KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The Premier League’s video assistance crisis descended from bad to farcical over the weekend when even VAR has had to admit that VAR made a wrong decision.
Once again the root of the problem appeared to be the reluctance of referees to take back control and use the pitchside monitors. That would help everyone, including fans.
The latest farce began with a foul for which Tottenham’s Giovanni Lo Celso should have been sent off in the 2-1 defeat by Chelsea. It was the first of a string of VAR interventions and prompted a furious response from Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.
Tottenham midfielder Lo Celso had stamped on Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta. Referee Michael Oliver missed the incident and a review by VAR assistant David Coote ruled no action necessary. Later VAR managers at Stockley Park, north London, admitted an error and that Lo Celso should have been dismissed.
Lampard said: “Everybody knew they made a mistake. This situation didn’t even need the pitchside monitor. It’s a clear decision. I was just waiting for the red card because that’ was a tackle that endangers a player. Saying afterwards they made a mistake is not good enough. They took several minutes but they still made a mistake.
“It’s another huge question mark about VAR. I want it to be good, I want it to work. VAR was brought in to remove mistakes but this doesn’t help. Just the opposite.”
Chelsea had also been on the wrong end of a bad VAR decision in their 2-0 defeat by Manchester United. Harry Maguire scored United’s second goal but could have been sent off earlier for kicking out at Michy Batshuayi.
Coote was at the centre of controversy hours later in Leicester’s 1:0 defeat at Manchester City. City goalkeeper Ederson punched Kelechi Iheanacho in the face while challenging for a cross but only a corner was awarded after a review by Coote.
There were also two controversial handball incidents involving Leicester’s Dennis Praet and City’s Kevin De Bruyne. Praet was penalised after a review, giving City a penalty, which Sergio Agüero missed. However De Bruyne went unpunished, to the anger of Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers said: “It’s consistency we are all looking for. As for Ederson’s challenge, the goalkeeper came out to punch the ball and took the man.”
Bournemouth had two goals disallowed by VAR in a 3:0 defeat at Burnley. Josh King’s first-half ‘goal’ was refused for handball before Matej Vydra put Burnley ahead. Then Harry Wilson’s equaliser after a counter-attack was ruled out by VAR because of a prior award of a penalty to Burnley at the other end. Jay Rodriguez converted the penalty before Dwight McNeil added a third.
Even Burnley manager Sean Dyche had some sympathy, saying: “That is probably the toughest scenario to take but I don’t think it will happen too often.”