FA Cup: Match officials appointed for third round replays

Ben Toner and Graham Scott will take charge of the two televised games at Sincil Bank and Home Park with all nine ties to be settled in midweek.

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Man in black: Graham Scott (middle) has been assigned to Liverpool’s televised replay at Plymouth on Wednesday as the sides drew 0-0 at Anfield in the original tie (Picture from Sky Sports)

The match officials have been announced for this week’s FA Cup third round replays.

There are nine ties to be decided in total, which will take place on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 January.

Two have been selected for live television coverage.

Football League referee Ben Toner will be in the middle for National League side Lincoln City’s match against Championship outfit Ipswich Town at Sincil Bank on Tuesday evening, live on BBC One.

Meanwhile, Premier League official Graham Scott will take charge of League Two Plymouth’s replay against Premier League giants Liverpool at Home Park on Wednesday night, in front of the BT Sport cameras.

Here are the details in full…

TUESDAY 17 JANUARY:

AFC Wimbledon v Sutton United (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire)
Assistant referees: John Flynn (Oxfordshire) & Christopher Husband (Worcestershire)
Fourth official: John Busby (Oxfordshire)

Barnsley v Blackpool (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)
Assistant referees: Akil Howson (Leicestershire) & Wayne Grunnill (East Yorkshire)
Fourth official: Ross Joyce (Cleveland)

Burnley v Sunderland (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Assistant referees: Peter Kirkup (Northamptonshire) & Simon Bennett (Staffordshire)
Fourth official: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)

Lincoln City v Ipswich Town (KO 20:05 GMT, live on BBC One)
Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire)
Assistant referees: Billy Smallwood (Cheshire) & Alix Pashley (Derbyshire)
Fourth official: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)

Fleetwood Town v Bristol City (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
Assistant referees: James Mainwaring (Lancashire) & Helen Byrne (Durham)
Fourth official: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear)

Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers (KO 20:00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
Assistant referees: Dave Bryan (Lincolnshire) & Harry Lennard (East Sussex)
Fourth official: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)

WEDNESDAY 18 JANUARY:

Newcastle United v Birmingham City (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
Assistant referees: Nick Hopton (Derbyshire) & James Bell (South Yorkshire)
Fourth official: David Webb (County Durham)

Plymouth Argyle v Liverpool (KO 19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport)
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)
Assistant referees: Simon Beck (Bedfordshire) & Simon Long (Cornwall)
Fourth official: Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Southampton v Norwich City (KO 19:45 GMT)
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)
Assistant referees: Sian Massey-Ellis (West Midlands) & Marc Perry (West Midlands)
Fourth official: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

You can see a full list of FA Cup fourth round fixtures here. 

Manchester United v Liverpool: Why Spidercam heaps more pressure on Michael Oliver

The additional technology at Old Trafford is likely to put the referee’s every decision under even more scrutiny than normal.

spidercam-in-operation
Different: Spidercam, which has also been used in cricket, offers a unique viewing experience and many will be looking forward to seeing it in the English top-flight for the first time

With cameras covering almost every angle and every decision magnified however small it may seem, the job of match officials has never been tougher.

Although referees are getting fitter, so are the players and a modern Premier League game played at an electrifying pace is increasingly difficult to keep up with for the men in the middle – some of which are in their 40s or 50s.

Television coverage is becoming more expensive for companies to acquire and their eagerness to improve the service they provide for viewers means changes are being made all the time.

And the introduction of the ‘Spidercam’ for this weekend’s blockbuster at Old Trafford is the latest addition by Sky Sports to make those watching on TV feel like they are a supporter inside the stadium.

Crews have been busy installing the 3D camera system, which slides across wires above the pitch, throughout the week and it will undoubtedly enhance the experience for armchair fans by bringing them closer to the action.

But, for officials going about their business, the extra feature will only increase the pressure to ensure their decision-making is impeccable and intensify scrutiny should they make a wrong call.

old-trafford-full-time-v-man-city-10th-sept-2016
First: Old Trafford will be the first stadium in the Premier League to experience the Spidercam (Picture from Sky Sports)

The use of the Spidercam at World Cups, European Championships and the Champions League in recent years has given competitions at the top of the game a revolutionary new dimension.

With the 360-degree camera roving across the pitch, it can reach as high as 10 metres above the playing surface and be operated from pitchside.

