Mark Clattenburg Assigned to Referee Liverpool vs. Manchester City Showdown

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Referee Mark Clattenburg in action during a Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at the Santiago Bernabeu   stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday April 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul White)
Paul White

Mark Clattenburg has been handed the responsibility of refereeing Sunday's clash between Premier League title-challengers Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield. 

With the match being billed as a potential title decider, it is a significant remark on Clattenburg's refereeing quality that he has been handed such an important match to officiate.

The decision was confirmed on the Premier League's official Twitter feed:

Clattenburg last took charge of a Liverpool game in their 3-0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 16.

On that occasion, the County Durham-born referee made Premier League history as he awarded the Reds three penalties on United's home turf:

He also controversially sent off Red Devils captain Nemanja Vidic for a tackle on Daniel Sturridge in which the Serbian international seemingly did not make any contact, an idea echoed by the Telegraph's Henry Winter: 

Despite this, Clattenburg's performances this season have been impressive and he has issued only two red cards from 23 games officiated, per the Premier League, while he has shown 79 yellow cards. 

He has overseen Manchester City matches twice this season, an away draw for the Sky Blues at Stoke as well as a win at Swansea, while the only other Liverpool game he has taken charge of was an away win over Aston Villa, per BBC Sport.

Premier League 2013-14: Referee Profiles
RefereeMatchesYellow CardsRed Cards
Martin Atkinson22715
Mark Clattenburg23792
Mike Dean22885
Phil Dowd22992
Roger East5201
Chris Foy20546
Kevin Friend16512
Michael Jones16492
Robert Madley5171
Andre Marriner23667
Lee Mason22715
Jonathan Moss20693
Michael Oliver24883
Craig Pawson9260
Lee Probert16212
Neil Swarbrick17570
Anthony Taylor18643
Howard Webb26782
Premier League

This will arguably be his most important game of the season as many people are billing it as a title decider with the winner likely to capture the Premier League.

However, as reported by Dominic King in the Daily MailLiverpool captain Steven Gerrard is not going quite that far:

People are already asking whether it’s a title decider but for me that’s nonsense. There’s still a long way to go. It’s another big game and three points we need if we want to win this league. But it’s not a title decider.

The decision to choose Clattenburg is a blow for the league's most high-profile referee, Howard Webb.

He will be England's only representative at this summer's World Cup in Brazil, but he has been criticised this season for a run of bad decisions.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 06:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on April 6, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Webb officiated the 2010 World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain and was criticised at the time for being far too lenient on the Dutch, who were perceived as being very aggressive.

Webb will have to perform well at this summer's global event if he is to regain his respectability among the elite officials both domestically and internationally.

Meanwhile, Clattenburg has the opportunity to confirm himself as the Premier League's top referee if he can put in a good performance on Sunday.