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.