It will come to the fore for corners, penalties or free-kicks and, given the number of set-pieces in every single game and the amount of grappling that goes on inside the box, the footage is likely to leave officials even more red-faced if they fail to identify even the slightest infringements.

During a time when referees are being criticised on an almost weekly basis, they will have to brace themselves for further scrutiny if and when the Spidercam is rolled out in every ground.

With instant reaction, pundits often make the life of officials difficult and the use of this technology will spearhead the post-match analysis through an array of optimum replays, with decisions likely to be under the microscope more than ever.

A series of controversial red cards lately will not have helped to convince fans that standards are improving, which is certainly a bone of contention, but their esteemed reputation worldwide remains upheld.

Although some Select Group officials have operated at major tournaments before, most recently Martin Atkinson and Mark Clattenburg at Euro 2016, many will not have officiated with this technology.

Michael Oliver, who is tasked with taking charge of Manchester United against Liverpool on Sunday, is still relatively new to the European and international circuit but, with his 32nd birthday approaching next month, he is one of the youngest and fittest officials in the Premier League.

michael-oliver-referee-west-ham-v-man-city-fa-cup-6th-jan-2017
Man in the middle: Oliver has been a Premier League referee since 2010 – the same year Spidercam was used at a major football tournament (Picture from BBC Sport)

Having overseen United’s 3-1 home win over their north West rivals last season, previous experience of what can be one of English football’s most fiery occasions will stand the Fifa official in good stead.

But nothing can prepare him for what lies ahead once the whistle has blown and an auxiliary camera is hovering directly above watching his every move.

Of course, with the stakes high, the right decisions must be made but, whilst the Spidercam is a broadcasting innovation, a reminder that officials are only human is often needed and giving fans a birds-eye view of proceedings won’t do their cause much good.

Not normally afraid to make a big decision, Oliver – who will be relieved he hasn’t had the same media storm follow him in the same way Anthony Taylor did before the reverse fixture – knows he needs to be at his best but he is the ideal man to illustrate that the officials can handle any extra pressure heaped on them.

Although the Spidercam is effectively on trial at Old Trafford, it won’t be long before every Premier League game will have this additional feature – if the successful implementation of goal-line technology and exploration of further video technology is anything to go by.

And match officials must be ready to raise their performance to another level and react in a positive manner, otherwise their confidence may suffer to the extent that it may be beyond repair.

Have your say…

Premier League Referees: Taylor, Marriner and Oliver in action in week eight

Anthony Taylor will oversee Manchester United’s eagerly-awaited Anfield trip while Michael Oliver and Andre Marriner will also be in charge of key games this weekend.

anthony-taylor-in-action-everton-v-mu-at-wembley-23rd-april-2016
Links: Taylor, who is connected to Cheshire County FA, oversaw United against Merseyside opposition in Everton in last season’s FA Cup semi-final (Picture from BBC Sport)

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.

Anthony Taylor watches on (Newcastle v Sunderland - 21st Dec 2014)
High-profile: Taylor has officiated a number of key Premier League games, including Merseyside and Tyne-Wear derbies (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

Meanwhile, former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was fined £8,000 in December 2013 after questioning the decision to allow Bolton referee Lee Mason to officiate their 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

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.

Anthony Taylor referee (Community Shield ARS v CHE - 2nd Aug 2015)
Elevated: Taylor was promoted to the Select Group of referees in the summer of 2010 (Picture from BT Sport)

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.

He was in the media spotlight for sending Stoke City boss Mark Hughes to the stands during their 4-0 defeat at home to Tottenham 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 in action (Arsenal v Man City - 21st Dec 2015)
Indifferent: Marriner has enjoyed a mixed start to the season but has already received some crucial games (Picture from Sky Sports)

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 referee (Man United v Leicester - 1st May 2016)
Stricter approach: Oliver has been one of the most card-happy referees in the Premier League so far in 2016-17 (Picture from Sky Sports)

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.

As expected, the highly-rated Fifa referee has overseen a number of high-profile games already this term – including Liverpool’s 4-3 win at Arsenal and the Gunners’ 3-0 win over Chelsea.

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.

Michael Oliver to referee Capital One Cup Final

Michael Oliver will take charge of the 2016 Capital One Cup Final between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 28, the Football League has confirmed.

