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jason pettigrove

    Author: Jason Pettigrove

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    With another mid-season international break now out of the way, we can concentrate on the bread and butter of the English top flight.

    There are some cracking fixtures this weekend and the boundaries for mistakes are getting smaller and smaller.

    The pressure is most definitely on the men in the middle to at least deliver on their side of the bargain. The question is, are PGMOL’s finest up to the task in hand?

    Let’s take a look at which of them is refereeing in Week 32…
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    Andre Marriner: Manchester United v Everton
    Assistants: S. Ledger and D. Bryan
    Fourth official: M. Jones

    This could be the first of two fixtures between the sides in April.

    If United manage to overcome West Ham in the last ever cup tie to be played at Upton Park, then they’ll face the Toffees for the right to meet Crystal Palace or Watford in the final. Looking that far ahead will be a mistake of course.

    Everton are playing the swashbuckling style of football that the Old Trafford faithful crave.

    Unfortunately for Roberto Martinez, for all of their attacking verve and spirit, and despite having some of the best young players in their ranks, Everton just aren’t good enough in defence.

    At this point it’s arguable that the Red Devils are in greater need of the points than their visitors because they could fall out of European contention altogether with a couple of poor results.

    Andre Marriner isn’t the wisest choice for this game given that the last time he took charge of an Everton match he was caught by the TV cameras appearing to mouth an obscenity in Gerard Deulofeu’s direction.

    Martinez isn’t his biggest fan either after a series of errors during various matches involving the Toffees.

    Andre Marriner – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 20 (10 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
    Last refereed Manchester United: 13 February 2016
    Last refereed Everton: 6 February 2016

    Mark Clattenburg: West Ham United v Crystal Palace
    Assistants: S. Beck and J. Collin
    Fourth official: D. Whitestone

    Slaven Bilic has transformed West Ham United from also rans to European contenders in the space of 12 months, and has them one game away from the FA Cup semi finals. Not bad. Not bad at all.

    The Eagles were flying high at one stage and were as high as sixth position. However, they’ve fallen way down the pecking order over the last couple of months and whilst they’re unlikely to go down, the lack of fight will concern Alan Pardew.

    A capacity Boleyn crowd will be are praying that Bilic can squeeze every last ounce of commitment out of his players and make Champions League football a reality for the first season at the Olympic Stadium.

    Mark Clattenburg still has to convince Alan Pardew he has the requisite authority in games of this nature after a below-par performance during an Eagles game last year.

    Despite what’s at stake for the hosts, there’ll be no complaints from Bilic if Clattenburg gets the key decisions correct.

    Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 25 (11 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 37
    Last refereed West Ham United: 5 December 2015
    Last refereed Crystal Palace: 12 January 2016
    Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

    Anthony Taylor: Arsenal v Watford
    Assistants: H. Lennard and P. Kirkup
    Fourth official: A. Marriner

    Can lightning strike twice at the Emirates Stadium? Gunners fans will hope not because another surprising win for the Hornets will severely dent their hopes of a top four finish.

    At present Arsene Wenger’s side have a healthy four-point gap over Manchester City but they play a Watford side who need just one more win to hit the safety mark of 40 points for the season.

    Given the limited funds available to Quique Sanchez Flores, some Premier League stability will be the best indicator of his acumen in the role.

    The ‘Wenger Out’ brigade have been in full voice since their last humbling at the hands of the Hornets. The noise will become a cacophony of sound if the Frenchman is unable to inspire yet again.

    Anthony Taylor needs a big game to put him back into the frame for some of the more glamourous Premier League fixtures.

    Although he’s had regular employment during the course of the campaign, it’s become entirely noticeable how his performances have often been of the ‘safe and steady’ variety.

    Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 27 (13 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 37
    Last refereed Arsenal: 2 January 2016
    Last refereed Watford: 27 February 2016

    Jonathan Moss: Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur
    Assistants: S. Long and A. Halliday
    Fourth official: M. Jones

    The quality of Jurgen Klopp’s starting line up will be an indicator of how seriously he takes the Europa League.

    A date at this former club Borussia Dortmund follows this clash just four days later and whilst most are expecting the Germans to dump the Reds out over two legs, if anyone has the keys to that particular lock it would be Klopp.

    Spurs arrive on Merseyside as one of the favourites for the title and, in Harry Kane, have one of the form strikers in the division.

    Any Leicester slip up at this stage gives Mauricio Pochettino and co. more than a sniff of silverware, given that it would bring Spurs to within two points of the leaders.

    Man for man, Tottenham arguably have the best young side in the division and their football isn’t too different to the ‘rock and roll’ high octane gegenpressing that Klopp enjoys.

    Jonathan Moss has had a reasonable campaign, if not one to write home about. His 21st Premier League appointment of 2015/16 is a belter.

    If he allows this one to flow then it promises to be a fantastic game of football and one that could have a huge impact on the destination of the title this season.

    The expected fast pace across the 90 minutes could however show up Moss’ lack of fitness and it’ll be worth casting an eye on his dynamic sprinting after the hour mark, and how this affects decisions late in the game.

    Jonathan Moss – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 21 (10 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
    Last refereed Liverpool: 21 November 2015
    Last refereed Tottenham Hotpsur: 5 December 2015
    Honours: 2015 FA Cup Final

    Neil Swarbrick: Aston Villa v Chelsea
    Assistants: M. Salisbury and D. Cann
    Fourth official: L. Mason

    Chelsea have improved to such an extent post-Mourinho that they are now on the verge of a Europa League spot. A couple of wins and a bit of luck could see the Blues end the season in style. Shame the same can’t be said about Aston Villa.

    The Midlanders can’t catch a break from anywhere and each performance just becomes more laboured than the last. Remi Garde’s departure wasn’t unexpected and is just another nail in Villa’s coffin.

    A horrible campaign with nothing whatsoever to hang onto as worthy of any note, another expected loss here won’t put them out of their misery quite yet - but it won’t be far off.

    Neil Swarbrick gets his first televised fixture of the season in his 14th game, and his second appointment in a row.

    A good showing here could set the official up nicely for a busy end to the season.

    Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 14 (1 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
    Last refereed Aston Villa: 14 February 2016
    Last refereed Chelsea: 7 February 2015

    Roger East: Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion
    Assistants: R. West and M. Scholes
    Fourth official: J. Adcock

    Of the bottom seven sides in the division, Sunderland are the highest scorers and ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce will want Jermain Defoe et al to weigh in with some goals in the remaining games.

    Realistically, only Norwich (two points ahead) and Crystal Palace (seven points ahead) can be caught. Dick Advocaat managed the seemingly impossible last season. Can his successor replicate the same?

    West Brom aren’t really the side to be playing when points are so desperately at stake. Tony Pulis is no respecter of reputations and he’ll bring his own brand of physical football to the party.

    A game that is likely to be short on quality but high on incident, hence why Roger East needs to be on the ball.

    Sunderland’s fans certainly will feel ill at ease with the appointment, given that East sent off the wrong man in Wes Brown in another high pressure encounter last season.

    Pulis too will be eagle-eyed, for it was East he blamed for denying his team two penalties in WBA’s loss at Swansea at the end of last year.

    Roger East – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 21 (3 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
    Last refereed Sunderland: 23 January 2016
    Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 26 December 2015

    Martin Atkinson: Stoke City v Swansea City
    Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
    Fourth official: M. Oliver

    Ten points separate these two ball-playing teams. It doesn’t sound a lot but Swansea have a long way to go to be able to sit proudly alongside a Stoke side that have been revolutionised under Mark Hughes.

    If the Potters can win their home fixtures then there is every chance that Europa League football will be coming to the Britannia Stadium in 2016/17.

    Swansea have pulled clear from the relegation zone following three wins from their past four matches, and can perhaps begin to relax with 10 points between them and 18th place.

    Quite why Martin Atkinson has been appointed to this particular game is a question that Mike Riley needs to be asked. More so when you consider Michael Oliver is his fourth official.

    There are much higher profile fixtures in week 32 that would’ve benefited from the expertise of Atkinson.

    Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 28 (15 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
    Last refereed Stoke City: 5 December 2015
    Last refereed Swansea City: 30 August 2015
    Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

    Mike Dean: Norwich City v Newcastle United
    Assistants: S. Burt and D. Cook
    Fourth official: S. Martin

    The green shoots of a recovery have shown themselves at St. James Park. Rafa Benitez’s arrival has seen a very slight upturn in performance, but will it be too little, too late?

    The Spaniard is no miracle worker and has to work with what he’s got. After only a point earned against Sunderland, all three are imperative at Carrow Road.

    If the Magpies can clip the Canaries’ wings, then the win will see the visitors draw level on points with their hosts and bring them right back into the relegation equation again.

    Alex Neil’s side have found the right ingredients at just the right time and momentum is most certainly with them at this point. A packed-to-the-rafters home crowd can really play their part in making this particular game a home banker.

    The hosts are unlikely to be too concerned at the appointment of Mike Dean, the visitors maybe not so.

    The last time that Dean took charge of a Newcastle game was the pulsating 3-3 draw with Manchester United. A match in which he made three contentious penalty decisions, all of which were debated at length after the game.

    Mike Dean – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 26 (10 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
    Last refereed Norwich City: 5 December 2015
    Last refereed Newcastle United: 12 January 2016
    Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

    Robert Madley: Bournemouth v Manchester City
    Assistants: M. McDonough and M. Perry
    Fourth official: T. Harrington

    What on earth has happened at Manchester City? Genuine title contenders a few weeks ago and now struggling to retain their place in the top four.

    Fail to take all three points here and both West Ham and Man United can go above them across the weekend. Pep Guardiola surely wouldn’t have countenanced coming to a side that might only be playing Europa League football next season.

    Bournemouth will be looking forward to playing against a side who’ll give them space and therefore opportunity.

    Eddie Howe will make sure his staff are up and at ‘em from the first whistle and the result at Dean Court is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    Robert Madley has awarded 10 penalties in his last 15 Premier League games but interestingly didn’t award Manchester City a blatant one in their Capital One Cup semi-final against Everton.

    With everything to play for here, Pellegrini won’t accept anything less than a top class showing from the official.

    Robert Madley – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 21 (7 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 26
    Last refereed Bournemouth: 16 January 2016
    Last refereed Manchester City: 12 December 2015

    Michael Oliver: Leicester City v Southampton
    Assistants: G. Beswick and A. Holmes
    Fourth official: L. Mason

    They won’t stay there. It’s a flash in the pan. They can’t do it. Leicester have heard it all before and guess what? The Foxes are still sat proudly at the top of the Premier League tree.

    The most wins in the division, the least amount of losses. Only two goals behind the highest scorers in the league. The table doesn’t lie.

    Perhaps the insouciance of everyone else has allowed Claudio Ranieri’s side to play without pressure. With a five point cushion ahead of the weekend action, they’re still able to relax to some degree, and that could be the precise reason why Jamie Vardy et al continue to confound the doubters.

    Southampton have aspirations of their own and should Manchester United slip up against Everton the Saints can leapfrog United into sixth in the table. The carrot of European football will ensure that the visitors don’t arrive just to make up the numbers.

    Michael Oliver should enjoy this one. A pressure cooker atmosphere is something the young official thrives on and it would be a big surprise to see him not handling the big occasion.

    The only real issue could come with the appointment of Adrian Holmes as one of his assistant referees.

    Not the type of game where you have someone with such little experience at the top level. 13 games this season sounds reasonable but is less than half than a number of his colleagues.

