – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (0 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 0
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Roger East

    Roger East: Southampton v Watford
    Assistants: R. West and M. Scholes
    Fourth official: J. Linington

    Fortunately for Roger East, he won’t have quite as much pressure on his shoulders down on the south coast.

    Both clubs have undergone something of an overhaul since the last game of last season, and the likelihood that each will be finding their feet and no more is high.

    There are a number of on-pitch relationships for both sides to get to grips with and if anything, East will have to deal with a ‘bitty’ and frustrating game.

    Another newbie in the fourth official role adds a little spice to the occasion.

    East isn’t used to using a firm hand in games, but may find that so doing from the off gives him the level of control that he desires.

    Roger East – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (0 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Andre Marriner

    Andre Marriner: Bournemouth v Manchester United
    Assistants: S. Beck and S. Ledger
    Fourth official: R. East

    When Jose Mourinho found out that his re-entry into Premier League life would be overseen by Andre Marriner, it’s a given that he won’t have been happy.

    The Special One openly criticised the official back in January 2015 for failing to award a penalty when Eden Hazard was upended against Spurs.

    If he’s not on the ball again, expect the Portuguese to be on his case throughout.

    Marriner might just be lucky because with all of the new firepower that United have added to their squad list, this fixture is highly likely to be a one-sided affair.

    Eddie Howe’s team battled to a magnificent victory against Louis Van Gaal’s side in last season’s encounter here, but this is an entirely different kettle of fish.

    Unless of course Marriner decides to intervene again….

    Andre Marriner – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 0
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Michael Oliver

    Michael Oliver: Arsenal v Liverpool
    Assistants: S. Burt and E. Smart
    Fourth official: C. Pawson

    The first classic battle of 2016/17 and in the absence of Mark Clattenburg, who is on extended leave after his Euro 2016 exploits, Michael Oliver takes the reigns.

    Not often flustered or wrong in his decision making, Oliver continues to impress, although there have been occasions when he’s lacked the maturity required to deal with the biggest games.

    Both clubs know him well however and should be happy with this particular appointment.

    Indeed, back in March 2015 when he officiated this exact fixture, his performance was described as ‘perfect’ and ‘the real man of the match.’

    Like many teams and their application on occasion, the only way this one goes pear shaped is if Oliver is too complacent.

    His ability to let the game flow and use common sense should see this get the top billing it deserves.

    Michael Oliver – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

    Anthony Taylor

    Anthony Taylor: Chelsea v West Ham United
    Assistants: G. Beswick and A. Nunn
    Fourth official: M. Oliver

    Voted last season’s best referee, Anthony Taylor has a London derby cracker to kick off the season.

    We get a first real look at Antonio Conte and what he will bring to the league whilst Slaven Bilic will look to raise his profile even further with another early season away win.

    Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City can all attest to just how hard the Hammers were to beat on their travels at this stage last season.

    Taylor has his enemies for being a little too officious at times, but he needs a tight hold of this one, which has the potential to boil over at any point.

    Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
    Matches in 2016/17: 1 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 1
    Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0

      Author: Jason Pettigrove

      Runners and Riders

      No sooner has the regular football season finished than players across Europe will be getting ready to represent their countries at the European Championship.

      They’re not the only ones who’ll proudly fly the flag however. 18 officials from across the continent will oversee the multitude of group and knockout games.

      Let’s find out a little bit more about each of them…

      Martin Atkinson – England

      The sign of a great referee is one that you don’t really know is there. An official that just lets the game flow.

      Martin Atkinson is one such exponent.

      The 45-year-old was born to referee at the highest level and that it’s taken this long for him to oversee games at a European Championship is a mystery.

      An official who players can talk to and who understands the nuances of the elite game, he could progress all the way to the final.

      Dr. Felix Brych – Germany

      A qualified doctor in law, let's hope Felix Brych's expertise stretches to those introduced by the IFAB ahead of this summer's tournament.

      A safe pair of hands, the German has been there, seen it and done it for a number of seasons.

      A regular on the Champions League scene, like all things Bavarian, he is solid, dependable and rarely anything other than extremely diligent in his work.

      Cuneyt Cakir – Turkey

      As he showed in the recent game between Manchester City and Real Madrid, Cuneyt Cakir isn’t for turning.

      A firm hand, no matter how big the game or the name, is his guiding principal and one that has served him well in a distinguished refereeing career.

      Was in the middle when Barcelona completed their second treble against Juventus in 2015.

      Mark Clattenburg – England

      Has enjoyed one of his most consistent seasons to date, evidenced by the regularity with which PGMOL afforded him the Premier League’s biggest games.

      Takes the baton from Cakir and will proudly be the man in the middle for the Champions League final between Real and Atletico Madrid.

      If his name isn’t so well known beyond English shores at this point, the millions tuning in to the biggest club game in the world will be aware of him by the end.

      A fabulous end to a fabulous campaign and fully deserved.

      William Collum – Scotland

      The appointment of Willie Collum is an interesting one.

      Known for his propensity to throw red cards around like confetti, we could see some interesting suspensions in this competition.

      To put things into perspective, his colleagues boast an average red card rate of just under four per season - Collum’s average is almost 10!

      No guarantee he’ll be able to handle the pressure here…

      Jonas Eriksson – Sweden

      The Swede comes into the tournament on the back of refereeing the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla.

      Reputedly a multi-millionaire, his choice of employment would appear to be an unnecessary one, however, he’s always shown a natural aptitude in the role.

      Already has one European Championship under his belt after being called upon in 2012.

      Don’t let the fact that this is something done almost for fun fool you. Eriksson is as serious as they come about his work.

      Ovidiu Hategan – Romania

      A step up in class for the Romanian Ovidiu Hategan, who has previously only worked up to the qualifying stages of a major tournament.

      With the greatest respect, the leagues within his weekly remit are known for their exacting standards and as such, immediate pressure will be placed on his shoulders.

      Has already been at the centre of a storm with UEFA after failing to follow protocol when Yaya Toure was being racially abused by CSKA Moscow fans when playing for Manchester City.

      Big, big chance for the 36-year-old to dispel the doubters.

      Sergey Karasev – Russia

      Another 36-year-old who also hasn’t quite hit the heights as yet.

      A stalwart of the Russian Premier League, like Pierluigi Collina, Karasev is distinctive because of his bald pate and ice-cold stare.

      It’s a step up in class but given his youth, provides the official with the perfect platform to go on to bigger and better things, should he negotiate this Championship with ease.

      Viktor Kassai – Hungary

      One of the best referees in the world, Viktor Kassai was still one of those sent home early by Collina in the 2012 tournament, after the Hungarian missed Ukraine’s perfectly legitimate goal against England.

      “Keeping Kassai here for another match would’ve been difficult for us,” was Collina’s honest assessment of the error.

      “He is one of our best referees…it is something very unlucky for him.”

      Will that be playing on his mind in the first few minutes of his opening appointment…?

      Pavel Kralovec – Czech Republic

      Czech engineer Kralovec has been a fully qualified FIFA official for 11 years now.

      Which begs the question as to why he’s never been handed tournament reins before now.

      Qualifiers are as good as it’s been and for someone whose bread and butter is the Synot Liga, this could be a step up in class that’s too much for him.

      Bjorn Kuipers – Netherlands

      An official who is often deemed as arrogant rather than over confident, Kuipers has owned a chain of local supermarkets and a hair salon during his ‘other’ business career.

      From good refereeing stock, the Dutchman is the third generation of his family to take up the whistle, and probably the best.

      A man that knows how to handle all of the top names, it would be a surprise not to see his name at the business end of the competition.

      Szymon Marciniak – Poland

      There have been suggestions that Marciniak has an issue in terms of his communication to players, in that his instructions are often lost in translation.

      It’s hard to believe that Collina would employ anyone if that were to be true, but it could be in the backs of everyone’s minds, especially in the early part of the group stages.

      The Pole does have enough experience at the highest level to justify his inclusion and we await his opening game…

      Milorad Mazic – Serbia

      Serbian Milorad Mazic has the dubious honour of being voted the ‘worst ref at the World Cup’ after his shambolic performances in Brazil in 2014.

      Portugal’s manager at the time, Carlos Queiroz, was just one to question his credentials.

      “How can this guy sleep at night, or for the rest of his life,” was the former Manchester United assistant’s cutting assessment of Mazic’s credentials.

      Let’s hope he’s improved somewhat over the past two years.

      Svein Moen – Norway

      In the lead up to this competition, Svein Moen has already been involved in controversy.

      In the Germany v Scotland qualifier back in September of 2014, hot on the heels of Die Mannschaft’s World Cup triumph, Moen red-carded one of Gordon Strachan’s troops whilst allowing Thomas Muller to stay on the field despite grabbing an opponent menacingly around the throat.

      There were other instances in the same game that were scrutinised and the general consensus since has been that the official is good…..but not that good.

      Another who can put any misgivings about his suitability to bed with a decent 90 minutes or two.

      Nicola Rizzoli – Italy

      A fine exponent to take over the Italian mantle from maestro Collina.

      Rizzoli has had his brushes with the media as recently as February of this year, and he has often been the target of smear campaigns from certain journalists.

      It has never deflected him from the task in hand however, and he remains one of the best around at this juncture.

      Damir Skomina – Slovenia

      “Weak and naïve” is how Jose Mourinho described Damir Skomina’s performance in the group stage of this seasons Champions League.

      The ex-Chelsea boss was none too happy with the Slovenian’s perceived lack of backbone, a tag that the official will want to rid himself of almost as soon as the first whistle sounds.

      Skomina is neither the best or worst referee to be selected for these Championships and he’ll want to stay beyond the group stages if possible.

      Clement Turpin – France

      Just 34 years of age, Frenchman Clement Turpin is a risky appointment.

