After a good weekend for the Premier League assistant referees last weekend, the refs will be looking to impress this week. Want to know whose taking charge of your game? Then now you can as I give you information on the men in black and how they will do in your team’s matches.
Arsenal vs. Fulham (3.00pm)
Referee: Chris Foy
After a fantastic performance from the silver fox in the Carling Cup quarter final between Birmingham and Aston Villa in midweek, Chris Foy is appointed to his first Premier League encounter for two weeks since Stoke’s 3-0 win over West Brom, a match in which Foy awarded two controversial penalties to the away side.
Those penalties were the incorrect decisions I think Foy has made this season and in my opinion he is one of the top performers in this division. He puts in consistent performances week in week out no matter what division or cup he is officiating in.
Fulham have one of the best disciplinary records in the Premier League over recent seasons. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger did have a really poor record with 73 red cards being shown under Wenger up until 2008; however they topped the fair play league last season.
With both sides having good disciplinary records, who better to have in charge than the most lenient referee in the league.
Chris Foy has refereed twelve league games this season including eleven in the Premier League and one in the Championship. In those twelve games, Foy has shown 24 yellow cards and 0 reds. This averages at only two yellow cards per game. Of the 12 league games, three of them have passed without any cards being shown at all.
Like I said last week, Arsenal need a referee who is not afraid to play the advantage rule because they are a team that like to have flowing movement and pass the ball around. I stated last week that the appointment of Mark Clattenburg was a good one as he is one of the best players of the advantage rule; however Chris Foy IS the best.
Foy will only stop play if it is absolutely necessary and this will benefit Arsenal’s type of play. He doesn’t have any history with either of the two clubs to any extend, except sending Fulham’s mascot Billy the Badger from the field for break dancing in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa in 2008.
He hasn’t refereed Fulham yet this season, with his last Fulham match being their 2-0 defeat at Hull in March. Foy has refereed Arsenal once previously this season, their 2-1 win at Blackburn.
There were eight yellow cards in the two matches between these two teams last season, however only two shown the three matches previous to last season. There have been eighteen meetings between the two teams in the Premier League with only one red card shown in that time.
Arsenal do get a lot of penalties at home and Foy has given three in his last two games so I can see one being given here but there will be very few cards shown.
Interestingly after this game, Arsenal’s players are donating a day’s wages to the Club’s Charity of the season. A very good thing for the club to do.
Arsenal 3-0 Fulham
Yellow Cards: 1, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 1
Birmingham vs. Tottenham (3.00pm)
Referee: Kevin Friend
With the introductions of Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor to the Select Group, Kevin Friend is no longer the newbie on the block. He was an experience referee at Football League level, but hasn’t really got going as a Premier League referee, however I have met him a couple of times and on the occasions I have seen him referee live and on TV he always seems to do a decent job.
Friend has however come under a lot of criticism this season from managers including Roberto Martinez and Darren Ferguson for his performances in the Blackburn vs. Wigan and Burnley vs. Preston matches.
He was slammed by Ferguson for sending off Billy Jones for time wasting. Ferguson was given a three match touchline ban for a tunnel blast with Friend at full time. Martinez was left fuming with Friend after the Leicestershire official disallowed a Charles N’Zogbia goal for an apparent foul on Morten Gamst Pedersen which Martinez disagreed with saying Friend cost Wigan the match. “I don’t know what was wrong with N’Zogbia’s goal. It’s a game of contact and I didn’t think it was a free-kick.”
This match will be Friend’s sixth Premier League match of the season which is significantly lower than any other official; however Birmingham and Tottenham are both on a good run of form at the moment. Birmingham beat their local rivals Aston Villa in midweek to reach the semi finals of the League Cup and Tottenham come into this match on the back of victories over Liverpool and North London rivals Arsenal. So this is a very good appointment for Kevin who’s last Premier League match was West Ham vs. Blackpool three weeks ago.
The two matches last season produced ten yellow cards with the last red card coming in a 3-2 win for Birmingham at White Hart Lane in 2007.