    Michael Oliver – all you need to know
    Matches in 2015/16: 19 (10 on TV)
    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
    Last refereed Leicester City: 5 December 2015
    Last refereed Southampton: 28 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

      Michael Oliver
      Michael Oliver takes charge of the Manchester Derby this weekend

      The pressure certainly got to one particular official at the weekend.

      Lee Mason was abysmal in the Stoke City versus Southampton game – his red card shown to Sadio Mane was rightly rescinded by the FA This week – and has been demoted to fourth official duties for the forthcoming set of fixtures.

      Having already booked West Ham’s Dimitri Payet in the FA Cup tie at Old Trafford, Martin Atkinson refused the Frenchman’s claims for a penalty but didn’t show a second yellow to the player for diving. Failure to do so allowed Payet to score one of the goals of the season just a few minutes later.

      Atkinson will get plenty more action this weekend too, in a white-hot north east derby. What’s more, it comes after fourth official duties on Saturday and a huge round trip to get to the fixture – a situation that Michael Oliver will find himself in too this weekend.

      Tiredness and lethargy could well play a part in their decision making and that’s not good enough at this level – something that Keith Hackett expressed his concerns about in his latest blog.

      PGMOL have a responsibility to ensure that their officials are at their best, and this isn’t good pre-match preparation.

      Let’s take a look at who is refereeing in Week 31…
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      Martin Atkinson: Newcastle United v Sunderland
      Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
      Fourth official: A. Taylor

      What an atmosphere awaits Martin Atkinson and his merry band of officials at St. James’ Park!

      Rafael Benitez’s first home game in charge has ensured that this north east derby will be one to remember.

      It will be his second match in charge after the Leicester match last Monday and in a strange quirk of football fate, the last four Sunderland managers have all won this fixture in their second match!

      All of the pressure is on the home side and if the game goes into the latter stages favouring the visitors, then expect the mood of a vociferous crowd to change in an instant.

      Atkinson will do well to keep this one on an even keel, especially in the opening exchanges when arguably a few tasty challenges will be flying in.

      Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 27 (15 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
      Last refereed Newcastle United: 19 December 2015
      Last refereed Sunderland: 23 November 2015
      Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

      Robert Madley: Chelsea v West Ham United
      Assistants: M. Perry and S. Long
      Fourth official: L. Mason

      Another high-pressure derby, this time in London.

      Chelsea aren’t anywhere close to the team of last season but that doesn’t mean West Ham won’t take great pride in claiming another huge scalp on the road.

      Guus Hiddink’s side are, remarkably, now on the fringes of the European places. Seven points away from sixth spot isn’t an insurmountable task and three points here will suit the Blues very nicely indeed. Knocking the Hammers’ own Euro aspirations in the process will be an added bonus.

      Robert Madley hasn’t dealt well with pressure at points this season and will need to be on the ball in west London.

      One of the up and coming officials, he has reverted into a bit of a ‘safety-first’ operator rather than grabbing the games by the scruff of the neck when necessary.

      Robert Madley – all you need to know

      Matches in 2015/16: 20 (7 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 25
      Last refereed Chelsea: 3 October 2015
      Last refereed West Ham United: 2 January 2016

      Mike Dean: Swansea City v Aston Villa
      Assistants: D. Cook and J. Collin
      Fourth official: K. Friend

      Someone put Aston Villa out of their misery. Please.

      Another insipid performance at home to Tottenham last weekend meant that the Villans have now lost 20 of their 30 games this season.

      That statistic alone is nowhere near good enough for this once proud club, but the manner of each defeat is frankly pretty disgusting.

      Swansea for their part seem to have rescued their own season. Eight points outside of the bottom four should be enough to see them safe and be able to consolidate over the summer months.

      It’ll probably be with yet another manager though, Francisco Guidolin has now missed three games through ill health since his appointment in January.

      Mike Dean is handed the reins for a game that he should manage with both hands tied behind his back.

      Mike Dean – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 25 (10 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
      Last refereed Swansea City: 6 February 2016
      Last refereed Aston Villa: 26 December 2015
      Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

      Craig Pawson: Watford v Stoke City
      Assistants: H. Lennard and S. Burt
      Fourth official: M.Oliver

      A special welcome will await the Hornets on their return to Vicarage Road after their heroics at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.

      Stoke are chasing a European dream with just four points separating them from sixth spot at the moment, and Mark Hughes will be hoping his continental side spoil the party.

      The likes of Arnautovic, Afellay et al continue to inspire and will give Watford’s back line a thorough examination.

      Home advantage and a buoyant XI might just be too much for the visitors on this occasion however. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo are one of the success stories of the season, so it would appear that goals are guaranteed at both ends.

      Let’s hope Craig Pawson has his running boots on because the speed that both teams break at will test his dynamic sprinting to its fullest.

      A veritable footballing feast awaits.

      Craig Pawson – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 23 (14 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
      Last refereed Watford: 13 January 2016
      Last refereed Stoke City: 17 January 2016

      Anthony Taylor: West Bromwich Albion v Norwich City
      Assistants: P.Kirkup and M. Wilkes
      Fourth official: M. Atkinson

      The Canaries surprised everyone when they stopped free-flowing Manchester City from scoring last time out.

      They’ll face a barrage of a different kind at the Hawthorns with Tony Pulis’ troops a lot more physical than City.

      That could suit Norwich who won promotion to the Premier League on the back of some stunning performances in the Championship combining the physical as well as the beautiful game.

      If the visitors can get at least another point in their battle against the drop, it could well give them the confidence that’s been missing for the last few weeks.

      Anthony Taylor has to let this game flow or else he risks spoiling it as a spectacle. A little too officious on occasion, Taylor should learn to relax a little more.

      A calmer outlook might well bring better results in terms of his own performances.

      Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 26 (13 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 36
      Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 13 January 2016
      Last refereed Norwich City: 20 September 2015

      Mike Jones: Crystal Palace v Leicester City
      Assistants: A. Halliday and E. Smart
      Fourth official: N. Miller

      Alan Pardew’s side have been a bit Jeckyll and Hyde this season.

      Into the FA Cup semi finals but slowly and surely dropping down the Premier League.

      This isn’t a game that will offer him any encouragement for a reversal of league fortunes either.

      Leicester still hold the advantage at the top of the table and as long as they continue to have better results than their rivals, they’ll win the league. And there’s nothing anyone else can do about it.

      Pardew will be extremely unhappy at the choice of official. Jones was in the middle for the Palace defeat against Bournemouth in February, a game in which the Eagles manager felt the opposition ‘had to commit murder’ to get sent off against them.

      He was even compelled to speak to Mike Riley afterwards and clearly, Pardew will be looking for a stronger hand from Jones here.

      Mike Jones – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 22 (3 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
      Last refereed Crystal Palace: 2 February 2016
      Last refereed Leicester City: 21 November 2015

      Roger East: Southampton v Liverpool
      Assistants: D. Bryan and A. Nunn
      Fourth official: C. Sarginson

      Although Roger East hasn’t refereed Liverpool in the Premier League for almost a year, he did take charge of the FA Cup game against West Ham.

      A game that was noticeable for Jurgen Klopp’s comments afterwards where he accused the official of some ‘funny decisions.’

      He’ll not appreciate another below par showing from the official against a side that are on the same points as the Reds but are just two goals better off.

      With Manchester United playing closest rivals City, there is a chance for one of these sides to finish the weekend at least level on points with the Red Devils in sixth.

      Ronald Koeman’s Southampton side are playing some excellent stuff at present, as you might expect from a Dutchman schooled in the Blaugrana half of Catalonia.

      A footballing classic awaits unless East spoils it with some more odd decisions.

      Roger East – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 20 (3 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
      Last refereed Southampton: 28 November 2015
      Last refereed Liverpool: 25 April 2015

      Neil Swarbrick: Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth
      Assistants: L. Betts and M. Scholes
      Fourth official: I. Williamson

      Only Neil Swarbrick’s 13th appointment of the season.

      Will it be unlucky for title chasing Spurs who are so close to the top of the table but still no cigar.

      Bournemouth certainly won’t give them an easy ride and it will be interesting to see just how good a game of football this is, with two of the brightest young managers in the game going toe-to-toe.

      The neutral will be delighted that Eddie Howe’s men have virtually secured their place in the top flight for another season.

      It did for a time look likely that the Cherries were certs to fall into the trap door, but by continuing to play the right way, doing the same things, Howe’s charges have come good and by and large have been a credit to their manager.

      Spurs have been virtually invincible at White Hart Lane and so the visitors could end up walking away with their tails between their legs.

      Swarbrick needs to aspire to bigger and better things. Too often in his career things have been two steps forward and one back.

      One of the games of the weekend, a solid performance here can only enhance his credentials.

      Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 13 (0 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
      Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 26 December 2014
      Last refereed Bournemouth: 29 August 2015

      Mark Clattenburg: Everton v Arsenal
      Assistants: S. Beck and R. West
      Fourth official: J. Moss

      Who’d have thought that it would be the Toffees heading to Wembley and not Arsenal?

      On the back of that defeat to Watford and a midweek trip to Barcelona, the Gunners have got to somehow try and salvage their season.

      Lose here and they could end the day in sixth if results elsewhere go against them.

      Everton will at least offer them some hope. For the past two seasons, despite having one of the best midfields and front lines in the division, the hosts have really struggle in defence and shipped goals on occasion.

      Mark Clattenburg won’t have any problems taking complete control of this one.

      As we wind down the season and look ahead toward the European Championships, Clattenburg can already be looking back on a job well done.

      Head and shoulders above his contemporaries.

      Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
      Matches in 2015/16: 24 (11 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 35
      Last refereed Everton: 28 December 2015
      Last refereed Arsenal: 24 January 2016
      Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

      Michael Oliver: Manchester City v Manchester United
      Assistants: J. Brooks and G. Beswick
      Fourth official: A. Marriner

      Michael Oliver does love a good Manchester derby. Whether he can officiate it well enough is open to debate.

      On the face of it the youngster is exactly the right man for the job.

      But the sight of Joe Hart placing his head on Oliver’s back in 2014 will be doing the rounds before this game, and you’ve got to ask yourself how City’s number one managed to get away with such an aggressive stance.

      Why too, taking that instance into account, did he then send Angel Di Maria off for placing his hands on him a short while afterwards in United’s match against Arsenal?

      That kind of inconsistency is enough to rile players, managers and fans and woe betide the official if he’s not clear and concise with his decision making in this one.

      Neither side can realistically claim the Premier League title this season, but it’s still the biggest of fixtures for the locale, and bragging rights are at stake.

      Michael Oliver – all you need to know Matches in 2015/16: 18 (9 on TV)
      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 9
      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
      Last refereed Manchester City: 6 April 2015
      Last refereed Manchester United: 7 February 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

        Craig Pawson
        Craig Pawson takes charge of Leicester City v Newcastle United on Monday night

        A Premier League calendar disrupted by Round 6 of the FA Cup, with just five matches now taking place this coming weekend.

        Andre Marriner caused one of the big talking points from last weekend, awarding Liverpool a late penalty at Selhurst Park – a decision that left Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew incandescent with rage despite being the correct call.

        Marriner, Mike Dean, Michael Oliver and Martin Atkinson are the four referees who have been appointed to this weekend's Cup quarter-finals, so let's see who that leaves refereeing in Week 30...

        --

        Craig Pawson: Leicester City v Newcastle United
        Assistants: D. Cann and S. Bennett
        Fourth official: M. Jones

        Leicester can enhance their title credentials with a win over struggling Newcastle in the Monday night game.