      If they’re good enough, they’re old enough, isn’t really a saying you can apply to a referee.

      Turpin is steady without being spectacular, level-headed but sometimes a little too officious.

      This will be his biggest assignment to date, and coming in his home country, he’ll want to impress.

      Carlos Velasco Carballo – Spain

      Talk to connoisseurs of Spanish football and you’ll receive mixed reviews about Carlos Velasco Carballo.

      Generally sound, when things go wrong for him, the Richter Scale takes a pounding.

      Unable to effectively control the Brazil v Colombia match at World Cup 2014, he was also reprimanded for a lack of effectiveness at the last European Championships.

      Will one of the best leagues in the world be host to the best referee at this tournament….?

        Author: Jason Pettigrove

        Bobby Madley
        Bobby Madley referees the Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley this weekend

        The regular league seasons are over with and now we get down to some make-or-break ties before plunging headlong into the European Championships.

        The Football League season reaches its climax with three Play-Off Finals over three days in a footballing feast at Wembley Stadium, including what is labelled as ‘the richest game in football’ – the Championship Play-Off Final.

        The Champions League final also takes place on Saturday night in what is a bumper weekend of action, and you can read up on the team of officials for the Atletico-Real derby at the link below.

        Read more: Who’s on duty in the Champions League Final

        But back to domestic matters, let’s find out who’s in charge under the arch...

        Championship – Hull City v Sheffield Wednesday

        Referee: Robert Madley
        Assistant Referees: Simon Bennett and Peter Kirkup
        Fourth Official: Phil Gibbs
        Reserve Assistant Referee: Marc Perry

        Aside from a regular employ in the Premier League, Robert Madley has also taken charge of 34 games in the Championship, so he knows his way around the division and the type of game he’s likely to encounter.

        Not shy of brandishing a card or two, Madley has shown 95 in those games at a rough average of three per game.

        Read more: Hackett's blog - Football League Play-Offs take me back

        It’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to keep them in his pocket here because of what’s at stake and just how much adrenaline will be pumping through these 22 players, desperate to get to the promised land.

        Sheffield Wednesday have the momentum. Despite finishing 15 points behind Brighton, they managed to knock the Seagulls out at the semi-final stage.

        Steve Bruce’s Hull side won’t be taking them lightly but they might just have the edge given just how recently they were in the top flight.

        The ex-Manchester United man knows exactly what it takes in this situation and that is a precious commodity in such a pressure-cooker atmosphere.

        An atmosphere that Madley needs to enhance rather than diminish.

        A mature attitude is called for. An acceptance of a few early rash challenges and the odd piece of backchat as both the group of officials and the two sides ease themselves into the game. For an official that’s slowly but surely getting better, a decent showing here could really put him on the map.

        League One – Barnsley v Millwall

        Referee: Stuart Attwell
        Assistant Referees: Nigel Lugg and Rob Jones
        Fourth Official: Stephen Martin
        Additional Assistant Referee: Matthew Jones

        Forever remembered as the official who gave the ‘ghost’ goal in the game between Reading and Watford, and one or two other high-profile gaffes, Stuart Attwell is actually one of Mike Riley’s most trustworthy troops.

        Read more: Hackett's Blog - Attwell Play-Off Final appointment spot-on

        It’s true that almost all of his work is now at Championship level or below but that shouldn’t be used as a stick to beat him with.

        He’s found his level of competence and remains by and large one of the best in the lower divisions in England.

        43 appointments puts him only behind Mark Clattenburg, Anthony Taylor and Keith Stroud across the 2015/16 season, which should speak for itself.

        No doubting that this will be a feisty affair on and off the pitch and Attwell will do well to keep a lid on things in the opening exchanges.

        How he deal with matters arising in the first quarter hour is likely to set the tone for the rest of the game.

        Nigel Lugg is an interesting choice as assistant, given that he has only been one on 19 occasions across three divisions and two cup competitions throughout the 2015/16 season.

        This isn’t an occasion to be thrust into the limelight because of a lack of ‘match practice.’

        League Two – AFC Wimbledon v Plymouth Argyle

        Referee: Iain Williamson
        Assistant Referees: Ron Ganfield and Paul Marsden
        Fourth Official: Tim Robinson
        Additional Assistant Referee: Tom Bramall

        Woe betide anyone who gets on the wrong side of Iain Williamson.

        136 yellow cards during the past season evidences a referee who isn’t backwards when coming forwards to administer a certain type of discipline.

        Whether every situation merits the same is a moot point, but it may go some way to explaining why he’s taking the League 2 game.

        Williamson can be far to quick to admonish. A more relaxed, yet still firm, demeanour, especially in a game of this magnitude, would garner far better results you feel.

        Take a second or two to assess the merits of a situation before reaching for the pocket.

        AFC Wimbledon continue to make their way up the league ladder and a win here would prick up the national consciousness again. A club that many identify with as the real successors of the ‘original’ Wimbledon couldn’t mirror the successes of Dave Bassett’s boys, could they?

        Plymouth, like so many other teams that have fallen from grace in the top two divisions, are finding it incredibly hard to claw their way back again.

        If they could knock the stuffing out of Neal Ardley’s side, who’s to say that the halcyon days of old aren’t just around the corner again.

        Referee Williamson will hope he doesn’t have to rely on Ron Ganfield too much.

        He was on the end of a vicious verbal attack after the Chelsea v Everton 6-3 game some 18 months ago, with ex-official Graham Poll even suggesting it was the ‘worst assistant refereeing performance’ he had ever seen. Ganfield was subsequently dropped and has never really recovered.

        Could it be the real ‘crazy gang’ are the gents overseeing this one?

          Author: Jason Pettigrove

          Clattenburg
          Mark Clattenburg referees this weekend's Champions League Final

          The regular league seasons are over with and now we get down to some make-or-break ties before plunging headlong into the European Championships.

          The most glamorous fixture in European club football, the Champions League final, takes place this weekend. The pressure is on the team of officials to do the business and there’ll be no hiding place if a poor decision is made.

          We also have The Football League Play-Offs taking place over three days in a bumper footballing weekend, and you can see who’s in charge at Wembley via the following link.

          Read more: Who’s on duty in the Football League Play-Offs

          So, here we go...

          Champions League Final – Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid

          Referee: Mark Clattenburg
          Assistant Referees: Simon Beck and Jake Collin
          Fourth Official: Viktor Kassai
          Additional Assistant Referees: Anthony Taylor and Andre Marriner
          Reserve Assistant Referee: Stuart Burt

          To those that watch the Premier League on a regular basis, it won’t have come as any surprise that Mark Clattenburg was handed the keys to this game.

          All season long, the official has been a model of consistency and You Are The Ref have been championing his cause from the outset.

          That it comes a week after the English FA Cup final and a week before the European Championships only enhances Clattenburg’s credibility as England’s premier referee.

          It will be interesting to see what he deems appropriate in terms of physical contact because it’s noticeable how different the game is on the continent compared to England in this regard.

          He becomes only the sixth Englishman to referee a European Cup/Champions League final and is assisted by two men he knows well and, importantly, trusts.

          Simon Beck and Jake Collin have had their doubters but in the main have provided decent back up in the Premier League this past season.

          Fourth official Viktor Kassai needs no introduction whatsoever and he is the only non-Englishman in the party of seven.

          Clattenburg has already said he was ‘stunned but delighted’ to receive the call from Pierluigi Collina and that this will be a ‘huge challenge’ for him.

          He has the respect of his peers, players and managers in England. Let’s see if that extends to Spain after 90 minutes at the San Siro…

            Author: Jason Pettigrove

            runnersriders-1000x500So it all comes down to this.

            Nine months have passed and the curtain is just about to be closed upon another season, but not before some 11th hour dramas.

            Virtually every final day of the Premier League seems to have something riding on it, and this one’s no different.

            European places are still up for grabs, both in the Champions and Europa Leagues. One of the Manchester clubs will certainly be more disappointed than the other at close of play.

            Best that Mike Riley’s troops aren’t in holiday mode already - it could be a permanent sabbatical if they’re not fully focused this weekend.

            Let’s take a look at who is refereeing in Week 38, the final matchday of the 2015/16 campaign…

            Mike Dean: Swansea City v Manchester City
            Assistants: J. Collin and S. Long
            Fourth official: A. Marriner

            Manchester City can’t afford to not be in the Champions League next season. Pep Guardiola would never have countenanced the same before agreeing to sign for the club.

            Indeed, the incoming manager may find it extra hard to motivate an overpaid group of players if they’re playing their trade in European football’s second-tier competition. He may even find it hard to motivate himself.

            The Liberty Stadium isn’t an easy place to go at the best of times.

            Vincent Kompany is out, again, and David Silva is also missing, both omissions seriously hampering City’s effectiveness against a team with little to concern themselves with on the final day.

            It’s been a strange season for Swansea. Three managers, and another one lined up for the start of next season…is it any wonder most of the players have underperformed.

            Personal pride should ensure that the Welshmen are at least competitive and Manchester United will be counting on it.

            Andrew Ayew could do with a final day flourish to give himself some much needed confidence. He’s looked far from the prospect that Swansea thought they were buying except at West Ham last weekend.

            Goals are virtually guaranteed, but which end will they come at….?

            Mike Dean was incredibly efficient during a high-pressure match at Upton Park and should be similarly so here.

            Manuel Pellegrini isn’t a fan, but in his last game before departing for either a sabbatical or a position elsewhere (Everton anyone?), is he really bothered if the official makes a blooper or two? Unlikely.

            Mike Dean – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 32 (13 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 40
            Last reffed Swansea City: 19 March 2016
            Last reffed Manchester City: 16 April 2016

            Mark Clattenburg: Arsenal v Aston Villa
            Assistants: J. Brooks and A. Halliday
            Fourth official: R. East

            As the Villains prepare for life in the Championship, they’ll want to go out with a bang, and where better than at a ground where the manager is already under severe pressure from the locals.

