3 moments when VAR came into play in gameweek 3 of the Premier League
Some lacklustre refereeing by the officials in the Premier League last season led to large sections of the fans and media calling for the introduction of the VAR system in the English top-flight, with a view to removing the incorrect decisions.
However, there hasn’t been any shortage of controversy following the introduction of technology since the start of the 2019-20 season, with several fans, pundits and players taking to their social media accounts to criticize the VAR.
Prior to its introduction in the Premier League, it has been seen in the past that the VAR system is by no means completely foolproof, given that it led to some ridiculous decisions at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia last summer and also in the Champions League, where some calls completely altered the balance of the game.
It will be interesting to see as to how the fans in the Premier League react when the VAR plays a part in the high-octane encounters later on in the season but for now, let us take a look at three controversial moments from Round 3.
1. David Silva’s penalty appeal against Bournemouth
Man City picked up three points on their trip to the south coast with a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth but that scoreline could have been a bit more emphatic had Jefferson Lerma’s stamp on David Silva’s foot in the second half been given as a penalty by referee Andre Marriner.
With the scoreline 2-1 in favour of the reigning champions, Silva was brought down inside the box by Lerma but the referee, who was in no position to spot the infringement, waved on to continue the game before video assistant referee Kevin Friend came into play.
Surprisingly enough, though, what looked like an obvious foul and a clear-cut penalty was not overturned by the use of technology, citing lack of conclusive evidence as to the reason behind the on-field call prevailing.
It is hard to slam Marriner for the decision given that he wasn’t in the right position to make the call, however, one cannot help but wonder about the utility of the VAR if the system isn’t empowered to take such blatant refereeing blunders out of the equation.
2. Controversial moment involving Harry Kane and Jamaal Lascelles
Indeed, that result came as a massive shock to the home fans, although the majority of them are likely to feel deprived after referee Mike Dean declined to award them a penalty towards the end of the game.
Spurs, who were nowhere near their best on Sunday, had a shout for a penalty turned down when Harry Kane appeared to have been brought down inside the box by Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles, who was probably smart enough to make the incident look completely accidental.
Lascelles slipped inside the box and just when Kane was about to get his shot away on goal, the centre-back went to ground and brought down the forward with his arm going across him.
However, the video assistant wasn’t ready to overturn the on-field decision because he apparently thought there wasn’t a clear and obvious error made by Mike Dean.
Accidental or intentional, Lascelles’ challenge did look clumsy and certainly robbed Kane of a certain goal, so much so that it could easily have been given as a penalty by another referee on another day.
Now, the question is – does the VAR still need to look for clear and obvious errors even when the on-field referee isn’t in the right position to make the call?
3. Lewis Dunk’s disallowed goal vs Southampton
Brighton had a goal disallowed by VAR on Saturday in the 2-0 home defeat to Southampton, albeit it wasn’t the first time this season in the Premier League that the Seagulls found themselves at the wrong end of VAR calls.
Leandro Trossard had a goal ruled out against West Ham in the previous game and this time it was Lewis Dunk, who scored with a thumping header towards the end of the first half, only to have it cancelled after the intervention of technology.
Dan Burn, who was in an offside position when the goal was scored, didn’t get a touch on the ball but he was clearly blocking the view of goalkeeper Angus Gunn.
This incident came after Florin Andone had been sent off for a shocking studs-up challenge on Yan Valery and amidst all the blemishes of the VAR, these two calls on the south coast seemed to do justice to the introduction of technology in the Premier League.
Winners and Losers from gameweek 3 of the Premier League including Liverpool and Tottenham
Winners and Losers from gameweek 3 of the Premier League including Liverpool and Tottenham
The 2019-20 season of the Premier League has already witnessed a bright start and there was no shortage of drama and excitement in Round 3, as large sections of the fans got their money’s worth courtesy of some top-notch entertaining football.
Round 3 kicked off on Friday, with Aston Villa registering a 2-0 victory over Everton at home, their first victory in the Premier League this term following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Spurs and Bournemouth.
Jota’s delightful through ball set up the opener for Wesley, who finally hit the ground running in English football with a cool and composed finish, whilst substitute Anwar El Ghazi netted the second in injury-time to rub salt on Everton’s wounds.
Meanwhile, Chelsea made the trip to Norwich City in pursuit of their first victory in the Premier League this season and Frank Lampard left Carrow Road with a big smile on his face.
