LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 4, 2019: Referee Martin Atkinson during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Premier League confirm referee and VAR for Merseyside derby – to concern of fans

The Premier League have confirmed a controversial pair of officials for the Merseyside derby at Anfield next month, prompting concerns among fans.

Liverpool host Everton in the first derby of the campaign on December 4, which will be among the first round of fixtures to be broadcast by Amazon Prime.

It is an undoubtedly highly charged tie which could see a new Everton manager take his place in the dugout, amid speculation over Marco Silva’s future.

That remains to be seen, but Tuesday saw the confirmation of the officials for Liverpool’s home clash, with Mike Dean in charge as referee.

The 51-year-old will be supported by Anthony Taylor as fourth official and Martin Atkinson as VAR, with the appointment of the latter in particular proving controversial.

Atkinson will also preside over Saturday’s visit of Brighton, which will be his first time as referee of a Liverpool game since the 1-1 draw with Man United at Old Trafford on October 20.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2019: Manchester United's Daniel James lies injured as referee Martin Atkinson checks on him during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That game saw Atkinson wave away what appeared to be a foul on Divock Origi in the buildup to Marcus Rashford’s opener.

Meanwhile, two weekends later he was involved in a series of incidents in the Reds’ 2-1 win at Aston Villa (as VAR) and Everton‘s 1-1 draw with Tottenham (as referee).

The reception of Atkinson’s appointment for the derby was met with a similarly critical response by fans of both Liverpool and Everton:

Meanwhile, Blues expressed concern over Tranmere fan Dean, from the Wirral, being involved:

Of course, this clearly highlights the notion of an ‘agenda’ against one team as being flawed, with both sets of fans frustrated at the appointments.

It certainly adds an edge to the game ahead of time, but Liverpool can only focus on outplaying Everton at Anfield, as per usual, as they aim to continue their title tilt.