VAR’s worst weekend: What went wrong for Arsenal, Chelsea, Brighton

The Video Assistant Referee is causing controversy in the Premier League every week, but how are the decisions made and are they the right ones?

After each weekend, we review major incidents to study and explain the process both in terms of the VAR protocol and in terms of the rules of the game.

– How VAR decisions have affected each Prem club in 2022-2023
– Premier League VAR: The Complete Guide

GO TO: Arsenal 1-1 Brentford | Palace 1-1 Brighton | West Ham 1-1 Chelsea | Manchester City 3-1 Villa | Leicester 4-1 Spurs | Leeds 0-2 Manchester United

Worst weekend VAR?

Over the past 12 months, PGMOL has launched an Elite Refereeing Performance Plan to raise standards with the involvement of a large number of coaches and support staff. This included the appointment of Howard Webb as the new Head of Refereeing.

Webb enjoyed a smooth start, but as mentioned in the VAR review a few weeks ago, there was never a magic wand to solve the underlying problems. It will take time to transform the organization, both in terms of referees on the field and in the VAR center, but such a bad weekend should be avoided.

In September, the Premier League took the unprecedented step of asking PGMOL to explain the VAR decisions that banned West Ham United from scoring at Chelsea and Newcastle United against Crystal Palace. But it is one thing to make mistakes due to subjective challenges in these games, and quite another when VAR cannot effectively use technology to make an objective offside decision.

However, the overall picture is not as bad as some might think, as only a subset of the situations considered wrong by proponents are officially classified as errors. For example, Marcus Rashford’s offside situation in the Manchester derby was not ruled an error by an independent panel.

Mistakes that potentially cost Arsenal two points at home against Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion an eventual victory over rivals Palace were completely avoidable and suggest a lack of focus and application.

Not going offside against the player who scored the goal, or placing an offside line to the wrong player, has rightly been described by PGMOL as “significant errors in the VAR process”. Webb is determined to be more open about mistakes so the Premier League won’t need to publicly demand a response as they did earlier this season. “Human error”, as PGMOL called it, is unavoidable, but it needs to be limited through performance improvements.

Webb reacted quickly. John Brooks, Palace Brighton VAR, was scheduled to be in the center of Liverpool v Everton on Monday night and Arsenal v Manchester City on Wednesday night and was substituted for both matches.

The fate of Lee Mason and Neil Swarbrick will be revealed on Tuesday when Premier League appointments for the weekend are announced.

The main problem is that many of these mistakes are made by officials whose only job is VAR.

Mason, who failed to cancel Brentford’s goal, was the first full VAR in the Premier League and is in his second season, but has made six confirmed errors in this campaign. He was responsible for two errors that weekend in September.

Swarbrick, who is the head of Premier League VAR, failed to award Chelsea a penalty on Saturday and was also responsible for conceding a red card to Liverpool midfielder Fabinho in Brighton in the FA Cup, another mistake that PGMOL has acknowledged.

Mason, Swarbrick and Mike Dean, another official who only works with VAR, are responsible for about half of all errors this season (wrong and missed interference) when they should be experts in their roles. This shows that being an experienced referee does not necessarily mean that you have the skills to be an effective VAR.

Arsenal 1-1 Brentford

Possible offside: Pinnock and Norgaard on Tony’s goal

What’s happened: Brentford equalized in the 74th minute from a free kick. Matthias Jensen threw the ball to the back post for Ivan Toni to help get back through the box. After the ball went around the box, Pinnock nodded forward, which Christian Norgaard grabbed and hooked him back across the six-yard box as Tony headed home. In the phase against Ethan Pinnock there was a VAR check for offside.

VAR solution: Gate posts.

VAR overview: Mason didn’t forget to draw the lines, there are a lot more nuances, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a huge mistake.

Three situations are possible: one foul and two offsides.

1. Did Pinnock foul on Gabriel?

There is no doubt that Pinnock is in contact with his opponent, but that was not enough to qualify the block as a foul.

2. Pinnock interfered with an offside opponent?

This is the first key question from which he, in fact, began to fall on Mason. Did Pinnock hit Arsenal defender Gabriel from an offside position, preventing him from covering Tony at the far post at the start of a free-kick?

