Five Things to Watch: Premier League Referees, Matchweek 35

Image courtesy of Premier League

A big week looms in the Premier League – with some teams playing their games in hand, 14 games are on tap from Saturday to Wednesday. Here are five referee storylines to watch out for:

1. Michael Oliver is a busy man

It’s been an eventful 10 days for Michael Oliver, who awarded two penalties in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinal between Valencia and Villarreal last week, was fourth official for Man United-West Ham two days later, and then turned in a solid performance in a big clash at Anfield this past Sunday between Chelsea and Liverpool.

He’s not getting any rest anytime soon, either – he’ll be in charge of the weekend’s marquee fixture, Saturday’s rematch between Tottenham and Manchester City. It’s the third match in 12 days between these two teams, and Oliver will follow in the footsteps of Björn Kuipers and Cüneyt Çakir—two of Europe’s top referees—in the middle.

2. Eddie Smart is back

The assistant referee who faced the wrath of Neil Warnock following his error in Cardiff’s match with Chelsea a few weeks ago will be back running the line for the first time since then. He’ll be with referee Paul Tierney and fellow AR Constantine Hatzidakis on Sunday as Manchester United make the short trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton.

3. The Manchester Derby

Andre Marriner (picture) has been selected to referee the Manchester Derby on Wednesday, a match that may well have huge implications on the race for both the title and the top four. A fairly lenient referee—out of the eight referees who have officiated at least 24 matches this season, Marriner has shown 11 less yellow cards than the next lowest—it will be interesting to see how his languid style plays out in the heat of the derby.

4. More games = less-used referees

With the enlarged fixture list this matchweek, we will be seeing a few referees who reside quite low on the appearances list.

David Coote (10 matches this season) will handle Bournemouth v Fulham, while Roger East (8 matches) will be in charge of Huddersfield v Watford. By comparison, this season’s appearance leader, Anthony Taylor, has taken charge of 28 matches so far, which he will add to this weekend at St. James’ Park.

5. Mike Dean-watch

Fresh off giving out his 100th Premier League red card a while ago in Manchester United’s visit of Wolves, The King takes centre stage again at Vicarage Road for Watford v Southampton. No doubt eager to add to his tally, what kind of entertainment will Mr. Hollywood provide us this week?

For the complete list of referee appointments for Matchweek 35, head over to the Premier League website.

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