Liverpool host Manchester United in the Premier League on December 17 in one of the most bitter rivalries in the top division of English football.
Jurgen Klopp’s side started the latest matchweek at the top of the table, 10 points above Erik ten Hag’s struggling United, who suffered the ignominy of being dumped out of European competition this week after losing 1-0 at home to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League.
Ten Hag’s first visit to Anfield as United manager in March this year ended in a humiliating 7-0 defeat, and with injuries and suspensions robbing him of potentially as many as 13 first-team players for Sunday’s game, United fans are fearing the worst.
Discipline in such a match is often of paramount importance and United will certainly not want to risk the wrath of the referee amid a hostile Anfield environment. Liverpool have also suffered a little in that regard this season — they have already received four red cards in the top flight in 2023/24 — so the officials on the pitch and in the VAR facility will likely have plenty to occupy their time.
Who is referee for Liverpool vs Man United?
The referee for Liverpool vs. Manchester United on December 17 is Michael Oliver. His two assistants are Stuart Burt and Dan Cook, while the fourth official is Anthony Taylor.
Oliver, 38 and from Northumberland, became the youngest referee in Premier League history in August 2010 at the age of 25 years and 182 days.
A regular Premier League and UEFA Champions League official, he has taken charge of some significant matches for both Liverpool and United in recent seasons.
He was referee for the 2016 Carabao Cup final, which Liverpool lost on penalties to Manchester City and was the man in the middle for the 2018 FA Cup final, where United lost 1-0 to Chelsea thanks to Eden Hazard’s 22nd-minute penalty.
Oliver was one of the English referees selected for last year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar and he took charge of a Saudi Pro League game between Al Hilal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr in April this year.
It is perhaps hoped that Oliver will prove to be a cool head at the heart of a tempestuous fixture. In 2023/24, in 11 Premier League matches, he has awarded 44 yellow cards. An average of four bookings per game is only 14th highest among officials this season.
He has shown three red cards, which is a figure behind only John Brooks (four), but all three were given in the space of two consecutive games. Oliver sent off Cristian Romero for a poor challenge in the penalty area on Enzo Fernandez in Tottenham’s 4-1 loss to Chelsea, before dismissing Destiny Udogie for two yellow cards in the same fixture.
Five days later, he showed a red card to Arsenal’s Fabio Vieira for a mistimed tackle that caught Josh Brownhill on the shin during the Gunners’ 3-1 win over Burnley.
Who is VAR for Liverpool vs. Man United?
The video assistant referee (VAR) for Liverpool vs. Manchester United is John Brooks. His assistant is Simon Long.
Brooks, from Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, has only been a Premier League referee since 2021 but has taken charge of 10 games already this season.
He was at the centre of an officiating storm last season when he denied Brighton & Hove Albion a goal against Crystal Palace in their 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park on February 11.
Brooks, VAR for that match, determined that a goal from Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan should be ruled out due to offside, but it transpired he had mistakenly made that decision based on an offside line drawn from the wrong player.
Palace defender James Tomkins was the defender from whom the line was taken when it should have been from teammate Marc Guehi, who had been playing Estupinan onside. As a result, Brooks was dropped as the VAR for the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton and the clash between title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City.