David Moyes could be forgiven a wry smile at the refereeing appointments for his Everton side's two fixtures this week, with fate – or at least the refereeing body the Professional Game Match Officials Limited – providing him with successive reunions with his two bêtes noires.
At White Hart Lane tonight, Martin Atkinson will handle his first Everton match since October's Merseyside derby when he sent off Jack Rodwell for a textbook tackle on Luis Suarez after 23 minutes. Liverpool won 2-0, and the FA's subsequent overturning of Rodwell's ban only highlighted Atkinson's error.
The West Yorkshire official's prior Everton engagement 13 months earlier against Manchester United had ended with Moyes confronting him on the pitch after he blew the final whistle as Phil Jagielka broke through on a late counter-attack.
Moyes, mindful perhaps of the £8,000 fine he received for criticising Atkinson then, was pointedly tight-lipped when asked yesterday about both Atkinson and the even more intriguing reunion Everton face at Aston Villa on Saturday with Mark Clattenburg. The Tyne and Wear referee has not officiated an Everton match since his hugely controversial handling of a Merseyside derby in October 2007.
Clattenburg dismissed two Everton players, but let Dirk Kuyt – scorer of Liverpool's 90th-minute penalty winner – escape with a yellow card for a two-footed leap at Phil Neville. In injury time he then ignored an Everton penalty shout when Jamie Carragher dragged down Joleon Lescott.
Moyes also suggested at the time that Steven Gerrard had influenced Clattenburg's decision to send off Tony Hibbert as he appeared to switch from a yellow to a red card after the Liverpool captain spoke to him.
Moyes noted that it is at Villa Park, and not a grudge-bearing Goodison, that Clattenburg will step out on Saturday. "It would be interesting to see if they gave them the job at Goodison instead of us getting them away from home," said the Scot of the two appointments. Clattenburg has taken charge of 121 domestic matches since but not one involving Everton and only two featuring Liverpool.