Like an appeal court that ensures that justice is served irrespective of the initial incident, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was enforced by the Premier League to ensure all parties receive fair judgment on important decisions. Some of these calls end up as multi-million-pound decisions that could shape the course of a football match, or indeed the whole future of a club in extreme circumstances.
With VAR in play during all Premier League games now, most decisions have been fair and where many have been fairly overturned or upheld, there have also been plenty that has been given wrongly enraging many clubs in the process.
Despite the correct outcome on numerous occasions in the Premier League, the use of VAR has never been shy of controversy and has made many wrong decisions as well.
One of the most popularised ones was the controversial decision that helped Manchester City in their quest to become the Premier League Champions last term. In a thrilling match against Everton in the second half of the last Premier League campaign, Everton was denied a stonewall penalty for the obvious handball by Rodri in the final minutes of the game.
Though there were not too many VAR errors in the last Premier League campaign, this season has already thrown up many controversial moments despite only being in the first phase.
There is definite room for improvement with VAR and the refereeing seems to be going backward. Moreover, out of all the ineptitude of the VAR decisions, the club that has suffered the most from these erroneous decisions seems to be North London’s finest club Arsenal.
Manchester United once took full advantage of more VAR wrongdoing during a recent game against Arsenal at Old Trafford. Before United had gone ahead, Arsenal had a perfectly legitimate goal chalked off for a very soft foul in the build-up from Martin Odegaard, Martinelli the unfortunate non-scorer.
The Gunners skipper Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka hounded down the Dane Eriksen, forcing him to lose the ball, Odegaard slightly pushed Eriksen’s upper body away from the ball and caused the midfielder to lose his balance, which enabled the mercurial Saka to supply a defense-splitting pass to the Brazilian Martinelli, who fired the ball past David de Gea despite the best efforts of Diogo Dalot.
Following several inconsistencies with fouls and yellow cards all going against the Londoners, Arsenal went ahead to lose the match 3-1, their first defeat of the season. Without these contentious decisions, Arsenal could have made it five out of five wins but was outdone by the antics of VAR and poor refereeing.
The call of Paul Tierney to make the final decision on the incident was deemed necessary since the fourth official was unable to determine if the action leading to the goal was a foul or not and what was initially termed as a non-foul was hesitantly overturned and the goal was wrongfully disallowed.
Though this incident has been tagged along with other incidents related to the video referee, VAR is only meant to assist in making these hair-splitting decisions and not to be the referee.
If you are to ask the supporter of any club in the Premier League, every one of them will have a reason to criticize the decisions of the match officials because it’s becoming more and more obvious that the officiating in the Premier League is getting worse on a weekly basis.
However, what most fans do not realize is that Arsenal has always been on the receiving end of bad decisions even before the advent of VAR.
From the controversy of how The Invincibles’ 49-game unbeaten streak ended at Old Trafford before VAR, to the poor decisions during the first game of last year where Brentford pulled off a shock win over Arsenal in the first Premier League encounter of the 2023/22 season.
During another game at Old Trafford, Arsenal player Nuno Tavares was down with a head injury where the game wasn’t stopped, another stonewall Arsenal penalty was turned down when Tomiyasu was hauled down by Harry Maguire, just a few incidents that have changed the outcome of Arsenal games, meaning games they could have won or at least drawn were lost.
It’s no coincidence that Arsenal only has four away wins at Old Trafford since the inception of the Premier League in the early 90s. Arsenal to date still suffers these dreaded results despite playing well against Manchester United at the so-called ‘Theatre of Dreams and the recent game was no exception.
Early in the game, it felt like the away side was running riot, dictating the game, carving the flow of the match and pleasing the Red Devils’ fans, who have been waiting too long to see the best side of their team as well as bookies like www.mytopsportsbooks.com who loves to give odds on games like these.
However, the ongoing ineptitude and indecision once again caused Arsenal yet another defeat and as a result, they lost their first game of an otherwise unblemished record this season.
Though, of course, going ahead in the game wouldn’t guarantee the match outcome in favor of the Gunners in the encounter, it would certainly have made it far more difficult for United with Arsenal in the ascendancy, but the long pause in the game, and the resulting disallowed goal definitely buoyed an uncertain United side.
Mikel Arteta spoke about the incident after the game and said: “The referee said [later] it was a mistake – we just ask for consistency, today we disallowed the goal again, there is nothing we can do unfortunately now.”
Among the commentators of the match was the ex-Liverpool and Manchester United striker Michael Owen, who admitted that there was a foul in the build-up, but despite his loyalties admitted the goal should have still been allowed on his Twitter page:
“This isn’t what VAR is for. It’s not there to referee games. Yes, it’s probably a foul where it’s not a howler of a decision. I’m surprised that’s been ruled out. Although maybe I shouldn’t be…”