            Arsene Wenger hasn’t known anything like this in the two decades he’s been at the club but as far as the Emirates faithful are concerned, enough is enough.

            Aside from a couple of FA Cup triumphs, there’s been nothing to write home about for the Gunners.

            Not good enough for a team with such an abundance of talent.

            Something has got to give, and unless things change quickly, Wenger will find it difficult to hold on to his position.

            Villa’s players have been a disgrace to the division and to their club and whomever comes in to take over has the biggest of jobs on their hands.

            Unfit and not bothered, their record this season makes grim reading. Even though it’s wholly deserved.

            Can they produce their best performance of the season in their last game, to give their long-suffering fans something to write home about?

            Joleon Lescott, Alan Hutton, Gabby Agbonlahor et al, need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

            The Gunners have an outside chance of pipping Tottenham to second, but that requires a win at home first and foremost.

            Mark Clattenburg’s consistent excellence has finally been rewarded, and the rest of the world get to see what EPL audiences do week in and week out when he officiates the Champions League final.

            Arsene Wenger has already blamed the official for his team losing points this season, and if any decisions deny the north Londoners all three points, we won’t hear the end of it.

            It’s doubtful Villa care who referees this one. The final whistle can’t come soon enough.

            Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 30 (13 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 44
            Last reffed Arsenal: 19 March 2016
            Last reffed Aston Villa: 12 January 2016

            Lee Mason: Everton v Norwich City
            Assistants: A. Garratt and D. Eaton
            Fourth official: S.Attwell

            Roberto Martinez won’t get to say his goodbyes after being sacked by Everton on Thursday.

            Not a club who are known to hire and fire, the Toffees have been nowhere close to the standard expected, and that obviously hurt the Spaniard.

            Norwich won’t be offering tea and sympathy either.

            If they’re able to quieten what’s expected to be a raucous Goodison Park crowd, Alex Neil will have been doing something right.

            The Canaries have already been relegated and a root and branch clearout may be required because it’s obvious that many of Neil’s staff are just not good enough.

            As long as Norwich play their natural game here this could still be a fabulous game of football.

            Lee Mason will play a big part in that being so.

            The referee has been lambasted by Neil only recently for his inability to call the big decisions, and if Martinez were still employed, the likelihood is that he too won’t have been impressed by Mike Riley’s selection here.

            Although there’s little riding on this one now, it would be a shame if an incompetent refereeing performance spoiled it.

            Lee Mason – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 20 (6 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 21
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
            Last reffed Everton: 26 December 2015
            Last reffed Norwich City: 1 March 2016

            Jonathan Moss: Manchester United v Bournemouth
            Assistants: A. Holmes and H. Lennard
            Fourth official: G. Scott

            Eddie Howe will have dreamt of this day.

            Leading his team out at Old Trafford will be a proud day indeed, and that he’s able to do so completely free of the fear that the last day of the season normally brings, is testament to his acumen.

            Louis Van Gaal will certainly appreciate what the young south coast pretender is trying to achieve, and most of the Mancunian faithful will probably be wishing that their side played with the same level of skill and intensity than what they’ve witnessed for long periods during this campaign.

            Certainly not the swashbuckling Manchester United of old, as was shown at the Boleyn Ground just a few days ago.

            The Red Devils still have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League and so will have to be on their game from the off.

            Bournemouth will come to play football and that will afford the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial the time and space they need to execute when possible.

            The longer the game goes on without daylight between the hosts and their opponents, the more nervous the locals will get. And that could transmit to the players.

            It’s entirely fair to say that Jon Moss has endured an awful end to this Premier League campaign.

            He simply has to get his act together here, or risk 76,000 screaming Mancunian’s reading him the riot act.

            He has divided opinion throughout the season and both Van Gaal and Howe have had their run ins with him.

            Another poor showing here may reflect on the amount of elite level appointments he’s handed next season.

            Jonathan Moss – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 25 (12on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 20
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
            Last reffed Manchester United: 2 January 2016
            Last reffed Bournemouth: 22 August 2015

            Anthony Taylor: Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotpsur
            Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
            Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

            In the short space of time that Rafael Benitez has been in the north east, he’s worked wonders. What a shame he wasn’t appointed sooner as there’s every reason to believe he would’ve kept Newcastle up.

            Tottenham arrive in great shape despite the obvious disappointment of losing out on the title.

            Ultimately, they were just a little short but Mauricio Pochettino probably wasn’t expecting his young side to be in this position for another year or two.

            It’s been fairly clear that Spurs have played some of the best football seen this season and if the Argentinian can supplement his squad with one or two big money signings, the north Londoners will certainly be there or thereabouts again next season.

            Harry Kane will seek to add to his tally at a ground where he loves to score, and although Dele Alli isn’t there to supply the bullets., Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela will deputise with ease.

            Newcastle’s fighting spirit needs to come to the fore in any event, 55,000 Geordies will demand it.

            What a way to end the season, relegated or otherwise.

            Anthony Taylor is a decent choice for this one. In all of the previous games he has officiated for either side, rarely has there been cause for concern.

            He has the most cumulative appearances in the EPL and Championship, which tells us the high regard in which he is held by his employers.

            Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 32 (15 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 43
            Last reffed Newcastle United: 2 January 2016
            Last reffed Tottenham Hotpsur: 13 March 2016

            Michael Oliver: Southampton v Crystal Palace
            Assistants: G. Beswick and L. Betts
            Fourth official: K. Stroud

            Alan Pardew returns to another of his former employers just a short while after his trip to Newcastle.

            He can ill afford another loss because although it means nothing in terms of Premier League survival, it will do nothing for the Eagles’ confidence going into the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

            The cup has been the only ray of hope for the south London side, in what has turned into an awful campaign for them.

            Ronaldo Koeman will continue to enjoy watching his side play the right way. Out from the back and across the floor. Simple, effective, and you’ll not hear a bad word against him from supporters.

            Win some, lose some, but the quality and application is always there and that’s what you pay your money to go and see.

            That’s precisely what Palace need to bring to the final day too.

            Ronald Koeman won’t be at all happy that his European chasing team have a ref in Michael Oliver who was castigated the last time he oversaw a game involving the Saints.

            The Dutchman was livid that his team were not awarded two penalties which would’ve won them the game against Leicester City.

            Michael Oliver – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 24 (11 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 34
            Last reffed Southampton: 3 April 2016
            Last reffed Crystal Palace: 9 April 2016

            Kevin Friend: Watford v Sunderland
            Assistants: M. Salisbury and A. Fox
            Fourth official: D. Deadman

            Although Quique Sanchez Flores might be waving bye bye to the Vicarage Road regulars after this, he’ll still want to end on a high.

            That is about the sum total of his aspirations for the last day however.

            Big Sam Allardyce will still want a win to round off what has proved to be a successful campaign, and his players need to come up big in Hertfordshire.

            Watford have enough in attack to hurt them, and as they showed against Aston Villa last time a game was played at this venue, even losing 2-1 in injury time isn’t enough to stop these buzzing hornets from knocking on the door.

            Sunderland’s fans will be delighted that they have nothing to play for in this final game.

            They class Friend as their ‘bogeyman’ given the regularity with which he issues red cards against them and also misses vital decisions.

            He’ll still feel the wrath of anyone connected with either club if he gets it wrong again here, but at least the consequences won’t be as far reaching as they might’ve been, should he do so.

            Kevin Friend – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 24 (4 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 26
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
            Last reffed Watford: 9 April 2016
            Last reffed Sunderland: 30 December 2015

            Mike Jones: Stoke City v West Ham United
            Assistants: M. Perry and M. Scholes
            Fourth official: G. Eltringham

            There was a time that West Ham would go to Stoke City fearing the worst, but the Hammers have enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent memory.

            Slaven Bilic has really put the east London outfit back on the Premier League map, and just in time for their entry into the Olympic Stadium.

            They’ll be up against a Stoke side who’ll take them on at their own game. Something that the Potters probably haven’t done since the days of Alan Hudson et al.

            Mark Hughes has well and truly banished the notion that Stoke are a kick and rush side, ad whilst they still retain their physicality, they are a much more influential footballing outfit and could quite easily put a spoke in West Ham’s European aspirations.

            In order for the hosts to get anything from the game, Dimitri Payet needs to be contained. In any other season, the Frenchman would’ve ran away with the Footballer of the Year awards.

            A hard-working Mark Noble can deal with the rough stuff and give back what’s metered out.

            Given what’s at stake, this one could get a little feisty.

            Mike Jones has continued to prove himself to be made of the right stuff for officiating in this division.

            Mark Hughes may disagree given that he continues to berate the standard of Jones’ decision making, something that could be crucial to the outcome of this one.

            Slaven Bilic had words with the official at Norwich last time out and the Croatian won’t hesitate in getting his message across should the need arise.

            Mike Jones – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 28 (5 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 39
            Last reffed Stoke City: 3 October 2015
            Last reffed West Ham United: 13 February 2016

            Robert Madley: West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool
            Assistants: S. Bennett and P. Kirkup
            Fourth official: A. Davies

            Jurgen Klopp has ensured a great end to the season for Liverpool whatever happens.

            It’s entirely possible that he’ll play mostly reserves in what might ultimately amount to a dead rubber fixture.

            If there’s still a chance of Europa League qualification through their league placing, that might change the dynamic. If not, Klopp will rest all of his stars for the Europa League final against Sevilla which follows a few days after this match.

            Tony Pulis enjoys being the party pooper and his battle-hardened troops will come to work with a simple plan in mind.

            It’s rarely pretty but often effective and Pulis is the master at working with what he has available.

            Robert Madley has only enhanced his credibility this season and a fine end to it here will guarantee that he’s one of PGMOL’s first on the list for 2016/17.