After a 4-0 humiliation against Man United on the opening day and a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Leicester City, Lampard was under pressure to guide his team to a much-awaited victory in the league and a brace from Tammy Abraham coupled with Mason Mount’s second goal of the campaign propelled the Blues to a thrilling 3-2 win against the Canaries.
Daniel Farke, though, should be happy with his team’s performance and whilst goals from Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell weren’t enough to earn Norwich a point following an impressive victory against Newcastle United, they should take a lot of heart from a resilient team performance, nevertheless.
Elsewhere, West Ham registered their first three points of the season away at Watford, as mark Noble’s early penalty and Sebastien Haller’s second-half brace propelled the Hammers to a 3-1 victory at Vicarage Road.
Watford, though, will be bitterly disappointed for failing to come away with something from a home fixture that saw both sides create loads of scoring opportunities throughout the ninety minutes.
The defeat meant that the Hornets stretched their losing streak in the Premier League to three games and Javi Gracia would surely be a perplexed man.
In another afternoon fixture on Saturday, high-flying Brighton started as the favourites at home against Southampton, who arrived at the Amex Stadium on the back of consecutive defeats against Burnley and Liverpool. However, it was Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side who turned the tables in a game that had plenty of talking points.
Florin Andone was sent off for a shocking studs-up challenge on Yan Valery midway through the first half and Lewis Dunk had a goal ruled out for offside after a VAR check before Moussa Djenepo came off the bench in the second half to put the Saints in the lead with an absolute stunner.
Jurgen Locadia hit the post and missed the chance to equalise towards the end of the game before Saints’ forgotten man Sofiane Boufal set it up for Nathan Redmond to make it 2-0 in stoppage-time, thus ending Brighton’s unbeaten start to the season.
The most shocking result on Friday, however, came from Old Trafford, where Man United went down 2-1 to Crystal Palace, who registered their first-ever victory over the Red Devils in the Premier League.
Jordan Ayew’s opener put Roy Hodgson’s side ahead before Marcus Rashford missed a glorious chance to equalise midway through the second half, with the youngster’s penalty kick hitting the inside of the post.
Daniel James looked to have saved United’s blushes with a stunning equaliser in the 89th minute but David de Gea’s goalkeeping error allowed Patrick van Aanholt to find the net in injury-time and secure Palace’s first victory of the campaign.
Elsewhere at Bramall Lane, both Leicester City and newly-promoted Sheffield United went into the game looking to continue their unbeaten run but it was the Foxes who had the last laugh.
Jamie Vardy’s first-half opener assisted by James Maddison was cancelled out by Oliver Mcburnie’s header off Chris Basham’s cross before Harvey Barnes came off the bench to silence the home crowd with an absolute stunner of a half-volley that had pure class written all over it, thus making it 2-1 in favour of the visitors.
While most of the games on Saturday were largely entertaining, the much-anticipated big-six clash at Anfield between Liverpool and Arsenal turned out to be a rather one-sided encounter, with the Reds completely outclassing Unai Emery’s side 3-1.
Joel Matip made Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe pay for their missed chances with a towering header just at the stroke of half-time before Mo Salah’s second-half double made it 3-0 for Jurgen Klopp’s outfit.
Lucas Torrerira pulled one back for the Gunners five minutes from time but Liverpool romped home to their third straight win in the Premier League this term, thus finishing Round 3 on top of the standings with a perfect record.
Turning the clock back to the action on Sunday, Man City had absolutely no problems in putting Bournemouth to the sword away from home, as Raheem Sterling’s fifth goal of the season and Sergio Aguero’s brace propelled Pep Guardiola’s side to a 3-1 victory on the south coast.
The most amazing spectacle of the game, however, came from a Bournemouth player. For the second week running, Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson sent the fans crazy with an absolutely sensational goal, this time from a free-kick just outside the box.
Shockingly, Spurs suffered their first major setback of the Premier League season on Sunday, with a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United at home leaving many to wonder whether Mauricio Pochettino’s heavy investment this summer is really going to transform the club into realistic title contenders.
Joelinton’s goal assisted by Christian Atsu in the first half proved to be the winner and whilst Spurs should have had a penalty when Jamaal Lascelles appeared to have dived across Harry Kane inside the box, the travelling fans will be less than impressed with a below-par performance that lacked any sort of class and conviction.
Elsewhere at Molineux, Wolves didn’t have the best of games and Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were probably lucky to have maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Ashley Barnes’ impeccable finish in the first half was cancelled out by a controversial Raul Jimenez penalty in second-half injury-time, just a short while after the Mexican had hit the post with a shot from inside the box.
