MARK Clattenburg will be the referee for Sunday’s Premier League clash between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium (KO 16:00 GMT).
The 40-year-old, from County Durham, will take charge as the current leaders host the 14th-placed champions in north London this weekend.
He will be assisted by Jake Collin and Simon Beck while Jon Moss is the fourth official.
Clattenburg – who is going to Euro 2016 this summer along with Martin Atkinson to represent England’s officials – has handled 27 games in all competitions so far this season.
Overall, he has brandished 88 yellow cards, sent off three players and awarded five penalties.
Before this weekend’s encounter, Fifa-listed Clattenburg will handle Bolton’s FA Cup third round replay against non-league Eastleigh at the Macron Stadium on Tuesday night.
It will be the fourth time the Gosforth-based whistler will officiate a Chelsea game this term after their 3-2 win at West Brom in August, 3-1 home defeat by Liverpool in October and 2-1 loss to Leicester in mid-December.
Clattenburg has only encountered the Gunners in their 2-1 defeat at West Brom in November, in which he awarded them a late penalty that Santi Cazorla missed.
His most recent fixture involving the two capital giants came in December 2010 when Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners at the Emirates, where Clattenburg played an excellent advantage to allow Alex Song to open the scoring and booked five players.
He was also in the middle for Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge in March 2008 – handing out four yellow cards in a largely incident-free game.
But if recent meetings are anything to go by, the Newcastle United fan could be in for a tough experience this time around.
Mike Dean was the centre of controversy at Stamford Bridge in October after failing to dismiss Diego Costa for repeatedly shoving his hand into Laurent Koscielny’s face, sending off Gabriel for reacting to Costa and issuing a harsh second yellow to Santi Cazorla.
In the aftermath of Chelsea’s fiery 2-0 win, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger slammed Dean for being ‘weak and naive’ in his handling of Costa’s notorious antics, while even pundit Garth Crooks waded in with criticism of the official.
In last season’s corresponding fixture, Michael Oliver turned down three Chelsea penalty appeals and booked Cesc Fabregas on his Emirates return for diving as the sides fought out a goalless draw.
The most infamous incident came in March 2014 when Andre Marriner sent off Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for handling on the goalline as Arsenal were crushed 6-0 in West London. The referee later apologised for the case of mistaken identity but was not sanctioned for the error.
Newcastle United supporter Clattenburg, who regularly controls Champions League and international matches, is no stranger to officiating high-profile games and is widely known for his informal communication with players on the pitch.
Clattenburg – who is also a trained electrician – has handled over 250 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.
Last season, he was seemingly out of favour after being dropped for one weekend for travelling back to Newcastle alone following a game to attend an Ed Sheeran concert and calling then-Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock without the other officials being present.
Among his officiating achievements to date are the 2012 League Cup Final, Olympic Games gold medal match in 2012 and the 2013 Community Shield – all at Wembley – as well as the 2014 Uefa Super Cup and Champions League semi-final last season.
The Consett-born official – regarded as one of the best in Europe – will be hoping for another impressive display as he continues to be assessed ahead of the summer tournament in France.