            As long as he doesn’t take this for what it is – a nothing game – and therefore doesn’t allow his application to drop below acceptable levels on the day, then he’ll be fine.

            Robert Madley – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 27 (8 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
            Last reffed West Bromwich Albion: 23 January 2016
            Last reffed Liverpool: 20 April 2016
            --
            Craig Pawson: Chelsea v Leicester City
            Assistants: M. McDonough and D. Bryan
            Fourth official: T. Harrington

            The irony won’t be lost on anyone at Stamford Bridge.

            Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea manager who Jose Mourinho said would never win a title, will stride out on the pitch to a guide of honour from the Blues players, and a standing ovation from the supporters.

            Regardless of the result, there’ll be a party atmosphere in west London.

            The cheer that enveloped the ground once Chelsea had held Spurs to a 2-2 draw, thus confirming Leicester as champions, tells you all you need to know as to the esteem that Ranieri is still held in, in these parts.

            Robert Huth is suspended for the final game of the season so the Foxes will be light at the back, but whether the hosts are able to raise themselves from their season-long malaise is open to debate.

            John Terry should’ve been bidding farewell to his club by leading them out for the very lst time, but a red card at Sunderland put paid to that.

            With nothing at all to play for, it will be interesting to see how much genuine effort is put in. Antonio Conte might also be a keen observer.

            Don’t expect too much from this 90 minutes, but frankly who cares?!.

            Craig Pawson is competent enough to be able to soak up the atmosphere whilst still delivery a high quality 90 minutes.

            A few problems with Jose Mourinho notwithstanding, the official has generally performed well at this venue and there’s little reason to believe that this match will be any different.

            As with Robert Madley, the only thing he needs to watch for is a lack of concentration because of the ‘testimonial’ feel to the game.

            Craig Pawson – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 28 (16 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 19
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 38
            Last reffed Chelsea: 21 November 2015
            Last reffed Leicester City: 14 March 2016

              Author: Jason Pettigrove

              Robert Madley
              Robert Madley takes charge of Newcastle United's crunch clash with Aston Villa

              The penultimate week of the 2015/16 season, and what a campaign it’s been.

              Another unpredictable Premier League, but there has been one constant. Aside from one or two blameless individuals, PGMOL’s finest have greatly under performed again.

              Just how is Mike Riley going to address the same over the summer and what have the paying public, players and managers got to look forward to next season?

              Perhaps one or two can redeem themselves this week and next. Let’s take a look at who is refereeing in Week 37…
              --
              Craig Pawson: Norwich City v Manchester United
              Assistants: M. Mullarkey and D. Bryan
              Fourth official: K. Hill

              A must-win game for both sides and for entirely different reasons.

              Norwich are still just about hanging onto their Premier League status, but a defeat here could see the relegation trap door opening ever wider.

              The Red Devils on the other hand are in a race with West Ham – who they play in midweek – and Manchester City for the fourth Champions League spot.

              Louis Van Gaal’s men are one of the teams in form, United having found some belated momentum just at the right time.

              The Canaries have already complained about Craig Pawson earlier this season when the official failed to award Alex Neil’s side a blatant penalty in a game which they ended up losing 1-0.

              Card marked.

              Craig Pawson – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 27 (16 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 19
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 37
              Last refereed Norwich City: 5 March 2016
              Last refereed Manchester United: 28 February 2016

              Robert Madley: Aston Villa v Newcastle United
              Assistants: P. Kirkup and M. Perry
              Fourth official: L. Mason

              Since the arrival of Rafael Benitez, Newcastle have picked themselves up and picked up points that were previously extremely hard to come by.

              The Spaniard needs to ensure that his players keep their eye on the ball and just because they’re playing the bottom team in Aston Villa, who’ve nothing to play for, that focus has to be maintained.

              Robert Madley is an unwise choice by Mike Riley. Although the young official is a safe pair of hands in general terms, he has wilted under pressure. Particularly in the Tyne-Wear derby earlier this season where his sending off of Fabricio Coloccini was subsequently overturned by the FA.

              Get it wrong again here and he could cost the Magpies their Premier League status.

              Robert Madley – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 26 (8 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
              Last refereed Aston Villa: 23 January 2016
              Last refereed Newcastle United: 9 April 2016

              Mark Clattenburg: Bournemouth v West Bromwich Albion
              Assistants: J. Brooks and A. Halliday
              Fourth official: M. Haywood

              Two contrasting styles meet head on with both safe and no doubt already planning for next season.

              You only have to look at how well Mark Clattenburg took charge of a pressure cooker London derby between Chelsea and Spurs to understand what the official brings to his role.

              Peerless.

              He’ll certainly waltz through this affair as he begins to look a little further ahead to the European Championships.

              Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 29 (13 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 43
              Last refereed Bournemouth: 8 August 2015
              Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 1 March 2016

              Kevin Friend: Crystal Palace v Stoke City
              Assistants: S. Beck and A. Nunn
              Fourth official: D. Handley

              One of those end of season dead rubbers that means nothing to either side – no quarter will be asked or given here.

              Kevin Friend will definitely get to officiate a Stoke game this time, after being taken off of their game versus Spurs three weeks ago because of hailing from Leicester.

              Neither manager is a particular fan of the official having had numerous causes for complaint about his work in the past.

              Mike Riley is a glutton for punishment isn’t he...

              Kevin Friend – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 19 (4 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 26
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
              Last refereed Crystal Palace: 3 January 2016
              Last refereed Stoke City: 27 February 2016

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

              Jermain Defoe’s 94th-minute equaliser at Stoke may yet prove to be of vital importance. Two from three to go down and there’s still everything to play for.

              While there’s still a chance of staying up, Sam Allardyce won’t let his players rest for a second. Putting sweat on the shirt is an overused phrase but that is the minimum requirement from every Sunderland player.

              Historically, Sunderland have had cause for concern with Mike Jones. It goes all the way back to the ‘beach ball’ incident against Liverpool.

              Recently he has redeemed himself many times over and it’s the Blues who might be left scratching their heads at the appointment of an official who was never in Jose Mourinho’s good books.

              Mike Jones – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 27 (5 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 38
              Last refereed Sunderland: 7 November 2015
              Last refereed Chelsea: 16 January 2016

              Michael Oliver: West Ham United v Swansea City
              Assistants: G. Beswick and M. Wilkes
              Fourth official: J. Moss

              How everyone connected with the east London outfit would love to sign off from Upton Park with their most successful season since 1986.

              Europe’s finest at the Olympic Stadium in 2016/17 would be a fitting way to begin.

              Swansea have nothing to play for and, as such, can stroke the ball about without pressure or urgency. The onus is on the home side to take responsibility in this game.

              Michael Oliver should be able to see this one out quite comfortably.

              Although the Swans have a history with him, that was with the previous management structure and with just two games left, it’s an appointment that’s hardly worth getting hot under the collar for.

              Which Bilic might be if Oliver’s decision making cost the hosts a European place.

              Michael Oliver – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 23 (11 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
              Last refereed West Ham United: 28 December 2015
              Last refereed Swansea City: 18 January 2016

              Andre Marriner: Leicester City v Everton
              Assistants: S. Child and S. Ledger
              Fourth official: G. Salisbury

              What a season for Leicester. They’ve lost just three games all season and outplayed the opposition in most of the others.

              However remarkable their story might be, no one can truly say that they don’t deserve it.
              The King Power Stadium will be packed to the rafters and Roberto Martinez’s side won’t have many harder 90 minutes.

              In fact, another reverse here could well signal the end of the Spaniard’s tenure on Merseyside.
              With the Premier League trophy presented at the end of the game, a carnival atmosphere is guaranteed so Andre Marriner can relax. Or can he?

              The result doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but it will still leave a sour taste if the official was to put a dampener on things.

              Everton are still smarting from a disaster of a new year performance from the official which virtually handed the result of their game against Man City to Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

              Que sera sera…

              Andre Marriner – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 24 (14 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 19
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
              Last refereed Leicester City: 2 February 2016
              Last refereed Everton: 3 April 2016

              Jonathan Moss: Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton
              Assistants: A. Holmes and H. Lennard
              Fourth official: M. Oliver

              Two of the finest footballing sides in the English top flight and we could well see one of the games of the season at White Hart Lane.

              Hungry young players are a feature of both teams and White Hart Lane promises to be white hot at times for this one.

              The rest of the game could be quite funereal given how the title was lost last time out and the atmosphere could turn toxic if Jonathan Moss has as poor a game as he did when Leicester played West Ham a couple of weeks ago.

              His drop in performances across the season might even see Riley question his place on the elite list for the forthcoming campaign.

              Jonathan Moss – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 24 (12 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 20
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
              Last refereed Tottenham Hotpsur: 2 April 2016
              Last refereed Southampton: 13 February 2016

              Lee Mason: Liverpool v Watford
              Assistants: D. Cann and E. Smart
              Fourth official: R. Madley

              Jurgen Klopp will probably view his half season as a success, as he continues to shape the side how he prefers.

              It’ll certainly be a busy summer in the red half of Merseyside that’s for sure.

              Quique Sanchez Flores should be proud of the job he’s done at Watford, even though it seems that his tenure is coming to an end.

              All of the noises from Vicarage Road suggest a change is on the cards, and that’s tough on the Spaniard who has got the Hornets playing as well as at any time in the last few years.

              Whenever Lee Mason takes charge of a Liverpool game there seems to be problems.

              Jurgen Klopp was unhappy with the standard of his work last time out, Brendan Rodgers has been fined for talking out of turn concerning the same. Sky’s Gary Neville lambasted the official at the start of the season for decisions – or more accurately, lack of them – during games.

              Should be fun then.

