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How did the VAR system fare after a week under the spotlight?

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Oct 2023


The VAR system was under the spotlight in the Premier League this weekend following the error in last week’s match between Tottenham and Liverpool.

New VAR guidelines were introduced in time for the latest round of fixtures after Liverpool forward Luis Diaz’s goal was wrongly disallowed for offside at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how VAR operated at each of this weekend’s top-flight fixtures.

Arsenal 1 Manchester City 0

Until Gabriel Martinelli’s late winner, referee Michael Oliver’s decision not to send off City’s Mateo Kovacic in the first half was set to be the biggest talking point at the Emirates Stadium. The VAR, John Brooks, reviewed the City midfielder’s poor challenge on Martin Odegaard, but did not advise Oliver to go to the pitchside monitor and review whether to upgrade his booking to a red card. Kovacic stayed on the pitch and avoided another yellow card shortly afterwards.

Brighton 2 Liverpool 2

Brighton’s draw at the Amex Stadium saw the VAR, Craig Pawson, called on to verify a penalty awarded by on-field referee Anthony Taylor at the end of the first half when Pascal Gross hauled down Dominik Szoboszlai by his collar. The video referee upheld the decision, but despite Gross appearing to be the last man, there was no red card shown to the Brighton midfielder.

Burnley 1 Chelsea 4

The VAR, Darren Bond, was called on twice in the second half at Turf Moor, first to check whether Vitinho’s foul on Raheem Sterling was inside the box once referee Stuart Atwell had awarded a penalty, and then to check if Sterling was onside in the build-up to scoring Chelsea’s third. Both of the on-field decisions were confirmed without controversy, although Chelsea fans made their feelings known about both delays.

Crystal Palace 0 Nottingham Forest 0

It was a quiet afternoon for VAR Michael Salisbury and his assistant Sian Massey-Ellis in this stalemate at Selhurst Park. In a game of few chances in Palace boss Roy Hodgson’s 400th game as a Premier League manager, no VAR checks or interventions were needed.

Everton 3 Bournemouth 0

There was a slightly longer check for Everton’s third goal, scored by Abdoulaye Doucoure on the hour-mark, but nothing too delaying or taxing. Five minutes later, there was a baffling check by VAR Simon Hooper, match referee for Liverpool’s defeat at Tottenham last week, for a Bournemouth handball in their own penalty area. But by the time the stadium announcer had revealed the VAR check was taking place, the decision had already been made that no offence had been committed.

Fulham 3 Sheffield United 1

It was a routine VAR performance at Craven Cottage. Paul Tierney reviewed a potential offside in the build-up to Fulham defender Antonee Robinson’s second-half own-goal, but deemed a team-mate to have been behind Blades left-back Yasser Larouci when the cross was made. Video footage supported the decision and referee Sam Barrott was able to award the goal.

Luton 0 Tottenham 1

The VAR was only called on once, in the 39th minute, at Kenilworth Road when Tom Lockyer headed in from close range for Luton before his effort was immediately ruled out. Referee John Brooks gave a foul for Elijah Adebayo’s push on Tottenham defender Cristian Romero and video replays via VAR showed his decision to have been correct with the review taking minimal time.

Manchester United 2 Brentford 1

With United trailing 1-0 in the 89th minute, Anthony Martial flicked on a cross and Kristoffer Ajer inadvertently directed the ball into his own net. Assistant referee Harry Lennard immediately raised his flag and the VAR, Peter Bankes, confirmed Martial had been offside in the build-up, ruling out the equaliser. In the end it mattered little for United as substitute Scott McTominay’s stoppage-time brace sealed a turnaround.

Wolves 1 Aston Villa 1

The VAR, David Coote, checked a violent conduct claim against Douglas Luiz when he clashed with Wolves forward Hwang Hee-chan, but the check was completed within a minute with video replays exonerating the Villa midfielder. There were no further VAR incidents at Molineux.

West Ham 2 Newcastle 2

Alexander Isak’s first goal for Newcastle was checked by VAR, Andy Madley. The striker looked offside when he stabbed home a loose ball, but video replays showed the ball had come off the head of West Ham’s Edson Alvarez and the goal correctly stood.


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