ANTHONY Taylor has been appointed to referee his first Merseyside derby when Everton host Liverpool at Goodison Park on Saturday.
The 36-year-old will oversee the televised teatime kick-off on Sky Sports as the two fierce rivals lock horns in the Premier League for the second time this season.
The first encounter ended in a hotly-contested 1-1 draw in September when Phil Jagielka’s stunning injury-time goal cancelled out Steven Gerrard’s opener at Anfield with Martin Atkinson the man in the middle.
Taylor will be assisted on this occasion by Darren Cann and Gary Beswick while Michael Oliver has been assigned to fourth official duties.
Cheshire-based Taylor will himself be in control of the electronic board for Arsenal’s clash with Leicester next Tuesday night at the Emirates – where he was refereeing only last Sunday in the Gunners’ 5-0 victory over Aston Villa.
He has taken charge of 22 matches in all competitions so far this term – brandishing 90 yellow cards and sending off four players while awarding four penalties.
The Fifa whistler – from Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester – took charge of his first Tyne Wear derby in December and performed well as Sunderland snatched a late win over Newcastle at St James’s Park.
Since that game, he has attracted widespread criticism for some dubious decisions including booking Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas for an alleged dive under the challenge of Matt Targett during their 1-1 draw at Southampton.
Taylor then sent off Swansea’s Wayne Routledge on New Year’s Day – a decision his manager Garry Monk described as “baffling” – for reacting to an aggressive challenge from QPR midfielder Karl Henry which didn’t even receive a booking.
Despite that, the Altrincham FC supporter has become an experienced campaigner among Select Group officials and was entrusted with many high-profile matches in 2014 – such as Liverpool v Chelsea at Anfield and an FA Cup quarter-final.
He also shared officiating duties at the Soccer Aid charity match – held every two years – with fellow Premier League referee Phil Dowd at Old Trafford.
Taylor began in the Northern Premier League in 2002 and advanced to the Conference in 2004 before joining the National List three years later.
His first Premier League match came in April 2010 before he was promoted to the top-flight permanently prior to the 2010/11 season.
Having established himself as a capable and highly-rated official, he was admitted to the Fifa list of international referees in 2013.
Taylor is regarded by many as the outside favourite to be appointed to March’s Capital One Cup Final between London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham at Wembley.
Ahead of the 222nd Merseyside derby, Roberto Martinez’s 12th-placed Everton are 12 points behind Liverpool, who are four points adrift of the top four in seventh prior to the weekend.
The match will kick off at 17:30 GMT as scheduled despite opposition from Merseyside Police, who claimed the late start would increase the risk of crowd trouble and pub incidents.