Michael Oliver (Man United v Liverpool - 12th Sept 2015)
Regular: Oliver has controlled 16 Premier League games so far this season – with two involving Liverpool (Picture from Sky Sports)

MICHAEL Oliver will referee the 2016 Capital One Cup Final between North West rivals Liverpool and Manchester City later this month, the Football League has confirmed.

The 30-year-old will take charge of an eighth game at Wembley in his career when the two Premier League giants compete for the first domestic trophy of the season on Sunday, February 28 (KO 16:00 GMT).

He will be assisted by linesmen Adrian Holmes (West Yorkshire) and Simon Bennett (Staffordshire) while the fourth official will be Bobby Madley (West Yorkshire) and Eddie Smart (West Midlands) is the reserve assistant referee.

Oliver, from Northumberland, was in the middle for City’s 3-0 defeat by Arsenal in the Community Shield and Liverpool’s 2-1 FA Cup semi-final loss to Aston Villa last season.

He has also handled two other FA Cup semi-finals and last season’s FA Trophy Final between Wrexham and North Ferriby United as well as the 2007 Conference Play-Off Final and 2009 League One Play-Off Final at the national stadium.

Oliver – a former Newcastle youth player – was also fourth official for both the Capital One Cup Final and Community Shield in 2013.

The high-profile appointments in his relatively short professional career include being an additional assistant referee for the 2014 Uefa Super Cup in Cardiff – a role he could fulfill as part of Mark Clattenburg or Martin Atkinson’s officiating team for Euro 2016.

It was widely predicted among refereeing circles that Andre Marriner and Mike Jones were the front-runners to take charge of the 55th League Cup Final but it is deserved recognition for Oliver for a number of consistent displays in 2015-16.

The Ashingdon-based whistler has officiated 21 games in all competitions so far this season – brandishing 69 yellow cards, sending off five players and awarding nine penalties.

Oliver didn’t officiate a game for six weeks across October and November after being selected for the U17 World Cup in Chile – where he oversaw three games including the final between Mali and Nigeria alongside Stuart Burt and Gary Beswick.

His most recent game was last Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United in which he issued three bookings but was accused by United boss Louis van Gaal afterwards of giving Chelsea too many free-kicks late in the game.

Last week, it was rumoured that Oliver has been selected by United skipper Wayne Rooney to referee his testimonial at Old Trafford in the summer.

Last five League Cup Final referees (as of 9th Feb 2016)

Earlier this season, Oliver made headlines when stepping in to replace an injured official at a women’s match being refereed by his wife Lucy, while he stepped down as head of Northumberland FA’s referee academy in November 2014.

Oliver – whose father Clive was a Football League referee until retiring in 2009 – 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 – and progressed to Fifa level in 2012 having impressed in handling over 120 top-flight matches.

The highly-rated Fifa Category One official first took up the whistle in 2003 and remains the joint youngest among the 17 full-time referees in the Premier League along with Madley.

He is still yet to take charge of a Championship Play-Off Final or the FA Cup Final – the most prestigious honour which only comes once in a referee’s career.

Michael Oliver
Second time around: Oliver’s only other game involving the two sides was City’s 3-1 Premier League win over Liverpool in August 2014 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Oliver is widely regarded as one of the best officials in the country who is regularly considered for high-profile games and is tipped to be England’s refereeing representative at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

He has not encountered City since their 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace last April but oversaw Liverpool’s goalless draw at Arsenal in August and 3-1 defeat at Manchester United in September.

2014 League Cup winners City will be hoping to claim the first silverware of a potential quadruple before Manuel Pellegrini’s summer departure.

But Liverpool – who beat City 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals on their way to winning the competition for a record eighth time in 2012 – will take inspiration from their 4-1 win over City at the Etihad Stadium back in November as they bid for a maiden trophy under Jurgen Klopp.


SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION:

Atkinson and Taylor to officiate on Super Sunday

Martin Atkinson will take charge of Liverpool’s visit to cross-city rivals Everton and Anthony Taylor will be in the middle for Arsenal’s encounter with fellow heavyweights Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Martin Atkinson and Anthony Taylor collage
Cards: Taylor (left) has averaged four yellow cards per Premier League game this season while Atkinson (right) has sent off three players in four previous Merseyside derbies (Pictures from Sky Sports)

MARTIN Atkinson will be in the middle for the Merseyside derby while Anthony Taylor will take charge of Manchester United’s visit to Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

West Yorkshire whistler Atkinson will handle a fifth encounter between fierce rivals Everton and Liverpool but only his second at Goodison Park (KO 1:30pm, live on Sky Sports 1).

