Big Six referees: Liverpool fury, Man Utd tears, Arsenal flying under favourites

Matt Stead
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp argues

Arsenal and Man City have imperious records under the referees appointed to their games most often. Chelsea do not. And Liverpool are in a feud with theirs.


Arsenal – Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver (both five games)
With identical records of P5 W4 D0 L1 in Premier League games Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver have refereed involving Arsenal this season, the pair are masking their biases remarkably well. Both have even given the Gunners penalties in crucial games: Oliver in a 3-2 win over Liverpool in October and Taylor during the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in February. Neither rank particularly highly in yellow cards per game given to Mikel Arteta’s side, although they are in the top four for fouls per game given against Arsenal behind Darren England and Craig Pawson.


Chelsea – Stuart Attwell, Michael Oliver, Andy Madley, Robert Jones (all four games)
It was Attwell in the middle for some peculiar refereeing of Chelsea’s defeat to Spurs in February, when he showed a red card to Hakim Ziyech, went to check the VAR monitor afterwards and then downgraded his own decision to a yellow. Attwell (12.25), Oliver (12.25) and Jones (10.75) all penalise Chelsea for more fouls than their overall season average of 10.58 per game, while Madley (7.75) is a long way under that. The Blues have also not won a single game under Attwell this campaign, with their record of one victory under each of Oliver, Madley and Jones not much better.


Liverpool – Paul Tierney (seven games)
This is the one. The impotent rage is still simmering at Liverpool as the conspiracy continues to unfold. Paul Tierney’s curious feud with Jurgen Klopp started well before a flashpoint against Spurs in December 2021, when the manager noted that: “I have no problems with referees, it’s only you.” The same manager, same referee and same clubs encountered one another again in April 2023, with Klopp making quite the accusation of the official. Tierney was the referee who booked Andy Robertson for the situation with linesman Constantine Hatzidakis against Arsenal, while Klopp recently said: “We have our history with Tierney, I really don’t know what this man has against us, he has said there is no problems but that cannot be true.”

PGMOL quite hilariously keep putting him in charge of Liverpool games and fair play to them for that. Tierney has given them penalties in those fiery Arsenal and Spurs games this campaign, as well as presiding over both the win and loss to Wolves, a victory at Aston Villa, defeat to Nottingham Forest and the Crystal Palace draw in August, during which he handed out only the second red card he has ever given the Reds in 25 encounters.

READ MOREDarwin Nunez was daft but Liverpool fans rage over ref after another draw


Manchester City – Simon Hooper (five games)
“I’ve spoken to the officials – calmly – after the game. I’ve given them enough time before speaking to them and asked for their side of it,” said Steven Gerrard in September. “I know there’s a slight rule change in not waiting too long before these whistles and flags. I understand that. But I think that when it’s so tight, it’s worth that little bit of extra time. We could have scored a second goal tonight. Obviously that moment and that decision has gone against us but fair play to the officials, they’ve recognised that in the room afterwards. They recognised they were too quick to whistle.”

The former Aston Villa manager had seen Philippe Coutinho score a stunner at Villa Park with the scores level in the 79th minute. It remains the only game of six this season – including an early League Cup tie – Manchester City have failed to win with Hooper as the referee. He was the man in the middle who awarded them a penalty against Fulham in March, which turned out to be awful handy in their Treble pursuit.


Man Utd – Stuart Attwell and Anthony Taylor (both five games)
Between the 4-0 defeat to Brentford which Attwell officiated in August, and the 3-2 loss to Arsenal that Taylor governed at the turn of the year, both referees have been involved in contentious Man Utd moments this season. The former took charge of January’s Manchester derby, allowing a disputed Bruno Fernandes goal in the process despite the offside Marcus Rashford’s apparent interference. The latter reduced Casemiro to tears with a red card against Southampton.


Spurs – Simon Hooper (five games)
In five games under Simon Hooper’s watch this season, Spurs have won twice, lost twice and drawn once, scoring 12 goals and assisting 11. He has given two penalties against the north London club, helping Leicester open the scoring in an eventual 6-2 hammering and giving Southampton the chance to inexplicably equalise in a 3-3 draw. Hooper ranks strikingly low for average fouls (9.6) and yellow cards (1.2) given per game against Spurs. Antonio Conte was furious with him for giving that Saints penalty but it never took much to set the Italian off by that stage.