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Meet the Premier League Referees, Gameweek 15

Rafael Da Silva argues with Carlos Tevez Manchester City as Referee Chris Foy tries to keep them apart Manchester United 2010/11 Manchester City V Manchester United (0-0) 10/11/10 The Premier League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

If you are a football fan who doesn’t know the Premier League referees, where have you been hiding? These guys are constantly in the news for making dodgy decisions week in week out. This guide will show you who’s who and which whistleblower could potentially ruin your team’s afternoon this weekend.

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal (7.45pm ET/12:45pm GMT)

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

The early kick off sees Arsenal travel to Villa Park a ground the Gunners haven’t won at since 2007.  Gerard Houllier’s men lost 2-0 to Blackburn this weekend but have drawn the last two home games against Arsenal in the league.

Mark Clattenburg takes charge of this fixture for only the second having overseen the 1-1 draw between the two sides at The Emirates in March 2008.  Clattenburg from Tyne and Wear has had a good season thus far refereeing eleven Premier League matches including some high quality games like Tottenham against Villa and Manchester City vs. Arsenal but he, like many other referees has had his fair share of controversy and criticism none more so than Manchester United’s second goal against Tottenham when he allowed Nani’s goal to stand despite the Portuguese winger handling the ball.

Clattenburg in my opinion is one of the best players of the advantage rule and isn’t afraid to allow play to go on and come back and book players but he, along with Phil Dowd is a very good man manager because he likes to talk to players rather than showing needless yellow cards.

This is why I believe this is a fantastic appointment from Mike Riley because these two teams like to play football so as long as Clatts lets the game flow like he usually does then this has the potential to be a really entertaining game.

Clattenburg has taken charge of one previous Arsenal game and one previous Villa game this season.  He refereed Villa’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham in early October, a match in which he booked three Villa players.  The Arsenal game he refereed was their 3-0 win at Manchester City where he correctly sent of Dedryck Boyata after only five minutes, and gave a penalty for a foul by Vincent Kompany.

That red card for Boyata was one of two shown by Clattenburg this season, the other was to Birmingham’s Craig Gardener against Wigan, but with no red card in a Villa vs. Arsenal match since Gilles Grimandi was sent off in 2001 so I think this one should go without any major blips for Mark

My Prediction:

Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal

Yellow Cards: 2, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 0

Bolton Wanderers vs. Blackpool (10am ET/3pm GMT)

Referee: Mike Dean

This is the first meeting between these two sides since 1992 so there is very little to go on when it comes to recent history between them.  Blackpool under Ian Holloway have shown a good attitude to Premier League football by trying to play attacking football especially when playing at home however I think they will really start to struggle as the season progresses.

The Tangerines had a good result last weekend beating fellow relegation rivals Wolves and they go into this match with in form Bolton having lost only once in their last five matches.

Bolton under Owen Coyle have become revitalised and are now starting to look like a similar team to the one under Sam Allardyce with the likes of Elmander and Lee finally looking like good acquisitions.

This match I think will be a typical North West derby similar to the one between Bolton and Blackburn.  Both teams will get stuck in and I think some tough tackling will come into play in this one, so who better to have in charge than the card shark himself.

Mike Dean does give out a lot of yellow cards, most of which are usually correct.  Dean has possibly the best foul detection of all the Premier League referees and although he is one of the strictest, he does allow challenges that are 50-50 go unpunished.  Mike likes to stamp his authority on the game early by showing yellow cards in the opening twenty minutes and this seems to work for him as he has only shown one red card in his eleven Premier League games this season.

Dean has only had one controversial incident I can think of this season and that was Tottenham’s winning goal against Fulham when he overruled his assistant’s flag for offside,

He has taken charge of one Bolton game and one Blackpool game previously this season.  Bolton’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa and Blackpool’s 2-1 defeat to Blackburn both of which passed with no major decisions for Mike to make.

Last season Dean was criticised for the number of penalties he awarded and also the flamboyant and overzealous way he pointed to the spot and having awarded spot kicks in each of his last two games I can see at least one being given in this encounter.

My Prediction:

Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Blackpool

Yellow Cards: 5, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 1

Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion (10am ET/3pm GMT)

Referee: Lee Mason

Roberto Di Matteo was a legend as a player and now his first real management job; he is starting to become a top quality manager.  Since taking the reins at West Brom he has guided them to promotion from the Championship and now the club tipped for relegation before the season began have shown that the club have enough ability to stay in the top division.

Everton have been on a good run of form lately having lost only once in their last nine league games a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal.  With players like Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill in the squad Everton do like to pass the ball around rather than playing the long ball like other teams in the division.

West Brom play a similar style to Everton and have brought their passing qualities they had in the Championship last season and have adapted it to suit them in a higher division.

Both sides like to pass the ball around and like to play flowing football so the appointment of Lee Mason for this game, in my opinion, is not a good one.  Lee likes to stamp his authority on a game which can be a good thing, but he does blow his whistle a lot rather than let play flow.  He doesn’t play a lot of advantages; however one thing I will say is that he doesn’t show silly yellow cards early on in matches.  He will let players off with warnings early on which prevent players from worrying about tackling and getting themselves sent off.

Mason spent three weeks out injured after pulling a hamstring in the Carling Cup tie between Manchester United and Wolves and only made his Premier League comeback last weekend in Manchester City’s 4-1 win over Fulham.

Lee is very good at keeping up with play, and having spent a few weeks on the injury table has come back looking trimmer and fitter than ever.  This will be his first Albion game since refereeing their FA Cup 5th round reply against Reading back in February.

He has already refereed Everton this season, their 1-1 draw with Wolves in August where he only showed one yellow card that was to Johnny Heitinga.

Mason has shown three red cards this season, only one of which was in the Premier League and because these two teams aren’t particularly dirty teams I would expect this game to pass with very few cards.

West Brom haven’t won a league game at Everton since 1979.  The Toffees have won two of the last three meetings but I can definitely see The Baggies getting something out of this match.

My Prediction:

Everton 1-1 West Brom

Yellow Cards: 2, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 0

Fulham vs. Birmingham City (10am ET/3pm GMT)

Referee: Howard Webb

Well Fulham manager Mark Hughes has complained a lot about refereeing decisions against his team this season and to be honest some of them I agree with but since the Tottenham game with the controversial offside goal I can’t really think of too many decisions that Hughes could complain about.

Birmingham go into this match on the back of a fantastic result against League leaders Chelsea last weekend, but the Blues haven’t won away from home yet this season.  Alex McLeish’s side have had very good discipline thus far this season with only two yellow cards in the last four league games and one red card (Craig Gardener against Wigan)

Howard Webb is without doubt the best referee in the world at the moment.  That is proven through the appointments he has had in the last year, Champions League final, World Cup final and a number of top clashes in the Premier League including Manchester United vs. Liverpool and Chelsea vs. Arsenal.

Being such a top quality referee in England and Europe, Webb has to apply two different types of refereeing.  One for when officiating in England and one for in the Champions League.  It is obvious that European football is a lot stricter than it is in England with challenges being penalised in the Champions League that would go unpunished in the Premiership.  This means that his card count in Europe will be much higher than in England and that is the case with yellow cards in his two Champions League games.

The Premiership however is a different story.  Although he is yet to have a card less game this season his average of yellow cards is very low with usually only 1-2 cards being shown per game.  Bolton vs. Newcastle last weekend being the only exception as Howard showed five yellow cards and one red, his first red this season.

This is another good appointment from Mike Riley.  Mark Hughes as expressed his concern at the standard of refereeing at Craven Cottage so who better to put in charge of their next home game than England’s number one.