        Playing under the lights always seems to bring out the best in Claudio Ranieri’s squad and an expected routine win here would leave them within touching distance of the title with just eight games remaining.

        Craig Pawson will understand the importance of this match for both teams and indeed for the stakeholders in the Premier League.

        This Leicester story in particular is one that is fascinating the world of football and woe betide the man in the middle if he were to wrongly apply the laws which resulted in any advantage being wittered away.

        Not that any of that will concern the Magpies who just need a win to help sustain their Premier League status.

        Craig Pawson – all you need to know

        Matches in 2015/16: 22 (14 on TV)
        Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
        Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
        Last refereed Leicester City: 29 December 2015
        Last refereed Newcastle United: 22 August 2015

        Anthony Taylor: Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur
        Assistants: G. Beswick and M. Perry
        Fourth official: C. Pawson

        Hot on the heels of Leicester are Mauricio Pochettino’s swashbuckling Spurs side, who really missed a trick by being unable to hold onto their lead in the north London derby.

        Fortunately for the Lilywhites, they play a Villa side who have seemingly thrown in the towel. To watch their defending at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City – where they conceded four in less than 15 second half minutes – is to know that the game is up for the majority of the players.

        Anthony Taylor has recovered sufficiently well from his horrendous error in the Championship earlier in this campaign to be offered regular employment by Mike Riley, and he should see this one out comfortably.

        A toxic Villa Park atmosphere could be a side issue, but nothing that the official hasn’t had to endure before now.

        Anthony Taylor – all you need to know

        Matches in 2015/16: 25 (12 on TV)
        Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
        Football League appointments in 2015/16: 34
        Last refereed Aston Villa: 5 December 2015
        Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 28 December 2015

        Jonathan Moss: Norwich City v Manchester City
        Assistants: A. Halliday and S. Burt
        Fourth official: R. Madley

        Jonathan Moss must be the only official in history to have sent off a player with his notebook rather than a red card.

        Norwich’s Steven Whittaker was the unfortunate recipient in an away game at Southampton at the beginning of the season, cue much hilarity from all corners of the ground except from the Canaries’ bench.

        There’ll be no time for laughs here either, Alex Neil’s side more desperate than ever to get a point or three to help them in their survival fight.

        Manuel Pellegrini’s side have problems of a different kind as they continue to slip further and further back from the top end of the table, trailing the leaders by 10 points.

        He might be on his way at the end of the campaign but that’s clearly not good enough for a team that boasts Aguero, Sterling et al in their ranks.

        Jonathan Moss – all you need to know
        Matches in 2015/16: 20 (9 on TV)
        Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
        Football League appointments in 2015/16: 26
        Last refereed Norwich City: 29 November 2015
        Last refereed Manchester City: 16 January 2016

        Roger East: Bournemouth v Swansea City
        Assistants: M. Salisbury and D. Eaton
        Fourth official: M. Dean

        Swansea’s huge and unexpected win against Arsenal has given the Welshmen a real fillip at just the right time.

        With a widening gap now existing below them, the Swans have a realistic chance of another year in the English top flight. Some achievement considering the upheaval managerially and the loss of one of their best players in Jonjo Shelvey.

        Bournemouth celebrated a decent away win of their own. One of the longest trips of their season to Newcastle, saw Eddie Howe’s side completely out play the Magpies and deservedly take three points back down south.

        Roger East is likely to be presiding over a match with two teams who like to play football in the right way and as such, shouldn’t be too troubled by controversy.

        He’ll still need to be on his mettle mind, for he’s been accused of ‘drifting’ in games before now.

        It’s still a vital fixture for both teams. Best that East treats it as such.

        Roger East – all you need to know
        Matches in 2015/16: 19 (3 on TV)
        Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
        Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
        Last refereed Bournemouth: 25 October 2015
        Last refereed Swansea City: 26 December 2015

        Mike Jones: Stoke City v Southampton
        Assistants: A. Garratt and R. West
        Fourth official: A. Taylor

        Don’t expect a red card here, even if the wildest of challenges are on show.

        It’s been 28 games since Mike Jones saw fit to brandish the ultimate sanction, despite a handful of incidents that were absolutely worthy of that punishment.

        With the greatest of respect to a magnificent Stoke team, they have been known to practice the darker arts before now, and if Jones isn’t brave enough to make the call, there’ll be ripples of discontent finding their way from Southampton to PGMOL towers.

        In a weekend of only so little fixtures the microscope falls squarely on the shoulders of the five officials. There’s never been a better time for Jones to blend into the background.

        Mike Jones – all you need to know
        Matches in 2015/16: 21 (3 on TV)
        Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
        Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
        Last refereed Stoke City: 3 October 2015
        Last refereed Southampton: 23 January 2016

          Author: Jason Pettigrove

           

          Runners and Riders

          PGMOL’s lack of depth in the elite group is laid bare once again in Week 29 with at least half of the fourth officials coming from Championship level.

          Paul Tierney’s appointment to the Newcastle v Bournemouth game is also another incredibly risky move from Mike Riley.
          Almost every game has something at stake at one end of the table or the other so the pressure falls squarely on the shoulders of the officials to ensure smooth running.

          Let’s see who’s refereeing in Week 29…
          --
          Paul Tierney: Newcastle United v Bournemouth
          Assistants: R. West and D. Bryan
          Fourth official: M. Atkinson

          Just Paul Tierney’s fourth appointment of the season.

          St. James’ Park is an intimidating venue at the best of times, let alone when in the midst of a relegation battle.

          Martin Atkinson can be good counsel for Tierney while on the sidelines and perhaps the more experienced official can guide the up and coming referee through this one.

          Given the gravitas of the situation for both clubs, neither is likely to be too enthused with the choice of official – who has never taken charge of either club and is therefore unused to the nuance of each.

          Tierney needs huge strength of character to ride this one out if the going gets tough.

          Paul Tierney – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 4 (0 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
          Last refereed Newcastle United: n/a
          Last refereed Bournemouth: n/a

          Neil Swarbrick: Southampton v Sunderland
          Assistants: P. Kirkup and H. Lennard
          Fourth official: A. Marriner

          Kevin Friend was the original selection for this fixture, but suffered a nasty fall while on fourth official duties in midweek. Due to concussion protocol, the referee will sit out this one.

          Neil Swarbrick will step up to the plate in Friend's absence, with Andre Marriner drafted in as the fourth official.

          Mike Dean: West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United
          Assistants: S. Long and S. Bennett
          Fourth official: S. Attwell

          It’s only been a week since Louis Van Gaal comically fell in front of fourth official Mike Dean to indicate diving on the part of an Arsenal side gunning for a point at Old Trafford.

          In the middle for this one, it’s unlikely Dean will put up with such antics again.

          Tony Pulis certainly won’t as his West Brom side go hunting for an unlikely win that disrupt United’s charge for a Champions League finish.

          Pulis isn’t Dean’s biggest fan either, calling for the official to be banned in the past, and noting that he ‘will not speak to him as it’s a waste of time.’

          Hard to imagine the Welshman keeping quiet if Dean doesn’t get it right at the Hawthorns.

          Mike Dean – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 24 (9 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
          Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 19 December 2015
          Last refereed Manchester United: 12 January 2016
          Honours:2008 FA Cup Final

          Craig Pawson: Swansea City v Norwich City
          Assistants: M. Perry and E. Smart
          Fourth official: A. Davies

          Another match that has huge implications at the bottom of the table.

          The visitors are on a poor run of form at present taking just one point from the last 21, which has seen them drop into the relegation zone.

          Swansea aren’t out of the woods either, although their midweek win over Arsenal has pushed them further towards safety.

          Craig Pawson’s appointment certainly won’t appease Alex Neil. The Norwich manager was left ‘extremely frustrated’ by Pawson’s inconsistent performance during their fixture against Chelsea.

          If the official gets it wrong again, Mike Riley might just as well turn his phone off because the hotline will be red hot.

          Craig Pawson – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 21 (13 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
          Last refereed Swansea City: 2 May 2015
          Last refereed Norwich City: 21 November 2015

          Anthony Taylor: Everton v West Ham United
          Assistants: S. Burt and G. Beswick
          Fourth official: A. Madley

          Anthony Taylor was in charge of this very fixture just over a year ago.

          It was a fixture that wasn’t without problems for the official and his performance left Roberto Martinez seething.

          A disallowed Romelu Lukaku goal for a non-existent foul was at the centre of his ire, but booking Samuel Eto’o who’d not been on the field for a minute was a close second.

          Stopping Steven Naismith’s burst into the area at pace for no apparent reason also required further explanation – something that never came, leaving the Spaniard scratching his head.

          Slaven Bilic will be hoping that history doesn’t repeat against a side that are continuously the Hammers’ bogey side – no matter how bad their form at the time.

          Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 24 (12 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
          Last refereed Everton: 24 January 2016
          Last refereed West Ham United: 22 November 2015

          Lee Mason: Manchester City v Aston Villa
          Assistants: D. Cann and M. WIlkes
          Fourth official: D. Bond

          This could be the match which sends Aston Villa’s long-suffering band of supporters over the edge.

          City are swashbuckling and gung-ho at the best of times and when really in the groove, goals aplenty are a natural by product of their excellence.

          Villa have had some horrific days this season, but this has the potential to top the lot if the hosts are in the mood.

          You have to feel for Remi Garde who has been fighting a losing battle ever since taking over from Tim Sherwood.

          Lee Mason gets a second appointment in a row and has Manuel Pellegrini to impress after prior City games that he’s officiated not having sat well with the Chilean.

          Lee Mason – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 15 (5 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 23
          Last refereed Manchester City: 11 February 2015
          Last refereed Aston Villa: 28 November 2015

          Andre Marriner: Crystal Palace v Liverpool
          Assistants: L. Betts and S. Ledger
          Fourth official: R. Madley

          Sixth before Christmas, Crystal Palace's slide has been swift and lower mid-table isn’t where this ambitious manager would like his club to be.

          Klopp will be keen to understand how Andre Marriner tends to favour Palace when he officiates their games too.

          Having said that, he has been noted as Liverpool’s ‘good luck charm,’ with the Reds often enjoying success with Marriner in the middle.

          Andre Marriner – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 19 (9 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 24
          Last refereed Crystal Palace:21 March 2015
          Last refereed Liverpool: 2 February 2016

          Jonathan Moss: Watford v Leicester City
          Assistants: A. Holmes and M. McDonough
          Fourth official: R. Madley

          Watford get their first taste of Jonathan Moss in this highly anticipated fixture.

          A fixture in which Leicester can go some way to proving their title credentials because any victory at Vicarage Road will be extremely hard fought.

          Claudio Ranieri’s studious management of his side has kept them competitive going into March.

          Questions at Christmas as to how long the Foxes would last at the summit have long since disappeared and another win here will be a nail in the coffin to all of the doubters.

          Moss has been a relatively quiet presence in the elite list for a few weeks now, any decisions not overly contentious from the official.

          He’ll take another similar 90 minutes here for sure.

          Jonathan Moss – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 19 (8 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 25
          Last refereed Watford: n/a
          Last refereed Leicester City: 19 December 2015 Honours: FA Cup Final 2015

          Mark Clattenburg: Chelsea v Stoke City
          Assistants: S. Beck and J. Collin
          Fourth official: S. Martin

          Mark Hughes returns to his old stomping ground looking to inflict a defeat on a buoyant Chelsea side that have thrived under Guus Hiddink.

          Two contrasting styles will present Mark Clattenburg with an interesting challenge as match official, but one that he is perfectly capable of undertaking.

