Ref In Focus: Liverpool and Man United will both have to be wary with Martin Atkinson in charge

It is not often that Manchester United are the underdogs when coming up against Liverpool, but with the Merseyside club currently unbeaten in the Premier League, many will be expecting them to take all three points when their long-term rivals visit Anfield on Sunday.

However, form often goes out of the window when these two meet, and we can expect to see a feisty affair on the weekend with both sides looking to get one over on the other. United in particular will be keen to get a result from the game as they look to bounce back from their defeat to Valencia in the Champions League and get their season back on track.

It is interesting then that the Premier League have appointed Martin Atkinson as the referee for this fixture.

The 47-year-old is of course extremely experienced and is well used to taking charge of big games such as this one.

One thing that will worry both teams though is his penchant for dishing out yellow and red cards, especially as the tackles are likely to be flying in.

In fact, so far this season Atkinson has dished out 43 yellow cards and one red in just 13 games, putting him seventh out of 17 Premier League referees for yellow cards awarded per game.

It’s not just cards that the players will need to be wary of though. Atkinson is currently third for fouls per game, and with the amount of talented set-piece takers on the pitch we wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of goals come from dead-ball situations.

One thing that could please United fans though is the Bradford-born ref’s 39% away win bias. This means the away team have won more games than have been drawn or won by the home team when Atkinson has been officiating this year.

In recent years, Liverpool and United have been difficult to separate when coming up against each other, so both managers will be hoping that Atkinson doesn’t have the final say in this one.