VAR was supposed to bring consistency into the game. To reduce mistakes made by referees on decisions they either missed, or thought were worse (or no as bad) in the heat of the moment.
When it was being bought in, one comment was “it will ruin talking about football as we will no longer have a bad referee mistake to talk about over a pint”.
They were right to an extent that we no longer talk about poor on pitch decisions over a (socially distanced) pint. But instead of VAR bringing consistent and improved decision making, we now spend our time debating if the right decision was made by a referee spending 2 or 3 minutes watching replays from the comfort of somewhere in middle-England.
Arsenal have lost 3 games already this season. Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester City.
Whilst in non of the games did we do enough to win, we have been on the wrong end of poor VAR decisions at key times that could have seen the game swing towards us.
With 2 minutes gone in the game between Arsenal and Liverpool at Anfield, Kieran Tierney and Sadio Mane were both heading towards the byline.
The Senegalese winger took a step towards Tierney, thrusting his elbow into the Arsenal players throat in the process.
It was an unnatural movement and was clearly violent conduct, a red card offence. VAR decided the referee had not made a mistake in only issuing a yellow card.
It would have left Liverpool playing with 10-men for 88 minutes.
In the 25th minute Arsenal took the lead before Liverpool equalised 3 minutes later. Their goal scorer? Sadio Mane.
Liverpool would win 3-1 and Mane would be named man of the match. He should have been sent off.
Arsenal’s next defeat would be against Manchester City.
Just before half time at 1-nil down, Gabriel went up for a corner. He was challenged by Kyle Walker, who went with his feet rather than his head.
Both men were jumping off the ground, with Walker’s foot being at the same height as Gabriel’s head as headed down. It was a high foot. All day long.
VAR gave nothing and the game continued.
Then against Leicester at home.
The score was 0-0 when Alexandre Lacazette rose at the near post to head it in, the ball bouncing off the far post.
The linesman immediately put his flag up, clearly thinking Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had touched it in.
Auba was in an offside position but did not touch the ball, and was not interfering with play. The linesman’s decision should have been overturned.
Instead, VAR supported the linesman’s flag by decided that Granit Xhaka was offside.
As the corner came in, Xhaka was standing on the keeper, but was not offside.
When Lacazette headed the ball, Xhaka had taken a step to his left and Kasper Schmeichel a step to his right.
This meant that whilst Xhaka was ahead of all outfield Leicester players, he was not interfering with the site lines of Schmeichel. He was not in an offside position.
The problem is VAR seemed to not use all the angles.
Based on the top picture, Xhaka was in an offside position, interfering with the keeper. But the side on view removes depth perception.
When you then look at the view from behind the goal, it is clear and obvious that Xhaka and Schmeichel were not as close to each other as the side on picture made it.
VAR should have overruled the linesman’s clear and obvious error and allowed the goal.
Neither Aubameyang or Xhaka were interfering with play, and therefore not offside.
In all 3 games we had further chances to score.
Lacazette missed a chance to make it 1-1 against Liverpool, and 1-0 against Leicester, whilst Aubameyang missed a chance against Manchester City to make it 1-1.
Had the strikers done their job, the poor VAR decisions would not have had an impact.
But as it is, Arsenal were let down by the officials.
A goal incorrectly disallowed, a red card not given, a penalty turned down.
We have lost 3 games this season, siting in 10th place and for the first time there is a little bit of pressure on Mikel Arteta.
A hat trick of defeats; a hat trick of poor VAR decisions.