Martin Atkinson Named Referee for Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2014

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Referee Martin Atkinson in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal at Stadium of Light on September 14, 2013 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Martin Atkinson has been handed the responsibility of taking charge at Anfield on Sunday for the table-topping clash between Liverpool and Chelsea.   

The Premier League's official Twitter feed confirmed the news Tuesday:

Atkinson's refereeing will come under close scrutiny as the match is one of the biggest of the season and will have a significant bearing on the destination of the Premier League trophy come the end of the season.

With Liverpool's victory over Norwich on Sunday following Chelsea's shock home loss to Sunderland on Saturday, the Reds now sit five points clear of Jose Mourinho's side at the top of the table.

Each side has only three games remaining, meaning that the match is a must-win for Chelsea if they are to have any chance of claiming the title.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 19:  Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on April 19, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In the 24 league matches Atkinson has taken charge of so far this season, he has issued 77 yellow cards and five red cards in total, per the Premier League. Only Chris Foy and Andre Marriner have sent more players off this term from the 18 men who have referred in the English top flight.

Atkinson refereed Liverpool's 4-0 home win over local rivals Everton back in January, while he most recently took charge of Chelsea when they beat Southampton 3-0 on New Year's Day, per the Premier League. In addition, he has been handed several high-profile games this season, including Manchester City's 3-1 Capital One Cup final victory over Sunderland at Wembley, as reported by Stuart Fraser in the Daily Mail.  

Chelsea will come into this crucial game on the back of Tuesday's meeting with Atletico Madrid in their Champions League semi-final first leg, but the Times' Tony Evans does not believe this gives Liverpool an advantage:

The Reds are looking to claim their first league title since 1990. A win would almost guarantee them a historic and unexpected Premier League crown.

However, Mourinho's side are still in with a chance of claiming the title and will be smarting after their loss to lowly Sunderland.

It's obviously a crucial match, and all eyes will be on Atkinson and his impact on the action.