Clearly the better side in the 1-1 draw, Burnley will consider themselves unlucky for not grabbing all three points ahead of a tough home fixture against Liverpool this weekend.
Top 5 expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League – a rundown of their performances
Top 5 expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League
Aston Villa’s spending spree this summer has grabbed the headlines in the British tabloids.
Manager Dean Smith has already shelled out a lot of money to bring as many as ten new players so far, and with just a week remaining before the transfer deadline, it won’t be surprising to see Villa bag a couple of more scalps in the market.
Apart from ironing out permanent deals for last season’s loanees Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi, Villa have also splashed the cash to bring in the likes of Wesley Moraes, Matt Targett, Jota, Trezeguet, Ezri Konsa, Bjorn Engels and Douglas Luiz as a part of their massive squad overhaul this summer.
Interestingly, it is the towering Brazilian centre-forward Wesley Moraes who has arrived at Villa Park in a club-record £22million deal from Belgian heavyweights Club Brugge, making him the most expensive Belgian import ever in the Premier League.
Looking at the past records, Aston Villa have every reason to be confident of Wesley’s ability to make the step up to the Premier League because this is not the first time that Villa have raided the Belgian market for a centre-forward, having enjoyed resounding success with the transfer of Christian Benteke from KRC Genk back in the 2012-13 season.
Besides the other elite leagues in Europe, the Belgian top-flight, despite not being regarded as a highly competitive ground, has emerged as one of the most reliable markets for the Premier League clubs over the years.
Starting from Romelu Lukaku, Benteke and Aleksandar Mitrovic to the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Wilfred Ndidi and, most recently, Leander Dendoncker, there have been numerous success stories of players acclimatising brilliantly to the Premier League after arriving from Belgian clubs.
Apart from Aston Villa, the likes of Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton have also completed big-money raids on the Belgian market this summer to bring in Leandro Trossard and Moussa Djenepo, which further underpins the fact that the English clubs are not reluctant to show confidence in the Belgian league players.
While players arriving in the Premier League from the lower leagues in Europe are still viewed with suspicion by the English fans, it is worth mentioning here that a big number of the Belgian imports in the English top-flight have done their reputation no harm.
It is definitely worth taking a look at some of the most expensive Belgian imports to the Premier League and how they have fared over the years.
Note: Only the initial sign-on amount in each case is taken into account and the values mentioned below do not include add-ons or performance-related bonuses.
Here are the 5 most expensive players to arrive in the Premier League from the Belgian market:
1. Jose Izquierdo – £13.5million
The diminutive Colombian winger rose to prominence in Europe during his three-year spell at Club Brugge in Belgium, where he carved out a real reputation for himself with his pace, breathtaking solo runs down the flanks and a terrific eye for goal.
The left-winger plundered 38 goals and 19 assists in 117 appearances for Brugge in all competitions, winning the Belgian Cup and the Belgian Pro League, whilst also impressing in the Europa League and the Champions League.
Izquierdo’s heroics in Belgium earned him a £13.5millionmove to the south coast of England with Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer of 2017 and the 27-year-old enjoyed a decent first season at the Amex Stadium, registering 5 goals and 3 assists in the Premier League.
However, the Colombian fell out of favour in his second season under Chris Hughton and managed only 9 starts in the league. Now, it remains to be seen whether new manager Graham Potter has him in his plans for the upcoming campaign.
2. Aleksandar Mitrovic – £13million
The towering Serbian centre-forward was one of the best emerging talents in Europe when Newcastle United splashed out £13million to sign him as a 20-year-old from Anderlecht in the summer of 2015.
Prior to his move to England, Mitrovic had already won the Serbian title with his boyhood club Partizan Belgrade and the Belgian Pro League in his debut campaign at Anderlecht.
A strike rate of 44 goals in 90 appearances was apparently enough to convince Newcastle of Mitrovic’s talent and the Serb showed strong signs of promise in his debut season in the Premier League, although his 9 goals in the 2015-16 season weren’t enough to prevent relegation.
Despite Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship, Mitrovic stayed at St.James’ Park with a view to guiding the Magpies back to the top-flight at the first time of asking.
However, a drastic dip in form in the 2016-17 season saw the Serb find the net on only 4 occasions in 25 league appearances in the second-tier, although Benitez’s side did manage to secure promotion, courtesy of Dwight Gayle’s free-scoring form.
