MARK Clattenburg will be the man in the middle for Sunday’s Premier League encounter between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield.
The 39-year-old will take charge as defending champions City travel to sixth-placed Liverpool in a decisive match which could determine both sides’ respective ambitions.
He will be assisted by linesmen Simon Beck (Bedfordshire) and Stuart Burt (Northamptonshire) while Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire) will be the fourth official.
Clattenburg – a former electrician from County Durham – also officiated the corresponding fixture last season and put in an excellent display as Liverpool won a pulsating contest 3-2 last April on their way to a second-placed finish.
In what was dubbed as the most important match of the Premier League campaign, he sent off Reds midfielder Jordan Henderson late on for a two-footed challenge on Samir Nasri.
The Fifa whistler was at the helm for the Champions League last 16 first leg between Basel and FC Porto in Switzerland last Tuesday – dishing out nine yellows and disallowing a late goal for the Portuguese visitors.
He then awarded a contentious penalty in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Clattenburg was in control of City’s 1-1 draw with leaders Chelsea at the end of last month – one of three matches he has overseen involving Manuel Pellegrini’s team this term with the others coming against Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion.
Since that Stamford Bridge contest, the Newcastle United supporter has already officiated five games this month, including sending off Manchester United’s Luke Shaw in their 1-1 draw at West Ham and the top-of-the-table Championship clash between Bournemouth and Derby.
Overall, Clattenburg has taken charge of 31 games in all competitions this season – brandishing 122 yellow cards, dismissing three players and awarding 10 penalties.
He has encountered Liverpool three times this term – most recently in their 2-0 Premier League win at Aston Villa last month as well as their League Cup victory at Bournemouth in December and opening-day encounter with Southampton back in August.
This season’s reverse fixture – when City ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at the Etihad Stadium back in August – was refereed by another leading Premier League official in Michael Oliver.
He has handled over 200 Premier League matches since his promotion to the Select Group in 2004 but was suspended in 2008 for eight months for breaching his contract in relation to personal business deals.
Despite dividing opinion, Clattenburg is highly regarded on the domestic, European and international scene with regular appointments in the Champions League and Europa League.
He was also in the middle for this season’s Uefa Super Cup and is the leading contender to be England’s representatives for Euro 2016 in France and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
A City win could move them to within two points of Premier League leaders Chelsea – who play in the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday while Liverpool could climb into the top four depending on other results.