          There’s always the possibility of some physical challenges going a little over the top and both teams have their fair share of exponents willing to practice the darker arts.

          As we wind down to Euro 2016, eyes will be on Clattenburg to produce. This game will be as good an indicator as any as to how the ref will shape up on the big stage.

          Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 23 (10 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
          Last refereed Chelsea: 24 Janaury 2016
          Last refereed Stoke City: 28 December 2015 Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

          Michael Oliver: Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
          Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
          Fourth official: R. East

          Fresh from the Capital One Cup Final, Michael Oliver has the glamour Premier League game of the weekend.

          The stakes could not be higher at White Hart Lane.

          For once, Spurs have kept pace with their north London rivals and are every bit as likely as the Gunners to be in the title mix as we get to the business end of the campaign.

          Oliver needs to stamp his authority at the earliest possible opportunity because this isn’t a game for the faint-hearted at the best of times. Let alone when you’re vying for premium position in the league.

          Neither side should have any particular concerns at the appointment of the youngster to this one because his credentials continue to speak for themselves.

          With so much riding on the outcome however, Oliver has to get it spot on. First time and every time.

          Michael Oliver – all you need to know
          Matches in 2015/16: 17 (8 on TV)
          Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 8
          Football League appointments in 2015/16: 25
          Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 3 January 2016
          Last refereed Arsenal: 24 August 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

            Author: Jason Pettigrove

            Runners and Riders

            No sooner has Premier League week 27 come and gone, then week 28 comes hurtling through like a steam train.

            Tottenham appear to be Leicester’s biggest rivals for the title at this point but the north Londoners have a tough derby test at West Ham to negotiate. Andre Marriner has been handed the reins at Upton Park for that one.

            Colleague Mark Clattenburg gets the Midlands equivalent as the Foxes host a West Bromwich Albion side buzzing from their win in a five-goal thriller over Crystal Palace at the weekend.

            Let’s see who else is refereeing in Week 28…
            --
            Martin Atkinson: Liverpool v Manchester City
            Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
            Fourth official: C. Pawson

            Both teams do battle again just three days after an energy sapping Capital One Cup final that went all the way to penalties.

            Given City’s charge toward the Premier League summit, arguably the 120 minutes+ will have hurt them more than Liverpool.

            An Anfield in full voice under the lights can be a most unforgiving place and, after the Wembley heartbreak, you can bet that the Reds will be keen for immediate revenge.

            Martin Atkinson will take the sting out of what is sure to be rip-roaring Premier League fare. A calm head is definitely required and this official is absolutely the right appointment.

            However, he will need to be on point with his assistant Child after the co-operation between the two wasn’t to the required standard in the Chelsea versus Southampton game.

            Both missed a clear foul by Diego Costa and a red card offence.

            Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 26 (14 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 5
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
            Last refereed Liverpool: 26 December 2015
            Last refereed Manchester City: 2 January 2016
            Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

            Neil Swarbrick: Stoke City v Newcastle United
            Assistants: L. Betts and E. Smart
            Fourth official: G. Scott

            Doesn’t it strike you as odd that a referee who has had a stinging rebuke and official complaint made about his conduct, still keeps getting asked to officiate at the club who made the complaint?!

            Stoke City were, it’s fair to say, incandescent with rage a year or so ago when Swarbrick took charge of a game against Hull City.

            Mark Hughes was 'disappointed with the performance of the officials,' adding “the referees have got to get their act together. I think officials find it very difficult to get the key decisions right.”

            Against Newcastle, where the Potters have a chance to put real pressure on the two or three teams directly above them, Swarbrick simply has to make the right calls. No excuses.

            The team of four need to work together and with the relatively inexperienced Graham Scott as fourth official here, is this another disaster waiting to happen?

            Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 12 (0 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 24
            Last refereed Stoke City: 13 January 2016
            Last refereed Newcastle United: 25 April 2015

            Mike Dean: Bournemouth v Southampton
            Assistants: J. Brooks and M. Perry
            Fourth official: K. Friend

            A great big south coast derby for Mike Dean to get his teeth into.

            There’s little doubting who needs the points more from this one with Eddie Howe’s men teetering just above the drop zone at present.

            Home advantage could well be key, the expected raucous crowd playing their 12th man role to perfection.

            Ronald Koeman’s side could leapfrog West Ham into sixth with a win if the Hammers succumb to a rampant Tottenham side, so expect the Dutchman to stress the importance of the three points.

            A real sense of football theatre with all of the bells and whistles attached. Let’s hope the official remembers that he’s not playing the main part and exits stage left when required.

            Mike Dean – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 23 (8 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
            Last refereed Bournemouth: 19 December 2015
            Last refereed Southampton: 12 December 2015
            Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

            Roger East: Aston Villa v Everton
            Assistants: G. Beswick and H. Lennard
            Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

            One of the main things that Roger East will have to deal with at Villa Park is an extremely restless crowd. The locals have simply had enough.

            Enough of players not trying. Enough of an owner that doesn’t want to be there. Enough of losing week in and week out.

            Against a backdrop of inevitability, East has to have the gumption to make even more unpopular decisions if they present themselves. Does he have the bottle to do so?

            It’s a question worth asking because this official has been accused of shying away from the big talking points in the past.

            He’s also the only top-flight official to have not issued a red card yet this season, which suggests that there is something to the accusations.

            Villa look doomed, but Everton have vastly underperformed given the quality of player within the Toffees' side.

            Roger East – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 18 (3 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
            Last refereed Aston Villa: 16 January 2016
            Last refereed Everton: 13 January 2016

            Anthony Taylor: Sunderland v Crystal Palace
            Assistants: S. Bennett and D. Bryan
            Fourth official: C. Pawson

            This is the second occasion this season that Anthony Taylor has refereed Sunderland, the last coming on Boxing Day against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

            That game was notable for Taylor’s decision to award City a penalty for a Sebastian Coates foul on David Silva which clearly happened outside of the area.

            Sam Allardyce can ill afford such second-rate officiating here, as he looks to inspire his Sunderland side out of the drop zone.

            Crystal Palace arrive in the north east on the back of a 3-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, extending their winless Premier League run to 10 matches.

            A big performance from the visitors will therefore be a prerequisite, as it will for the man in the middle.

            With physical exponents on either side and much at stake, Taylor will do well to keep a lid on this one.

            Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 23 (12 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 32
            Last refereed Sunderland: 26 December 2015
            Last refereed Crystal Palace: 27 September 2015

            Lee Mason: Norwich City v Chelsea
            Assistants: M. McDonough and D. Eaton
            Fourth official: M. Oliver

            This is just Lee Mason’s 14th game of the campaign and there won’t be too many bigger games to oversee.

            The Canaries are only out of the bottom three on goal difference and desperately need a win to arrest a slide that has seen them take just one point from the last 21 available – relegation form in anyone’s book.

            Chelsea meanwhile have turned their season around. Since Guus Hiddink took over, the Blues have lost just once, and that was in the Champions League.

            It’s a run of form that has seen the Champions climb to a much more respectable 11th place, just 11 points from the top four.

            The gravitas of Norwich’s current plight has never been more in focus and as such the game will be tense and demanding.

            Let’s hope that Mason can deliver the best standard of officiating for a match that promises high drama.

            Lee Mason – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 14 (5 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 23
            Last refereed Norwich City: n/a
            Last refereed Chelsea: 24 May 2015

            Mike Jones: Manchester United v Watford
            Assistants: A. Halliday and R. West
            Fourth official: J. Moss

            Only a month has past since Mike Jones was last in these parts and it’s clearly an indication from PGMOL’s point of view that Jones is up to the task of refereeing at Old Trafford. A venue that can intimidate if you’re not at the very top of your game.

            After the thrilling introduction of Marcus Rashford in the last couple of games, the locals are in excitable mood. United are buzzing again, something that hasn’t happened for the majority of the season.

            Watford could well be the next lambs to the slaughter, not that Quique Sanchez Flores or his side will be contemplating a defeat. Only seven points separate the sides at start of play.

            Will there be a sting in the Hornets' tail?

            Mike Jones – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 20 (3 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
            Last refereed Manchester United: 23 January 2016
            Last refereed Watford: 17 October 2015

            Andre Marriner: West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
            Assistants: S. Ledger and D. Cann
            Fourth official: M. Dean

            The last time that Spurs will visit Upton Park and for that reason alone this is a guaranteed sell-out.

            The visitors are looking for a win to potentially send them top of the pile, while the Hammers need to put pressure on both Manchester sides who are within touching distance.

            A fixture not too dissimilar in fact to the Chelsea v Arsenal derby from a couple of years ago. Marriner was dropped after that game, the pressure too much for him.

            What has he learned from that? Can he handle the pressure again? Slaven Bilic and Mauricio Pochettino are counting on it.

            We are into the business end now, where every little decision is scrutinised. Time for Marriner to stand up and be counted.

            Andre Marriner – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 18 (8 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 16
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 24
            Last refereed West Ham United: 12 December 2015
            Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 3 May 2015

            Mark Clattenburg: Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion
            Assistants: S. Beck and J. Collin
            Fourth official: J. Moss

            A short trip across the Midlands it may be for Tony Pulis’ side, but the Baggies and the Foxes are world’s apart at this point.

            How much longer will everyone be asking 'can Leicester really do it?'

            Like a game of high-stakes poker, we have a genuine who blinks first scenario. Claudio Ranieri is doing a wonderful job of keeping everyone’s feet on the ground and managing expectations.

            When was the last time you heard a manager admitting quite happily that everyone at the club is talking about the title. None of the usual party line rubbish about keeping emotions under wraps etc.

            Leicester want this badly, and on the evidence to date, they deserve it.

            Mark Clattenburg is the right appointment for another fixture that will have 30,000 on tenterhooks before the whistle is even blown.

            Never swayed by the leanings of a home crowd, it would be a surprise to hear of post-match officiating issues from this one.

            Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 22 (10 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 33
            Last refereed Leicester City: 14 December 2015
            Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 21 November 2015
            Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

            Robert Madley: Arsenal v Swansea City
            Assistants: P. Kirkup and S. Burt
            Fourth official: K. Friend

            Have the Gunners choked again? So many points dropped in such a short space of time and it looks like Arsenal are beginning to slip away once more.

            Swansea will feel the more aggrieved of the two teams that Robert Madley takes charge of this game.

            Madley awarded a late, late penalty award against them during a match against Stoke City two seasons ago – a game that ended 3-3 precisely because of that award.

            New Swans manager Francesco Guidolin hasn’t really had the desired impact – two wins from the last nine nowhere near good enough.

            Madley has to be all over this one and Arsene Wenger could yet be handed a reprieve given the fixtures elsewhere.

            Robert Madley – all you need to know
            Matches in 2015/16: 19 (7 on TV)
            Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
            Football League appointments in 2015/16: 24
            Last refereed Arsenal: 5 December 2015
            Last refereed Swansea City: 12 December 2015

              Author: Jason Pettigrove

              Craig Pawson
              Craig Pawson referees Manchester United versus Arsenal this weekend... a big call from PGMOL

              A slightly reduced fixture list this weekend owing to the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday, where Michael Oliver will lead out Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley.

              No real surprises with PGMOL’s appointments this week with the only possible question mark over handing Craig Pawson the reins at Old Trafford.

              A midweek round of games follows immediately after this group of eight matches and Mike Riley will be looking for the fitness levels of his best exponents to be up to standard.

              Something that one or two have been pulled up on in the past.

              Let’s see who’s refereeing in Week 27…

              Martin Atkinson: Southampton v Chelsea
              Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
              Fourth official: A. Marriner

              It’s like watching a different Chelsea, unbeaten since Guus Hiddink took the reins at Stamford Bridge.