Mitrovic struggled in the 2017-18 season in the Premier League before resurrecting his career on loan at Fulham in the Championship, scoring 12 in 20 games in the second half of the 2017-18 season to propel the Cottagers to the top-flight.
His promotion-winning heroics earned him a permanent deal at Craven Cottage and Mitrovic impressed with 11 goals in Fulham’s 2018-19 Premier League campaign, which ultimately ended in relegation.
3. Wilfred Ndidi – £15million
The tough-tackling and all-action central defensive midfielder made his professional debut for Genk back in the 2014-15 season and his resounding success in the Belgian top-flight over the next couple of seasons paved the way for a £15millionmove to Leicester City in January 2017.
Apart from impressing in the latter half of Leicester’s remarkable run to the quarter-finals of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League, Ndidi soon established himself as one of the most daunting and energetic defensive midfielders in the Premier League and nailed down a regular starting role right from the beginning of his time at the King Power Stadium.
Still only 22, Ndidi has already proven himself to be an exceptional talent and Leicester might struggle to hold on to him for too long if he continues to develop at such a rapid rate.
The Nigerian international continues to be a massive bargain for Leicester and the Foxes are likely to recoup at least two to three times the money should they decide to move him on in the near future.
4. Marouane Fellaini – £15million
The Belgian international’s towering frame and bushy haircut became a familiar sight for the Premier League fans for almost a decade, especially for those at Goodison Park and Old Trafford.
Former Everton manager David Moyes was the man responsible for bringing the 6ft 4in central midfielder to the Premier League in 2008 for a fee of £15million from Standard Liege and he reunited with Fellaini at Man United in the summer of 2013.
Fellaini went on to enjoy an illustrious and distinguished career in English football, and racked up a mammoth 354 appearances in all competitions for Everton and Man United combined, registering a total of 55 goals and 38 assists in the process.
The 2018-19 season proved to be Fellaini’s swansong in the Premier League, with the Belgian moving to the Chinese Super League in January 2019.
However, he has to go down as one of the best ever Belgian imports in the history of the Premier League, having won the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League with Man United.
5. Romelu Lukaku- £12 million
Currently one of the stalwarts in the Premier League, Romelu Lukaku bagged 41 goals in 98 appearances for Anderlecht and won a host of honours in Belgium, including the Belgian Pro League in 2009-10 and the Ebony Shoe before earning a £12million move to Chelsea in 2011.
Lukaku, however, struggled for playtime at Stamford Bridge and established himself as a free-scoring forward in the Premier League during his loan spells, netting 17 for West Brom in the 2012-13 season and following it up with another 16 at Everton in the following campaign.
The Belgian centre-forward joined Everton permanently in 2014 and subsequently carved out a massive reputation for himself owing to his free-scoring form, which saw him rack up a staggering 87 goals in 166 appearances for the Toffees.
Following his resounding success at Everton, Lukaku moved to Man United for a fee of £75million in 2016 but his returns have dipped slightly during his stint at Old Trafford, as he has accumulated just 42 goals in 96 appearances for the Red Devils till date.
6 big-money Premier League flops who arrived from the Dutch Eredivisie
6 big-money Eredivisie flops in the Premier League
The Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Bundesliga in Germany, Serie A in Italy and Ligue 1 in France are generally accepted as the top five leagues in Europe and almost all the legendary figures to have graced the beautiful game over the past century have probably been a part of these elite leagues in the continent.
Owing to the plentiful riches on offer, the commercial appeal of the game, the diversity, the Premier League has been widely branded by the players and the media as arguably the most attractive league in Europe.
The other four in the list are not far behind either, although there is a lot of difference in relation to the level of competition, the overall style of play, as well as the kind of cash inflow in each of the elite leagues in Europe.
With that in mind, however, the Dutch Eredivisie, despite the rich footballing heritage, is not really considered as one of the most competitive leagues in the continent.
Yes, the Dutch top-flight continues to be a reliable breeding ground for top young talents but when it comes to the level of competition and the quality of the game, it is not really up there with the very best.
That doesn’t mean there is a shortage of talent in Holland but a large section of the English fans view the top-scorers arriving in the Premier League from the Eredivisie with suspicion.
That might seem a bit absurd considering the fact Dutch strikers Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie dominated the Premier League for a number of years since the turn of the decade, whilst Dennis Bergkamp had done the same in the late 90s.
