Ref watch: Sunderland v Chelsea whistler needs to impress after high-profile blunder

Neil Swarbrick

Neil Swarbrick

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Sunderland will hope that referee Neil Swarbrick is more on the ball tonight than he has been at certain times in a Premier League season in which he too has struggled to impress.

Swarbrick takes charge of the Black Cats' clash with Chelsea at the Stadium of Light after a recent period of inactivity following a high-profile blunder.

The Preston whistler failed to spot an elbow by Leicester's Danny Drinkwater on Watford's Valon Behrami at Vicarage Road almost a month ago.

Drinkwater received a retrospective three-game ban for violent conduct, and Swarbrick has only taken charge of one Premier League game since.

Wearside fans may not have been impressed when Swarbrick dismissed Hull City's Dieumerci Mbokani,for clashing heads with Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles, in the Magpies' EFL Cup quarter-final tie.

But they will have happier memories of the red card he showed Southampton's Jose Fonte after awarding a penalty against the defender the last time he officiated Sunderland - a 1-1 draw - in March.

So far this season, Swarbrick has handed out 33 yellow cards in eight games and no reds, and awarded an average of 24 fouls per game.