How successful was VAR during PL debut?

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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.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Breaking down Matchweek 2

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe recap the key events from Matchweek two of the Premier League focusing on the thrilling 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Tottenham including yet another dramatic decision by VAR hurting City (0:30).

The Robbies also discuss Manchester United’s draw at Wolves (8:30), Liverpool’s win at Southampton (16:15), Frank Lampard‘s home debut as Chelsea manager ending in a 1-1 draw with Leicester (20:05) and Arsenal’s win against Burnley (27:05). Plus, the chaps touch on the rest of the results and share their underappreciated performances of the week (29:35).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Plus you can also watch the show by clicking play on the video above.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Why Christian Pulisic chose Chelsea over Man United

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Christian Pulisic had plenty of offers on the table when it was clear he was going to leave Borussia Dortmund last fall, but one of them was immediately crossed out for one reason and one reason only.

Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch

Pulisic’s former coach at Brackley Town, Robin Walker, spoke to The Telegraph about how the USMNT player came to sign for Chelsea over United and how his father didn’t want him to sign for Man United. Pulisic spent a year playing for Brackley Town when his parents moved to England as his mother was on a teaching exchange program.

“He wouldn’t go to Manchester United because of Jose Mourinho,” Walker said. “His father couldn’t stand Mourinho, because he didn’t promote young players. It was at that point I asked: ‘What about London? That’s where it’s at.’ I was trying to sell the city. His agent agreed, saying: ‘When you make these decisions, it’s all about investment and property.’ I was delighted that he did sign [for Chelsea].”

Walker is a Chelsea fan and was ecstatic that Pulisic, 20, signed for the Blues, and although many people believed heading to Chelsea wasn’t the best move for the USMNT star, it looks like it could be a shrewd decision.

Mourinho obviously left Man United last December, but by then the wheels were already in motion for Pulisic to sign for Chelsea and with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer only a caretaker boss of the Red Devils at that point, he wasn’t going to get $73 million to spend on a January signing.

It is true that Mourinho has been known to stall the careers of several stars, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku to name a few, but it is also true that Chelsea has stockpiled that kind of talent and struggled to develop these mercurial talents.

Since Pulisic signed for Chelsea in January and was then loaned back to Dortmund for the rest of the 2018-19 season, Maurizio Sarri has departed and Frank Lampard arrived with a transfer ban also coming in. That means Pulisic will get more minutes due to new players not being bought and Lampard is also keen on promoting youngsters.

That said, there is one part of this story which may sit a little uneasy with USMNT fans. Pulisic’s agent reportedly saying that ‘when you make these decisions, it’s all about investment and property.’

Shouldn’t it be about being the best place for Pulisic to develop as a player?

The American winger has shown flashes of brilliance in his first few months as a Chelsea player and it will be intriguing to see how often he plays now that Willian is back fully fit, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi are also pushing their way back to full fitness.

Man United players slam “disgusting, pathetic” racist abuse of Pogba

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Manchester United star Paul Pogba was racially abused on social media after having his penalty kick saved in the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.

United have issued a statement slamming the racist abuse, as Harry Maguire called it “disgusting” and led calls for Twitter and Instagram to take strong stances against those making racist comments on social media.

“Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse aimed at Paul Pogba last night and we utterly condemn it. The individuals who expressed these views do not represent the values of our great club and it is encouraging to see the vast majority of our fans condemn this on social media also.

“Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our #AllRedAllEqual initiative. We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us. We also encourage social media companies to take action in these cases.”

This racist abuse of Pogba follows Chelsea youngster Tammy Abraham also being targeted after his penalty kick was saved in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool last Wednesday, and comes after Chelsea banned one fan for life after the racist abuse of Man City’s Raheem Sterling during a game at Stamford Bridge last season.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri diagnosed with pneumonia

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus says coach Maurizio Sarri has been diagnosed with pneumonia.

The 60-year-old Sarri was unable to take training with the Italian champion on Monday because he has been struggling with the flu for the past week.

The club said he underwent further tests which confirmed he has pneumonia, for which specific therapy was prescribed.

Sarri left Chelsea in the offseason to take charge of Juventus. His first Serie A game in charge is at Parma on Saturday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports