When it was announced that Michael Oliver would be in charge of Arsenal’s opener against Liverpool, many Arsenal fans were happy.
They see him as a good omen for the club, based on one performance at Old Trafford.
The truth, unfortunately, is something very different indeed.
In the 15/17 season, Oliver took charge of just two Arsenal games, both of which they drew (against Tottenham when Coquelin was a moron and Oliver should have evened the numbers, and the 0-0 with Liverpool at the start of the season).
In those games, he gave out a total of ten yellows and one red. They were evenly split between the sides, apart from the red which should have been matched with a Tottenham one.
But go further back and there is a worrying pattern of results when Oliver is in charge.
Arsenal have won none of the last eight Premier League games that he has refereed, although he did referee the Community Shield final in 2014 and, of course, our FA Cup quarter-final in Manchester in 2015.
With Liverpool, Oliver was in charge of four games last season, and they won none of those either, so perhaps Sunday’s match is destined to be a draw.
It’s notable that the games he was picked for Liverpool were all big ones – Arsenal, United, City and Chelsea – so it’s clear the FA trust him to handle the matches which will draw the most attention and that is why he has been selected this weekend.
Oliver is not a bad referee, but he is certainly not the ‘friend’ many Arsenal fans think he is.
Then again, he seems to be no friend to Liverpool either, so at least he should be able to be balanced and that’s about the best we can hope for.