Premier League Referee round-up: Friend and Atkinson omitted

Martin Atkinson and Kevin Friend will not oversee Premier League games in the next round of fixtures following their heavily-criticised performances last time out.

Martin Atkinson with yellow card
More than most: Atkinson has taken charge of more Premier League games this season than any other Select Group official (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREES Martin Atkinson and Kevin Friend will not oversee Premier League games in the next round of fixtures following their heavily-criticised performances last time out.

Atkinson – who was castigated for a series of contentious decisions during Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Burnley, including failing to spot a horror tackle by Ashley Barnes on Nemanja Matic – was named as fourth official for Manchester United’s game with Sunderland on Saturday.

He also refuted two strong Chelsea penalty appeals and dismissed Matic for reacting to the challenge by Barnes, who should himself have been sent off while the Bradford whistler was one of the subjects of an astonishing rant by Blues boss Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports.

Friend, who refused to award both teams a penalty during Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Southampton on Sunday, was appointed a fourth official for West Ham United’s game against Crystal Palace.

The Leicestershire official also adjudged that Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had not handled the ball outside the area when Saints winger Eljero Elia tried to lift it over him.

Kevin Friend gives free-kick (Palace v Chelsea - 3rd Jan 2016)
Slated: Friend was not everyone’s best friend on social media on Sunday after his display at St Mary’s (Picture from Sky Sports)

Refereeing appointments for the following midweek fixtures were also announced by the Premier League on Monday, with Atkinson returning to the middle for Southampton’s clash against Crystal Palace at St Mary’s on Tuesday night.

Friend, meanwhile, was given Arsenal’s match with Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road the following evening.

Matic has been handed a two-match ban by the Football Association but retrospective action cannot be taken against Barnes because Atkinson has reported that he had seen the incident while his assessor Steve Greaves said he got all the key decisions correct.

Elsewhere, Roger East (Wiltshire) will take charge of his first ever Manchester United match when the Red Devils host Gus Poyet’s Sunderland at Old Trafford.

Saturday’s televised London derby in the lunchtime kick-off at Upton Park – as Alan Pardew returns to West Ham with Crystal Palace – will be officiated by the experienced Mike Dean.

Jon Moss – whose timekeeping in Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with West Ham last Sunday was questioned by Hammers boss Sam Allardyce – will be at the helm at Turf Moor when Burnley host Swansea.

The West Yorkshire whistler will also take charge of the midweek Midlands derby between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park next Tuesday.

Mark Clattenburg (County Durham) will be the man in the middle for Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated clash between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield for the second season running.

Anthony Taylor and Craig Pawson, meanwhile, have not received a weekend game because of their previously-announced participation in the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday at Wembley.

Taylor will quickly return to refereeing duties to take control of Newcastle’s home match with Manchester United in midweek.

Andre Marriner (West Midlands) will be in the middle for Arsenal against Everton on Sunday as well as the London derby between West Ham and leaders Chelsea the following Wednesday.

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