Manchester-based Taylor will oversee an Arsenal-United match for the first time when the two heavyweights meet at the Emirates Stadium (KO 4pm, live on Sky Sports 1).

The two Fifa-listed referees will also be in action in Europe during the week.

Atkinson has been appointed to officiate Barcelona’s Group E clash with Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday night at the Nou Camp.

Taylor will be in Greece to control Borussia Dortmund’s Group C Europa League clash with PAOK Salonika on Thursday night.

Bradford-based Atkinson will oversee a Merseyside derby at Everton’s ground for the first time since controversially dismissing Jack Rodwell for an apparent foul on Luis Suarez in October 2011 – a red card that was later rescinded.

His first derby was Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Anfield in February 2010 when he sent off Sotiros Kyrgiakos for a foul on Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar for two bookable offences while brandishing yellow cards to five other players.

The Leeds United supporter has also taken charge of the last two derbies at Anfield.

Atkinson has dished out more yellow cards than any other Select Group official this term – 32 in seven games so far – and is the only referee to officiate a top-flight game every weekend.

It will be the first time he encounters either side since March when handling Liverpool’s 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United – in which he sent off captain Steven Gerrard just 40 seconds after coming on at half-time – and Everton’s 3-0 win over Newcastle.

Atkinson – who is yet to award a penalty or send a player off this term – was accused of poor time-keeping by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho after their 2-2 draw at Newcastle last weekend.

“I know what kind of referee Mr Atkinson is; stops the game, gives time, speaks too much, long conversations with players,” he said in his post-match press briefing at St James’s Park.

The 43-year-old will be assisted by his regular linesmen Stephen Child and Mike Mullarkey while the fourth official is Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).

Taylor will be in the middle for his seventh Premier League game of the season and his second Arsenal game after the Community Shield against Chelsea at Wembley in August.

The Wythenshawe whistler – who supports non-league club Altrincham – visited the Emirates three times last term for the Gunners’ league matches with Aston Villa, Liverpool and Sunderland and sent off Calum Chambers in their 3-2 defeat at Stoke.

Taylor will still be remembered by Arsenal fans from the opening day of the 2013/14 season, which saw Laurent Koscielny controversially sent off and two penalties awarded to Aston Villa.

In total, he has sent off three Gunners players and booked 21 in 13 games involving Arsene Wenger’s team.

Taylor handled three United matches in 2014-15 – their 3-0 home win over Hull, 1-0 victory at Newcastle and, latterly, 1-0 home reverse by West Brom in which he awarded the Reds a penalty which Robin van Persie saw saved by Boas Myhill.

United have won seven and lost none of their nine games that Taylor has officiated – and he has never awarded a penalty in a match involving the Old Trafford club with the only red card given to Ronald Zubar of Wolves in a 5-0 win at Molineux in March 2012.

Last term, the 36-year-old stepped up as a senior official having handled his first Merseyside and Tyne Wear derbies among 29 Premier League games, the Capital One Cup Final, a Euro 2016 qualifier and Championship play-off semi-final first leg between Ipswich and Norwich.

Taylor’s only red card so far this season came at Upton Park last month when sending off West Ham keeper Adrian against Leicester and put in an impressive performance in Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at Watford – in which he awarded his only penalty thus far.

Just as he was at Vicarage Road last weekend, Taylor will be assisted by John Brooks and Lee Betts in north London with Roger East acting as the fourth official.


OTHER APPOINTMENTS….

PL Match Official Appointments (3rd-4th Oct 2015)

Michael Oliver to referee Manchester United v Liverpool

Michael Oliver will take charge of Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford, with Stuart Attwell returning to the Premier League at the Hawthorns and Neil Swarbrick in the Football League.

Michael Oliver (FA Cup QF Man Utd v Arsenal - 9th March 2015)
Yellow alert: Oliver has already brandished an average of five yellow cards per game so far this season (Picture from BBC Sport)

MICHAEL Oliver has been confirmed as the referee for Manchester United’s eagerly-awaited Premier League encounter with Liverpool on Saturday.

It will be the first time the 30-year-old, from Northumberland, will oversee a north-west derby between the two heavyweights when they meet at Old Trafford in the teatime kick-off.

