Tag Archives: VAR

The Merseyside Derby Penalty: should it have been awarded?

Following the recent Merseyside Derby at the weekend between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield, a match won by Everton, the debate raged around the penalty conceded by Liverpool, who were already 1-0 down at this time

A ball was threaded through the Liverpool defence and Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked a good bet to score….


A decisive tackle by Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to put the Everton striker off his stride.

This resulted in Calvert-Lewin falling into the back of Alexander- Arnold then being carried over the England right back’s head and shoulders before apparently being tripped by his right leg. This caused the Everton striker to fall to the ground and appeal for a penalty.

The appeal went to VAR, which has been the target of many critics this season.

The match referee spent a few moments reviewing the incident, before awarding Everton a penalty, which they subsequently scored with the last kick of the match to win the game 2-0

The penalty has been the subject of fierce debate since and featured on SkySports Football show in the ‘Ask The Ref Segment’ featuring Dermot Gallagher.

Unsurprisingly, Gallagher as so often is the case with him, sided with the referees judgment and viewed it as a penalty.

It could be argued, however, that Alexander-Arnold in moving to intercept the tackle, could be considered a tad unlucky because his initial movement as seen in the video below did not make contact with Calvert-Lewin.

But as Calvert-Lewin hit his back, this caused the defender to bend forward, which resulted in his right leg going upwards and catching the forward

Was it a penalty?

The referee thought so….

Jurgen Klopp obviously did not…..

Public and Pundit reaction is mixed, but I certainly think Alexander Arnold was harshly penalised.

What are your views? Feel free to provide them in the comments below…..

Season of VAR howlers

After a season that has taken virtually a year to complete, the major talking point once again has been VAR.

Unfortunately, yet another season has passed us by with more controversy on the use of the system.

When VAR was first introduced, the idea was it would stop debate and get decisions correct. Unfortunately, since its introduction into the game it is still causing disagreement in the football world.

This season in particular there have been some absolutely shocking decisions that have been an embarrassment to the beautiful game.

Back in November there were no less than four instances of the worst possible outcome of the VAR system getting decisions wrong.

On New Years Day more embarrassment when Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish headed home after eleven minutes, but the goal was ruled out as it was deemed offside due to a striker’s heel millimetres ahead of James Tarkowski.

There has also been a huge amount of goals that have been ruled out for handball. Now if it is an obvious hand ball then fair call it should be ruled out. But what we have had constantly this campaign has been instances of players virtually struggling to get their hand or other parts of their anatomy out of the way.

The essence of the problem with VAR centres around two main points. Handball situations and offside.

We have had the most astonishing decisions go against the attacking side when it comes to offside or not. In most cases it has been not a foot but a hand or even a length of hair.

In my opinion then surely, you are either offside or not. The attacking player should always be given the benefit of the doubt.

There is also the famous line that gets trotted out week in and week out- “Clear and obvious”.

Throw in the amount of time that it is taking in most VAR decisions and you can see why most football fans- me including- are totally against this system.

It is clearly not working, but it is looking more and more likely that it will be here to stay.

If there are some positives to come out of the use of VAR, it is that on some occasions it has got decisions correct. In most of these it has been on margins of a very fine line. So that is something positive to come out of the technology and system used.

The system could easily be improved by this formula, which would eliminate mistakes by the VAR officials watching back at Stokley Park.

If Var has to be called on, then let the on-field referee go straight to the monitor and let him decide what the eventual decision should be. He can get help from the VAR officials, but the final decision should lay in the hands of the match referee on the field of play.

Yes, he may get the odd decision wrong but surely, he is the man in the middle who should decide on the eventual outcome. This has got to be better than waiting for a long time before somebody hundreds of miles away decides on a decision, which in most cases is totally wrong.

Otherwise what is the point of having a monitor which is rarely used. It makes sense to use it. Falling that lets just scrap VAR for good, this would be the simplest solution but because the system won’t get discarded, then let’s get the main official involved.

The wonderful game of football is for the fans. They want to see free flowing games of 90 minutes, not endless waiting on VAR decisions which interrupt the flow of the game.

For the sake of football, if we are going to continue with VAR then let us please use it to its proper use, or simply change the laws of the game. By doing so it would stop issues of handball and clear and obvious and would make watching of the sport back to what it used to be like. Plain and simple and easy to understand.

Should ex-pros help out VAR officiating?

VAR,  not for the first time this season, once again appeared in the spot light  following more controversy surrounding no less than three different incidents this week.

Incorrect penalty decisions were made by the video assistant referee in all three of Thursday’s Premier League games.

Tottenham should have had a penalty when Joshua King clearly shoved Harry Kane in the back, in their goalless draw with Bournemouth.

Bruno Fernandes won a spot kick, which should not have been given against Aston Villa.

James Ward-Prowse hit the bar after being awarded a disputed penalty against Everton.

