Michael Oliver in charge of Arsenal v Liverpool clash

Michael Oliver will take charge of the Monday night blockbuster between Arsenal and Liverpool while Keith Stroud and Andre Marriner will also be on Premier League duty for the first time this season.

Michael Oliver and Andre Ayew (Chelsea v Swansea - 8th August 2015)
Composure: Oliver’s collected approach and ability to remain calm under pressure is widely admired among refereeing circles (Picture from Sky Sports)

MICHAEL Oliver will be the referee for the Premier League clash between top-four hopefuls Arsenal and Liverpool next Monday night.

The 30-year-old, from Northumberland, will take charge as the two heavyweights turn out at the Emirates Stadium for the final top-flight match of the third weekend of the 2015-16 season.

He will be assisted in north London by Fifa linesmen Simon Bennett and John Brooks while the fourth official is Neil Swarbrick.

It will be Oliver’s first encounter with Liverpool since their 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Anfield last December in which he sent off Reds substitute Fabio Borini for two bookable offences.

His only other match involving the two sides also came on Merseyside in Liverpool’s 5-1 win over Arsenal in February 2014.

Michael Oliver red card to Thibault Courtois (v SWA - 8th August 2015)
Big call: Oliver had to decide whether Courtois fouled Gomis inside the box and denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity (Picture from BBC Sport)

The Ashingdon-based whistler dismissed Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for bringing down Bafetimbi Gomis on the opening weekend in their 2-2 draw against Swansea.

He was also the fourth official for Arsenal’s first home game of the campaign against West Ham United on August 9.

Since handling Everton’s 3-0 win over Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday, Oliver will have a free week to prepare for the high-profile game with no midweek European engagements or fourth official duties to oversee on Saturday or Sunday.

The Fifa Category One official was the man in black for Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Manchester City 12 months ago and their 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion in October.

Michael Oliver (Graham Poll graphic image) 10th March 2015
Praise: Oliver was widely hailed for his outstanding performance in Arsenal’s FA Cup quarter-final victory at Old Trafford in March (Picture from BBC Sport)

Oliver was criticised, however, by Reds boss Brendan Rodgers for failing to send off Chelsea striker Diego Costa for stamps on Martin Skrtel and Emre Can in their Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge in January.

He also officiated Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with rivals Tottenham last September – in which he issued nine yellows – and their goalless draw at home to Chelsea in April.

Oliver, whose wife Lucy is a referee and father Clive is a retired Football League whistler, became the youngest official in Premier League history when he was in the middle for Birmingham’s 2-1 victory over Blackburn in August 2010.

He had spent three years in the Football League and four years at non-league level before gaining promotion to the Select Group at the start of the 2010-11 season.

Michael Oliver referee (FA Trophy Final - 29th March 2015)
More to come: Oliver is still yet to be the man in the middle for a Championship Play-Off Final, FA Cup Final or League Cup Final (Picture from BT Sport)

Oliver’s most prestigious appointments came last term when overseeing Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Manchester City in the Community Shield and the FA Trophy Final between Wrexham and North Ferriby United, both at Wembley Stadium.

He has also been the man in the middle for the 2009 League One Play-Off Final as well as the fourth official for both the Capital One Cup Final and Community Shield in 2013.


ELSEWHERE THIS WEEKEND….

Keith Stroud referee (Brighton v Watford - 25th April 2015)
Vastly-experienced: Stroud has handled several high-profile matches in his career and first took up the whistle in 1988 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Football League referee Keith Stroud will be the man in the middle for Crystal Palace’s match with Aston Villa on Saturday (KO 3pm).

The 45-year-old, from Hampshire, was also handed a trial Premier League game at Selhurst Park last term when overseeing Palace’s 2-0 win over Leicester 11 months ago.

Dorset-based Stroud has been a Select Group official in the past when promoted in 2007 but was demoted after officiating 14 games in two seasons having been deemed to have fallen below the required standards.

The boyhood Luton Town supporter – who was in the middle for the opening Football League match of 2015-16 between Brighton and Nottingham Forest – also took charge of Brentford’s 4-2 win at Bristol City last weekend in which he sent off Robins midfielder Luke Freeman.

It will be the third week running that a National Group referee has received a top-flight match after Simon Hooper’s much-publicised debut on the opening weekend at Carrow Road and Paul Tierney’s unassuming display at Vicarage Road last Saturday.

Stroud will be ably assisted in south London by linesmen Peter Kirkup and Marc Perry while the fourth official will be Robert Madley – who was also on electronic board duties last weekend at Selhurst Park against Arsenal.


ALSO LOOK OUT FOR….

Andre Marriner issues yellow card (Wolves v Hull - 16th August 2015)
Marriner at Molineux: The Sheldon-based official issued only one yellow card in the televised Championship encounter last Sunday (Picture from Sky Sports)

Fifa official Andre Marriner will oversee his first Premier League game in the middle on Sunday when newly-promoted Watford host Southampton.

Like the Saints, Marriner will be fresh from Europa League duty on Thursday night when he will take charge of Qabala against Greek outfit Panathinaikos in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku.

Andre Marriner officiating team (Europa League - 20th August 2015)
The third team: The English officials working with Marriner for the Europa League tie (Picture from Uefa.com)

The 44-year-old West Midlands whistler has been a fourth official for three top-flight games so far this term including the Premier League opener between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur on August 8.

His only game in the middle was last Sunday’s Championship encounter between Wolves and Hull in which he awarded the visitors a spotkick in the 1-1 draw.

At Vicarage Road, Marriner will be assisted by Darren Cann and Scott Ledger with Robert Madley on electronic board duties.

He has officiated over 200 top-flight games since becoming a Select Group referee in 2005 and oversaw two Saints matches last term – their memorable 8-0 victory over Sunderland in October and 1-0 defeat at Arsenal in December.

It will be his first time refereeing Watford in nearly six years – since their 3-2 Championship reverse at home to Coventry City in September 2009.

Marriner only sent off one player, issued 86 yellow cards and awarded three penalties in 20 Premier League games last season.


OTHER GAMES…

Premier League match official appointments Saturday 22nd August 2015
Saturday schedule: The Premier League match official appointments for the third Saturday of the 2015-16 season (Picture from Premier League)

After officiating the final game of last weekend, Craig Pawson will be in charge of the first this time when taking to the field at Old Trafford.

The South Yorkshire whistler was heavily scrutinised for allowing Christian Benteke’s winning goal against Bournemouth at Anfield on Monday night to stand with Phillipe Coutinho clearly offside and interfering with play as Jordan Henderson’s cross came into the box.

Pawson, 36, also disallowed Tommy Elphick’s header for the Cherries and their boss Eddie Howe has sought clarification from PGMOL chief Mike Riley on both decisions.

Meanwhile, Mike Dean and Martin Atkinson receive a Premier League game for the third week running – at Leicester City and Norwich City respectively.

PL Match Official Appointments (Sunday 23rd August 2015)
Super Sunday: Fifa officials Clattenburg and Taylor will oversee the televised top-flight games after being on European duty in the week (Picture from Premier League.com)

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