Arsenal at risk of VAR disaster again unless PGMOL accept outside help in the Premier League


I like every Arsenal fan, it’s probably fair to say every at this point, is incredibly frustrated with the lack of consistency and persistent mistakes that occur with the current officiating and VAR review system. The weekend’s clash with Manchester City raised yet another incident which did not receive the correct outcome.

This of course is referring to how Matteo Kovacic managed to stay on the field for the length of time that he did. An initial red card-worthy challenge on Martin Odegaard was deemed only deserving of a yellow before another challenge on Declan Rice was waved away.

This comes months after Arsenal suffered a mistake in which Lee Mason forgot to check an offside call which wrongly granted a goal to Ivan Toney as Brentford secured a draw at the Emirates Stadium. An incident which had a huge effect on the side’s momentum as they pushed for a title.

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Head of the PGMOL Howard Webb was on our screens again Tuesday evening and discussed the Kovacic red card appeals. His explanation was quite astonishing.

“I do,” said Webb when asked if the Croatian was lucky not to receive a second yellow card. “Second yellows are something that the VAR is not able to get involved in. But he was an extremely fortunate player to stay on the field of play.

“Of course, the referee, Michael, will no doubt review that and he doesn’t want to have a negative impact on the game by overreacting to something, and sometimes players will be on a yellow card and there will be pressure to show a second one."

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Doesn’t want to overreact? This was the line which irks me so much because only last season did we witness the same referee give Gabriel Martinelli two yellow cards and a subsequent red card for actions in the same phase of play – it’s irony at the highest degree.

Also, this idea of overreacting is not a justification for making the wrong decision. Red cards can ruin games most certainly, but if they should be rightfully given, we cannot suddenly just decide against brandishing them for tackles that deserve to be punished.

David Ornstein spoke to Sky Sports and described the “pally” nature between officials and highlighted how the majority come from a similar background. He added that efforts are being made to broaden the diversity of officials at the top level.

For me, and for clubs like Arsenal who are so often on the end of these mistakes, this still is not enough. From the perspective of VAR a third party needs to be involved with no links of friendship to the officials on the field.

We do not need another Mike Dean incident where a referee, in this case Anthony Taylor, is not sent to the monitor because he’s trying to protect him. These officials need to be able to make the right call in the most high-pressure situation and VAR is there to help them do that, even when they’ve initially made a mistake.

Having a third party run the video assistant refereeing booth removes that element of human empathy to a higher degree and hopefully will aid in the correct call being given a higher proportion of the time. Mistakes being eradicated is near-impossible as human error will always exist but the frequency of errors is what needs to be addressed and this strategy should help do so.

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