He will be assisted by Fifa linesmen Gary Beswick (County Durham) and Stuart Burt (Northamptonshire) while the fourth official will be Lee Mason (Lancashire).

Oliver is one of only three referees – along with Martin Atkinson and Craig Pawson – who will have officiated a Premier League every weekend so far this season.

The Ashingdon-based whistler has already issued three red cards in four games – more than any other Select Group official.

Michael Oliver referee (Chelsea v West Ham - 26th December 2014)
Highly-rated: Oliver has officiated over 100 Premier League games in the last five years (Picture from Sky Sports)

He dismissed Chelsea goalkeeper Thibault Courtois for what he perceived to be a last-man challenge on Bafetimbi Gomis in their 2-2 draw with Swansea before being the fourth official for Arsenal’s first home game against West Ham on the opening weekend.

Oliver then handled Everton’s 3-0 win at Southampton before encountering Liverpool in their goalless draw at Arsenal – in which he issued five yellow cards at the Emirates Stadium on August 24.

Before the international break, the Fifa Category One official incurred the wrath of Stoke boss Mark Hughes after reducing his side to nine men inside 35 minutes of their 1-0 home defeat by West Brom – sending off Ibrahim Afellay and Charlie Adam on the advice of his assistants.

Michael Oliver sends off Ibrahim Afellay (v West Brom - 29th August 2015)
Decisions: OIiver dismisses Afellay after 25 minutes but Mark Hughes thought the referee ‘lacked common sense’ (Picture from BBC Sport)

Oliver was also criticised by Liverpool 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.

It was one of five Liverpool games he handled last season – the others being the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City; the 2-1 home win over West Brom; the 2-2 home draw with Arsenal (when he sent off Fabio Borini); and the 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa at Wembley.

Last season, Oliver sent off United defender Chris Smalling for two bookable offences during November’s Manchester derby defeat to City but was criticised for failing to take action against City goalkeeper Joe Hart, who squared up to the official.

In United’s FA Cup quarter-final with Arsenal in March, Oliver dismissed Angel di Maria for diving and then tugging his shirt within the space of a minute.

He was also in the middle for United’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City on New Year’s Day and awarded them a controversial penalty for an alleged Scott Dann handball in their 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace in May.

It promises to be another tough assignment for Oliver in what is regarded by many as English football’s biggest game.

Martin Atkinson sends off Steven Gerrard (v Man United - 22nd March 2015)
Last season: Both meetings were refereed by Martin Atkinson, who sent off Reds skipper Steven Gerrard within 40 seconds of his arrival at Anfield (Picture from Sky Sports)

Oliver 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.

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.

Oliver recently hit the headlines when stepping in to replace an injured official at a women’s match being refereed by his wife Lucy.


ELSEWHERE THIS WEEKEND….

Stuart Attwell on PL duty (Leicester v West Brom - 1st November 2014)
Recent experience: Attwell encountered Premier League side Sunderland in their League Cup second round tie with Exeter last month

Football League referee Stuart Attwell will receive a second Premier League trial game in the space of a year at the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.

The 32-year-old from Warwickshire has been selected to officiate West Bromwich Albion’s home game with Southampton (KO 3pm) with the assistance of Mark Scholes, Jake Collin and fourth official Mike Dean.

At the age of 25, Attwell became the youngest-ever Premier League official in 2008 after just one season on the National List and became Fifa accredited a year later but he was demoted by the PGMOL in February 2012 following a series of controversial decisions.

The Nuneaton-based whistler oversaw his first top-flight match since January 2012 when handling West Brom’s 1-0 win at Leicester last November while his final game as a permanent Select Group referee also involved the Baggies.

He joins Simon Hooper, Paul Tierney and Keith Stroud in being handed a one-off match already this season as a member of the Talent Group of Football League referees being assessed for their promotion potential.

Attwell has officiated two Capital One Cup ties and a game in each Football League division so far this term – brandishing 14 yellow cards but is yet to send a player off or award a penalty.

The reaction among refereeing circles has largely been positive…

“Good luck to Stuart Attwell – he’s worked so hard to improve himself in the last couple of seasons. Delighted to see him being given another chance,” one said.

Another wrote: “When he did the Sunderland V Exeter game a couple of weeks ago he was so anonymous that it could have been 22 lads kicking about on a field so I am pleased to see his improvement has been recognised.”


