Referee stood down after Andre Onana farce appointed for Liverpool match

Liverpool have learned the referee for Sunday’s visit of Aston Villa to Anfield, with the official brought back into action after being stood down.

There have only been three rounds of fixtures in this season’s Premier League so far, but there has been no shortage of controversy.

Much of that, sadly, has been involving the officials, with both referees and VAR attracting criticism for bizarre decisions.

In Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Newcastle, for example, Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to narrowly avoid a red card for an obstruction of Anthony Gordon after being booked minutes earlier for throwing the ball back onto the pitch.

Referee John Brooks overlooked a heavy shove from Gordon on Alexander-Arnold before showing the right-back a yellow card for a minor issue.

This comes with new directives from PGMOL which seem more focused on ensuring respect shown to referees than managing games appropriately when it comes to big decisions.

Perhaps the most concerning so far this season was the failure to award Wolves a penalty in their eventual 1-0 defeat to Man United.

Sasa Kalajdzic had won a header in the United penalty area when Andre Onana clattered into both him and Wolves team-mate Craig Dawson.

Referee Simon Hooper and his VAR team of Michael Salisbury and Richard West decided to weigh the decision in favour of the goalkeeper.

PGMOL’s Jon Moss issued a swift apology to Wolves manager Gary O’Neil, who was himself booked for his protests, with the refereeing group admitting it was a mistake.

Hooper was then stood down for the following weekend and was only appointed VAR for one fixture in the round just gone.

But the 41-year-old has now been confirmed as referee for Liverpool vs. Aston Villa at Anfield on Sunday – his first game back with the whistle.

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 26, 2020: Referee Simon Hooper during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Shrewsbury Town FC and Liverpool FC at the New Meadow. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The decision comes amid ongoing controversy between officials and Liverpool, who have been shown red cards in both of their last two games.

Alexis Mac Allister‘s soft dismissal in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth was overturned after appeal, but Virgil van Dijk is facing an extended ban beyond the initial one match earned for his sending off at Newcastle.

Van Dijk was furious with Brooks’ decision to show a red after he brought down Alexander Isak as the last man, and was seen telling the referee it was a “fucking joke.”

The captain was then spoken to by fourth official Craig Pawson on the touchline, telling him “don’t touch me” after Pawson attempted to calm him down.

Hooper has refereed five Liverpool games in the past, including three in last season’s Premier League.

Liverpool were fined £37,500 by the FA after players surrounded Hooper during the 4-1 loss to Man City, demanding a second yellow card for Rodri.