Chris Kavanagh, who will take charge of Saturday’s blockbuster game, has history with both Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp may not be pleased to see Chris Kavanagh appointed to referee Manchester City vs Liverpool on Saturday.
The Premier League returns from the international break in style this weekend, with defending champions City hosting Liverpool in Saturday’s early kick-off. It promises to be a blockbuster fixture at the Etihad Stadium and Kavanagh will be the man in charge of things on the pitch, with Stuart Attwell as the VAR.
Kavanagh has been trusted by the PGMOL to officiate the biggest game of the weekend, despite having a bit of negative history with both managers. The 38-year-old has been in the select group of officials who work in the Premier League since 2017 and is therefore always likely to have encountered some controversy.
And while he has refereed two Liverpool wins among his five fixtures this season without getting on the wrong side of Klopp, the two have history. Back in February 2021, Klopp blasted Kavanagh for seeing “something all other people didn’t see” in awarding Everton a penalty in a 2-0 home defeat at Anfield.
Kavanagh penalised Trent Alexander-Arnold for tangling with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and upheld his decision after being sent to the pitchside monitor by the VAR. Klopp told reporters he had tried to speak to Kavanagh after the match to try to understand his thought process.
Things went up a level later that year when Kavanagh was the VAR for a feisty 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Tottenham in December 2021. Paul Tierney was the on-field referee who decided not to send off Harry Kane for a foul on Andy Robertson, but Kavanagh backed up his colleague’s decision. Klopp has a long history with Tierney, yet was also incensed that Kavanagh would not consider upgrading Kane’s yellow to a red.
“It’s a clear, absolutely 100 per cent a red card,” he said. “If Andy Robertson’s foot is on the ground his leg is broken. Luckily for both it was in the air, but it’s still a red card. The ref saw it differently.”
Speaking about the decision to send off Robertson later in the game, Klopp added: “We saw it back and yes you can give a red card there. It’s not the harshest ever but not the smartest as well and he knows that. He lost it a little bit. This red card you can give but this was proof that VAR was there today because before that we thought he might not be in his office. I think we all agree that Harry Kane should have seen a red card, and he didn’t.”
Guardiola also has history with Kavanagh – and it’s more recent. The City manager was booked in the closing stages of their 1-0 defeat by Newcastle in the Carabao Cup in September for continually protesting against Kavanagh’s decisions and he also had a word with the referee after the final whistle.
Asked about the reason for his yellow card, Guardiola said: “I don’t know how many fouls they did, how many fouls we had and the number of yellow cards. But it is what it is, sometimes the emotions are there. Respect for the referees and their job. A well-deserved yellow card.”
Emotions are likely to be running high once again on Saturday, with City sitting one point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League. The two clubs have developed quite the rivalry over the past few years and Kavanagh will no doubt be challenged by proceedings.