With so many talking points raised about VAR, there has been a suggestion by former footballer Tim Cahill, than an ex-player should be involved to work alongside the VAR officials at Stockley Park.

Going forward, it would appear to make sense that somebody who has played the game professionally, and knows how players react in circumstances during a game, would know more than a referee, who in most cases would never have played the game before.

The only downside to this in my opinion would be would the VAR officials listen to what that person would have to say, take on board and put into practice.

Overall, on debatable decisions I am sure they would like some impact from the ex pro, but I fear that the final say on the decision would be down to the VAR official.

I am still unconvinced that they would generally be swayed by expert advice from somebody who has played and understands the game more.

It hurts me to say that I genuinely believe quite a few referees don’t know the game of football. It is not just about knowing the laws of football; it is also about knowing the game.

To simplify and eradicate even more controversy going forward, surely the on field official should be allowed to go and check the pitch side monitor, and then make his own decision.

All too often the man in the middle never goes ahead and puts this into practice. It is the VAR crew who in turn make their own decision, therefore undermining the person who is supposed to be referring the game.

My own solution to this mess would be simple really.

When an incident should be reviewed, let VAR tell the on field official how they see it.

The referee should then go straight to the pitch side monitor to make up his own mind and then decide what decision to go with.

The referee who is officiating the actual game must be the sole person in charge of events on and off the field, in my opinion.

Currently, it is a case of somebody many miles away making decisions that really should be made closer to home.

Championship VAR: for better or worse?

With Izzy Brown’s winning goal against Charlton reviewed post match as handball, would the Championship be better off with VAR?

But would the implication of VAR have made the night any less frustrating for an unlucky Charlton team? It is clear that VAR is yet to be perfected in the Premier League therefore if it was to be used in the Championship it would be certain to cause further controversy.

The Championship, known for its intensely contested and physical football, would be in for interval filled games if VAR was too be established before its system is perfected.

It can argued the biggest downfall of the VAR system at the moment is the time it takes to come to a decision, whether it be correct or not. Without doubt this would lead to disgruntlement from the fans, players and managers surrounding the fluency of the 90 minutes.

Despite this, in cases such as the Hatter’s ‘illegitimate’ match winning goal, managers especially argue that VAR should be in place for one hundred percent accuracy of the game. Which yes, if VAR was in use the goal would have been reviewed, but as we have seen in the Premier League it is not always correct. Raheem Sterling’s goal against Chelsea was wrongly ruled out for offside through the process of VAR, with the officials proving they are still able to make a wrong decision during a live game. VAR is just not yet at without it’s flaws.

With this is mind it seems dubious to introduce VAR to another football league as the system appears just as unpredictable as football would be without it.

Premier League Weekend Review

The highest profile match of the weekend was at the Etihad Stadium where Champions Manchester City entertained Tottenham in a replay of the game of the season from last year which was a Champions League Quarter Final at the same venue. Just like last seasons encounter this one had goals drama and controversy. City again were pushing for a stoppage time winner with the score at 2-2, they thought they had it when Gabriel Jesus fired home. VAR then intervened once again to deny City due to a handball by Laporte. New rules for this season state that if the ball hits the hand of an attacking player, accidentally or otherwise and it leads to a goal then the goal should be disallowed. Therefore the VAR was following the letter of the law, as replays showed the ball hitting Laporte’s hand, however the problem is in the law itself. It is unfair to rule out goals where the attacking team have not intentionally tried to gain an advantage. I realise this brings in personal interpretation as to what is intentional however the “clear and obvious” rule should be referred to in these situations as Laporte was clearly not intentionally handballing in order to gain an advantage. The rule does make decision making black and white but it just doesn’t seem fair and the euphoria of scoring a lot of goals will be denied. Another flaw in the rules fairness is if the ball hits a defender on the hand in the box it has to be deemed deliberate for a penaty to be awarded, where is the consistency in that.                          

The match itself was one which Man City were the better team with Kevin De Bruyne in particular looking back to his best with two superb assists for Aguero and Sterling. Spurs though proved they know how to score at the Etihad Stadium once more with goals from Lamela and Lucas that mean they have scored more gaols than the rest of the league combined away to City. In terms of the title race this is a good result for the neutral as most people want to see the gap between City and Liverpool to the rest of the top six reduced compared to last season and to get more teams in the title race.         

Elsewhere in the Premier League Arsenal made it two wins out of two at the start of a league campaign for the first time in 10 years. A staggering statistic considering they always finish in the top six. They got the win thanks to a fine goal by pierre-emerick aubameyang who ran with the ball and fired home from outside the box to make it 2-1 after first half goals by Lacazette for Arsenal and Ashley Barnes for Burnley. It was summer loan signing from Real Madrid Dani Ceballos that really caught the eye with a delightful performance from midfield. He displayed  superb passing and willingness to get on the ball from all areas that Arsenal probably haven’t seen since Cesc Fabregas. Burnley can take heart from their performances so far this season as they look more like the team that finsished seventh in 2018.           