Kevin Friend’s only Premier League red card this season came in a match involving Birmingham, a 2-2 draw at Bolton where Friend sent off Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Friend’s last Tottenham game was their 2-0 victory over Portsmouth last season.
Having been a Premier League referee for only one and a half seasons, Friend hasn’t had any controversy with either of these two teams, however he has had his fair share in the other matches he has refereed this season so I wouldn’t be overly surprised if something controversial happens in this game, but I really hope for Friend that it doesn’t
Birmingham 2-2 Tottenham
Yellow Cards: 4, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 0
Blackburn vs. Wolves (3.00pm)
Referee: Howard Webb
This match sees two teams who like a tackle go head to head in what some would describe a relegation six pointer with Wolves sitting second from bottom, three points from safety and Blackburn currently 13th, however only four points from the relegation zone.
I said in my article last week that Wolves and Blackburn were dirty teams but in recent weeks they have probed me wrong. I thought Wolves vs. Sunderland last weekend was going to be one of the dirtiest games of the season, however I was proven wrong.
Wolves have had only six yellow cards in their last five matches. Blackburn themselves have had two cardless games in their last five Premier League matches so in all honesty, their characteristic of being dirty teams has lifted.
Howard Webb takes charge of this encounter on the back of arguably one of the best refereeing performances in the league all season, last weekend’s match between Fulham and Birmingham.
I don’t think this will be a classic at all, in fact I think there will be very little in the way of quality, however had this game been played maybe two or three months ago I would be predicting double figures in the way of cards, however with both teams improving their discipline I think Howard may aswell leave his cards in the dressing room for this one.
There have only been four previous meetings between these two in the Premier League with only seven yellow cards being shown and no reds.
Webb last refereed Wolves when they really were a dirty team, that was a 2-0 defeat to Wigan where he showed seven yellow cards and two reds in January this year. Howard last refereed Blackburn in their 1-0 defeat at Stoke in early October.
I’m predicting very little in the way of goals and also very little, if any in the way of cards.
Blackburn 1-0 Wolves
Yellow Cards: 1, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 0
Chelsea vs. Everton (3.00pm)
Referee: Lee Probert
This match sees two teams who are struggling of late do battle at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea, sitting second in the league, are on a poor run of form having won only one of their last five league games. Everton, who are 16th and only two points above the relegation zone have had a rotten November. They haven’t won a league game since a 1-0 win over Stoke on the 30th October, but they have a good recent record against Chelsea in the Premiership.
Everton haven’t lost a league game away at Chelsea since a 3-0 defeat in 2006. Last season Everton beat Chelsea 2-1 at Goodison Park and drew 3-3 in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge.
They have already beaten Liverpool and drawn with Manchester United this season and they will be looking to keep up their unbeaten run against Chelsea come 4.50pm on Saturday.
This is one of the stand out matches this weekend and that is why I think the appointment of Lee Probert shows just how much this guy has improved.
I said last week before the Manchester United vs. Blackburn game that Probert’s man management has improved and that showed last weekend when he opted to talk to players rather than yellow card them and I think this is something he will also implement in this match.
Chelsea vs. Everton usually produces exciting encounters, well they did last season. It isn’t a fixture that produces much drama or controversy. The only flashpoint I can think of over recent seasons was December 2008 when Chelsea captain John Terry was sent off by Phil Dowd for a bad tackle on Leon Osman. So in all honesty Probert should have a quiet game, but I expect an exciting game with a few goals.
Having looked back at Lee’s history with the two teams this season I came across something interesting in that Lee Probert refereed Everton’s last victory in the league, their 1-0 win against Stoke. His only other Chelsea game this season was a 2-0 victory at home to Wolves.
He has never sent off a Chelsea player, but he has sent off an Everton player, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa over a year ago.
I don’t think he’ll have a lot to do in this one, in fact I think he’ll have his first cardless game of the season.