              Although the Dutchman will only be around until the end of the season, it’s clear his players like playing for him and that comes across in the much more confident way in which Chelsea are now going about their business.

              A date with Southampton isn’t the easiest to negotiate, Ronald Koeman’s men fully deserving their top six position. Goals and entertainment are almost certainly guaranteed.

              Martin Atkinson will be able to let this one flow with ease, and with no Mourinho to castigate him from the sidelines, the official might even enjoy himself!

              There’s no reason to think that this game will throw up any problems for Atkinson and his experienced team.

              Martin Atkinson – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 25 (13 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 5
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
              Last refereed Southampton: 16 January 2016
              Last refereed Chelsea: 28 December 2015
              Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

              Neil Swarbrick: Leicester City v Norwich City
              Assistants: S. Ledger and H. Lennard
              Fourth official: S. Attwell

              When you’re down at the bottom of the table and looking for points any which way you can get them, the last place you want to go is to the team who are leading the division.

              However, Leicester's late loss to Arsenal last week was a cruel blow and it will be interesting to see how they respond against struggling Norwich.

              Neil Swarbrick has to ensure that his positioning for the key decisions is correct because this is high risk, high reward football.

              Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez will take some stopping against the joint leakiest defence in the division, and if their excellence happens to be curtailed by an official that can’t keep up with play, woe betide Mike Riley at full time.

              It’s just Swarbrick’s 11th top flight appointment of the campaign and he’ll feel the pressure in this one.

              Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 11 (0 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 23
              Last refereed Leicester City: 29 August 2015
              Last refereed Norwich City: 13 January 2016

              Mike Dean: West Ham United v Sunderland
              Assistants: J. Brooks and S. Long
              Fourth official: M. Jones

              Big Sam Allardyce returns to his old east London stomping ground looking to prove a point.

              The old Hammers manager was unceremoniously dumped for Slaven Bilic and at present it looks to be exactly the right decision.

              West Ham are flying high and dreaming of Europe whilst Allardyce and his Black Cats are enduring a nightmare at the opposite end of the table.

              Some good recent results has seen Sunderland come within a whisker of getting out of the bottom three. Jermain Defoe also returns to the club where he made his name. Don’t bet against him scoring on his last visit to Upton Park.

              European football at the Olympic Stadium is looking a distinct possibility as long as the bubbles don’t fade and die once again.

              Mike Dean takes charge of his third Sunderland game of the season, and incidentally it’s also a hat-trick of appointments for him at West Ham matches.

              Neither manager will have too many complaints, however he’s currently the most card happy individual in the Premier League with six reds and 73 yellows to his name.

              Mike Dean – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 22 (8 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
              Last refereed West Ham United: 26 December 2016
              Last refereed Sunderland: 16 January 2016
              Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

              Kevin Friend: Stoke City v Aston Villa
              Assistants: S. Beck and P. Kirkup
              Fourth official: E. Ilderton

              After being hit for six by Liverpool, struggling Aston Villa face another tough test this weekend when they go a Stoke side on the fringes of challenging for a Europa League place.

              If Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic and Marco Arnautovic et al are in the mood, the Villans could be hit for another half dozen.

              Friend normally enjoys his time in the Potteries, as do the hosts who’ve won the last two fixtures which he’s overseen.

              Another who likes to brandish the red card a little too freely however, and Hughes can do without losing players for a crucial run in.

              Former Villa boss Paul Lambert reported Friend to Mike Riley in the wake of some hugely contentious refereeing against Chelsea, so Remi Garde will be hoping Friend isn't the enemy once again.

              Kevin Friend – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 15 (3 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 18
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
              Last refereed Stoke City: 26 December 2016
              Last refereed Aston Villa: 13 December 2015

              Anthony Taylor: Watford v Bournemouth
              Assistants: S. Burt and D. Cann
              Fourth official: M. Clattenburg

              A battle of the two promoted sides, one who looks in far better health than the other.

              When you’re scrapping for your life at the bottom, then a war is invariably what’s required, so Anthony Taylor might be keen to pay particular attention to Bournemouth’s ball winners rather than ball players.

              It would be quite easy for the physical nature of this one to boil over if Taylor doesn’t keep a tight rein.

              With Mark Clattenburg in close attendance as fourth official, two of the less fashionable sides have a 'dream team' of sorts to smooth the waters as necessary.

              Taylor has the experience, but should take a leaf out of the Clattenburg handbook. No need to be over officious here.

              Anthony Taylor – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 22 (12 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
              Last refereed Watford: 28 December 2015
              Last refereed Bournemouth: 12 December 2015

              Craig Pawson: Manchester United v Arsenal
              Assistants: L. Betts and M. Perry
              Fourth official: M. Dean

              A big, big call from Mike Riley here.

              There’s not quite the intensity of days of yore – no Keane, Vieira, Keown or Van Nistelrooy – but this fixture can still pack a punch.

              Both clubs faced midweek dates in European competition, so we could see two teams running low on gas on Sunday afternoon.

              Arsene Wenger’s side have won here before on the way to a title of course and you wouldn’t back against another smash and grab raid for the high-flying Gunners.

              There are bound to be some talking points – there always are when these two Premier League heavyweights come together – and Craig Pawson needs to ensure that he’s not the subject of them.

              Dynamic sprints, angles, conviction in his decisions. All have to be spot on. Is he up to it or have PGMOL bitten off more than they can chew?

              Craig Pawson – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 20 (13 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
              Last refereed Manchester United: 28 November 2015
              Last refereed Arsenal: 17 January 2016

              Mike Jones: Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City
              Assistants: A. Garratt and M. McDonough
              Fourth official: L. Mason

              Mauricio Pochettino’s side have wowed everyone this year playing sharp, crisp and incisive fare and there’ll be no complaints from football connoisseurs if Tottenham were to win their maiden Premier League title this season.

              The relegation trap door is well and truly opening for Swansea unless some of their star men can bring something to the party. And quickly.

              Francesco Guidolin has asked for more intensity and more energy from his fading flock. They’ll need it here because Tottenham have it in spades.

              Mike Jones has enjoyed a reasonable season. Nothing to write home about but equally, nothing so poor as to put either manager on high alert.

              It’s another match up where the pressure is very definitely on the officials. A mistake here or there could be unbelievably costly to the aspirations of either side.

              Time for the man in the middle to come up big.

              Mike Jones – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 19 (3 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
              Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 26 December 2015
              Last refereed Swansea City: 15 August 2015

              Jonathan Moss: West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace
              Assistants: G. Beswick and M. Wilkes
              Fourth official: L. Mason

              Chris Brunt was remarkably well-intentioned despite one of his own fans throwing a coin which struck him just below the eye in the immediate aftermath of the Baggies’ FA Cup defeat at Reading.

              It’s been just a couple of months since Brunt’s colleagues showed no restraint at all when they surrounded Jonathan Moss during the Tottenham game. An action for which they were punished for failing to control their players.

              Quite what Pulis and indeed Moss himself think of such a quick turnaround is a moot point at this stage. It wouldn’t be too far away from the truth to think that the official will have that incident in the back of his mind, and it could influence his decision making.

              Pardew will be hoping that his Eagles have finally turned the corner and, never one for holding back, Moss will be the first to know if the Palace manager disagrees with the manner in which the ref is going about his business.

              Jonathan Moss – all you need to know
              Matches in 2015/16: 18 (7 on TV)
              Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
              Football League appointments in 2015/16: 24
              Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 5 December 2015
              Last refereed Crystal Palace: 16 January 2016
              Honours: 2015 FA Cup Final

                Author: Jason Pettigrove

                Graham Scott
                Graham Scott gets his third Premier League appointment of the season this weekend

                Normal business resumes in week 26 of the Premier League with PGMOL bringing out many of the big guns for this set of fixtures.

                On the other hand, Graham Scott gets just his third appointment of the campaign, while the lack of depth within the Select Group sees more assistants drafted in from the Championship – not great on such an important weekend at both ends of the table.

                Let’s see who’s refereeing in Week 26…

                -
                Martin Atkinson: Arsenal v Leicester City
                Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
                Fourth official: R. East

                What a game it promises to be at the Emirates.

                Table-topping Leicester will be looking to make it two stunning victories in a week after they absolutely tore Manchester City apart on their own patch.

                That performance alone should stop the nay sayers who still suggest Claudio Ranieri’s side don’t have what it takes to get the job finished.

                Arsenal won’t be taking them lightly that’s for sure, and it’ll be a test of their own title credentials because make no mistake, Leicester will come out with all guns blazing.

                Martin Atkinson has been lambasted in the past by Arsene Wenger, quotes attributed to the manager suggesting that he “wasn’t happy with the referee” during a recent defeat overseen by this official.

                Keep an eye on assistant Mike Mullarkey whose performances have been well below par this season.

                Martin Atkinson – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 24 (13 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 5
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
                Last refereed Arsenal: 8 November 2015
                Last refereed Leicester City: 26 December 2015
                Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

                Neil Swarbrick: Aston Villa v Liverpool
                Assistants: A. Garratt and C. Hatzidakis
                Fourth official: M. Jones

                Aston Villa may well go down but they will do so by going kicking and screaming – last week's win over Norwich shows they are still up for the fight.

                The Reds might be a bit leggy after a midweek FA Cup trip to West Ham so Neil Swarbrick needs to take into account some early mistimed challenges from the visitors.

                Christian Benteke is unlikely to be given a warm reception on his return to Villa Park in what could be an unusually volatile atmosphere.

                This is Swarbrick’s 10th appointment of the campaign and just Constantine Hatzidakis’ fourth as assistant.
                Not the best decision that PGMOL have ever made.

                Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 10 (0 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
                Last refereed Aston Villa: 24 October 2015
                Last refereed Liverpool: 8 November 2015

                Mark Clattenburg: Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur
                Assistants: S. Burt and J. Brooks
                Fourth official: M. Dean

                Another massive game this weekend, the Etihad Stadium the venue as Manchester City host high-flying Spurs.

                Mark Clattenburg takes the whistle for a fixture that he’s already presided over earlier in the season.

                Once again, one of England’s finest referees showed his contemporaries how it’s done at St. Mary’s last week with a flawless display in the Southampton versus West Ham match.

                Manuel Pellegrini has had his run-ins with the official in the past but has reconciled to the point where there is an appreciation of the standard of work which Clattenburg will bring to the table.

                As such he, and opposite number Maurico Pochettino, will have no complaints at the choice.

                Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 21 (9 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 9
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 31
                Last refereed Manchester City: 25 October 2015
                Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 26 September 2015
                Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

                Graham Scott: Bournemouth v Stoke City
                Assistants: G. Beswick and H. Lennard
                Fourth official: C. Pawson

                Kudos to PGMOL for giving Graham Scott another chance at the top level.

                What he lacks in experience, Scott makes up for in application and although neither manager is likely to be particularly enamored by the appointment, there are no question marks over Scott’s interpretation of the Laws of the Game.

                Scott needs to show character, belief and self assurance here.

                Assistant Harry Lennard also deserves a mention after standing his ground following a difficult decision last weekend.

                Graham Scott – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 3 (0 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 13
                Last refereed Bournemouth: n/a
                Last refereed Stoke City: n/a

                Michael Oliver: Everton v West Bromwich Albion
                Assistants: S. Bennett and A. Holmes
                Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

                It's been a great week for Oliver, what with him being announced as the referee for the 2016 Capital One Cup Final, which Liverpool and Manchester City will contest at the end of February.