              Lee Mason – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 19 (6 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 21
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
              Last refereed Liverpool: 23 January 2016
              Last refereed Watford: 28 November 2015
              --
              Anthony Taylor: Manchester City v Arsenal
              Assistants: L. Betts and S. Burt
              Fourth official: M. Jones

              The race for the automatic Champions League spot couldn’t be tighter, and this game could signal the end for one or other of the parties involved.

              A game between two managers who aren’t really appreciated. One whose fans want him out, the other whose club have got him out.

              Anthony Taylor has been dropped from the list by PGMOL more than once after officiating Arsenal games. Which makes the decision to hand him another one all the stranger.

              Still in with an outside chance of second spot, things could equally go awry and the Gunners could end the day staring fourth in the face.

              If Taylor has a role to play in the same, there is likely to be a lot more than fan led protests and petitions to stop him refereeing their games in future.

              Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 31 (15 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 41
              Last refereed Manchester City: 6 February 2016
              Last refereed Arsenal: 2 April 2016

                Author: Jason Pettigrove

                Runners and Riders

                Here we go then…

                Three games left and the chance of Leicester being crowned champions at the end of the weekend.

                Both of the weekend’s big games – at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge – have, wisely, been handed to a safe pair of hands in Michael Oliver and Mark Clattenburg respectively.

                There’s everything to play for too at the Emirates, where Mike Jones handles the visit of Norwich City to the red half of north London.

                PGMOL need their soldiers to stand up and be counted now like never before. One wrong move could have catastrophic consequences.

                Let’s take a look at who else is refereeing in Week 36…
                --
                Andre Marriner: Southampton v Manchester City
                Assistants: J. Brooks and P. Kirkup
                Fourth official: A. Taylor

                Andre Marriner has already faced calls for him to be dropped from the elite list by Southampton, following a string of high-profile gaffes in previous games.

                Ronald Koeman, who has seen Southampton enjoy another decent season, will be hoping for improvement from the official, especially with his side still in with an outside shot at a Europa League placing.

                Manuel Pellegrini's eyes will be on Champions League glory and may rotate his team ahead of their second leg clash with Real Madrid, and those players that come in could well be fired up as they look to impress the Chilean boss and the incoming manager, Pep Guardiola.

                Does Marriner have the backbone to see this one through? Both managers will be counting on it.

                Andre Marriner – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 24 (13 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 19
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
                Last refereed Southampton: 25 October 2015
                Last refereed Manchester City: 21 December 2015

                Roger East: Swansea City v Liverpool
                Assistants: C. Hatzidakis and A. Nunn
                Fourth official: K. Friend

                It seemed evident from their visit to Leicester that Swansea City's players are not too bothered about the last few fixtures.

                Liverpool's visit to the Liberty Stadium comes just a few days after a gruelling Europa League semi-final so the Reds could be feeling a little leggy, but Jurgen Klopp will still demand a high-energy display as they battle for league position.

                Roger East took charge of this same fixture last season – it was his first fixture back after being dropped for mistakenly sending off Wes Brown and not John O’Shea in Sunderland’s defeat to Manchester United.

                Regardless of that, Klopp may be be unhappy with the choice of official.

                He thought East made some ‘funny decisions’ that were a contributory factor to the Reds going out of the FA Cup at West Ham earlier this season.

                Roger East – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 24 (4 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 35
                Last refereed Swansea City: 12 March 2016
                Last refereed Liverpool: 20 March 2016

                Anthony Taylor: Watford v Aston Villa
                Assistants: S. Ledger and S. Child
                Fourth official: D. Coote

                Anthony Taylor’s appointment at Vicarage Road will ruffle a few feathers.

                After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Hornets striker Troy Deeney accused the official of allowing himself to be intimidated by Tottenham Hotspur players, a view shared by Deeney’s team-mates.

                From unfit staff partying until the early hours, to players being pleased that relegation is already confirmed to rumours of dressing room mutiny…. Aston Villa is a soap opera that has it all at the moment.

                Taylor should see this almost meaningless match through with relative ease – the official stood out as the least error-prone Select Group referee in You Are The Ref's recent survey.

                Read more: YATR survey reveals shocking Premier League error rate

                Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 30 (14 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 40
                Last refereed Watford: 2 April 2016
                Last refereed Aston Villa: 13 March 2016

                Mike Jones: Arsenal v Norwich City
                Assistants: R. West and M. Scholes
                Fourth official: K. Friend

                Arsenal have a tricky home assignment against a Norwich side who are fighting for their Premier League lives.

                The race for the fourth Champions League spot is very much on, with the Gunners looking slight favourites at this point.

                Any slip-ups and both West Ham and Manchester United are poised to take advantage.

                Alex Neil’s side are still scrapping for every point and Mike Jones will need to be at his very best to ensure he doesn't cost either side dear. Jones has recovered from a difficult start to the campaign where some of his decisions were heavily scrutinised.

                It’s to his credit that he has overcome being a focal point of player and supporter ire to deliver, in the main, a decent standard of work.

                A high-profile mistake here will bookend his season in the worst possible way, so the fullest concentration levels are necessary.

                Mike Jones – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 26 (5 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 36
                Last refereed Arsenal: 13 January 2016 Last refereed Norwich City: 13 February 2016

                Craig Pawson: Stoke City v Sunderland
                Assistants: M. Mullarkey and H. Lennard
                Fourth official: R. East

                Heading to the Britannia Stadium wouldn’t necessarily be a place where Sunderland would want to play when looking for points, but as Spurs showed recently, Stoke are a different side these days and they will afford their opposition time and space.

                Their play has a more cultured, continental feel these days, but with a layer of granite, should they require it, that Mark Hughes himself would be proud of.

                Sunderland have previously accused Craig Pawson of inconsistency, the same charge that their opponents have also levelled at the official. At least both sides will know what they’re getting before the first whistle blows!

                This one is unlikely to be pretty, not that it will be any less intoxicating.

                Pawson has got to bring his A game to the party because if any part of his performance can be attributable to Sunderland losing the game, PGMOL won’t hear the last of it from Allardyce and Co.

                Craig Pawson – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 26 (15 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 19
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 36
                Last refereed Stoke City: 19 March 2016
                Last refereed Sunderland: 2 January 2016

                Neil Swarbrick: Everton v Bournemouth
                Assistants: M. McDonough and D. Cook
                Fourth official: J. Moss

                Neil Swarbrick should be able to enjoy a game played by two super footballing sides with the possibility of lots of goals high indeed.

                The game is not of major importance, although both sides will want to finish the season in style, and Toffees' boss Roberto Martinez will want to bounce back from a Merseyside derby thrashing and a last-gasp defeat in the FA Cup Semi-Final.

                The official, who hasn't refereed an Everton game since 2014, has been known to curtail the flow of games in the past and he’ll be well advised not the kill the spectacle here.

                Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 16 (2 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
                Last refereed Everton: 15 December 2014
                Last refereed Bournemouth: 20 March 2016

                Lee Mason: West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United
                Assistants: D. Bryan and A. Fox
                Fourth official: M. Oliver

                Only Lee Mason’s 18th appointment of the season, still significantly behind that of his colleagues.

                Any ring rustiness from the official won’t be appreciated by Slaven Bilic. The Croatian has seen has West Ham side drop eight points recently and drop out of the hunt for a Champions League berth.

                He can ill afford for the Hammers to drop any more at this late stage as they’ll drop out of European contention altogether.

                Tony Pulis hasn’t been his usual vociferous self this season where referees are concerned but perhaps he’s been saving himself.

                Mason is known to be one of the Welshman’s least favourite exponents, “a little too whistle happy” was how Pulis once described him.

                Sure to be real blood and thunder Premier League fare, Mason has to be on top of this one from the off.

                Lee Mason – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 18 (6 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 20
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
                Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 6 February 2016
                Last refereed West Ham United: 20 December 2015

                Mike Dean: Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
                Assistants: S. Long and S. Burt
                Fourth official: R. Madley

                What a game in prospect at St. James’ Park!

                A 2-2 draw at Anfield after being two goals down is the most obvious sign of the belief that Rafa Benitez has sprinkled in the dressing room and that momentum could be crucial in the final shake-up.

                They play a Crystal Palace side who will be cock-a-hoop at reaching the FA Cup Final for the first time in 26 years, but who’ve been equally dire for the most part in the league.

                Neither manager is a fan of Mike Dean, an official that normally grabs the headlines for all of the wrong reasons.

                His run-ins with Pardew are extensive, less so with Benitez, but clearly any animosity has to be put to one side for 90 minutes to let the man take care of business.

                If he does so, and frankly why wouldn’t he when all eyes are on him, Dean will have gone some way to repairing damaged relationships.

                Mike Dean – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 31 (13 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 37
                Last refereed Newcastle United: 2 April 2016
                Last refereed Crystal Palace: 6 February 2016
                Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

                Mark Clattenburg: Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur
                Assistants: S. Beck and J. Collin
                Fourth official: A. Marriner

                Mauricio Pochettino’s side have to take all three points to be in with any chance of catching Leicester at the top, and this London derby has potential for fireworks with so much at stake.

                Mark Clattenburg’s spat with Jon Obi Mikel is long since forgotten at Chelsea and given how well the official has carried out his duties this season, both managers have to be happy with the choice of official.

                Pochettino didn’t enjoy Clattenburg’s officiating whilst he was manager of Southampton but has had no such complaints since taking the hot seat at White Hart Lane.

                Given the high-profile nature of this fixture, this is a perfect opportunity for Clattenburg to show what he is capable of pre-European Championships, where he will be one of England’s representatives.

                Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 28 (13 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 41
                Last refereed Chelsea: 5 March 2016
                Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 14 February 2016
                Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games
                --
                Michael Oliver: Manchester United v Leicester City
                Assistants: G. Beswick and L. Betts
                Fourth official: C. Pawson

                Claudio Ranieri and his Leicester side are that close to the title that they can almost smell it, but a defeat at Old Trafford could really open things up if Tottenham take the points at Chelsea.