Chelsea 3-1 Everton
Yellow Cards: 0, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 0
Manchester City vs. Bolton (3.00pm)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Well this should be an intriguing North West derby with 6th placed Bolton travelling to 4th placed Manchester City. Both teams go into this match on the back of draws with Bolton drawing 2-2 with Blackpool last weekend and City drawing 1-1 with Stoke.
Bolton are only three points behind City, who are currently occupying the last Champions League place. They have become a revitalised team under Owen Coyle and haven’t lost in the league since October.
I criticised Manchester City last week for not gelling together, but in recent performances they have proved me wrong. They played well in the second half against Stoke last weekend and beat Salzburg in the Europa League in midweek without looking their best.
Both teams produced two fantastic encounters last season with City winning this fixture at the City of Manchester Stadium 2-0 with the reverse fixture at the Reebok producing a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Owen Coyle has change the way Bolton play this season. They like to pass the ball around now rather than playing the long ball that suited them under Sam Allardyce and Gary Megson. This was shown with two fantastic goals one from Johan Elmander against Wolves and the other from Mark Davies against Blackpool last week.
They have a similar playing style to that of Manchester City who also like to pass the ball around. They themselves have scored some very good goals through passing movement, none more so that Yaya Toure’s goal against Fulham. The fact both teams have a passing mentality means that this match needs a referee who will let the game flow and I believe they have got that in Andre Marriner.
Marriner, behind Chris Foy and Mark Clattenburg is the third best at playing the advantage. He also likes to talk to players rather than show them needless cards which is why he is a good choice for this game as he will just sit back and let them play.
This fixture saw a red card last season in the match at the Reebok when Craig Bellamy was shown a second yellow card for diving. Previously to this there hadn’t been a red card since Joey Barton was sent off in 2006.
Marriner has refereed Manchester City twice previously this season and in those two games they haven’t lost. One was their 1-0 win over Chelsea, the other a 0-0 draw with Tottenham.
He hasn’t refereed Bolton yet this season with his last Bolton game coming in February a 1-0 win over Wolves.
I don’t think he will have any major decisions to make as I think both teams will just get on with the game.
Man City 2-0 Bolton
Yellow Cards: 2, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 0
Wigan vs. Stoke (3.00pm)
Referee: Mike Jones
Certainly not a glamour tie but this will be a hard fought game between two teams who appear to be going in opposite directions. Wigan sit in the relegation zone currently, however are only one point from safety. Stoke on the other hand have catapulted to 8th in the league after some good results against West Brom and Manchester City.
Wigan are on a downhill spiral at the moment having won only one of their last nine league games whereas Stoke are on the up losing only one game in the last five.
The two matches between them in the league last season were fierce encounters with eleven yellow cards being shown in total and it wouldn’t surprise me if this match sees figures close to double figures.
Mike Jones has been appointed to take charge of this game which is surprising for me as he refereed another potentially fiery affair between Wolves and Sunderland last weekend. Granted that game didn’t live up to the build up I gave it, but I believe that was because of the players that were missing and not because Mike Jones was lenient.
I said last week that Mike Jones was the most improved referee and I stick by that even if he didn’t have the greatest of games in the League Cup at Ipswich vs. West Brom in midweek but he was good last weekend even if he was let down by some shoddy assisting .
Jones isn’t afraid to show a lot of cards in a game, having shown six in a match between Tottenham and Wolves and seven in a match between Newcastle and Blackburn. The fact this fixture last season produced so many yellow cards I think shows just how difficult a game this could be.
There isn’t a history of sending offs between them though so if he does show cards I predict they will only be yellow.
Mike hasn’t refereed Wigan yet this season with his last game at the DW Stadium coming in March a 1-0 win over Burnley. He has officiated Stoke however, their 2-1 win at Newcastle, a match in which Jones awarded a penalty against Tony Pulis’ side.
I think he’ll have a hard job but I think he’ll do a good job as on performance this season he is definitely one of the top three referees in the division.