                Oliver has a chequered history with Everton and Roberto Martinez but the Spaniard can’t be too disappointed with his appointment.

                The 30-year-old showed once again in the Chelsea versus Manchester United match that he is an old head on young shoulders and one who is more than capable of keeping this one on an even keel.

                Michael Oliver – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 16 (7 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 21
                Last refereed Everton: 3 January 2016
                Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 29 August 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

                Roger East: Chelsea v Newcastle United
                Assistants: P. Kirkup and S. Ledger
                Fourth official: K. Friend

                A draw and two wins in their last five is approaching Newcastle's best form of the season, and it comes just at the right time to mount a challenge to climb away from relegation.

                This is a game where they’re able to play without pressure because no one expects them to win and Chelsea have won the last three against them at this venue.

                However, Chelsea can hardly be said to be playing well at this point. Despite an upturn in fortunes since Jose Mourinho’s departure, it’s still falling well short of what Roman Abramovich et al would expect.

                The Special One was never really a fan of Roger East, but Guus Hiddink might be prepared to give the official the benefit of the doubt.

                A strong hand needed to guide this one along, and that’s something that this particular 'gang of four' could be accused of lacking in the past.

                Roger East – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 17 (3 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 25
                Last refereed Chelsea: 19 December 2015 Last refereed Newcastle United: 13 December 2015

                Mike Jones: Norwich City v West Ham United
                Assistants: M. Scholes and A. Halliday
                Fourth official: G. Ward

                Playing in the FA Cup in midweek may not help West Ham United's cause here, although Slaven Bilic still insists that a cup win is his priority and not the league. An interesting, some would say refreshing, approach.

                How much resistance have Norwich got left? They’ve dropped into the bottom three, lost their last five and conceded 16 in the process. Confidence is as low as their league placing.

                Mike Jones lost a few friends in East Anglia with some odd decisions when in charge of the Canaries during Malky Mackay’s reign – although that should be water under the bridge by now.

                It’s 10 months since he took charge of the Hammers so Bilic will make up his own mind during proceedings.

                Mike Jones – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 18 (3 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 25
                Last refereed Norwich City: 26 December 2015
                Last refereed West Ham United: 25 April 2015

                Andre Marriner: Sunderland v Manchester United
                Assistants: J. Collin and S. Beck
                Fourth official: L. Mason

                There is some certainty to Sam Allardyce being the unhappier of the two managers with Andre Marriner’s appointment.

                The official’s Sunderland charge sheet is full of a litany of errors, from poor decision making to spraying red cards around like confetti.

                Seven of the Black Cats have received their marching orders in the 17 games that Marriner has overseen, some clearly unwarranted.

                This is a fixture that the hosts can go on and win. This is a fixture that Louis Van Gaal must win.

                If the Dutchman doesn’t want the usual barrage of questions pertaining to his position, then the Red Devils have to take the game to their hosts.

                Big Sam will have his side right up for the battle. Is Marriner up for it too?

                Andre Marriner – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 17 (8 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
                Last refereed Sunderland: 1 November 2015
                Last refereed Manchester United: 26 April 2015

                Robert Madley: Crystal Palace v Watford
                Assistants: M. McDonough and M. Perry
                Fourth official: K. Hill

                Palace are no longer the high-flying Eagles of before Christmas, dropping to 12th as a result of an eight-match winless run.

                Watford join Palace in the mid-table huddle, sitting 10th and comfortably exceeding expectations under boss Quique Sanchez Flores.

                However, they've also had a dip in form of late, winning just one of their previous eight outings.

                Referee Robert Madley has been steady during this campaign but he will need to step out of his comfort zone on occasions at Selhurst Park to keep this one in check as both sides aim to get back on track.

                Robert Madley – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 18 (7 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
                Last refereed Crystal Palace: 19 December 2015
                Last refereed Watford: 21 November 2015

                Jonathan Moss: Swansea City v Southampton
                Assistants: S. Long and L. Betts
                Fourth official: K. A. Woolmer

                Jonathan Moss returns for only his second top-level game in a month.

                For a man whose physical condition has sometimes been called into question, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of his prowess from PGMOL.

                And although, with respect, this isn’t one of the main games of the weekend, his paymasters are effectively throwing him to the lions if his Premier League employ is on such a casual basis.

                Moss could be lucky in that he will oversee two teams who are intent on playing the game in the right way and importantly, in the right spirit.

                The last time that Moss took charge of a Southampton game, they completely outplayed Arsenal at St. Mary’s and although it was a completely deserved victory, some of Arsene Wenger’s ire was directed at the official for allowing some heavy challenges.

                With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see to what level of physicality Moss considers appropriate here.

                Jonathan Moss – all you need to know

                Matches in 2015/16: 17 (6 on TV)
                Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 13
                Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
                Last refereed Swansea City: 2 January 2016
                Last refereed Southampton: 26 December 2015
                Honours: 2015 FA Cup Final

                  Author: Jason Pettigrove

                  Michael Oliver
                  Michael Oliver takes charge of Chelsea versus Manchester United this weekend

                  Some of the big guns return to Premier League duty this weekend, but yet again experience and expertise with regards to the fourth officials is thin on the ground.

                  Craig Pawson is back-up on both Saturday and Sunday, ditto Neil Swarbrick. Jonathan Moss gets the fourth official appointment at the Manchester City versus Leicester game, but the remainder are upcoming officials who are Championship level at best at this moment.

                  Are PGMOL making a rod for their own backs again? Surely Mike Riley isn’t that short-sighted?

                  One or two are even making their debut for fourth official duties. Can you imagine the furore if they have to step in and the inexperience tells?

                  Let’s see who’s refereeing in Week 25…
                  --
                  Martin Atkinson: Aston Villa v Norwich City
                  Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
                  Fourth official: C. Pawson

                  The proverbial relegation six-pointer in the Midlands this weekend.

                  The Canaries are teetering dangerously on the precipice whilst a Villa win brings them to within three points of nearest rivals Sunderland.

                  Just 18 goals scored by Villa is far and away the fewest of all 20 teams. Luckily they play a side that are shipping goals for fun – only Sunderland have conceded more than Norwich this season.

                  This will be an open, slightly crazy game given its context and one that Martin Atkinson should enjoy.

                  Neither team has history with the official and it’s the type of game that Atkinson could call with his eyes shut.

                  If there’s any narrative coming out of this game, it’s highly unlikely to involve the man in the middle.

                  Martin Atkinson – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 23 (12 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 5
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
                  Last refereed Aston Villa: 19 December 2015
                  Last refereed Norwich City: 12 December 2015
                  Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

                  Lee Mason: Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion
                  Assistants: A. Halliday and H. Lennard
                  Fourth official: P. Tierney

                  If Lee Mason is still being pulled up on his lack of fitness, particularly relating to his dynamic sprinting, it’s a wonder that he is still considered good enough for the Select list.

                  It was only at the start of the year during West Brom’s game at Stoke where it was noted that the official needed to inject some more urgency into his game.

                  It’s no good thinking you’ve got the right angles to assess a decision which you’re still 30 yards away from. You have to be in amongst it.

                  A packed St. James’ Park will be hanging on Mason’s every whistle. It’s imperative that he gets the tone and delivery of performance just right.

                  Lee Mason – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 13 (5 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 21
                  Last refereed Newcastle United: 26 December 2015
                  Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 2 January 2016

                  Mark Clattenburg: Southampton v West Ham United
                  Assistants: S. Beck and R. West
                  Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

                  An intriguing clash down at St. Mary’s, with two teams that are perched just in behind the top four with just a few points in it at present.

                  Two years ago this month, Mark Clattenburg refereed this fixture not long after Southampton had made an official complaint after accusing the official of insulting Adam Lallana.

                  Although the club released a statement prior to the game to say they were happy with the appointment, it was clear that some bad feeling still existed.

                  Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since then and the best official, on current form, will oversee this with aplomb.

                  Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 20 (8 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 8
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 30
                  Last refereed Southampton: 2 January 2016
                  Last refereed West Ham United: 5 December 2015
                  Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

                  Mike Dean: Swansea City v Crystal Palace
                  Assistants: S. Bennett and E. Smart
                  Fourth official: G. Horwood

                  This won’t be an easy trip for the south Londoners as the Swans look to build on the good start from new manager Francesco Guidolin.

                  After a half season of total upheaval, it’s time things settled down at the Liberty Stadium and Guidolin is looking to do just that, while Crystal Palace have dropped down the table in recent weeks.

                  Mike Dean should pay close attention to the midfield battle which could get a little feisty but other than that, the experienced official shouldn’t have too much to deal with here.

                  Mike Dean – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 21 (7 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 23
                  Last refereed Swansea City: 4 October 2015
                  Last refereed Crystal Palace: 12 December 2015
                  Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

                  Michael Oliver: Chelsea v Manchester United
                  Assistants: S. Burt and G. Beswick
                  Fourth official: C. Pawson

                  Always one of the first fixtures that you look for when the list comes out at the beginning of the season.

                  Having said that, given how poorly these two are currently performing, at this present moment it isn’t perhaps the glamour fixture of old. A humdinger? Absolutely not.

                  Two Premier League heavyweights yes, but neither packing a significant enough punch. In any event, this one won’t be low on action and the cut and thrust of yore.

                  And for that reason Michael Oliver needs to be on his toes and up with play. A game that will be watched around the world, the best that the Premier League has to offer. Which includes the officials.

                  He’ll cope with the pressure but, after a couple of weeks out of the firing line, will his sharpness be there?

                  Michael Oliver – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 15 (7 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 7
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 20
                  Last refereed Chelsea: 29 November 2015
                  Last refereed Manchester United: 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

                  Roger East: Tottenham Hotspur v Watford
                  Assistants: D. Eaton and M. Scholes
                  Fourth official: J. Linington

                  Spurs versus Watford evokes memories of that spectacular turn and chipped finish by Glenn Hoddle in the early 1980’s. Those were the days.

                  In fact, those days may be on the way back, with Tottenham riding high in the table. Watford have surprised a few people too – of the three promoted sides, Quique Sanchez Flores’ team have adapted the best and sit in the top half of the table ahead of the weekend.

                  East is in credit with both sides it seems, so a continuation of the same would be preferable at White Hart Lane.

                  Roger East – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 16 (2 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 23
                  Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 13 December 2015
                  Last refereed Watford: 7 November 2015

                  Kevin Friend: Bournemouth v Arsenal
                  Assistants: D. Bryan and P. Kirkup
                  Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

                  Friend gets a promoted side versus a north London team for the second week in a row. One of those strange quirks of football fate I guess.

                  The south coast side are going to have to be careful over the next few matches.

                  Their brand of football is intoxicating and continues to enchant but the plain fact of the matter is that Bournemouth are just a few points above the drop zone.

                  A couple of results going against them and the trap door is well and truly opened.

                  Arsenal need the win for an altogether different reason, trying to keep pace with Leicester, Spurs and Manchester City.

                  Friend will do well to let this one flow. It’s definitely a game for the purist and it would be a shame to see it spoiled by the official.

                  Kevin Friend – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 14 (3 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 19
                  Last refereed Bournemouth: 28 November 2015
                  Last refereed Arsenal: 13 December 2015

                  Andre Marriner: Stoke City v Everton
                  Assistants: M. Perry and A. Garratt
                  Fourth official: N. Miller

                  Marriner with a Midlands team against one from Merseyside, again for the second week running. Bit of a pattern emerging here…

                  Two teams that are playing some wonderfully attractive and attacking football at this juncture.

