MICHAEL Oliver will be the man in the middle when Liverpool host Arsenal in the Premier League this weekend.
The 29-year-old from Northumberland will take charge of his 99th top-flight match in Sunday’s televised encounter at Anfield (KO 16:00 BST on Sky Sports).
He will be assisted by linesmen Simon Long (Suffolk) and Lee Betts (Norfolk) while the fourth official will be Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).
It has also been confirmed Oliver – who quit as head of Northumberland Football Association’s referee academy last month – has replaced Chris Foy as the referee for Tuesday’s Capital One Cup quarter-final between Sheffield United and Southampton.
He has officiated 16 games in all competitions this season – the last being the Europa League group stage encounter between Steaua Bucharest and Dynamo Kiev last Thursday.
Two days later, Oliver was the fourth official for West Bromwich Albion’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa at the Hawthorns.
He took control of the corresponding fixture last season as Liverpool raced into a four-goal lead inside 20 minutes before going on to win 5-1 in February.
The highly-rated Ashingdon whistler oversaw Arsenal in their 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley in August and their north London derby draw with Tottenham in September.
It will be his third Liverpool match of the campaign having handled their 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in August and a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at Anfield in October.
He was also an additional assistant referee for the Uefa Super Cup clash between Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Sevilla in Cardiff earlier this season and was in the middle for the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium last month.
Oliver – inspired to take up the whistle by his father Clive, who is a retired Football League referee – quickly established himself as an accomplished top-flight official with a confident and assured but less flamboyant approach.
He has embarked on a remarkable rise, becoming the Premier League’s youngest ever official in August 2010 after three successful years in the Football League and four seasons progressing through the non-league pyramid.
He is now a Fifa Category One official following his promotion in 2012 and has taken charge of several Europa League and international matches.
Last season, Oliver – the Select Group’s youngest official – brandished 141 yellow cards and four red cards in 39 matches in all competitions, awarding 12 penalties in the process.
Oliver is now regarded as one of England’s leading referees and, following the retirement of Howard Webb after the World Cup in Brazil, has been tipped to represent the country at the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Liverpool have won just two of their last seven Premier League outings while Arsenal have won three of their last four league matches, including last Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Newcastle.
Elsewhere, Anthony Taylor will take charge of his first Tyne Wear derby in Sunday’s early game when Newcastle host north-east rivals Sunderland.