MIKE Dean has been confirmed as the man in the middle for the Premier League clash between Arsenal and Manchester United this weekend.
The 46-year-old from the Wirral will be the referee for Saturday’s televised evening kick-off at the Emirates Stadium (KO 17:30 GMT on Sky Sports).
He will be assisted by linesmen Jake Collin (Merseyside) and Darren England (South Yorkshire) while the fourth official will be Mike Jones (Cheshire).
Dean is a veteran of this particular fixture – this will be the fifth occasion he takes charge of a top-flight meeting between the two sides.
The last of them came at Old Trafford in November 2012 when United won 2-1 while Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Dean was also the man in black for 2-1 United victories in north London earlier that year and in Manchester in August 2009 – when he sent Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to the stands late on for kicking a water bottle.
Three months earlier, he took control of a goalless draw between the sides on the final day of the season which was enough for United to clinch the 2008/09 Premier League title.
In addition, he also officiated of Arsenal’s 3-1 win over United in the 2004 Community Shield at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.
The Heswall-based whistler – who was on the Fifa list for a decade before retiring in 2013 – oversaw United’s opening day defeat by Swansea at Old Trafford and last month’s 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
But he last encountered the Gunners in their 1-1 home draw against Manchester City in March.
Dean has handled 10 games in all competitions already this season, brandishing 48 yellows, three red cards and awarding two penalties.
In his last Premier League match on 8 November, he contentiously ruled out QPR striker Charlie Austin’s early strike in their 2-2 draw with champions City at Loftus Road after adjudging keeper Joe Hart had touched the ball twice when taking a free-kick in the build-up.
The vastly-experienced official has taken control of over 300 matches since he was promoted to the Select Group in 2000.
He has also completed the domestic set of high-profile appointments which included the 2011 League Cup Final when Arsenal lost 2-1 to Birmingham at Wembley.
Dean is often considered for the so-called “big games” and that status increased when Howard Webb retired before the start of the season.
Prior to this weekend’s round of fixtures, Arsenal and United lie adjacent in the table – sixth and seventh respectively with the Gunners a point superior after 11 league games.