He refereed Fulham’s 0-0 draw with Everton earlier in the season and is yet to referee a Birmingham game.  I think this one will be an easy game to officiate as I don’t think much will happen to be honest I think it’s got 0-0 written all over it.

My Prediction:

Fulham 0-0 Birmingham

Yellow Cards: 0, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 0

Manchester United vs. Blackburn Rovers (10am ET/3pm GMT)

Referee: Lee Probert

This match sees two great managers and good friends go up against each other as Sam Allardyce takes his Blackburn Rovers side to Old Trafford to face Sir Alex Ferguson’s topsy turvy Manchester United.

United have not had the best of starts to the season dropping silly points against teams like Fulham, Bolton, West Brom and Sunderland however they haven’t lost at home yet this season.

Blackburn have lost to the big teams in the league but unlike previous seasons, haven’t been totally outplayed losing by only one goal against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool and in all three of those occasions they got themselves on the score sheet which is something I think they will do in this match aswell.

They go into the match having beaten and totally outplayed Aston Villa last weekend but they haven’t beaten Manchester United since they did the double over them in the 2005/2006 season.

Blackburn in the past have been accused of being s dirty team but they appear to have put that accusation to bed now with good discipline in the past two seasons.  They have had only one red card this season which was shown by the same referee who will take charge of this match.

Lee Probert has been assigned this match, only his second ever match at Old Trafford.  Lee, along with Mike Jones is one of the most improved referees this season.  Last year I didn’t rate him highly at all, but this season he has really started to impress me.

His man management has improved 100% he now has a rapport with the players which is something he didn’t seem to have a couple of seasons ago.  His decision making has also vastly improved.  In the past he would give really baffling decisions and fouls that were nonexistent but his foul detection now is the best in the league.  He reminds me a bit of Rob Styles in that I think along with Phil Dowd he is the best at recognising serious foul play; however this isn’t something I think he’ll need to worry about in this match.

Blackburn vs. Manchester United has produced only one red card in the last eight meetings so I think a sending off is unlikely, however I have a feeling there will be a penalty in this one.  If there is it’ll go to United because the away side hardly ever get penalties at Old Trafford.

As I said earlier Rovers have lost by only one goal against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool but I think the difference between the two this weekend will be greater than one goal.

My Prediction:

Man United 3-1 Blackburn

Yellow Cards:  3, Red Cards: 0, Penalties: 1

Stoke City vs. Manchester City (10am ET/3pm GMT)

Referee: Peter Walton

Well what do you say about Manchester City?  Are they title challengers? I have to say no not at the moment.  Yes they’ve got the players to win a trophy but at the moment they don’t seem to be gelling and I think that is because there is too much competition for places.

Roberto Mancini has at least two quality players in every position to choose from and because of this different players are playing with different partners in defence, midfield and up front.

City had a good result at Craven Cottage last weekend but before then had two defeats and two 0-0 draws in their five previous matches, a run of form that has seen them drop rapidly off the pace at the top of the table.

Stoke on the other hand started the season poorly but have turned their fortunes around in recent weeks.  Tony Pulis had spent the majority of the season moaning about injustices from referees, but since Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole avoided punishment for handling the ball on the line earlier this month, the Potters have gone on a run of three wins out of three.

Stoke were one of three teams singled out by Fulham captain Danny Murphy as being dirty and some would say this is true with strong, hard tackling being present in the majority of Stoke games this season.

City on the other hand are one of the best passing teams in the division.  That was shown in Yaya Toure’s goal last weekend that saw City complete over 20 passes before the ball ended up in the net.  But City might struggle to put passes together this weekend as Stoke will get in their faces and stop them from playing the flowing football they usually do and because of this all eyes will be on the man in the middle.

Peter ‘Granddad’ Walton takes charge of this one and the reason I call him granddad is because the guy is 51 years old and for that should totally be respected.  He is still a Premier League official on merit rather than the FA trying to prove they are not ageist.

