VAR is now part of our Premier League life.
How did the system fare during it’s debut over the opening weekend of the 2019-20 season?
It was used 65 times across the 10 games, with Man City’s 5-0 win at West Ham seeing the second-most VAR action. Seven reviews were needed during that game, and that called for some to suggest that the “spirit of the game” had been lost as Man City’s fans didn’t celebrate as joyfully as they usually would have as they waited for VAR verification.
That is the main dynamic which has shifted due to this system being introduced.
It worked smoothly, but was criticized by Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as Lenader Dendoncker’s goal was chalked off for a handball call on Willy Boly. It was unintentional and Boly wasn’t making his body bigger, but his arm was raised above his shoulders and under the new regulations that means it had to be given as a handball, regardless of intention.
There are going to be teething problems and fans, players and managers are going to have to get used to the new laws on handballs and how the PL referees aren’t going to use the system for goalkeepers being on their line during penalty kicks.
In the stadiums, the experience was smooth. Fans were told when VAR was being used over the PA system and messages flashed up on the scoreboards and TV screens. Ironic jeers and chants of “VAR! VAR!” were plentiful from supporters and traditionalists will probably never like VAR.
The video above wraps up the key decisions which VAR was used for this weekend, as delays were kept to a minimum but the debate about whether or not the PL needs the system definitely wasn’t.