                The Red Devils have had something of a late season renaissance, and will be in high spirits after reaching the FA Cup Final. Marcus Rashford in particular has enough about him to cause Wes Morgan and co. some problems.

                Michael Oliver is an interesting appointment given that he often lacks courage and bravery when a big decision needs to be made – as was shown during the Manchester derby in March, the last time he officiated a United game.

                On that occasion Oliver refused to award United a penalty late in the day when Marcus Rashford was clearly taken down by Martin Demichelis.

                Leicester have no such concern, so maybe their luck can hold for just a little longer…

                Michael Oliver – all you need to know
                Matches in 2015/16: 22 (11 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
                Last refereed Manchester United: 20 March 2016
                Last refereed Leicester City: 3 April 2016
                Honours: 4th official – 2013 League Cup Final, 2014 Community Shield, Assistant 2014 UEFA Super Cup, 2015 FA Trophy Final, 2015 U17 World Cup Final, 2015 League Cup Final

                  Runners and Riders

                  What did we say in this column last week about Jonathan Moss and his appointment at the Leicester versus West Ham game?!

                  It’s fair to say that he had a difficult day at the office with some inconsistencies in his performance.

                  A late penalty decision handed the hosts a lifeline so there’ll be no complaints from the Foxes, but Slaven Bilic was rightly fuming.

                  Moss aside, it was an otherwise reasonable weekend for the officials, so let's take a look at who is refereeing in Week 35…
                  --
                  Andre Marriner: Manchester City v Stoke City
                  Assistants: S. Ledger and D. Cann
                  Fourth official: R. Madley

                  Mark Hughes against his former club always provides this fixture with a nice little narrative and on this occasion, the Welshman and his charges have more to play for than in many of the previous meetings.

                  Stoke are just four points off of seventh spot, and a potential Europa League placing – dependent on a number of circumstances.

                  Manuel Pellegrini has Real Madrid on his mind and has already hinted at rotations. The Champions League semi-final match follows directly after this one, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to expect a number of changes.

                  City need to remain competitive however because they’re only above Arsenal on goal difference, as the chase for a direct route into next season’s competition hot’s up.

                  With plenty at stake, Marriner can ill afford to give Hughes and Stoke – they’ve made an official complaint about him in the past – another excuse to take things to the top.

                  Andre Marriner – all you need to know
                  Matches in 2015/16: 23 (12 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
                  Last refereed Manchester City: 21 December 2015
                  Last refereed Stoke City: 6 February 2016

                  Roger East: Bournemouth v Chelsea
                  Assistants: A. Fox and D. Eaton
                  Fourth official: G. Scott

                  Last weekend, Chelsea had the Premier League trophy on display at Stamford Bridge in a bid to rouse the local support.

                  Bournemouth don’t need such gimmicks and will look to do the double over the Blues for the first time in their history.

                  What has defined Eddie Howe’s men throughout the season is a solid way of working and no deviation from what is believed to be the correct way of playing.

                  For a period it seemed as though the Cherries would be heading straight back to the Championship but a mid-season renaissance has seen Howe’s men comfortable for a while now.

                  Expect goals galore and interplay that will rival anything else you’ve seen this season.

                  Roger East can hopefully sit back and marvel at the feast of football on show, and shouldn’t need to get too involved because this one should flow nicely.

                  It’ll be the fifth time that the official has taken charge of a Bournemouth game so he should be accustomed to their way of working and tailor his officiating accordingly.

                  Roger East – all you need to know
                  Matches in 2015/16: 23 (4 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 34
                  Last refereed Bournemouth: 12 March 2016
                  Last refereed Chelsea: 13 February 2016

                  Mike Jones: Aston Villa v Southampton
                  Assistants: A. Garratt and M. Wilkes
                  Fourth official: K. Friend

                  'Thank god it’s over' will be a familiar refrain coming from Villa Park and surrounding areas. Not for Ronald Koeman’s Southampton side however, who continue to vye for a European spot.

                  The Saints provide width, support and a dogged determination to their play which is everything that Villa’s under-performers do not.

                  Mike Jones has the whistle for this one and he might just as well blow the sailor’s hornpipe on it for all the atmosphere there’ll be at the ground.

                  Another home defeat will be expected and it’s arguable if any home fans in the ground will even care if Jones gets his decision making a little awry on the day.

                  Neither team has any previous with him in charge and with Jones continuing to make a name for himself, Mike Riley could be looking at this one with interest.

                  Mike Jones – all you need to know
                  Matches in 2015/16: 25 (4 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 35
                  Last refereed Aston Villa: 3 October 2015
                  Last refereed Southampton: 23 January 2016

                  Martin Atkinson: Liverpool v Newcastle United
                  Assistants: S. Child and H. Lennard
                  Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

                  Rafa Benitez couldn’t have planned it any better.

                  The Spaniard returns to the place where it all began for him in England and he’s sure to get a rapturous reception from the locals.

                  Whether his old team will be in quite such a benevolent mood is another story entirely.

                  Jurgen Klopp’s side have a chance of securing Europa League football through this season’s league placing, assuming that they’re unable to win the trophy during the current campaign.

                  With that in mind, it’s doubtful that the Reds will take their foot off of the pedal.

                  Martin Atkinson is the right man for what will be a pressure-cooker atmosphere at Anfield..

                  As long as Atkinson is on top of the opening exchanges then this should pass without too much incident.

                  Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
                  Matches in 2015/16: 30 (15 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
                  Last refereed Liverpool: 2 March 2016
                  Last refereed Newcastle United: 20 March 2016
                  Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

                  Robert Madley: Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion
                  Assistants: P. Kirkup and C. Hatzidakis
                  Fourth official: R. East

                  Robert Madley’s debut as a referee in the Premier League involved West Bromwich Albion but the pressure he felt that day will be nothing compared to what’s awaiting him at White Hart Lane.

                  There’s still every chance that Tottenham can snatch the league title from Leicester’s grasp and if the Foxes slip up again, a win for the home side here will bring them to within two points of the top of the table.

                  Rarely, if ever, are Tony Pulis’ sides accommodating and they’ll come to disrupt the party here too.

                  Some strong arm tactics can be expected and that won’t please Mauricio Pochettino and his young side.

                  The contrast in styles couldn’t be greater, both teams a mirror of their managers.

                  Madley might want to bring a hard hat with him to this one because it might just be a bit too much out of his comfort zone. Mike Riley be warned.

                  Robert Madley – all you need to know
                  Matches in 2015/16: 23 (4 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 34
                  Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 15 August 2015
                  Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 23 January 2016

                  Mark Clattenburg: Leicester City v Swansea City
                  Assistants: S. Beck and J. Collin
                  Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

                  As Sir Alex Ferguson might say… it’s squeaky bum time.

                  If Claudio Ranieri’s men can win this, they’ll know that two more wins at the most will hand them a Premier League title that most of the country has been willing them to win for the last couple of months.

                  Their visitors have got absolutely nothing to play for but how often have we seen such fixtures prove costly.

                  Mark Clattenburg isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no better appointment at the King Power Stadium than he. He’ll certainly be more consistent in his decision making than Moss was at this venue a week ago.

                  Arguably, he should’ve been in charge of the West Ham game instead of Moss - but was on a Euro 2016 referees course instead.

                  Seems like Mike Riley might have some making up to do in the Midlands!

                  Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
                  Matches in 2015/16: 27 (12 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 40
                  Last refereed Leicester City: 1 March 2016
                  Last refereed Swansea City: 7 November 2015
                  Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

                  Mike Dean: Sunderland v Arsenal
                  Assistants: S. Long and M. Salisbury
                  Fourth official: M. Jones

                  The venue is different and the game comes a few weeks before the same time last season. But the outcome could well be the same.

                  If the Black Cats can put one over Arsene Wenger’s side again, it could preserve their Premier League safety for another season.

                  The Gunners need the win to keep in with a shout of automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League rather than having to go through an arduous qualification process.

                  Mike Dean loves these fixtures. All eyes will be on the Stadium of Light and Dean will want the leading role. No support act for him thanks very much.

                  He’ll need to be careful, mind, Arsenal have already marked his card before now. Fans organised a petition back in September to have him removed from refereeing any of their matches and indeed, this is the first he’s taken charge of since then.

                  Not long after the last game – against Chelsea for those with short memories – a university professor even worked out that the Gunners are statistically more likely to lose with Dean in charge.

                  Potentially explosive!

                  Mike Dean – all you need to know
                  Matches in 2015/16: 30 (13 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 35
                  Last refereed Sunderland: 27 February 2016
                  Last refereed Arsenal: 19 September 2015
                  Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

                    Runners and Riders

                    There are no less than 15 games in Premier League week 34 as all of the teams look to play out their games in hand in good time for the closure of the 2015/16 campaign.

                    We’ll profile the 10 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday below.

                    There are, once again, some very entertaining fixtures, but also some entertaining fourth official appointments from PGMOL. Given what’s at stake, let’s hope that messrs Gibbs, Webb and Bankes are up to a stint in the middle if needs be.

                    Let’s take a look at who's refereeing in Week 34…
                    --
                    Andre Marriner: Norwich City v Sunderland
                    Assistants: S. Ledger and S. Child
                    Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

                    The battle at the bottom and a real relegation six pointer.

                    There’s little doubt that if Norwich can win this game, their Premier League status for another season is looking very healthy indeed.

                    There will be 12 points left to play for after this game, and a Canaries win will see them seven points above the Black Cats.

                    It will be tense, it will be tight and it will be tough. Very tough. In fact, anyone who doesn’t want to put a shift in at the coal face may as well not turn up. And that includes Andre Marriner.

