Paul Tierney, who has clashed with Jurgen Klopp in the past, has been selected to referee Liverpool’s game against Manchester United on Sunday.
The match is one of the biggest meetings between the old rivals in several years and could have major implications on the Premier League title race. Liverpool are currently first but United will begin the contest top if they avoid defeat during their game in hand against Burnley on Tuesday.
The Reds are in poor form by their own high standards, failing to register a win in each of their last three league games. The absences of starting centre-back pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez may be beginning to take its toll but scoring just twice in their last three games is a worry.
As if Liverpool needed any more bad omens, they also have history with Sunday’s referee, Tierney. Back in July, the 40-year-old took charge of the Reds’ meeting with Aston Villa and clashed with Klopp.
The German objected to Tierney failing to spot a foul on Georginio Wijnaldum, leading to a verbal altercation partway through a match that Liverpool would eventually win 2-0.
According to the Echo, the official responded to Klopp’s criticism by saying: “I missed it Jurgen. I’m like players, I’m going to make mistakes. I missed it. Get over it.”
Sunday will not be the first time Tierney takes charge of a Liverpool game this season. He was also the man in the middle when they took on Chelsea – when he dismissed Andreas Christensen for a mistimed challenge on Sadio Mane – and Newcastle.
The Reds will not have to wait long to reacquaint themselves with United after this weekend as the pair were drawn against each other in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Monday.