Video assistant referees are coming to the Premier League next season – but which key decisions this term would have been overturned if the officials were permitted to check a replay?
Top-flight clubs agreed in principle to using VAR in the Premier League from the 2019/20 campaign and formal request will now be made to the International Football Association Board and FIFA to make it a reality.
Below, we pick out 10 standout decisions which would most likely have been changed had VAR already been in place. Send your suggestions for other calls VAR could have helped with to @SkySportsPL on Twitter…
Southampton 1-1 Watford – Austin’s disallowed goal
Charlie Austin became a social media star with his post-match complaints about his ruled-out goal against Watford in the last round of Premier League games. The striker thought he had put his struggling side 2-0 up but his goal didn’t stand, with Maya Yoshida judged to be offside.
The referee Simon Hooper appeared to believe Austin’s shot went in off Yoshida – it actually clipped a Watford player – but replays clearly showed the Southampton player didn’t touch the ball and wasn’t interfering with play.
Southampton 1-1 Watford – Visitors denied penalty
During his post-match interview, Austin didn’t mention Southampton could already have been pegged back to 1-1 by the time his goal was ruled out – and even reduced to 10 men.
Watford’s Nathaniel Chalobah was brought down by Ryan Bertrand – who was already on a yellow card – in the Southampton penalty box but nothing was given. “It is a penalty,” former ref Dermot Gallagher told Sky Sports News. “He had to get the ball and he doesn’t.”
Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle – Young handball?
Manchester United pulled off a thrilling – and much-needed – comeback win over Newcastle in October – but should the visitors have been awarded a penalty when they were 2-0 up at Old Trafford?
Jonjo Shelvey’s free-kick hit Ashley Young’s arm in the box as he attempted to block it – but referee Anthony Taylor awarded a goal-kick when the ball went out of play rather than a penalty. Could United have come back from three goals down?
Bournemouth 1-2 Manchester United – Sanchez’s slice of luck?
Another comeback win, another controversy? The ball appeared to hit both of Alexis Sanchez’s arms in the build-up to Anthony Martial’s equaliser for Manchester United against Bournemouth but with the referee unsighted no foul was awarded.
“It’s undetectable on the field for the referee and the assistant down the line is never going to be able to see that,” said Gallagher.
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool – Mane’s misfortune
With the game goalless in the first half, Roberto Firmino’s shot comes back off the bar and is tucked in by his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane – but the flag goes up for offside. Mane had been in an offside position when Firmino received the ball but he wasn’t involved in play at that point and onside when Firmino shot.
It would have been overturned with VAR. Although, Liverpool took the lead later in the game, before Arsenal struck back with a late leveller.
Liverpool 0-0 Man City – Lovren gets away with Aguero challenge
It was a goalless draw earlier this season when the Premier League’s leading two teams met at Anfield – but it could have been different if VAR was in use. Early in the game, Sergio Aguero fell to the floor in the Liverpool penalty area under a challenge from Dejan Lovren – but no penalty was awarded.
“I thought it was a penalty,” Gallagher told Sky Sports News. “It’s split a lot of people. But I don’t think Lovren gets the ball.”
Cardiff 2-1 Brighton – Seagulls denied by controversial Bamba strike
Sol Bamba grabbed a dramatic last-gasp match winner for Cardiff against Brighton – but replays suggested he was in an offside position when the initial free-kick was sent into the Brighton box. His team-mate Junior Hoilett appeared to be blocking the linesman’s view and the goal stood.
“I don’t think he can see where Sol Bamba is,” said Gallagher. “But when you draw a line across the pitch you can see he’s just offside.”
Wolves 1-1 Man City – Boly’s helping hand
Newly-promoted Wolves picked up a surprising and hard-fought point against defending Premier League champions Manchester City in August – but there was a stroke of good fortune for their goal.
Willy Boly turned the ball into the City net with his hand at the back post, while Wolves’ Ruben Neves was also lucky not to give away a penalty for a clumsy challenge on David Silva. City boss Pep Guardiola will have felt hard done by.
West Ham 3-1 Manchester United – Anderson profits from close call
Manchester United suffered a damaging defeat at West Ham in September – but the hosts’ opener could easily have been ruled out for offside.
Felipe Anderson found the net but Pablo Zabaleta appeared to be ahead of play when he received the ball and crossed for Anderson to score. It was a tight call – and there was a big distance between Zabaleta and Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof, who was judged to have played him onside – so VAR may have helped the officials with their decision.
Arsenal 2-0 Everton – Auba aided by offside decision
While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal against Everton wasn’t the decisive strike it put the game beyond the visitors’ reach at the Emirates Stadium in September. However, it shouldn’t have stood as Aubameyang was offside when Aaron Ramsey passed to him.
Former ref Gallagher described the linesman’s error as a “momentary blip of concentration” which could have been corrected with technology.
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