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

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.

Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 11:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:08 pm
Neil Swarbrick

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.

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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.