Wigan 1-2 Stoke
Yellow cards: 7, Red cards: 0, Penalties: 0
Blackpool vs. Manchester United (5.30pm)
Referee: Peter Walton
Manchester United make their first visit to Blackpool since 1975 and it will be shown in front of the ESPN cameras. United went top of the league last weekend after a 7-1 demolition of Blackburn. Blackpool are sitting pretty in 11th a good five points off the relegation zone, however I can’t see them gaining any points from this match.
United had Dimitar Berbatov to thank for their win last weekend, but the Bulgarian didn’t play in their own demolition, a crushing 4-0 defeat to West Ham at Upton Park in the League Cup Quarter Final.
Blackpool go into this game having lost a 2-0 lead against Bolton to draw 2-2 so confidence in the Ian Holloway dressing room will be low, so who better to play when your confidence is low than the league leaders.
Peter Walton has been appointed to this match and at the age of 51 he is undoubtedly the oldest referee currently in the football league. Walton was 15 years old the last time these two teams met in what was a 4-0 win for United in the old division two back in April 1975.
This will be Walton’s 10th Premier League game of the season. He has shown 29 yellows and one red in those nine previous Premier League matches. In those matches he has brought a wealth of experience and very little controversy.
I would consider Walton to be a safe pair of hands; you always know what you’re going to get from him a solid unspectacular but controversy less game.
These two teams are fairly well behaved, United especially. That is shown in the fact that in the last four games in all competitions (two premier league, one League cup and one Champions League) Manchester United have had no yellow cards.
I certainly can’t see any red cards in this game and penalties in matches involving United are usually given at Old Trafford so doubt there will be one here. I can see a routine United win here with little in the way of cards, I’m predicting only two yellows over the 90 minutes and with United’s recent run of having no bookings against them I can see both cards being given to Blackpool.
Blackpool 0-4 Man United
Yellow cards: 2 Red cards: 0 Penalties: 0
West Brom vs. Newcastle (1.30pm)
Referee: Mike Dean
Two of last season’s Championship promotion sides go head to head at the Hawthorns in front of the SKY cameras and in fact is available to watch in stunning 3D.
When the season started I honestly thought the three promoted teams would go straight back down, but now, nearly half way through the season, I’m not sure any of them will drop back into the Championship.
Newcastle currently sit in 9th place, six points from European football, but five points from the relegation zone. West Brom are 12th on the same points as Newcastle, only lower than them on goal difference.
Both teams appear to have adapted well to life in the Premiership. Both have altered their playing styles into a more passing game. They have both recorded some outstanding results with victories over Arsenal.
Mike Dean will take charge of what I believe will be an exciting game, but I think it will be a difficult one. Newcastle have had three red cards in matches involving them this season with only one being given in their direction.
West Brom have seen seven red cards given in their matches this season with five of them being awarded to their own players, including two to Yousouff Mulumbu who will be banned for this game.
I can definitely see a red card here today especially with Mike in charge as he showed a red card in his last Newcastle match, their 1-0 win over Arsenal where he sent off Laurent Koscielny, however there has only been one red card in the eight previous Premier League matches between them.
This will be the third time Dean has refereed this fixture, taking charge of the Championship encounter last season when they drew 1-1 and the Premier League match at St James’ Park in the 2008/09 season when Newcastle won 2-1.
Mike refereed in Croatia in midweek taking charge of the Europa League tie between Hajduk Split and AEK Athens. He gave seven yellow cards in this game and he has also given 11 yellow cards in his last two Premiership games which is an average of 5.5 per game.
Because of this I think there will be a few cards in this one, including a red. I also think there will be a penalty in this match, especially because Dean awarded two in his last West Brom match, the 2-2 draw with West Ham.
If you are watching this game in2D, HD or even 3D I think you will be in store for a treat.
West Brom 2-2 Newcastle
Yellow cards: 6 Red cards: 1 Penalties: 1
Sunderland vs. West Ham (4.00pm)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
This will certainly not be one of the best games of the weekend as struggling West Ham travel to Sunderland somewhere they haven’t lost since 2007.
West Ham come into this match on the back of two very important victories. One a 3-1 win over relegation rivals Wigan in the Premiership last Saturday, while the other an impressive 4-0 win over Manchester United in the Carling Cup, a win that sees them reach the semi finals where they will face Birmingham.