To be honest, this kind of sceptical perception doesn’t really make sense given that Eredivisie imports to the Premier League have often offered great value for money, with Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Luis Suarez being some of the prime examples.
However, looking at things from another perspective, the failure of certain players arriving from the Eredivisie to live up to the expectations in the Premier League has somewhat tarnished the image of Dutch football over the past decade.
Keeping that in mind, let us take a look at some of the big-money flops who arrived in England from the Netherlands with a lot of promise but never really found their feet.
1. Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough, 2008)
This is probably the transfer that marked a revolutionary change in the perception of strikers arriving from the Eredivisie, as the Brazilian international stunned the Boro fans with his spectacular failure in front of goal.
Alves was one of the hottest striking properties in Europe at that moment of time when Middlesbrough splashed a staggering £12.5million to sign him from Dutch club Heerenveen in January 2018, where he plundered 34 goals in 31 Eredivisie outings in the 2006-07 campaign.
The Brazilian came in with the reputation of being a bonafide goalscorer and made a bright start to life on Teesside, scoring 6 in his first 11 Premier League appearances in the second half of the 2007-08 season, including a hat-trick in an 8-1 victory over Man City.
However, he failed to build on that positive start and faded away from the thick of things in the following season, finding the net just 4 times over the course of 31 league appearances.
A tally of 10 goals in 42 Premier League outings wasn’t much to write home about for Alves and Middlesbrough. Having spent a large portion of their transfer budget on the Brazilian, they suffered relegation to the Championship just 16 months after signing him.
2. Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar to Sunderland, 2013)
The United States international’s ill-fated loan spell at Hull City from Villarreal was eclipsed by a scintillating 23-goal season in the Eredivisie at AZ Alkmaar.
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio, who was seemingly convinced of the player’s talent and potential, brought him back to the Premier League in the summer of 2013.
A quick, powerful and physically imposing forward, Altidore was tipped by many to be a massive hit in England but he failed miserably and found the net only once in 42 Premier League outings before the Black Cats eventually shipped him out to MLS outfit Toronto FC in 2015.
With such a conversion rate, he is bound to go down as one of the worst strikers ever in the history of the Premier League. Altidore though, did recover from his setbacks in England and he is currently racking up the goals in his homeland.
3. Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven to Man United, 2015)
Regarded as one of the burgeoning young talents in Europe at that time, Depay’s stocks were soaring sky-high in the summer of 2015, having come off a successful campaign in the Eredivisie which saw him top the scoring charts with 22 goals in 30 league outings.
Louis van Gaal, who was then in charge of Man United, forked out £25million to sign the speedster.
However, the Dutchman struggled to get to grips with the English game and failed to deliver the goods at Old Trafford, scoring only twice in 33 Premier League outings.
That is certainly better than Altidore’s record but Depay was deemed surplus to demands by new manager Jose Mourinho and was ultimately sold to Lyon in 2017.
Depay didn’t take long to rediscover his old free-scoring self in the Ligue 1 and he continues to be one of the most devastating attackers in Europe.
4. Vincent Janssen (AZ Alkmaar to Spurs, 2016)
Vincent Janssen topped the scoring charts in the Eredivisie with 27 goals for AZ Alkmaar in the 2015-16 season and bagged the Johann Cruyff Trophy (an award given to the Dutch Talent of the Year) before completing a £17m move to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2016. And we all know what followed.
The free-scoring Dutch star was brought in to compete with the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for a spot in the line-up but he largely cut a forlorn figure on the sidelines and started only 7 Premier League games in his debut season.
As a matter of fact, he never started another Premier League game for Spurs after his horrible first season and managed to score twice in 31 league outings before putting an end to his ill-fated spell in North London this summer, with Mexican club Monterrey offering him an escape route.
Janssen has enough reason to defend his failures, considering that he wasn’t allowed much game time by manager Mauricio Pochettino.
5. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar to Brighton and Hove Albion, 2018)
Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s struggles in the Premier League over the past twelve months is the latest instance to remind the fans that goals in Holland are not exchangeable for ones in England, so much so that the top-scorers in the Eredivisie might completely fail to find the net in the Premier League.
The Iranian’s tally of 21 goals in the 2017-18 season at AZ Alkmaar earned him a big-money move to the Premier League with Brighton but a disastrous debut campaign on the south coast of England, which was blighted to a large extent by injuries, saw him draw a complete blank in 19 appearances for the Seagulls.
Jahanbskhsh, however, has time to rediscover his form and prove his critics wrong.
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