                  The Potters continue to put to bed the notion that they are long-ball merchants and under Mark Hughes’ tutelage, they are going from strength to strength. In Everton, they are up against one of the brightest young teams in the division.

                  Marriner may have been forgiven by Roberto Martinez for his horrific display when the Toffees played Man City at the back end of 2014, but the official’s card is definitely marked.

                  Stoke won’t be enamoured by the appointment either, the Potters having previously made complaints about Marriner’s competence in the role.

                  As a sidenote, if Marriner were forced off for any reason, fourth official Nigel Miller would become the oldest official since John Martin in the early days of the Premier League. Miller is 56!

                  Andre Marriner – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 16 (7 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 20
                  Last refereed Stoke City: 12 December 2015
                  Last refereed Everton: 1 November 2015

                  Robert Madley: Liverpool v Sunderland
                  Assistants: S. Ledger and D. Cann
                  Fourth official: C. Sarginson

                  This one could get a little tasty for all sorts of reasons.

                  Sunderland are fighting for their lives at present and Sam Allardyce will send his troops out with the brief to disrupt Liverpool’s passing game as much as possible.

                  A more robust approach from the Black Cats is unlikely to sit well with Jurgen Klopp and nor is the appointment of Robert Madley to this fixture.

                  The German had some strong words for the official as they left the pitch at Upton Park after Liverpool had lost to West Ham earlier in the season.

                  Sam Allardyce was cock-a-hoop with Madley’s performance after winning the Tyne-Wear derby, but it left Steve McClaren incandescent.

                  No risks taken here please.

                  Robert Madley – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 17 (7 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 21
                  Last refereed Liverpool: 2 January 2016
                  Last refereed Sunderland: 5 December 2015

                  Anthony Taylor: Manchester City v Leicester City
                  Assistants: J. Collin and S. Long
                  Fourth official: J. Moss

                  An absolutely huge call from Mike Riley here for two reasons.

                  Not a month since the biggest error of Taylor’s career, he is handed the game of the weekend and perhaps of the season so far.

                  And in Manchester to boot, the City where he lives.

                  YATR are not questioning his impartiality but if things go wrong questions will be asked.

                  In fairness, aside from a penchant to dictate rather than to engage with players, Taylor hasn’t done too much wrong this season.

                  His decision at Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds will haunt him throughout his career but at least this fixture represents an ideal chance for him to put that nightmare performance to bed.

                  Anthony Taylor – all you need to know

                  Matches in 2015/16: 21 (12 on TV)
                  Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
                  Football League appointments in 2015/16: 29
                  Last refereed Manchester City: 26 December 2015
                  Last refereed Leicester City: 31 October 2015

                    Author: Jason Pettigrove

                    Stuart Attwell
                    Stuart Attwell referees Sunderland versus Manchester City on Tuesday evening

                    After yet another inconsistent week from PGMOL’s finest, it’s a surprise to note that many keep their place this week.

                    However, that could be as much to do with five being on a UEFA course this week as anything else.

                    With FA Cup Round 4 preceding this set of fixtures, one or two officials could certainly benefit from a rest because as the season wears on, they’re beginning to look leg weary in some games.

                    Hardly the greatest advert for the English top flight if your officials aren’t fit enough to get in position to make the correct calls.

                    It’s scandalous quite frankly that we are still talking about a need for an across the board improvement at this late stage of the season, Mark Clattenbug being the exception.

                    Let’s see who’s refereeing in Week 24…

                    --

                    Stuart Attwell: Sunderland v Manchester City
                    Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Child
                    Fourth official: P. Tierney

                    With the utmost respect to Stuart Attwell and his team, what on earth is Mike Riley playing at putting him in charge of this one?! It’s a quite incredulous decision.

                    A high-pressure encounter is expected with the result affecting both ends of the table.

                    There are sure to be some contentious decisions to be made and the game has been handed to an official with just three previous games in the Premier League this season.

                    As if to compound things, Paul Tierney gets just his sixth fourth official appointment and Mike Mullarkey, heavily criticised in recent weeks for a number of mistakes, runs one of the lines.

                    Frankly it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

                    Stuart Attwell – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 4 (0 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 6
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 28
                    Last refereed Sunderland: n/a
                    Last refereed Manchester City: n/a

                    Lee Mason: Arsenal v Southampton
                    Assistants: A. Halliday and M. Wilkes
                    Fourth official: C. Pawson

                    Southampton won’t want to hear that one of the last times that Lee Mason officiated an Arsenal game he was dug out for not sending off Francis Coquelin for some persistent, and quite angry fouling.

                    Arsenal fans themselves took to Twitter to suggest that they too were none too impressed with the official, despite the north Londoners winning the game.

                    The Saints have already put a spoke in Manchester United’s European ambitions and Ronald Koeman will be challenging his young side to make it two notable scalps in just over a week.

                    It promises to be a fantastic game of football to watch between two teams that like to get the ball down and play.

                    Mason’s handling of proceedings is imperative to see it stays that way.

                    Lee Mason – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 12 (5 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 19
                    Last refereed Arsenal: 24 October 2015
                    Last refereed Southampton: 21 November 2015

                    Jonathan Moss: West Ham United v Aston Villa
                    Assistants: S. Bennett and J. Collin
                    Fourth official: M. Dean

                    The last time Jonathan Moss was at Upton Park he was the victim of an astonishing rant from Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho.

                    He’ll be expecting an altogether quieter 90 minutes here as the claret and blues go head to head in a game that the Hammers haven’t won at home for four years.

                    How Remi Garde will be hoping that that run continues as the Villans try and claw their way out of a seemingly impossible situation.

                    They’ve certainly hit a reasonably run of form this year compared to the back end of last year.

                    Moss hasn’t been the luckiest of charms for the visitors, Liverpool scoring three the last time he was in the middle, and Arsenal plundering four in the cup final the time before that.

                    On both occasions Moss needed to be much more dynamic in his sprinting and decision making.

                    Can he provide that in a game of the utmost importance to both sides?

                    Jonathan Moss – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 16 (6 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 19
                    Last refereed West Ham United: 24 October 2015
                    Last refereed Aston Villa: 26 September 2015
                    Honours: 2015 FA Cup Final

                    Mike Dean: Watford v Chelsea
                    Assistants: J. Brooks and S. Long
                    Fourth official: K. Friend

                    The last time that Mike Dean refereed Chelsea it was in the infamous Stamford Bridge game against Arsenal when Gabriel Paulista fell victim to the wily Diego Costa.

                    Dean too could quite easily have sent the Spaniard off beforehand but chose to keep his cards in his pocket.

                    The Hornets are playing extremely well at present, especially at home, and so Quique Sanchez Flores might well have his eye on just how much the official will let go in this game.

                    The Blues have suddenly found a bit of form in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s departure and an away win here will bring them to within a point of their hosts.

                    Could be a firecracker of a London derby but Dean shouldn’t have any problem keeping order.

                    Mike Dean – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 20 (7 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
                    Last refereed Watford: 5 December 2015
                    Last refereed Chelsea: 19 September 2015
                    Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

                    Craig Pawson: Everton v Newcastle United
                    Assistants: D. Bryan and S. Burt
                    Fourth official: R. East

                    Just about a year ago, Craig Pawson was in the middle for this fixture and failed to spot Papiss Cisse’s elbow on Seamus Coleman.

                    To his credit, Roberto Martinez refused to blame the official even though Cisse went on to equalise and the Magpies went on to win the game by the odd goal in five.

                    The Spaniard is hardly likely to be as charitable if Pawson isn’t up to scratch again.

                    And after having been fourth official at Arsenal the previous evening, and barely getting an shut-eye in before a trip north, tiredness may well creep in.

                    Whatever happened to PGMOL’s accountability for the responsibility of due care amongst their officials?

                    At least there has been gradual improvement from Pawson and if anything, he’s one of the success stories of the season.

                    Considering it didn’t start off too well, with the allowing of a blatantly offside Christian Benteke goal, kudos to Pawson for turning it around.

                    The way both teams are playing too, there’s every reason to think that another five goals could well be on the cards.

                    Craig Pawson – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 19 (12 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 25
                    Last refereed Everton: 7 December 2015
                    Last refereed Newcastle United: 22 August 2015
                    Honours:

                    Roger East: Manchester United v Stoke City
                    Assistants: D. Cann and M. McDonough
                    Fourth official: A. Madley

                    Mr Inconsistent has done it again. How many more errors does Roger East need to make before he’s given a leave of absence?

                    For example, how on earth did he adjudge Billy Jones’ nasty scissor-like tackle on Bournemouth’s Junior Stanislas as only worth of a yellow card?

                    It was as clear a sending off as you’ll ever see.

                    In 10 of Manchester United’s last 11 games it has been goalless at half time, but that doesn’t mean that East and company should give what could be another bore-fest any less attention than normal.

                    Stoke could well come to Old Trafford and play the better football – when was the last time you could say that about the Potters?

                    A tribute to Mark Hughes’ studious transfer buys and tutelage. The Welshman will be none too pleased at East’s appointment mind. Stoke have previously lodged an official complaint as to his competency. Ouch!

                    Roger East – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 15 (2 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
                    Last refereed Manchester United: 4 April 2015
                    Last refereed Stoke City: 31 October 2015

                    Kevin Friend: Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur
                    Assistants: R. West and G. Beswick
                    Fourth official: G. Scott

                    All to play for at both ends of the table and Alex Neil’s Canaries will need to raise themselves again after a shattering blow at home to Liverpool last time out.

                    Their porous defence needs to be at their very best here because if anything, Spurs’ attack is far more deadly than the Merseysiders at this juncture.

                    Mauricio Pochettino’s side have crept up into title contention without too much notice and sit just five points behind leaders Leicester.

                    Carry on playing as they are and there is every chance that the north Londoners will be there or thereabouts at the business end.

                    It’s another game that needs a firm hand but that’s not something that Kevin Friend necessarily has in his locker.

                    A performance of calm authority would be just the ticket but can the official bring it home?

                    Kevin Friend – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 13 (3 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 17
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 18
                    Last refereed Norwich City: 24 October 2015
                    Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 19 December 2015

                    Andre Marriner: Leicester City v Liverpool
                    Assistants: L. Betts and P. Kirkup
                    Fourth official: S. Hooper

                    One of the games of the weekend and the first thing that springs to mind is that fourth official Simon Hooper gets only his second appointment as such.

                    If Andre Marriner goes lame again for whatever reason, this is too much of a risk to saddle Hooper with.

                    That’s not to downplay how much Hooper is improving behind the scenes, but the league leaders certainly won’t feel comfortable. Nor Liverpool.

                    Witness the way that Jurgen Klopp berated the fourth official at Carrow Road last weekend. Is Hooper ready for the same?

                    The heat is very definitely on Marriner then and his second Foxes game inside a month. Claudio Ranieri won’t want to hear that the official remains a bit of a good luck charm for the Reds.

                    Liverpool have lost just four games from 17 with Marriner in the middle.

                    Andre Marriner – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 15 (7 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 19
                    Last refereed Leicester City: 2 January 2016
                    Last refereed Liverpool: 25 October 2015

                    Neil Swarbrick: West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City
                    Assistants: S. Ledger and M. Salisbury
                    Fourth official: T. Harrington

                    As an official at the elite level, one of the worst mistakes you can make is sending off a player in a case of mistaken identity.

                    You’re remunerated handsomely for your attention to detail but you can’t even spot the difference between one player and another.

                    Exactly the scenario that befell Neil Swarbrick last season.