Mike Jones gives free-kick (Spurs v Everton - 29th August 2015)
Catching the eye: Jones – who has been a Select Group referee since 2008 – is often shrouded with controversy but has made a steady start to the season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Mike Jones will be in the middle as the Premier League’s top two meet at Selhurst Park on Saturday (KO 3pm).

The 47-year-old from Cheshire has had an impressive start to the campaign and will oversee his fourth top-flight match when leaders Manchester City visit Alan Pardew’s in-form Crystal Palace.

Jones has already officiated Everton’s 2-2 draw with Watford, Swansea’s 2-0 win over Newcastle and Tottenham’s goalless draw with Everton – dishing out 12 yellow cards and sending off Daryl Janmaat at the Liberty Stadium.

He reached the milestone of 150 Premier League games at White Hart Lane before the international break.

Jones was also in charge of the 1-1 draw between Yorkshire rivals Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road in the SkyBet Championship last month.

He will be assisted in south London by linesmen Richard West and Adam Nunn with Roger East the fourth official.

The Chester-based official will still be remembered by City fans for wrongly booking Sergio Aguero for diving in their 3-0 win at Southampton in January when he was fouled in the box by Saints defender Jose Fonte.

He was subsequently dropped from the Premier League list for the following weekend with pundit Jamie Carragher and ex-referee Graham Poll describing it as “the worst decision of the season”.

The last time Jones officiated a game involving managers Pardew and Manuel Pellegrini they were involved in a bust-up after the referee dubiously ruled out a Newcastle goal in their 2-0 defeat by City in January 2014.


ALSO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR….

Roger East referee (Norwich v Ipswich PO SF 2nd leg - 16th May 2015)
Last time: East’s previous Premier League game was Leicester’s 2-0 home win over Southampton in May (Picture from Sky Sports)

Roger East will again be on Football League duty this weekend and fellow Select Group referee Neil Swarbrick has been jettisoned to League Two after a poor start to the campaign.

East, from Wiltshire, is still yet to officiate a Premier League match this season having handled Portsmouth’s 3-3 draw with Morecambe in League Two and Bury’s 1-1 draw with Oldham in League One although he was the fourth official for Swansea’s 2-1 win over Manchester United.

The 50-year-old – who has been in the top-flight since 2012-13 – will take charge of the televised Championship encounter between Reading and Ipswich on Friday night with assistant referees Andy Garratt, Andrew Fox and fourth official Charles Brakespear.

East was involved in last season’s Championship play-offs – overseeing the semi-final second leg between Norwich and Ipswich before performing fourth official duties at the Wembley final.

Neil Swarbrick referee (Stoke v Chelsea - 22nd Dec 2014)
Swarbrick – who only took up the whistle at the age of 29 – oversaw 19 Premier League games last term in what was his fourth season on the Select Group (Picture from Sky Sports)

Lancashire-based Swarbrick was criticised for his display in his second top-flight game of the season – Bournemouth’s draw with Leicester before the international break – in which he awarded a free-kick rather than a penalty and failed to take control of several situations.

The 49-year-old from Preston also had an indifferent performance in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Swansea and will be assisted by Matthew Wilkes, Constantine Hatzidakis and fourth official Derek Eaton for Northampton’s fourth-tier clash with Oxford United at Sixfields on Saturday.

He will also be the fourth official for Monday’s Premier League match between West Ham and Newcastle at Upton Park.

Both East and Swarbrick were involved in high-profile cases of mistaken identity last season with Swarbrick sending off the wrong West Brom defender in their 3-0 defeat at Manchester City in March.

East, meanwhile, was in the spotlight for dismissing Wes Brown rather than John O’Shea in Sunderland’s 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford a month earlier.


OTHER APPOINTMENTS…

Premier League Match Official Appointments Sat 12th Sept 2015
Jon Moss will oversee Arsenal against Stoke at the Emirates for the second successive season and Andre Marriner will take charge of the Saturday lunchtime game for the second week running (Picture from PremierLeague.com)
Premier League match official appointments 13th and 14th Sept 2015
The experienced Mike Dean will be in the middle for Sunday’s Midlands derby at the King Power Stadium (Picture from PremierLeague.com)

However, there is no involvement for Mark Clattenburg or newly-promoted official Graham Scott, who is believed to be injured.

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)