In the post-Mark Clattenburg era, there are two referees who stand out as arguably the best in the Premier League right now – Michael Oliver, who may be controversial but certainly carries an element of authority about him, and Anthony Taylor, who seems to strike a healthy balance between making big calls and avoiding needless decisions.
Indeed, from the 20 referees to work in the Premier League so far this season, Taylor ranks in the middle of the pack – no higher than 9th or lower than 13th – for fouls per tackle, fouls per match, yellow cards per match and penalties per match.
That should ensure we see a fair and balanced game when Manchester United face Tottenham on Saturday, with the 39-year-old appointed to officiate their FA Cup semi-final showdown, or at the very least a game that isn’t overshadowed by a wrong decision or disrupted by the pedantic awarding of fouls.
That rings even truer in terms of penalties; Taylor has awarded just one in the Premier Leage this season, suggesting it will need to be clear cut for Tottenham or United to concede one on Saturday. Both managers will surely see that as good news ahead of the Wembley encounter – neither Jose Mourinho nor Mauricio Pochettino will want a controversial spot kick to have a decisive impact on the game.
However, there is a bad omen for Spurs here. From the three Tottenham fixtures Taylor has officiated in the top flight this season, they’ve lost two of them. Manchester United, on the other hand, have won two of their three Premier League games with Taylor in charge this term including both of the last two – victories over Stoke and West Brom.