Ref in Focus: Atkinson’s appointed could lead to many Man United bookings at City

Martin Atkinson has been appointed to referee the 176th Manchester derby, which could go down in history if City beat United to clinch their third Premier League title.

Winning the top flight crown on 7 April would be the earliest that any team has done so and nobody would put it past Jose Mourinho to draw on every trick in the book – including time-wasting and tactical fouls – to try and spoil Pep Guardiola’s party.

That means that 47-year-old Atkinson, who has taken charge of four United and two City matches this season, may well have to take a strict approach to keep a lid on proceedings.

We can see that Atkinson’s numbers are fairly middle of the road, although the win bias towards the home team may worry United fans.

He has yet to oversee a defeat for either side this season but he does have a penchant for booking United players – averaging 2.25 Red Devils bookings per game while awarding an average of 13.75 fouls per match against the side who currently sit second in the Premier League.

He has yet to referee a match at the Etihad Stadium this season and it remains to be seen how he will react, especially if there is an expectant cauldron of noise in a ground that is expecting to witness history.