Aston Villa vs Liverpool Referee and VAR: Klopp meets his NEMESIS one last time

The Premier League fixture between Aston Villa and Liverpool on Monday sees another referee blast from the past for Jurgen Klopp in his final road trip as Reds boss. 

The game (8pm Monday, Sky Sports) still matters for the Reds, as they look to secure a strong finish to the season. But the appointment of Simon Hooper as referee is likely to provide extra spice, considering he is another man in black who has got on the wrong side of Klopp in the past.

We have all the detail on their history, along with details of who will be in the VAR room on Monday night.

Referee Simon Hooper has history with Klopp

Liverpool Referee VAR Tottenham

Image via IMAGO

Hooper is no stranger to controversy where Liverpool are concerned. He presided over the Reds’ infamous 2-1 loss to Tottenham earlier this season, a game marred by Diogo Jota’s red card, Luis Diaz’s dismissal, and a critical VAR error which stopped Diaz's goal from counting - even though multiple replays showed Cristian Romero played him onside.

The incident became a flashpoint in Klopp's strained relationship with officials, especially after he publicly criticised Hooper’s decisions, and it also led to the VAR audio being released to the public, which showed that the Replay operator was the first person to spot the embarrassing error which cost the Reds a goal.

The manager’s ongoing scepticism towards Hooper was evident back in April when he singled out the referee after a frustrating Merseyside derby defeat.

Hooper was the fourth official in that game, and Klopp could not hide his displeasure during his pre-match press conference ahead of the Tottenham clash last week, noting that the situation from the Spurs loss in 2023 was still a sore subject.

"Only the other night was the first time since Tottenham that Simon Hooper was standing next to me for 90 minutes in a game I didn’t enjoy in the first place against Everton. I tried to get it out of my head and couldn’t."

Simon Hooper vs Liverpool (and Klopp)

Simon Hooper - Pro Shots

Simon Hooper referee, Premier League, Pro Shots

Monday's encounter marks the fifth time Hooper will officiate a Liverpool game this season.

The Reds have won twice on his watch, including a 3-0 victory over Villa at Anfield earlier in the campaign.

In his nine previous matches officiating Liverpool, Hooper has never awarded a penalty in the Reds’ favour but has given one against them.

VAR concerns

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for the game will be Chris Kavanagh, another referee who has not escaped criticism this season, especially with his decision to not award Liverpool a penalty against Arsenal back in December when Martin Odegaard clearly used his hand to control the ball in the box.

The situation was so obvious and so dire that Howard Webb needed to apologise for the mistake on Sky Sports in January, saying that "the feedback we got back afterwards was very clear, the game expects a penalty in this situation and I would agree. As such, this one did not reach the right outcome on that basis."

Assisted by Mark Scholes, Kavanagh will be tasked with ensuring minimal controversy this time round.

 

Full referee and VAR appointments

  • Referee: Simon Hooper
  • Assistant Referees: Adrian Holmes and Tim Wood
  • Fourth Official: Tim Robinson
  • VAR: Chris Kavanagh
  • Assistant VAR: Mark Scholes
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