Sunderland have lost only one of their last five league games, that was last weekend when they lost 3-2 to Wolves. They’ve drawn with Everton and Tottenham and beaten Chelsea and Stoke and this run of results sees them sitting in 7th, their highest League position this season.
West Ham are still bottom of the table, but having beaten Wigan last week, they are now only three points from safety. That win last week was their first in eight league matches.
This won’t be a classic encounter as it has a history of being quite feisty especially last season when this fixture saw Andre Marriner show six yellow cards and two reds in a 2-2 draw.
Martin Atkinson takes charge of this match and this is a good appointment if this match is going to be feisty as he is undoubtedly the strictest official in the Premiership.
Martin is England’s number two currently but has had his fair share of controversy this season, none more so than when refereeing Sunderland against Stoke in October when he failed to send off Lee Cattermole and award a penalty for Stoke when Cattermole handled the ball on the line not once but twice.
In that game he showed a red card to Ryan Shawcross, that was one of seven red cards he has given this season which is more than any other Premier League official.
Atkinson has refereed West Ham once previously this season, which was their 1-0 win over Tottenham earlier this season, in fact before last weekend, that was their only win this season.
Atkinson has refereed this fixture once previously a 1-1 draw in 2005 where he gave 6 yellow cards.
It is a game that has a tendency to be feisty, however they have already met this season in a league cup tie that West Ham won 2-1 at the Stadium of Light and on that night Howard Webb didn’t show any cards at all, however the league is a completely different story and I think Martin will have his hands full in this encounter.
I think there will be a handful of cards and I really can see a sending off here, but I wouldn’t like to predict which team it will go to.
These two have 26 wins each against each other and West Ham haven’t lost at the Stadium of Light since 2007 but I think they will lose this one.
Sunderland 2-1 West Ham
Yellow cards: 5 Red cards: 1, Penalties: 0
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool (8.00pm)
Referee: Phil Dowd
Well the game of the weekend, by far takes place on Monday night on Sky when Liverpool travel to Aston Villa, a ground that Liverpool won at last season.
Villa go into this game having been beaten by their local rivals Birmingham in the Carling Cup in midweek, and also having not won in the league for the last three matches.
Liverpool, on the other hand are an improved side over recent weeks and they have reached the knockout stages of the Europa League after a 1-1 draw with Steaua Bucharest, however after a run of good results in October, Liverpool have won only once in their last four league matches.
Aston Villa have a poor record against Liverpool winning only 52 of 170 league encounters, however they did win 3-1 at Anfield last season.
Last weekend against Tottenham, Liverpool showed a complete lack of discipline having five players cautioned, Villa on the other hand have had only two yellow cards in their last two games both given to Ciaran Clark.
Liverpool sit in 10th at the moment with Villa sitting 15th with only two points separating them. Both teams should be doing better than they currently are so they will be looking to impress when they face off against each other on Monday night.
Phil Dowd will take charge of this match, surprisingly for the first time. He has refereed thirteen Premier League matches so far which is more than any other official.
Phil is our most consistent official so far this season with a number of strong performances under his belt including Arsenal vs. Tottenham, Newcastle vs. Sunderland and Manchester City vs. Liverpool.
As I said last week he is the best man manager in the league which means he prefers talking to players, building up a rapport with them.
He hasn’t refereed a Villa game since last season’s Carling Cup Final when he should have sent off Nemanja Vidic however he did award Villa a penalty on that day at Wembley.
He refereed Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Blackburn earlier in the season and also Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City, their heaviest defeat of the season.
I think this will be an easy game to referee as both teams will just want to get on with it rather than committing fouls. I can only see 1 or 2 cards being shown in this game, and there isn’t a history of penalties.
As for the result, I think it will be 0-0, but possibly the most exciting 0-0 you will see this season.
Aston Villa 0-0 Liverpool
Yellow cards: 2 Red cards: 0 Penalties: 0