                    The official has one of his most important appointments of the season to negotiate and it’s also his first look at Norwich.

                    That won’t help in this kind of environment as the nuance of being aware of players’ strengths or foibles is lost.

                    Andre Marriner – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 22 (11 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
                    Last refereed Norwich City: n/a
                    Last refereed Sunderland: 13 February 2016

                    Roger East: Arsenal v Crystal Palace
                    Assistants: R. West and M. Scholes
                    Fourth official: M. Dean

                    This is one appointment that could well come back to bite Mike Riley on the backside.

                    Roger East is steady and efficient in the middle but has been shown to not have the robust character required when the going gets tough.

                    Arsenal are still chasing automatic Champions League qualification and indeed, that’s all they have left to play for at this point.

                    Arsene Wenger needs a strong performance from the official because there’ll be a strong performance from Arsenal’s opponents, without doubt.

                    Alan Pardew’s team need to raise their game in preparation for an upcoming FA Cup semi final. A win at the Emirates keeps the confidence where it should be with the cup in mind.

                    Pardew has had his run-ins with East and despite another fine if he steps out of line, the Palace manager will speak his mind as necessary.

                    Roger East – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 22 (4 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
                    Last refereed Arsenal: 28 December 2015
                    Last refereed Crystal Palace: 31 January 2015

                    Anthony Taylor: Manchester United v Aston Villa
                    Assistants: L. Betts and D. Cann
                    Fourth official: D. Webb

                    This is the game that could send Villa down, with United no doubt on a high from their midweek success at West Ham United which saw them through to the FA Cup Semi-Finals.

                    Anthony Taylor is an interesting appointment, predominantly because he hails from Greater Manchester and considering the PGMOL's move to take Kevin Friend off a fixture for an arguably more trivial reason – but more on that later.

                    No one is suggesting that he is or will be biased in his officiating, but Mike Riley has made a rod for his own back with this one.

                    Taylor should see this through with ease, with perhaps his concentration levels being the only thing that needs to be wary of in a game that might well send the fans to sleep.

                    Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 29 (14 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 39
                    Last refereed Manchester United: 12 December 2015
                    Last refereed Aston Villa: 13 March 2016

                    Mike Jones: Bournemouth v Liverpool
                    Assistants: A. Garratt and A. Holmes
                    Fourth official: G. Scott

                    Liverpool are finally beginning to get back to somewhere near their swashbuckling best and a Europa League spot beckons at this point as they fight it out with a handful of clubs in these next few weeks.

                    Eddie Howe will be delighted how this debut Premier League season has gone with the Cherries rallying to the extent that they now sit in 11th in the table and well clear of relegation.

                    This should be a decent game for Mike Jones to oversee. The official is one of the fitter exponents in the elite list and won’t have a problem in keeping up with the pace, even if there’s more dynamic sprinting to be done than usual.

                    His main focus should be on the healthy midfield battle which is sure to develop, and which will threaten to spill over if Jones doesn’t keep a lid on matters.

                    He’s shown to have more than enough experience for that not to be a problem however.

                    Mike Jones – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 24 (4 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
                    Last refereed Bournemouth: 2 February 2016 Last refereed Liverpool: 13 January 2016

                    Craig Pawson: Everton v Southampton
                    Assistants: D. Bryan and S. Beck
                    Fourth official: T. Harrington

                    This game should be an absolute cracker for the neutral, if not for the two managers. Both teams love to play an expansive and attacking brand of football that’s very easy on the eye.

                    Craig Pawson has a friend in Martinez and an enemy in Koeman.

                    The former refused to blame the official for not giving a penalty decision in a previous game, a decision that in fact, had the penalty been scored, would’ve won Everton the game.

                    Koeman has been incensed on more than one occasion by Pawson’s dilly-dallying and the man in black will have to man up to get back on the Dutchman’s right side.

                    Craig Pawson – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 25 (15 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 34
                    Last refereed Everton: 3 February 2016
                    Last refereed Southampton: 13 January 2016

                    Neil Swarbrick: Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur
                    Assistants: M. McDonough and M. Perry
                    Fourth official: M. Dean

                    The Potters were well beaten at Anfield last time out and Mark Hughes will be looking for a reaction from his staff against title-chasing Tottenham.

                    Mauricio Pochettino’s side have been the best team to watch in the division this year. Their vibrant football has harked back to yesteryear when the likes of Hoddle and Ardiles were in their pomp.

                    Neil Swarbrick takes charge of this one with PGMOL showing some common sense to remove Kevin Friend from the middle.

                    Friend resides in Leicester and admits to being a fan of the Foxes – Spurs' rivals in the battle for the Premier League crown – prompting the powers above to switch the referee to a midweek fixture to avoid any conflict of interest.

                    Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 15 (1 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 13
                    Last refereed Stoke City: 2 March 2016 Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 20 March 2016

                    Lee Mason: Newcastle United v Swansea City
                    Assistants: S. Bennett and M. Wilkes
                    Fourth official: P. Gibbs

                    Rafael Benitez showed his desperation last week when the Magpies were toothless in their defeat to Southampton.

                    It’s a must win game for the Spaniard and his charges as Norwich start to disappear over the horizon, with the games running out for the north east club to make a late surge for safety.

                    The frustration from the home support will only grow as the pressure gets too much for some.
                    There’s a reason why this is only Lee Mason’s fifth televised game of the season. That should be enough to set the alarm bells ringing on Tyneside.

                    It will be another toxic atmosphere if the hosts don’t strike early and Mason’s management of the game will either enhance the positives, or accentuate the negatives, if he doesn’t hit the right notes.

                    Lee Mason – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 16 (5 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 20
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
                    Last refereed Newcastle United: 6 February 2016
                    Last refereed Swansea City: 20 December 2015

                    Mike Dean: Chelsea v Manchester City
                    Assistants: S. Burt and J. Collin
                    Fourth official: P. Bankes

                    There was a time when the games between these two heavyweights would be gold standard Premier League fare. Not this season.

                    Both have fallen from grace significantly and the two incoming managers have a job on their hands to get either club back to where they belong – although City will be boosted after qualifying for the Champions League Semi-Finals for the first time in midweek.

                    The pressure is on Mike Dean to deliver here. Dean has been known to wilt when in charge of a City game before and Manuel Pellegrini let him know in no uncertain terms what he thought of his decision making.

                    He’ll get the same treatment again if his appreciation of the laws were to deny the visitors three points here.

                    Mike Dean – all you need to know Matches in 2015/16: 28 (12 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 34
                    Last refereed Chelsea: 3 February 2016
                    Last refereed Manchester City: 17 October 2015
                    Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

                    Jonathan Moss: Leicester City v West Ham United
                    Assistants: A. Halliday and H. Lennard
                    Fourth official: R. Madley

                    Who’d have thought at the beginning of this season that a fixture between these two sides would take top billing, with respect?

                    This could be one of the games of the season between two very evenly matched sides and it’s not far off the mark to describe the hosts as the irresistible force, their visitors the immovable object.

                    West Ham have some superb physical specimens in their ranks who’ll ensure that Leicester have to work for a result.

                    Jonathan Moss has no truck with either manager and, although he’s not a crowd favourite at Upton Park, this one’s at the King Power Stadium and should be safe in the Midlands – especially if he officiates with aplomb.

                    If it’s the result of a failure on the officials part, woe betide Mike Riley…..especially if Spurs close the gap behind.

                    Jonathan Moss – all you need to know Matches in 2015/16: 22 (11 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
                    Last refereed Leicester City: 5 March 2016
                    Last refereed West Ham United: 2 February 2016 Honours: 2015 FA Cup Final
                    --
                    Michael Oliver: West Bromwich Albion v Watford
                    Assistants: G. Beswick and D. Eaton
                    Fourth official: N. Miller

                    Probably the one game of the weekend with nothing very much at all riding on the outcome.

                    So why Mike Riley has decided that one of his best exponents should be handed the reins is anyone’s guess.

                    Especially when you consider that the error prone Roger East has been given the Arsenal v Crystal Palace game, a London derby that would’ve been far more suited to the calm approach of Oliver.

                    In any event, this is likely to be a game of contrasting styles. An old school Tony Pulis-inspired West Brom against the new continentals of Watford. Both ways of playing have their merit although the Hornets will be more pleasing on the eye.

                    It would be a huge surprise if there’s any referee controversy here.

                    Michael Oliver – all you need to know Matches in 2015/16: 21 (10 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
                    Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 13 February 2016
                    Last refereed Watford: 18 January 2016
                    Honours: 4th official – 2013 League Cup Final, 2014 Community Shield, Assistant 2014 UEFA Super Cup, 2015 FA Trophy Final, 2015 U17 World Cup Final, 2015 League Cup Final

                      Author: Jason Pettigrove

                      Runners and Riders

                      The countdown has begun.

                      Just five Premier League games to go after this round of fixtures, with Leicester still heading the pack with a commanding lead.

                      As seems to be the way when we get to the business end, almost every game has significance attached. PGMOL have brought out all of their big guns and well they might. It’s crunch time.

                      Let’s take a look at which of them is refereeing in Week 33…
                      --
                      Andre Marriner: Swansea City v Chelsea

                      Assistants: S. Ledger and D. Bryan
                      Fourth official: K. Johnson

                      In the week when Chelsea announce Antonio Conte as their new manager, could the Blues suffer the same fate as Man City once Manuel Pellegrini was known to be moving on?

                      The west Londoners have enjoyed some great form under Guus Hiddink and the Dutchman will be hopeful it can continue in his final six games in the job.

                      Swansea have endured a miserable season and the sooner it’s over for the Welshmen the better.

                      The right refereeing appointment is also needed for this fixture and although Andre Marriner hasn’t always been at his best in 2015/16, there has been a steady improvement in his work over the period.

                      Not much more than pride to play for here but Marriner should still keep his wits about him.

