Michael Oliver will take charge of Unai Emery’s first competitive match as Arsenal head coach on Sunday against Manchester City.
He will be assisted by Simon Bennett and Stuart Burt, with Andre ‘they all look the same’ Marriner playing the role of fourth official.
The Northumberland ref took charge of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at the Etihad last season that saw Alex Iwobi accuse him of costing the Gunners the game. In truth, Arsenal were well beaten. David Silva was offside in the build-up to Gabriel Jesus’s goal and neither Oliver nor his assistants spotted the infraction but it is unlikely that decision changed the match.
“We were pushing to get the equaliser but unfortunately the referee wasn’t able to see that it was offside,” Iwobi said.
“There’s nothing that you can do, we just have to move on to the next game.
“Maybe we weren’t composing ourselves like we were in the first 10 or 15 minutes. Man City are a very good team and you have to give credit to them, but I believe the result doesn’t show how well we did.”
Oliver also gave City a penalty when Nacho Monreal came together with Raheem Sterling in the box.
Poor refereeing cost us the game
A 'soft' penalty and an 'offside' goal. pic.twitter.com/bXET1o9RLA
— Emery's new era 👏🏾 (@tomgunner14) November 5, 2017
That was Oliver’s eighth Arsenal game since the start of the 16/17 and the fifth penalty he has awarded in those games. Four of them have gone against Arsenal.
Oliver has something of a decent reputation amongst Arsenal fans solely on the back of his display at Old Trafford when he sent off Angel di Maria. The truth is, while Oliver is the best referee in the division, Arsenal have not fared too well under him. That, however, is more down to the opponents we face in games he takes charge of than any Mike Deanesque conspiracy.
After the City game, Oliver took charge of three more Arsenal games before the end of the season, all of which they won even though two of them were away from home (v Palace a, v Chelsea h, Huddersfield a).
He also took charge of four City games last season and they won them all. Not that Oliver had anything to do with that, City win games regardless.
Oliver took charge of 42 matches last season, more than any other ref. He issued 147 yellows and seven reds.