Liverpool vs Chelsea referee pulls out over Covid contact in late change

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Liverpool's referee for their Premier League clash against Chelsea Craig Pawson has pulled out of of the fixture as a coronavirus precaution.

Martin Atkinson will replace the match official at Anfield, which is set to kick off at 8:15pm tonight.

He will be joined at Anfield by linesmen Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett while Anthony Taylor will be the fourth official.

Pawson was withdrawn from the game at the last minute after a "close contact" tested positive for Covid-19.

The 42-year-old has taken charge of 15 Premier League games this season, the last being West Ham's 2-1 win over London rivals Tottenham on February 21.

But he will be forced to self-isolate for 10 days, according to the Government's Covid-19 guidelines, for being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease.

And Liverpool fans may not enjoy the news of Atkinson replacing him, with the match official overseeing their shock 7-2 loss to Aston Villa in October.

The 49-year-old has given out 55 yellow cards and two reds this season, compared to Pawson's 84 yellows and five reds.

It is a significant match as a win for either side would put them into the top four of the Premier League.

Chelsea are currently one point ahead of their hosts, who have both dropped down a position with Everton leading West Brom 1-0.

The Blues would be able to overtake the Toffees with a win while the Reds would draw level but their superior goal different would put them ahead.

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