                      Andre Marriner – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 21 (10 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
                      Last refereed Swansea City: 21 November 2015
                      Last refereed Chelsea: 26 December 2015

                      Mark Clattenburg: Liverpool v Stoke City
                      Assistants: S. Beck and R. West
                      Fourth official: K. Friend

                      Two points ahead of their hosts in the table, but with Liverpool having played two games less, this is a European fight to the finish.

                      Klopp has already criticised Mark Clattenburg this season, claiming the official was wrong to award Watford a goal in an encounter from earlier this season.

                      Just a month has passed since Clattenburg has taken charge of a game involving Mark Hughes’ Stoke – an appointment that is becoming something of a regular occurrence.

                      With the Euros just a couple of months away now, another big performance is needed.

                      Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 26 (11 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 38
                      Last refereed Liverpool: 17 January 2016
                      Last refereed Stoke City: 5 March 2016
                      Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

                      Anthony Taylor: Sunderland v Leicester City

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

                      All eyes will be on Anthony Taylor because the result here affects both ends of the table.

                      An often overly officious referee, Taylor can’t afford even the smallest mistake here so is well advised just to ease into the game and let it flow.

                      Five of Leicester’s last six games have been won by a score of 1-0 and as anyone knows, that’s title-winning form at this stage of the season.

                      Heading to the Stadium of Light and against a Sunderland team that are fighting for their lives won’t be an easy 90 minutes.

                      The next two fixtures are make or break for Claudio Ranieri and his men. Win this and the home game against West Ham, and it would then require a collapse of monumental proportions to ensure that the trophy didn’t find its way to the King Power Stadium.

                      Big Sam Allardyce would certainly take a skin-of-the-teeth victory at this stage as his side look to claw their way out of the bottom three.

                      Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 28 (14 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 38
                      Last refereed Sunderland: 1 March 2016
                      Last refereed Leicester City: 6 February 2016

                      Mike Jones: Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion
                      Assistants: A. Garratt and I. Hussin
                      Fourth official: R. East

                      No doubt about it.

                      This is a must win game for Manchester City.

                      Fail to get all three points again and if results elsewhere go against them, they could be joint sixth at close of play.

                      Who’d have thought that at this late stage the Citizens would be scrapping just to get into the Champions League for next season – that’s assuming they don’t win this season’s edition of course.

                      West Bromwich Albion under Tony Pulis have never been any respecter of reputations and it will sit quite nicely with the Welshman if his side were to upset the odds again.

                      Mike Jones has been regularly employed throughout the campaign, a sign that the official is growing into the responsibilities required for elite level.

                      Neither side have any truck with Jones, which is just the way he’d like it to stay you would imagine.

                      Mike Jones – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 23 (4 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
                      Last refereed Manchester City: 12 September 2015
                      Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 28 December 2015

                      Craig Pawson: West Ham United v Arsenal
                      Assistants: L. Betts and D. Cann
                      Fourth official: J. Moss

                      What a London derby in prospect as the Hammers go searching for their first league double over the Gunners in years.

                      The last time Arsenal will ever visit the Boleyn Ground so, despite the early kick off, we can be assured that there will be a capacity crowd in attendance for one of the Premier League’s finest fixtures.

                      Arsene Wenger’s side have a game in hand over Tottenham and if they continue to win, then the extra match sees them leapfrog their neighbours into second with a victory.

                      Most certainly all to play for on either side, because although Slaven Bilic’s side are tailing off slightly, there’s still every chance they could snatch the fourth qualifying spot for the Champions League.

                      How nice would that be for a debut season in the Olympic Stadium?

                      Craig Pawson is the right man for the job so let’s hope that the TV cameras don’t shred the nerves of an official who has been consistency personified throughout the campaign.

                      Craig Pawson – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 24 (15 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
                      Last refereed West Ham United: 23 January 2016
                      Last refereed Arsenal: 28 February 2016

                      Kevin Friend: Watford v Everton
                      Assistants: S. Long and A. Fox
                      Fourth official: S. Duncan

                      On paper it would be a fair suggestion to make that the Toffees would be much higher placed than the Hornets at this point. With the greatest of respect to Watford of course.

                      What Quique Sanchez Flores has done however, is get the Vicarage Road crowd believing again.

                      As with Bournemouth, the team that splits these two opponents, Watford are now very much at home in the division and don’t look out of place.

                      That’s an incredible affirmation of what the Spaniard has brought to the table in the short time he has been in the managerial role.

                      Another Spaniard, Roberto Martinez, hasn’t fared nearly half as well considering the talent that he has at his disposal.

                      A team chock full of attacking talent shouldn’t be floundering in 12th position but Everton’s problems really begin and end in defence, because goals haven’t been hard to come by. Keeping them out has.

                      Kevin Friend has had his critics this season, Martinez being one of them, and there is still much for the official to improve upon including his decision making.

                      Kevin Friend – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 17 (3 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 22
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 25
                      Last refereed Watford: n/a
                      Last refereed Everton: 28 November 2015

                      Martin Atkinson: Aston Villa v Bournemouth
                      Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
                      Fourth official: M. Dean

                      If they lose this match and Norwich get a point in theirs, then Villa are definitely down.

                      Back in August, many predicted that Bournemouth would be in this position, but that’s not proved to be the case. Eddie Howe’s side have been playing a brand of football that Villa have been synonymous with over the years but which has been sorely lacking in this campaign.

                      Smooth transitions, quick accurate passing, players working hard for each other….it’s all there.

                      And the travelling fans will drink it in as they put what could be the final nail in the Villans' Premier League coffin.

                      Martin Atkinson probably has one of his easier appointments between now and the end of the season because in all honesty there’s little to play for, for either side.

                      Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 29 (15 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
                      Last refereed Aston Villa: 6 February 2016
                      Last refereed Bournemouth: 12 Janaury 2016
                      Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

                      Mike Dean: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
                      Assistants: S. Burt and E. Smart
                      Fourth official: J. Moss

                      Probably the game of the weekend in England and one where the hosts are most certainly playing better football than their visitors.

                      Mauricio Pochettino has transformed the north Londoners into a lean, mean, machine and the speed with which they can turn defence into attack is breath taking.

                      A heady mix of power, pace and sniper-like finishing has seen Tottenham deservedly in the mix for a title tilt.

                      Man United on the other hand are still scrapping for a Champions League spot and at this stage it looks like fourth could be the highest they finish - meaning a qualifying round in European football’s most glamourous competition next season.

                      That’s only if Louis Van Gaal can inspire his troops in the final run-in.

                      Mike Dean will be cock-a-hoop that the TV cameras are there to see him again. Can he resist the urge to celebrate should one of his decisions lead to a goal? Will Twitter explode and christen him Manchester United’s new signing once more?

                      We will see…

                      Mike Dean – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 27 (11 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
                      Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 16 January 2016
                      Last refereed Manchester United: 6 March 2016
                      Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

                      Robert Madley: Southampton v Newcastle United
                      Assistants: M. Perry and J. Brooks
                      Fourth official: G. Ward

                      Rafael Benitez could do without Newcastle’s longest away trip when they’re fighting for points to drag themselves out of the bottom three.

                      Ronald Koeman’s side are still pressing for European football and have a genuine chance for the same. There’ll be no sentiment from the Dutchman that’s for sure.

                      Robert Madley takes up the whistle for the first of two appointments in week 33, and can continue his upward trajectory with a decent showing here.

                      During Steve McClaren’s tenure at St. James’ Park the ref got decisions wrong, and the ex-Newcastle manager said he had ‘never been angrier’ with an official.

                      Given their position, Benitez will be hopeful of not having the same post match conversations with the press.

                      Robert Madley – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 22 (7 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
                      Last refereed Southampton: 3 October 2015
                      Last refereed Newcastle United: 25 October 2015
                      --
                      Michael Oliver: Crystal Palace v Norwich City
                      Assistants: G. Beswick and S. Bennett
                      Fourth official: D. Bond

                      This is a fixture for two precariously positioned teams.

                      The visitors are just about keeping their heads above water at the moment but a win here would drag the Eagles right into the relegation mire.

                      Although Alan Pardew and his side have an FA Cup semi final at Wembley to look forward to, the manager will want Premier League status secured first and foremost.

                      Norwich on the other hand are finding some form just at the right time, and the Canaries will scrap for every ball. 

The pressure is very much all on the hosts in this one.

                      Michael Oliver has long since been forgiven by Pardew for some poor decisions in a fixture a year ago, and Alex Neil hasn’t had any complaints as to the standard of his officiating either.

                      It won’t be a breeze for the officials either but this game is in safe hands.

                      Michael Oliver – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 20 (10 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
                      Last refereed Crystal Palace: 26 December 2015
                      Last refereed Norwich City: 19 December 2015
                      Honours: 4th official – 2013 League Cup Final, 2014 Community Shield, Assistant 2014 UEFA Super Cup, 2015 FA Trophy Final, 2015 U17 World Cup Final, 2015 League Cup Final

                      Robert Madley: Crystal Palace v Everton
                      Assistants: M. Perry and H. Lennard
                      Fourth official: P. Tierney

                      Palace’s second home game in a matter of days is also Robert Madley’s second appointment of the week.

                      Although Alan Pardew refused to criticise the official during the last game he oversaw, his players were incandescent at a penalty award which cost the Eagles.

                      The manager described it as a ‘slight error’ perhaps mindful of the fine that would come his way if his criticism was more strongly worded.

                      Everton, like Palace, continue to flatter to deceive and Roberto Martinez will be disappointed by their standing in the table.

                      As big a game as Palace will have had all season, if they go into this one having lost against Norwich, only a win will do.

                      Robert Madley – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 23 (7 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
                      Last refereed Crystal Palace: 13 February 2015
                      Last refereed Everton: 28 September 2015

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