                    So it doesn’t really make an awful lot of sense for the official to be handed a game involving the team for whom he sent the wrong player off, West Brom.

                    Tony Pulis is hardly likely to see the funny side and the official will have to be at the races and on the front foot from the first whistle.

                    New Swans manager Francesco Guidolin will form his own opinion in-play.

                    Neil Swarbrick – all you need to know

                    Matches in 2015/16: 9 (0 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 9
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 20
                    Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 21 March 2015
                    Last refereed Swansea City: 28 December 2015

                    Mike Jones: Crystal Palace v Bournemouth
                    Assistants: S. Beck and I. Hussin
                    Fourth official: K. Stroud

                    An interesting game in prospect at Selhurst Park with the Eagles still smarting from a London derby defeat to neighbours Tottenham, thanks in no small part to the wondrous efforts of Dele Alli.

                    Not long ago Alan Pardew’s men were flying high in sixth. Now 11th, another loss here will see their opponents get to within a win of going above them.

                    To that end, we’re likely to see an all-out attacking performance from Eddie Howe’s charges. Go hard or go home to coin a phrase.

                    The midfield battle will author the outcome and Jones needs to be up with play to countenance some expected shenanigans.

                    Keith Stroud gets another chance to impress as fourth official and could be busy on the touchline.

                    What price Glenn Murray scoring against his former employers?

                    Mike Jones – all you need to know
                    Matches in 2015/16: 17 (3 on TV)
                    Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 9
                    Football League appointments in 2015/16: 22
                    Last refereed Crystal Palace: 31 October 2015
                    Last refereed Bournemouth: 5 December 2015

                      Author: Jason Pettigrove

                       

                      Robert Madley
                      Robert Madley is back in action after a below-par Premier League performance last weekend

                      Just 16 more match days until the end of the Premier League season and both ends of the table are beginning to take shape.

                      Mistakes from the officials at this point in the campaign could have disastrous consequences as we move into the business end.

                      A poor week 22 from some of PGMOL’s finest has shown that there’s still much to be learned. To compound the errors, Mike Riley has seen fit to employ those who were well below par last weekend and further, has had to supplement the appointments with a large number of Championship level staff as 4th officials.

                      Let’s see who’s refereeing in Week 23…

                      -

                      Martin Atkinson: Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur
                      Assistants: M. Mullarkey and S. Long
                      Fourth official: J. Linington

                      A London derby to whet the palate and one where the visitors can enhance their title credentials with a victory.

                      Home advantage could be key with Selhurst Park one of the last remaining 'old school' grounds where the players are still so close to the pitch they can almost be touched by the fans. A very intimidating atmosphere at the best of times.

                      Intimidation is something that Alan Pardew does well, and Martin Atkinson has been at the end of his sharp tongue on recent occasions.

                      Will that be in the back of the official’s mind before the game…?

                      It should also be noted that Mike Mullarkey gets another assistant refereeing opportunity despite his failure to flag John Terry offside against Everton last time out – his third big error in a row.

                      The World Cup assistant arguably could do with a rest.

                      Martin Atkinson – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 22 (12 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 5
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 0
                      Last refereed Crystal Palace: 23 November 2015
                      Last refereed Tottenham Hotspur: 8 November 2015
                      Honours: 2011 FA Cup Final, 2014 Capital One Cup Final, 2015 Europa League Final

                      -

                      Lee Mason: Norwich City v Liverpool
                      Assistants: J. Brooks and A. Halliday
                      Fourth official: K. Friend

                      The last time that Lee Mason refereed Liverpool, he was castigated by all and sundry for missing a blatant penalty for their visitors Newcastle.

                      Gary Neville, then of Sky Sports, called it 'unbelievable, a very poor decision.'

                      Alex Neil and Norwich have never had the pleasure of Mason’s presence at one of their games and with points at a premium for the Canaries, he’ll be looking for a strong showing from an official who’s sometimes been accused of lacking the bottle to call the biggest decisions.

                      Not what the Scot will want to hear at this point.

                      Lee Mason – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 11 (5 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 19
                      Last refereed Norwich City: n/a
                      Last refereed Liverpool: 13 April 2015

                      -

                      Mark Clattenburg: Arsenal v Chelsea
                      Assistants: J. Collin and S. Beck
                      Fourth official: J. Moss

                      The second week in a row that Mark Clattenburg has been handed the plum fixture.

                      And why not? He’s been head and shoulders above his contemporaries and showed his prowess at Anfield last weekend.

                      It was a refereeing performance of supreme quality, appreciated by fans, players and managers alike. A man at the absolute top of his game.

                      This one does have the potential for fireworks too and it’s probably the first time in a long time that the Gunners head into the fixture as favourites.

                      A packed Emirates Stadium will scrutinise every decision so Clattenburg needs to be assured at every turn.

                      Nothing to suggest that he’ll be anything but the right man for the occasion, with both teams likely to appreciate his common sense officiating.

                      Mark Clattenburg – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 19 (8 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 6
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 27
                      Last refereed Arsenal: 21 November 2015
                      Last refereed Chelsea: 14 December 2015
                      Honours: 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic Games

                      -

                      Mike Dean: Leicester City v Stoke City
                      Assistants: E. Smart and R. West
                      Fourth official: G. Eltringham

                      Mike Dean kept his head down at White Hart Lane last weekend and heads into this Midlands derby with reputation partly restored.

                      There’s definitely a feeling in the air that Dean feels he is bigger than the game he is refereeing and this 'box office' habit needs to be put to bed.

                      Claudio Ranieri and Mark Hughes certainly won’t appreciate Dean trying to make a name for himself again here.

                      Fourth official Geoff Eltringham deserves a huge pat on the back this week. His steadfast support of Anthony Taylor in the Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds game last weekend should rightly be lauded.

                      Despite huge criticism coming the way of the official, Eltringham hasn’t budged from his position. Bravo.

                      Mike Dean – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 19 (6 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 9
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 21
                      Last refereed Leicester City: 24 October 2015
                      Last refereed Stoke City: 28 November 2015
                      Honours: 2008 FA Cup Final

                      -

                      Craig Pawson: West Ham United v Manchester City
                      Assistants: S. Child and D. Bryan
                      Fourth official: J. Moss

                      Although West Ham were the victors in a surprise victory at the Etihad at the beginning of the season, the likelihood of a double is remote.

                      Aguero, Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Toure. All of City’s big guns are playing at somewhere approaching their maximum and City are still the safest of bets for the title.

                      Craig Pawson could do with a performance of note here.

                      The official can usually be relied upon to produce some studious work, but continues to flatter to deceive in some of the big games.

                      Must do better..

                      Craig Pawson – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 18 (11 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 12
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 23
                      Last refereed West Ham United: 11 February 2015
                      Last refereed Manchester City: 29 December 2015
                      -

                      Roger East: Sunderland v Bournemouth
                      Assistants: S. Burt and D. Eaton
                      Fourth official: A. Madley

                      Another inconsistent display by Roger East in the Midlands battle between Aston Villa and Leicester City last weekend.

                      For an official that in the main does well, he does let himself down with a big mistake every now and again. For example, how on earth could he miss the penalty decision on the hour mark which would’ve handed the advantage to Villa?

                      Sunderland and Bournemouth are keeping Villa company in the bottom part of the table and neither Sam Allardyce nor Eddie Howe will accept anything less than perfection from East at the Stadium of Light.

                      It was East who mistakenly sent off Sunderland’s Wes Brown in a match against Manchester United and history mustn’t repeat here.

                      Roger East – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 14 (2 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 10
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 21
                      Last refereed Sunderland: 19 December 2015
                      Last refereed Bournemouth: 28 December 2015:
                      -

                      Robert Madley: West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa
                      Assistants: M. McDonough and M. Perry
                      Fourth official: A. Taylor

                      Robert Madley takes charge of a local derby that is sure to be full of incident.

                      If Villa are able to up their performance levels and take three points from their local rivals, there’s every chance they can begin to claw themselves out of their current plight.

                      Tony Pulis’ side will put up the hardest of fights to ensure that doesn’t happen and Madley will be tasked with ensuring things don’t spill over.

                      He will need to be more on his mettle than he was in week 22 at the Bournemouth v Norwich game.

                      Madley missed the decision to award a penalty to the Cherries when Norwich’s Russell Martin deliberately held back Charlie Daniels in the area. He also wasn’t brave enough to send off Declan Rudd when the goalkeeper brought down Bournemouth's record signing, Benik Afobe.

                      A better showing from the official is required here.

                      Robert Madley – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 16 (7 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 11
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 20
                      Last refereed West Bromwich Albion: 28 September 2015
                      Last refereed Aston Villa: 29 August 2015

                      Andre Marriner: Watford v Newcastle United
                      Assistants: P. Kirkup and A. Nunn
                      Fourth official: G. Scott

                      Andre Marriner has no history with either side and unlike some of his colleagues, has enjoyed a relatively calm season in the middle - with last weekend the possible exception.

                      Marriner withdrew from the Swansea v Sunderland game due to illness, meaning that fourth official Graham Scott took charge, and who rather made a mess of things.

                      Two offside calls were missed, a dubious penalty awarded and a red card decision questioned. But PGMOL have seen fit to allow the Marriner/Scott bandwagon to roll into town again here.

                      It will be the official’s 14th Premier League appointment of the campaign and he’ll hope to build on that over the coming games as long as he stays clear of any dodgy prawns….

                      Andre Marriner – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 14 (6 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 15
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 18
                      Last refereed Watford: 26 December 2015
                      Last refereed Newcastle United: 6 December 2015

                      Anthony Taylor: Everton v Swansea City
                      Assistants: L. Betts and G. Beswick
                      Fourth official: A. Marriner

                      You have to hand it to Mike Riley.

                      After making one of the worst errors in his career as a referee in the Sheffield Wednesday versus Leeds game last weekend, Anthony Taylor has been handed a Premier League comeback with immediate effect.

                      It’s unlikely that such a decision will ever be repeated – whistling for a free kick to be taken whilst a substitution for the opposite team was still in progress – but clearly all eyes are going to be on the official.

                      Roberto Martinez was incandescent with rage at Mike Jones last weekend, so is unlikely to be too chuffed with the appointment of Taylor to his game.

                      Swansea have a new head coach in place, Francesco Guidolin, and his take on the officials’ performance will make interesting reading post-game.

                      Anthony Taylor – all you need to know

                      Matches in 2015/16: 20 (11 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 14
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 26
                      Last refereed Everton: 23 August 2015
                      Last refereed Swansea City: 29 November 2015 Honours:

                      Mike Jones: Manchester United v Southampton
                      Assistants: A. Garratt and I. Hussin
                      Fourth official: T. Harrington

                      Making up the quartet of error-prone officials to still be handed a game this week is Mike Jones.

                      Jones was the man in the middle at the Chelsea versus Everton game. A game where John Terry equalised a minute after added on time had been played, and was clearly offside in so doing.

                      It was amateur at best and it deprived the Toffees of three well deserved points.

                      Jones is given the 'master v pupil' fixture of the weekend by way of reward, as Ronald Koeman faces his old manager Louis Van Gaal.

                      There’s certainly no love lost between the two Dutchmen and so things on the sidelines could get just as entertaining as the action on the pitch.

                      Jones and his team will need to have eyes in the backs of their heads.

                      Mike Jones – all you need to know
                      Matches in 2015/16: 16 (3 on TV)
                      Fourth official appointments in 2015/16: 9
                      Football League appointments in 2015/16: 21
                      Last refereed Manchester United: 31 October 2015
                      Last refereed Southampton: 7 November 2015

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