Clattenburg's return an unwelcome distraction for Chelsea's top four bid

Mark Clattenburg will return to Chelsea as a referee for the first time this weekend since that John Obi Mikel saga.

Clattenburg will take charge of the Premier League clash between the Blues and Swansea City, which could turn out to be a crucial fixture in Chelsea’s hunt for a top four finish.

It will be the first time the referee has gone back to Stamford Bridge in any capacity, since he was accused of racially abusing John Obi Mikel during the fixture against Manchester United earlier in the season.

He is a professional and experienced enough referee for that incident not to affect his decision making this Sunday, but there can be no dancing around the fact he is going to be under pressure.

It’s a big game for Chelsea against a side that like to dominate the ball so there is going to be plenty of midfield action happening throughout the 90 minutes.

If Clattenburg makes a debatable early decision, which goes against Chelsea then the recent memory of that incident involving Mikel, where he was cleared of any wrong doing, could see the fans turn against him and get on top of every decision he makes.

The boo boys could be out and there maybe one or two chants from small groups within the Chelsea crowd, which could easily affect Clattenburg because he is a human being.

However, he seems to have moved on from that incident, which only came up after a misunderstanding of English on the part of more than one Chelsea player.

He may well still feel a little bit aggrieved by the fact he was not allowed to take part in any role as an official for weeks following the incident in that match against United.

There were plenty of reports about his distress and the fact he was upset about having his reputation damaged but any Chelsea fans wary of his return, need to bear in mind the Premier League and FA would not let him take this match if there was the smallest doubt over his integrity.

Chelsea remain locked in a three way battle for with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur for the remaining two spots in the top four beneath the two Manchester clubs.

A win in this game is vitally important for the side ahead of a difficult trip to newly crowned champions Manchester United along with a tricky home match against Spurs at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea need a little bit of luck from the officials if they are going to finish in the top four and Clattenburg is just as likely to make decision for them as he is for any other side in the top flight.

What sort of reception will he get?

image: © EG Focus

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