VAR checking for offside in the Premier League

The Premier League’s 14 VAR howlers so bad that the refs had to apologise ft. Arsenal, Liverpool…

Video Assistant Referees (VAR) have been around in the Premier League since the beginning of the 2019-2020 season and it’s safe to say they’ve made some howlers in that time.

No technology will ever be able to be 100% accurate, especially in the case of VAR when some rules of the game are highly up for interpretation. With that being said, the people in charge of the technology have made some huge howlers over the years.

We’ve gone back over the last two years and have found the 14 times that VAR has got it so wrong that PGMOL have had to issue an official apology.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Aston Villa (August 2022)

The first apology came after Andy Madley awarded a penalty for handball against Aston Villa’s Lucas Digne, having initially waved play on. Madley changed his mind after watching the footage on the pitch side monitor which was later judged to be a mistake.

Chelsea 2-1 West Ham (September 2022)

The Hammers were denied a late equaliser after Jarrod Bowen was wrongly penalised for a foul on Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

“It is a scandalous decision, absolutely rotten from one of the supposedly elite referees,” David Moyes told Sky Sports after the game. “It doesn’t say much about whoever sent him over from VAR as well. It is an unbelievable decision against us.”

Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace (September 2022)

Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell was saved by VAR on this occasion after his own goal was disallowed after Newcastle’s Joe Willock was wrongly ruled to have impeded Vicente Guaita.

Man Utd 3-1 Arsenal (September 2022)

Arsenal can count themselves unfortunate in this one after Gabriel Martinelli’s goal was disallowed after VAR incorrectly deemed that Martin Odegaard had fouled Christian Eriksen in the build-up.

“In my opinion, it’s never a foul,” Odegaard told Sky Sports. “The referee sees it and plays play on. It’s a soft challenge and for VAR to come in it has to be clear and obvious. That’s been said a lot of times.”

Fulham 3-0 Aston Villa (October 2022)

Douglas Luiz was wrongly sent off for Aston Villa as he was thought to have instigated a bust-up. However, when watching the footage back it is clear that Aleksandar Mitrovic was the real perpetrator, which VAR failed to spot.

Nottingham Forest 2-2 Brentford (November 2022)

Andre Marriner was instructed to go to his pitchside monitor to review Dean Henderson coming out to close down Yoane Wissa. While the Forest goalkeeper clearly got a hand to the ball first, Marriner still decided to award a penalty.

“My feeling on the penalties and VAR is, if the one he’s given against us is a penalty, then he has to give four in the game,” Steve Cooper told reporters after the game.

“And just because he’s looked at the screen doesn’t mean he has to give a penalty. If he’s got to go look at that one, he’s got to go and look at three others. He has to.”

Aston Villa 3-1 Man Utd (November 2022)

Digne scored a superb free-kick for Aston Villa, although it was later revealed that he was given an unfair advantage. A post-match review found that the United wall was set too far back, giving the Frenchman an unfair advantage.

Brighton 2-1 Liverpool (February 2023)

Liverpool’s Fabinho got away with one on this occasion after he escaped with just a yellow card for a studs-up challenge on Brighton’s Evan Ferguson.

“I can’t understand how the VAR referee Neil Swarbrick can say that isn’t a red,” Glenn Murray told ITV. “It’s a terrible challenge. You can see from the player’s reaction, he knows it’s a red.”

Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton (February 2023)

John Brooks drew an offside line in the wrong place while on VAR duty and denied Pervis Estupinan’s goal, despite the Brighton full-back being in an onside position.

“The lines drawn in the VAR room to determine whether Pervis was in an offside position were drawn incorrectly, and the goal should have stood,” Brighton’s club statement read. “While hugely disappointed by the error, the club has accepted PGMOL’s apology and will not be making any further comment.”

Arsenal 1-1 Brentford (February 2023)

On the same weekend that VAR messed up an offside call in the Crystal Palace match, the same happened to Arsenal. Lee Mason failed to spot Christian Norgaard in an offside position in the build-up to Ivan Toney’s equaliser.

“The truth is that VAR didn’t fully investigate with the lines,” former referee Chris Foy told the Daily Mail. “The lines, simply, didn’t go down. And that counts as human error. Had the lines gone down the goal would have been disallowed for offside.”

Everton 0-1 Man City (February 2023)

Everton were denied a penalty after VAR failed to spot a handball by Man City’s Rodi. Both Paul Tierney on refereeing duty and Chris Kavanagh on VAR failed to spot the infringement.

Tottenham 2-1 Brighton (April 2023)

Howard Webb, PGMOL’s chief refereeing officer, apologised to Brighton after VAR failed to award Roberto De Zerbi’s side with a penalty after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had fouled Kaoru Mitoma inside the box.

Man Utd 1-0 Wolves (August 2023)

Andre Onana got away with one after Jonathan Moss failed to instruct on-pitch referee Simon Hooper to check the pitchside monitor for a potential foul by the United goalkeeper.

“We have just spoken to Jon Moss and fair play to him for coming straight out and apologising and saying it was a blatant penalty and should have been given,” Gary O’Neil told Sky Sports.

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool (September 2023)

Arguably the biggest blunder from VAR so far. Luis Diaz had a goal ruled out for offside, despite clearly being in an onside position. VAR failed to intervene due to a human error and Liverpool ended up losing the game in the 96th minute.

A statement from PGMOL read: “The goal by Luis Diaz was disallowed for offside by the on-field team of match officials. This was a clear and obvious factual error and should have resulted in the goal being awarded through VAR intervention, however, the VAR failed to intervene.

“PGMOL will conduct a full review into the circumstances which led to the error.”

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