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)

Everton fans claim referee choice for Merseyside derby is “fixing it” for Liverpool

Everton fans have reacted poorly to the appointment of Martin Atkinson as referee for Monday night’s Merseyside derby, believing it favours Liverpool in their title pursuit.

The Reds could seal No. 19 at Goodison Park next week if Man City drop points in either of their clashes with Arsenal and Burnley over the next five days.

It would be a fitting destination for Liverpool’s first title win since 1990, though some would prefer the clincher to come at Anfield, and the visit of Crystal Palace on March 21.

Regardless, with Atkinson taking charge of the derby and Stuart Attwell on VAR, a section of Everton supporters have expressed their disappointment.

One even claimed “the FA is fixing it for them to win the league” with this decision, despite the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) overseeing appointments, not the FA.

Atkinson last refereed an Everton game back in November, for the 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Goodison that saw Heung-min Son sent off for a challenge that left Andre Gomes out for three-and-a-half months with a broken ankle.

Son saw his suspension overturned after appeal, with his tackle not meriting a red card—Atkinson was deemed to have judged the situation on the extent of Gomes’ injury, which came as the result of a collision with Serge Aurier straight after.

The 48-year-old has overseen 44 Everton games in his career, with the Blues winning just 13; he has refereed Liverpool more than any other side, with the Reds victorious in 30 of those 65 games.

He was in charge of the same fixture at Goodison last season, which ended in a 0-0 draw, and also in 2015/16 (another 0-0), while he led the Merseyside derby at Anfield in 2014/15 (1-1) and 2013/14 (4-0 to Liverpool).

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2019: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' smiles as he is shown a yellow card by referee Martin Atkinson during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That Everton fans believe his appointment will sway the game out of their favour is, of course, characteristic of every football supporter; Reds have voiced similar issues with the same official this season.

Atkinson, as a high-profile referee, is not popular with many fans due to the nature of his role, but if Liverpool are to take the three points and win the title at Goodison, it is unlikely to be due to his involvement.

Everton should be more concerned with their shapeless performance away to Chelsea last time out, with that 4-0 hammering ensuring they are without a win in their last three games.