ANTHONY Taylor has been confirmed as the referee for Manchester United’s heavyweight clash with Liverpool next Monday night.
The 37-year-old will take charge of his first game involving the two fierce rivals when Jose Mourinho comes up against Jurgen Klopp for the first time in the Premier League at Anfield (KO 20:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
In one of the most eagerly-awaited clashes of the campaign, he will be ably assisted by Stephen Child (Kent) and Simon Bennett (Staffordshire), with Martin Atkinson (west Yorkshire) on fourth official duties.
Bennett has run the line in a United game already this season – their 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City.
Child, meanwhile, was one of the referee’s assistants in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Chelsea last month.
It will be seen by many as a controversial appointment, with much being made of the fact Manchester-born Taylor is from Wythenshawe, in Greater Manchester, and supports non-league Altrincham – who are based just six miles away from Old Trafford.
There has also been unconfirmed reports that Taylor’s wife is a Manchester United fan.
In the wake of Leicester fan Kevin Friend being removed from a Spurs game, Everton supporters called for Taylor to be taken off their FA Cup semi-final against United last season.
Taylor did award the Toffees a debatable spotkick in the second half, which Romelu Lukaku missed, but performed well during United’s 2-1 victory at Wembley in April.
But, while former referees chief Keith Hackett has condemned the appointment as “grossly unfair” to Taylor, refereeing circles have largely welcomed the PGMOL’s decision to put an in-form official in charge.
Taylor was in the middle for United’s 2-0 win over Southampton at Old Trafford in August, awarding the Reds a spotkick after Luke Shaw was tripped by Jordy Clasie which Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted.
Meanwhile, Fifa whistler Taylor – who went all the way to the Euro 2016 Final as an additional assistant referee – hasn’t encountered Liverpool since their 1-0 victory at Stoke in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.
It will the first Liverpool game Taylor has officiated in the league in almost a year – since taking charge of their win over Swansea last November.
He has taken charge of seven top-flight matches so far this season – more than any other Premier League referee – dishing out 23 yellow cards and awarding two penalties.
Taylor – who officiated both the League Cup Final and Community Shield at Wembley in 2015 – also handled Bayern Munich’s 5-0 opening Champions League group stage victory over Rostov last month.
Taylor will also be the fourth official for Saturday’s Premier League match between the other Manchester and Merseyside teams, Manchester City and Everton, at the Etihad Stadium.
United have won the last four Premier League games between the two sides, although Liverpool were victorious in the most recent meeting at Anfield – a 2-0 triumph in last season’s Europa League.
United sit sixth after seven matches, three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool.
Andre Marriner will be in the middle for Chelsea’s televised encounter with Leicester City on Saturday lunchtime.
The 45-year-old, from the west Midlands, will take charge as the two previous champions meet at Stamford Bridge in the first Premier League match of the weekend (KO 12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
The assistant referees will be Simon Beck (Bedfordshire) and Andy Garratt (west Midlands), while the fourth official is Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).
Marriner has overseen nine games in all competitions this term – five of which have come in the Premier League.
He has so far brandished 40 yellow cards, sent off five players and awarded six penalties.
During the international break, the Sheldon-based whistler handled Israel’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory at Macedonia – dishing out four yellows, sending off Israel defender Tal Ben Haim and awarding Macedonia a stoppage-time penalty which was saved.
Marriner will be hoping to have a better game than the last time he encountered Chelsea, when he endured a difficult match in their 2-2 draw at Swansea last month.
The Birmingham-born official gave seven yellow cards, awarded the Swans a spotkick and allowed Leroy Fer’s goal to stand despite him appearing to foul Gary Cahill twice in the build-up.
The angry Blues defender insisted the infringements could be seen ‘from the moon’ and revealed he had been to the dressing room to speak to Marriner after the game.
Marriner, however, bounced back with an impressive display in Tottenham’s 2-0 victory over Manchester City at White Hart Lane.
Meanwhile, he will encounter Leicester for the first time since their first game after being crowned unlikely Premier League champions – awarding two penalties to the Foxes in their 3-1 win over Everton in May.
Michael Oliver has been assigned to Manchester City’s match against Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Fifa whistler, from Northumberland, will make the decisions as Pep Guardiola’s league leaders look for their first win in three games against the Toffees.
He will be assisted by Gary Beswick (County Durham) and Stuart Burt (Northamptonshire), with Anthony Taylor (Cheshire) the fourth official.
Oliver will take charge of his 11th match of the campaign across three different competitions – having brandished 39 yellows, one red card in a Champions League qualifier in July, and awarded five penalties.
One of those spotkicks was controversially given in his last Everton game in August, which led to the only goal in their 1-0 victory over Stoke at Goodison Park and upset Stoke boss Hughes.
Indeed, Everton have lost just one of the last seven games that Oliver has taken charge of.
The Ashingdon-based whistler, who made his Champions League group stage debut last month in Sporting Lisbon’s 2-0 win over Legia Warsaw, will be fresh from handling Sweden’s 3-0 victory over Bulgaria on Monday in World Cup qualifying.
It will be the first time Oliver, who officiated Manchester City’s win over Liverpool on penalties in last season’s League Cup Final, will encounter the Blues since their 1-0 derby defeat by Manchester United in March.
He was criticised by United boss Jose Mourinho for some decisions in their 3-1 defeat at Watford before booking Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge for diving and awarding the Reds a late spotkick in their 2-1 win at Swansea prior to the international break.
You can view the rest of the Premier League match official appointments here.