Halsey will use personality to control Liverpool and United clash
10:53 GMT, 21 September 2012
Refereeing appointments are eagerly pored over each week. Some officials will be delighted with the matches they've been chosen to officiate, but there will be others who are disappointed and some that are daunted by the potential difficulties they face.
Select group match officials are emailed on a Monday every week with the upcoming appointments. Only then can they confirm, or all to often, postpone social arrangements with wives and friends. Yes, referees have social lives, too.
The ref and the smooth: Officials are given their schedule every Monday
Most supporters will look at the back page of their programme to see who they can blame should their team lose and, heaven forbid, if it is 'that ref who cost us last time.
Here, Graham Poll, assesses this weekend's appointments.
The big games
European football affects appointments as those refereeing on a Thursday in Europe are not supposed to officiate on the Saturday following and those with Champions League games on a Tuesday cannot be appointed the Sunday before.
So this weekend, with two huge televised clashes on Sunday, the select group are without the refereeing talent of Howard Webb, Mark Clattenburg and Martin Atkinson. The latter is at Ipswich while Webb and Clattenburg are taking part in World Cup training.
There really are two huge games this weekend and both are being played on Sunday.
Main man: Mark Halsey
Liverpool v Manchester United – Mark Halsey
At first glance a surprising appointment given that Halsey has only refereed one Premier League game so far this season, Tottenham v Norwich, in which he harshly dismissed Tom Huddlestone.
However, the lists oldest member at 51 has plenty of experience of big game atmospheres and there are none better than this clash when played at Anfield. Usually there is palpable hatred coming down from the stands but given the significance of the game, all involved will be hoping for much more considered reactions.
Halsey likes to use his personality rather than his cards and if the players want to play football his low key approach should enable a good game to develop. If the temperature rises though there is an unpredictability in Halsey’s refereeing which could make this an absorbing 'ref watch'.
Manchester City v Arsenal – Mike Dean
Dean returns to The Etihad for the first time since he handled 'the best game of my life' at the same venue. City against QPR on the last day of the season was refereed superbly by the Wirral referee who is one of the select group's safe pair of hands. This fixture has had its difficulties in the past; Mario Balotelli was sent off last time these two played and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has bemoaned City’s tackling on several occasions, but City are not alone there. Expect goals and possibly a penalty or two in another not to be missed encounter.
Southampton v Aston Villa – Jon Moss
West Brom v Reading – Michael Oliver
West Ham United v Sunderland – Lee Mason
Wigan Athletic v Fulham – Lee Probert
Newcastle v Norwich City – Neil Swarbrick
Tottenham Hotspur v QPR – Phil Dowd
Best of the rest
Chelsea v Stoke City – Chris Foy
Billed as a clash of styles, this game could have flashpoint or two as Stoke City’s big defenders try to stop Eden Hazard. They will be incensed if Hazard wins Chelsea another penalty but hopefully they will avoid the violent clashes which caused Andy Wilkinson to be rightly charged after video evidence caught him striking Mario Balotelli off the ball last week at The Britannia. Expect Foy’s patient approach, which has seen him issue just four yellow cards in as many Premier League games, to be tested.
Swansea v Everton – Anthony Taylor
Everton travel to the home of their nemesis from Monday evening’s draw with Newcastle, assistant referee Ceri Richards, who ‘cost them two goals’ at Goodison Park. Of course referees are always aware of situations that have occurred recently and that will add pressure to Taylor who will not want to be seen to cost Everton again. Richards has no Premier League appointment this weekend.
The season so far
RefereePremier League appearances
Yellow cardsRed cardsMartin Atkinson 4160Mark Clattenburg 23
0Mike Dean 350Phil Dowd2
1Roger East242Chris Foy 34
0Kevin Friend 3
71Mark Halsey 111Mike Jones 210
0Andre Marriner 36
0Jon Moss150Michael Oliver 35
1Lee Probert290Antony Taylor20
0Howard Webb 3
*Neil Swarbrick was appointed to Sunderland v Reading which was called off