When an attacking player is in an offside position, the burden of proof for touching an opponent is much less than a foul. You don’t have to assume that Gabriel would have won the ball, only that it affected his ability to fight for the ball.

Mason correctly judged that Pinnock had interfered with his opponent. This was enough to protect against offside, but Mason has to make sure that Pinnock is offside. There was no camera angle that clearly showed Gabriel’s right side, the part of his body that was closest to the goal, which is necessary to determine offside.

Judging by the replays, it seems that Pinnock is directly in front of Gabriel, but without seeing the position of the defender’s right flank, it is impossible to be sure. Mason cannot give offside and in this part of the decision he was right, removing him and moving on to the rest of the phase.

3. Norgaard out of the game

It took Mason 2 minutes and 20 seconds to evaluate the first offside given a possible foul and then an offside violation, including trying to find the right camera angle for the technology.

The rest of the offensive phase should then be checked, and it appears to have been done in a hurry. The goal was scored after another 14 seconds and just a quick phase check. Did the amount of time he had already spent influence his decision about the rest of the move?

Mason didn’t notice that Norgaard rolled back from offside before moving forward again to set up Tony for the equalizer. A possible offside violation was not identified, so the offside technique was not applied.

While we can’t be sure until the offside line is drawn, PGMOL admitted it was a mistake and Norgaard was slightly ahead of Ben White as the ball was headed forward. Perhaps you can forgive the lack of a marginal offside further in the attacking movement, but missing it against the player who created the goal is a huge mistake.

The semi-automatic offside technology used in the Champions League will eliminate issues such as Pinnock not being sketched or Norgaard missing, as all 22 players are automatically shown on the map and VAR receives instant offside notification. player; the human error aspect is removed. He was introduced to Serie A two weeks ago due to a serious offside error in a game earlier in the season. The downside is that the technology is more accurate, resulting in the exclusion of head returns due to marginal offsides. The Premier League is being evasive about it next season, but evidence is mounting that this old system is being abandoned.

Missed goal by Mbeumo

What’s happened: In the 12th minute, Brian Mbeumo broke through the center and shot wide of Aaron Ramsdale, but referee Peter Banks had already blown his whistle for a foul on Gabriel.

VAR solution: Intervention is impossible.

VAR overview: The authority of the VAR in the game ends as soon as the referee stops the game, because at that moment the game is dead. Thus, even if the VAR system determined that Mbeumo did not foul, the goal could not be awarded because there was no goal.

If the referee held the whistle and blew after the ball crossed the line, VAR could tell the referee that he had made a mistake in calling the foul and advise him to score a goal.

Compare that to Ilkay Gündoğan’s disallowed goal in the 14th minute of Manchester City’s game against Aston Villa. After Erling Haaland collided with Emiliano Martinez, referee Robert Jones did not blow his whistle until Gündogan had the ball into the net. He then called the foul and although VAR supported the decision, he at least had the right to advise that the goal should stand.

It was very difficult for Brentford because Mbeumo didn’t foul before breaking through, although the whistle sounded immediately and the Arsenal players stopped.

Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Possible offside: Estupinan on goal

What’s happened: Brighton scored in the 32nd minute as Pascal Gross played for Purvis Estupinan who finished past Vicente Guaita but there was a VAR check for offside.

VAR solution: Goal not counted.

VAR overview: The second major mistake of the weekend: VAR, Brooks and the technology operator Hawk-Eye failed to correctly apply the offside line. He was put at the feet of the penultimate defender, due to which Estupinan was offside.

As with Norgaard, we can’t be sure without the lines, but PGMOL admitted it was a mistake and if the lines had been drawn on the right defender, Mark Gaia, Estupinan would have been in play.

The technical operator lays the line, which is then approved by VAR. Brooks and the operator managed to get half the job right, but somehow they mixed up two players standing close to each other and pushed the offside line too far.

Using the image below we can show where something went wrong.

Red circle to the hand of Gekhi and Tomkins

The vertical line is actually correct if…


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