VAR back in the spotlight as another international break looms


Love it or hate it, Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is a big part of football, although it seems to have a bad reputation in the English Premier League.

Last weekend, London clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, the only unbeaten clubs at that time, saw their run end with the Gunners manager Mikel Arteta fuming after the 1-0 loss to Newcastle.

The Spaniard was upset that Newcastle’s winning goal stood, even though replays suggested the ball may have gone out for a throw-in before Joe Willock retrieved it.

VAR made three checks – did the ball cross the sideline, a foul on Arsenal centreback Gabriel, and a potential offside call before Anthony Gordon’s goal.

But in all three instances, it ruled against Arsenal, and Arteta told Sky Sports: “How the hell does this goal stand?

“It is absolutely incredible. I feel embarrassed. It is an absolute disgrace that this goal was allowed. It is not a goal for more than one reason. I feel sick to be a part of this.”

Tottenham manager, Ange Postecoglou, was just as upset after Spurs lost 4-1 at home to Chelsea and finished the game with nine men after two red cards.

He, however, kept his cool about the decisions that went against him.

“They (referees) will not have any authority, it is going to get diminished, and we are going to be in the control of someone a few miles away watching a television screen (VAR),” said the Australian.

“The decision’s the decision – you either accept it, or you do not.

“Trust me, in 26 years, I have had plenty of bad ones, and I have had plenty that have fallen in my favour. It is what it is.”

Since VAR’s introduction in England for the 2019-2020 season, it issued 13 apologies for making wrong calls – including earlier this season when it ruled out Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool against Tottenham.

The VAR team thought it was confirming the goal, but the on-field team wanted to check if there was an offside.

VAR’s message was “check complete”, which meant the goal stood, but the referee thought it meant the team had confirmed Diaz was offside.

The score was 0-0, and Tottenham went on to win 2-1.

The London clubs’ defeats last weekend saw defending champion Manchester City return to the top of the league with 27 points, one ahead of Spurs and a further two ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal.

With the EPL and other European leagues heading into the international break after this week’s round of matches, can the authorities clear up the confusion surrounding VAR before the action resumes in two weeks?

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)

Wolves vs Tottenham (8.30pm)
Manchester United vs Luton (11pm)
Arsenal vs Burnley (11pm)
Crystal Palace vs Everton (11pm)

Bournemouth vs Newcastle (1.30am)
Aston Villa vs Fulham (10pm)
Brighton vs Sheffield United (10pm)
West Ham vs Nottingham Forest (10pm)
Liverpool vs Brentford (10pm)

Chelsea vs Manchester City (12.30am)

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