I didn’t want to start this morning’s blog labouring the point about referees and VAR that I did yesterday, but once again I find myself pretty angry having seen a couple of situations yesterday in other games that happened in the Premier League. The first I saw was a still of the Brighton vs Liverpool game and I think it was Neil Maupay going in late and over the top on Jordan Henderson’s foot. Apparently VAR wasn’t even looked at for the decision. It looked late. Eddie’s was late. It looked clumsy. Eddie’s was clumsy. It could have ‘seriously endangered an opponent’. Just like Eddie’s could have supposedly done.
Yet that wasn’t looked at 25 times, followed up by a referee going up to a monitor before turning it into a red card.
Then the second one I watched was a video of James Tarkowsi going in hard and high on Jarrod Bowen’s knee. If we’re talking about intent here, then that was absolutely, 100% bang on intended and it was so much more of a red card than Nketiah’s. Then we get Michael Oliver not even bothering to go to VAR to check it. Why? Of course Sean Dyche played the old ‘I didn’t swee it, that’s what VAR is for’ nonsense and let’s see him use the same rhetoric for when it happens to a Burnley player.
I’m now at the point in which I am completely and totally sick of VAR. I’ve seen perfectly good goals chalked off like Sokratis’ one against Palace in which CHambers was fouled and deemed to have caused a foul somehow. I’ve seen a very clear shirt pull on Sokratis that was ignored by VAR and Mike Dean (surprise, surprise) against Sheffield United. I’ve seen Pepe scythed down in the box at home to Sheffieled United (Mike Dean again) and I’m just sick of it. VAR was intended to eradicate these kind of mistakes but when you have the Old Boys Network being led by Mike Riley administering the VAR system in Stockley Park, then we’re going to keep getting these decisions that just baffle the entire footballing world, who are now quite clearly seeing that we have a collective of referees who are just quite frankly bad at their job.
I am not saying they are biased or that they do it on purpose, I just think they are inconsistent and indecisive in their administering of the laws of football and for that reason we should be making sweeping changes when this season is finished. Stockley Park and VAR should be a completely separate entity to the PGMOL, with different human beings who have nothing to do with that collective of Premier League referees that are on the pitch at the weekend. Let’s hear no more of ‘Mike Dean is the VAR at Stockley Park’. I want a collective of people who are ex-footballers and perhaps even ex-referees like Halsey or Jackett. Those that have no need to protect their ‘fellow pros’ because they don’t want to be seen to be going against their judgement, or making them look bad. Let’s have people who can study and impart the laws of the game in a consistent manner. Because that is certainly not what is happening right now.
What Arsenal should absolutely be doing is showing that Bowen tackle to the panel they’ve appealed to for Nletiah’s red card, because by being so awful in its consistency and application of the laws, they’ve effectively written Arsenal’s case for them. If Tarkowski’s was worthy of a yellow, then you simply cannot watch both incidents and decide one is different from the other. If those that decide the fate of appealed cards don’t change Tarkowski’s to a red (I don’t think they can because Michael Oliver ‘saw’ it and called it as a yellow), then they simply must change Nketiah’s to a yellow. But they won’t. They won’t because that would admit that they have made a mistake in the application (or not in the case of West Ham v Burnley) of the VAR.
And it’s completely dominating the conversation today, this Thursday, as we prepare for a North London Derby which will effectively decide whether our season has some European prospects or not I think. A draw will do us no favours, a win puts us right in the mix, but defeat will drop us back down into mid table in either ninth or tenth depending on what happens tonight when Tottenham play Bournemouth. I’m not holding out much hope there I have to say; I think Norwich and Bournemouth are pretty much gone, so if that horrible lot from round the corner win we drop down into ninth again.
We should also be talking about how Arteta has admitted he doesn’t like playing Aubameyang as a central striker, like so many of us have called out for, admitting that he is trying to get as much firepower in the team as possible and that having him out left suits the balance he wants in the team. Personally I just don’t get it but Arteta has proven he has a system and wants to stick to the application of it. But I’d just love to see Auba in the middle with two rapid forwards either side of him like Pepe and Saka. Think about how much pace and goal threat potential that trio could have. But it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon.
So we just have to accept it. And pray that Lacazette doesn’t continue to stink up the joint in front of goal. Because we’ll certainly be needing him for the next few games.
Catch you all tomorrow.