Liverpool also made it two wins from two, however they were not convincing in the first half especially in beating Southampton 2-1. They took the lead through a fine strike by former Southamton player Sadio Mane just before the break but conceded chances throughout the match lacking the solidarity they had last season. This could be down to the loss of goalkeeper Allison as his deputy Adrian made several poor clearances one of which lead to Southampton’s goal as he cleared staright against Danny Ings, Who then had a great chance to level the scores at 2-2 but he couldn’t connect with a powerfull cross.       

The performance and result of the weekend perhaps goes to Norwich as a superb Teemu Pukki hat trick handed them a 3-1 win against Newcastle in their first top flight match at Carrow Road in 3 years. Pukki became the first Norwich player to score a Premier League hat-trick since Efan Ekoku in September 1993. The Finnish fowards opening goal was a delicious strike from last season’s Championship top scorer, carefully watching a loose header drop before unleashing a thunderbolt volley high into the Newcastle net.

Fellow promoted side Aston Villa couldn’t repeat Norwich’s success on the return of Premier League football to Villa Park however as defensive errors lead to them falling 2-1 to Bournemouth. Tom Heaton gave away a penalty after just 45 seconds of his home debut which Joshua King converted and then 10 minutes later Douglas Luiz, on his first start for Villa following his £15m switch from Manchester City let the ball run across him in his defensive third allowing Harry Wilson, who was on loan at Derby last season from Liverpool and was making his Premier Leage debut , to let fly from outside the box and with the aid of a hefty deflection made it 2-0. Luiz did go from Villan to hero as he scored a consolation for the hosts, finding the top corner with a stunning strike from outside the box. Villa pushed for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be the dream return of home Premier League football that the Villa fans had hoped for.        

Brighton followed up their impressive 3-0 win away from home at Watford with another encouraging display at home to West Ham. Although they didn’t take maximum points they were largely the better side against a Hammers side lacking fight and desire in defence.  Brighton summer signing Leandro Trossard scored and saw a goal ruled out by the video assistant referee. Trossard fired past Lukasz Fabianski from the edge of the box shortly after Javier Hernandez had put the Hammers into a 61st-minute lead. The Seagulls pushed for a winner late on with Trossard, Lewis Dunk and Davy Propper all going close, but Graham Potter was forced to settle for a point at the end of his first home game in charge.

Everton got their first win of the campaign thanks to a  superb long pass from deep inside his own half by Lucas Digne which was nicely finished by Bernard from outside thee area. This was Everton’s fifth straight home win going back to last season and the Toffees have not conceded at home since they lost 2-0 to Manchester City on 6 February, form which backs up many people’s thoughts that they are the favourites to finish as the best of the rest and qualify for the Europa League. Watford however are on a poor run having won just one of their last eight league matches, and have yet to score in this campaign. Troy Deeney was denied by a fine save from Jordan Pickford early in the second half, when the Watford captain went one-on-one with the Everton keeper. Everton striker Richarlison had two good chances to score against his former club with headers but missed both, while substitute Moise Kean rolled a shot just wide of Foster’s right post in second-half stoppage time.

On Sunday Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge for the first time as manager to a riotous ovation from the crowd. His side got off to the perfect start, dominating the early stages against Leicester and taking the lead 6 minutes in. The goal scorer was a poignant one for Lampard, as it was the player he has showed the greatest faith in following a terrific spell together at Derby County, Mason Mount. Mount has been picked ahead of the likes of Ross Barkley by Lampard and has re-paid his manager with an impressive start to his Chelsea and Premier League Career. Chelsea were much the better side in the first half, but this didn’t continue in the second as Leicester stepped it up and Chelsea got tired. James Maddison was pivotal in this change as he played more centrally rather than wide left, and found space to create opportunities.  Leicester found an equaliser from a Maddison corner, which was headed home by Wilfred Ndidi. Incidentally it was Ndidi himself who was at fault for Chelsea’s opener; as he was dispossessed by Mount on the edge of his own box before Mount finished smartly. It was Leicester who looked the more likely to win the encounter from then on with good chances for Vardy and Maddison. However the match finished 1-1, leaving Lampard still looking for his first win as Chelsea manager.                   

The other match on Sunday saw the return of Premier League football to Bramall Lane after 12 years in the second and third tiers. A wonderful atmosphere probably contributed to the blades nervy start, but it wasn’t long before they took control of the match and deservedly took the lead just three minutes after half time; when Luke Freeman’s shot rebounded to John Lundstram, who put it in the net to make it 1-0. United held on with relative ease to make it 4 points from two games on their return to the top flight. As for Palace they have now failed to win either of their opening league games for a third time in four seasons while also failing to score.