CRAIG Thomson will be the man in the middle when the Scottish Premiership’s top-two meet at Pittodrie this weekend.
The 43-year-old from Renfrewshire was also in charge the last time champions Celtic faced Aberdeen when Scott Brown’s goal settled the contest on May 10 which featured four bookings.
Thomson has a wealth of experience in handling high-profile matches which will lend well when one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures in Scottish football takes place in front of the Sky cameras on Saturday lunchtime.
Ronny Deila’s league leaders are a point ahead of the Dons – who are level on 15 points with third-placed Hearts and have a game in hand against Hamilton Accies next Tuesday night.
Thomson will be assisted for the 12:30pm kick-off by David McGeachie and Willie Conquer while the fourth official will be George Salmond.
The Paisley-based whistler missed the first two weekends of the season because of illness and was replaced by Willie Collum for the Petrofac Training Cup first round tie between Hibernian and Rangers at Easter Road.
He has since overseen four top-flight games and Falkirk’s League Cup win at Partick Thistle – brandishing 24 yellow cards, sending off Motherwell’s Jake Taylor at St Johnstone and awarding two penalties.
It will be the second time that Thomson encounters Celtic already this term after their 4-2 win over Inverness at Celtic Park on August 15.
The former solicitor appears to have been selected over fellow Uefa Elite official Collum, who has endured a tough start to the domestic campaign having sent off Hearts defender Callum Paterson at Hamilton Accies – a red card which has subsequently been rescinded.
Among his highlights last term were the League Cup semi-final between Celtic and Rangers, the Premiership play-off final second leg at Fir Park, 26 Premiership matches and the Scottish Cup quarter-final between Dundee United and Celtic which featured three red cards and two spotkicks.
Edinburgh-born Thomson oversaw eight Celtic games in total in 2014-15 compared to six involving Aberdeen.
The vastly-experienced official – who has been a regular in the Scottish top-flight since 2002 and joined the Fifa list a year later – has been in the middle for three League Cup finals and three Scottish Cup finals as well as many Champions League and international matches.
He also went to the European Championships in 2012 as one of 12 referees – his first major tournament – and is among the officials vying for a place in next summer’s finals in France.
Celtic won all four league meetings with Derek McInnes’s side last season in games overseen by referees Alan Muir, Bobby Madden and John Beaton.
Steven McLean will take charge of a first Hearts game since the opening weekend against Inverness in the Highlands on Friday night.
Brian Colvin will be in the middle for a third Premiership match of the season when strugglers Dundee United and Kilmarnock meet at Tannadice on Saturday.
Willie Collum maintains his near ever-present record in the top-flight when handling a sixth game as Partick Thistle host Dundee at Firhill.
Motherwell’s clash with Ross County will be overseen by Don Robertson while Andrew Dallas will handle St Johnstone’s match against Hamilton Accies.