VAR was at the forefront of the Premier League over the weekend thanks to several non-reversals and two offsides calls. While VAR got things right on two occasions, it appeared to get things wrong with two other calls.
The biggest argument with VAR over the weekend came at Stamford Bridge were Chelsea’s Mason Mount was rightfully ruled offside prior to the Blues scoring a goal. Despite Mount being called offsides, there were still those having issues with the ruling.
VAR and offsides
One of the big issues after six weeks of Premier League play has been certain commentators, pundits and fans failing to adapt to the technology. Following Mount being ruled offside by a step, there were those raging against the call, and not all were Chelsea fans.
There were many stating that the referee should have used his discretion in ruling Mount as offside and perhaps give him the benefit of the doubt. Yet, that is why VAR was introduced. A referee giving a player the benefit of the doubt means the call is not correct and undermines the laws of the game.
Chelsea’s Frank Lampard and Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pochettino were unhappy with VAR after their respective losses at the weekend. They are fine to be unhappy, but their teams shouldn’t have let the game be decided by VAR.
In Chelsea’s case, they should be more worried about their poor defending that let Liverpool score from two set-pieces. Chelsea have given up the third-most goals in the league (13), so Lampard should focus on teaching his team to defend rather than worrying about VAR.
Offsides is a black and white rule and VAR ensures the call is correct. In terms of the Chelsea versus Liverpool match, the call was correct and even Sky Sports’ pundits Jose Mourinho and Graeme Souness said it was the correct answer. Mourinho seemed confused why the correct call should be questioned like it was by the commentators.
Tottenham Hotspur also endured a similar offside ruling which was also correct. As painful as it can be for these fractional offsides to go against your team, it is the laws of the game and offsides calls should be black and white.
For too long, there have been too many grey areas in football. VAR should eliminate those grey zones. Players and teams will need to be more precise due to VAR and adapt, which should occur over time.
The problem with VAR in the Premier League
The problem with VAR in the Premier League, and most fans and pundits should agree, is the fact that VAR officials are not going to reverse a call on the pitch even if it is incorrect. It was stated over the weekend that this would not occur due to Premier League not wanting officials to be undermined.
This is exactly true and it shows the Premier League isn’t sold on using the technology to its full potential. Yes, VAR was used far too much last summer at the Women’s World Cup, however, we have seen it used perfectly in the Bundesliga, Serie A, and Champions League previously. The Premier League seems to be using it but only to pacify those who truly want the technology.
If the league fully embraces VAR, it could improve the division even more. Moreover, the technology should be used as a way to check and balance the officiating. The idea that it will undermine the referees is a narrow-minded way to look at it.
Those against VAR need to accept it is a technology that is here to stay and over time, will improve the game. It is just a matter of teams, coaches, players, and referees adapting to it.