I still rate him highly although I will agree he hasn’t quite been at his best yet this season.  Peter knows the rules inside out but I don’t think he understands the game like some of the younger guys.  This isn’t a fault of his, it’s just that the game has changed alot since he has been refereeing where as the younger guys the game has been very similar and hasn’t changed a lot.

I believe a younger official would have been a better choice for this game as it has the tendenancy to be quite spicy with two red cards in the last three league meetings.

Walton has refereed Stoke already this season, their 2-1 defeat to Bolton but he hasn’t refereed City since March.  Some of you might also remember that Peter Walton was the referee when Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg.

This will be a tough game for him to take control and I think there will be lots of cards, mostly will be shown in Stoke’s direction.  Stoke are really good at home and with City being hit and miss I can see The Potter’s edging this one.

My Prediction:

Stoke 1-0 Man City

Yellow cards: 6, Red cards: 1, Penalties: 0

West Ham United vs. Wigan Athletic (10am ET/3pm GMT)

Referee: ?

Well for some reason the PGMOL haven’t announced who will be refereeing this game, however having looked at the appointments for all the leagues I believe the only person who will referee this game is Mark Halsey.

This is because he is 4th official at Tottenham on Sunday and it would be extremely unlikely to send Halsey, who lives in Bolton, all the way down to London just to be 4th official. However if he is refereeing at Upton Park on Saturday then he could easily just stay over and do the boards at White Hart Lane.

If Halsey is in charge of this game, it’ll be his first match at Upton Park since March 2009 having spent the majority of last season on the sidelines after being diagnosed with cancer.

This match has a history of being feisty with two red cards shown in one game two seasons ago.  Stuart Attwell was in charge that day and I was in the crowd as an honorary West Ham fan I believe that if on that night a more experienced official had been in charge then the number of cards would have been dramatically reduced.

So if Halsey is in charge of this one then it is a good thing because of the refereeing experience he has under his belt.

Mark hasn’t refereed West Ham since 2009 which I said earlier but he has officiated Wigan this season.  He took charge of their 4-0 home defeat to Blackpool on the opening day of the season.

I think this one will be a classic relegation six pointer, very scrappy and tackles flying in but I think the number of cards will be low only because Halsey is in charge and his man management expertise will prevent him from needing to show a lot of yellows.

My Prediction:

West Ham 1-1 Wigan

Yellow cards: 4 Red cards: 0 Penalties: 0

Wolves vs. Sunderland (10am ET/3pm GMT)

Referee: Mike Jones

This should be an interesting encounter as Mick McCarthy takes on his former employers.  Wolves have had a shaky start to the season and find themselves languishing in the relegation zone.  Sunderland however have become a revitalised team since their derby day demolition at the hands of Newcastle with impressive results against Chelsea and Everton.

Wolves, along with Stoke and Blackburn have been accused of being dirty.  Their behaviour against Joey Barton I thought was disgusting how they targeted him because of his fiery temper to try and get him sent off.  Karl Henry especially is the worst culprit after breaking Bobby Zamora’s leg when Wolves played Fulham and his horrendous tackle on Wigan’s Jordi Gomez that saw Henry deservedly sent off.  It’s a real shame however for the neutral that Henry is out now for up to four months because him against Lee Cattermole would have been an interesting battle.

Sunderland last season had more red cards than anyone else which isn’t a surprise with players like Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole in the team.  In my opinion both are just as equally as dirt as Karl Henry and that is proven with Cattermole having already been sent off twice in the opening 14 games.

With both sides being extremely hard tacklers and teams who commit a lot of fouls this match needs a tough referee who isn’t afraid to dish out the cards.  Mike Jones has gotten the appointment which I think could only have been bettered if Martin Atkinson was in charge this is because Atkinson has been the strictest referee this season.

Mike has been the most improved referee since he joined the Premier League list three seasons ago.  He has had some good appointments so far this season including Villa vs. Everton and Arsenal vs. West Ham.  He has shown only red card this season that was to Ian Evatt of Blackpool against Arsenal.  I think his red card tally will at least double this weekend if not treble.

