REFEREE Mark Clattenburg has been assigned the potential Premier League title decider between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.
The 39-year-old is tasked with taking charge of the most important fixture of the campaign so far as the league leaders take on third-placed City, who are four points behind and have two games in hand.
Gary Beswick and Darren Cann will be the assistant referees while Lee Mason – who handled the reverse fixture between the sides at the Etihad Stadium – is the fourth official.
Fellow Fifa official Howard Webb, who will be England’s representative at this summer’s World Cup, has been overlooked.
Clattenburg last officiated Liverpool on 16 March, awarding them three penalties in their comfortable 3-0 win over Manchester United and dubiously sent off United skipper Nemanja Vidic at Old Trafford.
The County Durham whistler oversaw Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League quarter-final first leg last week and Chris Hughton’s final game as Norwich manager, a 1-0 reverse to West Bromwich Albion last Saturday.
Despite being alleged to have sworn at Southampton’s Adam Lallana in December, Clattenburg has been a standout performer in the top-flight this term and is regarded as one of the best officials in English football.
It is the latest in a number of high-profile appointments for Clattenburg, who was in charge of this season’s Community Shield as well as Arsenal’s goalless draw with United in February and quarter-finals in both the FA Cup and Capital One Cup.
He brandishes an average of just over three yellow cards per game and has dished out only two red cards in 36 games in all competitions.
Manchester City have drew away at Stoke and beat Swansea with Clattenburg as the man in the middle this term while Liverpool have both won both league fixtures – the first coming at Aston Villa in August.
Webb – who beat off competition from Clattenburg to be one of 25 referees in Brazil – has been handed a string of low-key fixtures since his controversial decision making in Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Liverpool in February.
Brendan Rodgers’s side are chasing a tenth straight league victory and could move five points clear at the top with victory before Chelsea travel to Swansea later in the day.
City, who beat Liverpool 2-1 on Boxing Day, could temporarily overtake Jose Mourinho’s Blues into second by completing a league double over the Merseyside outfit.
The blockbuster can be seen live on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday, 13 April, with coverage starting at 12:30 BST.
(Table correct as of 11 April 2014)
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