Arsenal were poor on Sunday. That is not up for debate.
We were also masters of our own downfall, our errors rather than Watford’s good play leading to their 2 goals. That is also not up for debate.
But what should also not be a debate is Watford’s first goal. It should not have counted.
The new goal kick rule has led to players taking huge risks in the penalty area. We saw both Arsenal and Manchester City succumb to this over the weekend.
The new rule now dictates that the ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves. Previously it had to leave the penalty area before being deemed in play.
Opponents must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play…If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the goal kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, touches or challenges for the ball before it is in play, the goal kick is retaken.
The rule is clear and obvious. The goal kick should have been retaken.
Now I do not expect VAR to rule on every goal kick, but when it is a goal, surely VAR should be looking at every offence?
It is not an excuse the Tom Cleverley’s foot was a foots width inside the area. It is actually an offence for it to be on the line. It should be outside the box. Even a toenail inside is an offence.
If you think I am being “picky” then lets imagine other scenarios.
Imagine the ball went a foots width out of play before a goal was scored…VAR would rule the ball had gone out of play and the goal disallowed.
Imagine the player was a foots width offside before a goal was scored…VAR would rule the ball had gone out of play and the goal disallowed.
Imagine the ball was a foots width behind the goal…Goal line technology would rule it a goal.
On Sunday Chris Woakes took a wicket for England against Australia. He had nothing behind the line. Regardless of it being a marginal decision, the wicket was disallowed.
Cast your mind back to 2007 and the Rugby World Cup Final.
Mark Cueto scored a try, but his toe brushed the line. It was marginally, and still debated to this day. but the rules are clear. The player in possession of the ball only needs part of his body to touch the line for it to be an offence and the ball deemed out of play.
In tennis the use hawk eye. A brilliant system which shows whether the ball was in or out. If the ball is out, it is out. No debating. No argument. On with the next point.
The crux of the matter is in the lead up to Watford’s goal, Cleverley committed an offence which should have led to play being restarted with a goal kick.
It does not matter how minor the offence was, or how marginal.
In other sports it is either black or white. You have either committed an offence or have not committed an offence.
Football seems obsessed with ignoring clear and obvious offences in an attempt to support the on-field referee.
The Premier League (or FA?) dictated that VAR should on interfere if it is a “clear and obvious error”. Cleverely is in the box. It is clear and obvious.
Until the football authorities stop with their arrogant support of referees, VAR will continue to be controversial. Will continue to be disliked.
In rugby, you often hear the referee ask “is there any reason why I should not give the try”. In cricket, they check everything from the no-ball, if it hit the bat and hawkeye for an LBW. In football it should be similar. If you are going to use VAR, it should check everything in the lead up to a goal.
It is not the fault of VAR that the decision was wrong, but the fault of those who are analysing it.
Arsenal were awful and did not deserve 3 points. But if the authorities do not want to use video replays properly, they should not use them at all.