Last season saw the only two previous meetings between these two teams in the Premier League take place.  Both were refereed by Lee Mason.  One had two red cards; the other had two penalties so I think that this one will have a few controversial moments.  I just hope Mike handles the game well like he has all season.

My Prediction:

Wolves 1-1 Sunderland

Yellow cards:  8 Red cards: 2 Penalties: 1


Newcastle United vs. Chelsea (8:30am ET/1.30pm GMT)

Referee: Andre Marriner

Super Sunday sees the league leaders travel to Newcastle to face a team that have already beaten them this season.  The Magpies beat Chelsea 4-3 in an exciting Carling Cup tie earlier this month but haven’t beaten Chelsea in the last six attempts in the league.

Carlo Ancelotti has been in the news this week having expressed his desire to leave Chelsea at the end of the season; however the Italian has denied the claims.  Chelsea have been on a poor run of form recently winning only one of their last four league games.  A run that has seen them lose their eight point advantage over closest title rivals Manchester United with both teams currently on 28 points.

Newcastle finally seem to have found the right man for the manager’s job in Chris Hughton having guided The Magpies from the Championship into a good strong Premier League side, but like Chelsea, they have only won one of their last four league games.

As I previously said they have already beaten Chelsea this season and have also defeated Arsenal and fierce local rivals Sunderland this season.  Chelsea like to play football and don’t like it when teams get in their face and rough them up.  This is precisely what Newcastle must do if they are to get anything out of the game.  They need to take a leaf out of Sunderland’s book who beat the Blues 3-0 at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago.  On that day the Black Cat’s midfield got in the faces of the likes of Malouda and Drogba which prevented them from playing.

The match needs a referee who understands that the game is going to be physical.  He shouldn’t look to book early as this will potentially ruin the game for the spectators and the people watching on SKY at home.  Andre Marriner has proved already this season that he would rather talk to players than show them cards as is obvious with him allowing Gary Neville to stay on the pitch against Stoke.  The United captain already on a yellow, committed a bookable offence but Marriner opted to talk to him rather than send him off which proved to be effective as he didn’t commit another foul before being substituted.

Andre has refereed Chelsea previously this season, their 1-0 defeat at Manchester City and has refereed Newcastle twice, once in the league (1-0 win against Everton) and their 4-0 defeat to Arsenal in the League Cup.

Marriner has a very shown an average of three yellow cards per game and I think he will have to put his hand in his pocket during this one, however I don’t think he’ll show as many cards as other referees would which is why he is a good appointment to this game.

My Prediction:

Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea

Yellow cards: 3 Red cards: 0 Penalties: 0

Tottenham vs. Liverpool (11am ET/4.00pm GMT)

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Well like Villa vs. Arsenal, this is one of the games of the weekend.  Two big teams fighting for top four aspirations go head to head in the Super Sunday tea time game at White Hart Lane.  Tottenham are currently sitting 6th on 22 points, only three behind Manchester City who are 4th.

Liverpool started poorly when Roy Hodgson took over in the summer, but are slowly starting to improve and that shows with only one defeat since their Merseyside derby loss to Everton in mid October.  Their current run of form has seen them catapult from out of the relegation zone and into 9th only three points behind their opponents Tottenham.

Matches between these two usually produce good quality football and lots of goal with only one goal less draw in the last thirteen matches between them.

The two encounters last season saw either side win one match each.  Tottenham won 2-1 at White Hart Lane and Liverpool won 2-0 at Anfield.  In both of those games Liverpool were awarded a penalty and in total there were 11 yellow cards.

This match has the potential to be a classic especially if Gareth Bale and Rafael Van Der Vaart are both fit and Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are available for Liverpool.

With such a high standard of playing ability on show means that the match needs to have someone in charge who will protect the welfare of those outstanding players and Martin Atkinson is the right man to do this.

