Home » EPL, Latest » Howard Webb set to ref United v Chelsea game

The World Cup final referee Howard Webb is set to be announced today as the man in charge of Manchester United’s pivotal Premier League game against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday with the league and referees’ bodies desperate for a solid performance from the officials.

The appointment of Webb, 39, is expected to be confirmed by Mike Riley, the general manager of the referees’ organisation, this afternoon after a bad weekend for Premier League officials in which several wrong decisions – most notably Frank Lampard’s “ghost goal” against Tottenham – have put them under scrutiny like never before.

Sir Alex Ferguson has also cranked up the pressure following his team’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal by suggesting that Chelsea had been the beneficiary of some “great decisions” in their controversial 2-1 win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, which puts them within three points of United.

The appointment to Sunday’s game of Webb – heavily criticised by Liverpool for his performance in their FA Cup third-round defeat to United in January – will not be without controversy. However, the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL) body, which administers and selects referees, is aware that the game needs to pass off without a major talking point around the referee and has chosen the man regarded as the best in the English game.

Having managed to steer clear of controversy through the large part of his domestic career, Webb found himself in the thick of it in January after United’s 1-0 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup at Old Trafford when he gave United a penalty early in the game for Daniel Agger’s challenge on Dimitar Berbatov and later dismissed Steven Gerrard.

In the subsequent criticism from Liverpool, Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 by the Football Association for posting a photoshopped picture of Webb in a United shirt on his Twitter page. Webb also found himself the target of anger from Liverpool supporters in the days after the game.

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