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The worst VAR decisions in the Premier League

March 12, 2021


Technology arrived in sports to bring lots of good things. It helped that sports analysts, like the ones in The TwinSpires Edge, are able to compile the most precise NBA odds for example. In horse racing, the photo finish was never as accurate since technology was introduced. In football it was no different and technology indeed came to improve the beautiful game.

However, there is still a lot of talk about how 'technology is ruining football' coming from the fans of the English Premier League. That chatter specifically relates to the introduction of Video Assisted Referees (VAR). The fact is, it's not technology ruining their game.

It's incompetent officials. Here we look at some examples that prove exactly that in the shape of the worst VAR decisions in the Premier League.

6th Feb 2021 - Fulham Vs West Ham

Yep, we kick off with the most recent VAR controversy. Mike Dean, who has received death threats over the last 48 hours, was refereeing the weekends match between Fulham and West Ham when Tomas Soucek and Alexsandar Mitrovic came together.

So, what happened? Well, the scores were locked at 0-0; West Ham left back Aaron Cresswell was waiting to deliver a free kick into the Fulham box with time ticking away but, before the kick was taken, Mitrovic hit the deck. He and Soucek were jostling for space when a stray elbow caught him in the face. 

What happened next? Dean went to the pitch side monitor. The whole world watched replays. Everyone clearly saw the elbow was a total accident as Soucek attempted to lift his arm over the head of his opponent. Never, never was it a malicious move.

Never was it a red card. Dean - and his VAR official - disagreed. A red card was shown. The only saving grace was the dismissal came late in the game meaning it didn't impact the result. 

9th July 2020 - Aston Villa Vs Manchester United 

Step back in time to the post-Covid restart and Aston Villa were in a much more daunting position than the one they are now. Relegation was a serious possibility and hosting Manchester United was far from the ideal fixture.

Villa had been sitting tight during the first half hour until Bruno Fernandes was sent tumbling in the area. A penalty was a awarded by Jon Moss. The VAR official agreed and upheld the decision. 

What actually happened though? Fernandes stood Ezri Konsa up, attempted a double pirouette and went down; the trouble is, he'd bamboozled himself. He got the trick wrong. Fernandes' first touch on the ball was fine, the secondary movement though saw him tread on Konsa, who has been one of the best defensive players in the league this season.

The only right decision was a free kick to Villa, or at least no action taken. Instead, a penalty was given, Fernandes scored and United went on to win 0-3 as Villa had to push forward. Then again, Villa did benefit from someone failing to turn the hawk-eye goal line technology on so perhaps they shouldn’t complain too much!

2nd July 2020 - Sheffield United Vs Tottenham

The final example of VAR incompetency we look at came during a damaging defeat for Tottenham as they fought for Champions League qualification last season. Sander Berge had already given Sheffield United the lead but Spurs thought they had an immediate reply when Harry Kane fired past Dean Henderson in the Blades net. The incident referred by VAR took place in the build-up.

Lucas Moura drove forwards on the edge of the Sheffield United area, his heels were clipped and he tumbled to the ground where a defender then thumped the ball into the Brazilian’s shoulder from literally inches away. 

With VAR flagging a potential handball the process of reviewing the goal took place. Everyone in the world called for common sense; Moura was fouled, he had the ball kicked at him as he fell to the grass but, no, officials decided the goal should be chalked off because Moura had handled.

Tottenham went on to suffer a rather embarrassing 3-1 defeat. The fact remains though that had the match gone to 1-1 it could have been very different.

There you have it, proof that technology does what it's supposed to. The officials are the aspect of the Premier League that is wrong.