Atkinson in my opinion is probably the strictest referee in the Premier League which means he is not afraid to caution players if it is necessary.  Some will say he favours the bigger teams especially after sending off two Wigan players against Manchester United last weekend but this is not the case.

He treats all teams equally no matter who they are and who they are playing.  Atkinson has shown seven red cards in total so far this season which is significantly more than any of the other officials.  Six of those seven red cards were shown in matches involving the top four.

One was to a Liverpool player, Joe Cole against Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season.  Since then he has refereed Liverpool one other time, their 1-0 win over Bolton at the Reebok.  He has refereed Tottenham only once so far this season, their 1-0 defeat to London rivals West Ham.

With penalties being awarded in both matches between these two last season, and Spurs being given a large number of spot kicks so far this campaign, I can definitely see one being given in this match, however with the quality on show I don’t think there will be a huge amount of cards shown.

Tottenham go into this one on the back of a famous win over local rivals Arsenal last weekend and because of this I can’t see anything other than a home win.

My Prediction:

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool

Yellow cards: 2 Red cards: 0, Penalties: 1

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  1. Football Souvenirs

    November 26, 2010 at 11:41 am

    This is the kind of research that Premier League clubs do on Referees as much as they do on opponenets as there are different tolerance levels on tackles etc

  2. David the Yank

    November 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Congrats, Matthew. You are a man after my own heart. You follow the league very intensely! Well done!

  3. mw828

    November 25, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    good article. the referees play an immense role in the games week in and week out. most fans, in time, learn to hate all referees because they have screwed it up for their club at some point.

    can’t believe you mentioned mark clattenburg without mentioning United-Tottenham and the nani incident.

  4. Evan

    November 25, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I can tell you don’t like Man City. “two defeats and two 0-0 draws in their five previous matches, a run of form that has seen them drop rapidly off the pace at the top of the table.”
    I wouldn’t call 3 points below the leaders “rapidly off the pace”

    • Why?

      November 25, 2010 at 12:30 pm


      you can also add to this – ‘where he correctly sent of Dedryck Boyata after only five minutes’ this is the view that he should have been sent off as the last man (which doesn’t exist as a rule) instead of stopping an obvious goal scoring opportunity (which does exist as a rule) as the forward knocked the ball at pace straight to City’s keeper a tenth of a second before the foul, therefore making it impossible for him to have this goal scoring opportunity as unless he could travel a the speed of sound would never have even got near the ball. His remarks are that of 80% of the City loving media. Maybe the lad just takes their word as gospel and doesn’t know about the rules himself after all he wouldn‘t be on his own as a writer would he.

      If we have dropped rapidly off the pace what the hell is happing at Chelsea, Utd and Arsenal? In his words City don’t seem to be gelling yet they have played every team bar 1 of the top 7 and are still 3 points behind the leaders whom he must think have gelled. A truly awful position eh? I think this fella should use his own eyes and thoughts when it come to City and not the hope City fail brigade (which is 80% of the British media) as he so obviously does.

    • 1fingerwillie

      November 25, 2010 at 4:11 pm


  5. John R

    November 25, 2010 at 9:59 am

    oh, and maybe because he reminds me of Nick Frost at times.

  6. John R

    November 25, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Kinda disappointed i didnt see Phil Dowd involved in any of the games this weekend. I really enjoy the games he refs. I know its odd, but i really get a kick out of it when a player approaches him after a foul and Dowd just raises his finger, scowls, and yells “no!” its really kinda funny. he doesnt take crap from players at all. and a pretty good ref overall.good ref overall.

    • David the Yank

      November 25, 2010 at 4:38 pm

      John, I really think he is one of the best, if not the best, in the league right now. He’s very English, and will never get picked for international assignments, but I think he does a better job than Webb, Dean and Atkinson, and as you say, takes no stick from players, but will take the time to explain himself!

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