VAR

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Solskjaer laments another blown Manchester United lead

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David De Gea refused to blame the officials for a goofy goal at Old Trafford, where Manchester United drew Arsenal 1-1 on Monday.

The Red Devils led 1-0 when Bukayo Saka played Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang behind the back line, and the linesman raised his flag before the striker scored past De Gea.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-1 Arsenal ]

Referee Kevin Friend didn’t blow his whistle, though, and VAR upheld Aubameyang’s well-timed run.

“Well, it was a big mistake for us,” he said. “We gave away an important goal.”

De Gea admitted that the flag could be a bit distracting, but that it doesn’t stop his job of stopping Aubameyang from scoring.

“Of course it’s an issue if the linesman keeps the flag down but also we know there is a VAR, so if it’s offside, it’s offside. We need to keep focus on the game. It’s a goal for them. We need to learn from that mistake.”

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t harp on the VAR part of things, saying his claims to the referee about a potential whistle boiled down to gamesmanship (“Sometimes you hear a noise and you try your luck, don’t you?”).

He was, however, upset with United’s inability to finish the job. For the third time this Premier League season, a 1-0 lead turned into a 1-1 draw. First Wolves, then Saints, now Arsenal.

“Another time we get 1-nil up and we don’t get the second goal. That’s the learning now for this team. We need to be more clinical. We’ll learn, definitely, but it’s a steep learning curve for a few. It’s a bad goal to give up.”

Solskjaer said the youth in the side are helping them start to build something, but that that’s simply a silver lining on Monday. He also said Marcus Rashford is 100 percent fit.

Rodgers not too bothered by VAR as Leicester City back in Top Four

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Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is keeping his cool about the Foxes’ decent start to the Premier League season.

The Foxes beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday to move back into the Top Four, four points behind leaders Liverpool.

[ MORE: Match recap | Pochettino reacts ]

Leicester has now beaten Spurs, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United, drawn Wolves and Chelsea, and lost away to Manchester United last week (in a match it was arguably superior to the hosts).

Rodgers loved his team’s day, which was challenged by VAR taking away goals from both sides, but knows the big picture is a big challenge.

“A brilliant team performance,” he said. “Very early days, we have had a tough start. We will get into the New Year and see where we are February, March.”

As for VAR, Rodgers saw an early Leicester goal pulled back for offside, but the system also determined that Heung-Min Son was offside by the finest bit of his rotator cuff before Serge Aurier made it 2-0 to Spurs.

Back to 1-0, Leicester equalized within moments through Ricardo Pereira before James Maddison scored a wonder-strike to win it for the hosts.

“It’s what happens with VAR, you have to get your head round it. It works for you and against you. Worked both ways for us today. … We spoke with the players in pre season about VAR. You have to deal with it, sometimes for you and against you. Have to accept it and move on. It was a very important three points.”

Pochettino says VAR call inspired Leicester; Twitter has knives out

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Mauricio Pochettino worked a marvel with the English language in describing how VAR affected the late stages of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Spurs looked to have doubled its home lead with 20 minutes to play when Serge Aurier belted a far post shot past the reach of Kasper Schmeichel, but a lengthy video review showed Heung-Min Son‘s shoulder was maybe possibly offside.

[ RECAP: Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham ]

Clear and obvious? Mehhhhhhh.

Pochettino, oddly enough, chose not to debate the call but instead focused on the momentum he believes it provided to Leicester City en route to Ricardo Pereira‘s near-immediate answer and James Maddison‘s late winner.

“After 80 minutes, the game was going to be over. You gave massive belief to the team that was already dead. After we conceded the goal 1-1, we had some chances to score the second goal, but that’s what makes the Premier League the most beautiful league. You can never stop.”

He was optimistic on the overall performance following a disheartening 2-2 draw with Olympiacos at midweek, as Spurs threw away a 2-0 first half lead over the Greek hosts.

“Very disappointed because we lost the three points but in thinking the big picture I am very optimistic because the team showed great reaction after Olympiacos.”

Meanwhile, much of the rest of Twitter’s soccer world was a bit less forgiving of VAR. Even Leicester City legend Gary Lineker sent venom to the Video Assistant Referee.

PL refs chief: Four VAR mistakes this year

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Premier League referee chief Mike Riley says that four incidents review by VAR this season did not produce the correct decision.

There have been 227 incidents reviewed by VAR so far this season. Of those reviewed and unreviewed, a call has wronged Watford, Man City, West Ham, and Bournemouth. (The Cherries have both benefited and been harmed by an error).

[ MORE: Poch has Spurs “re-focusing” ]

Why have the errors been made?

“A combination of factors,” Riley said, via Sky Sports. “That is the fascinating thing as this project evolves, we are constantly learning. We are trying not to disrupt the flow of the game but on these occasions, the judgement should have been that it was a clear and obvious error.”

“One of the really positive things about the first four match rounds has been the quality of on-field performances,” he added. “All the referees have incorporated the things we need to do with VAR into their refereeing while still focusing on making real-time decisions.”

So where has VAR failed so far? Some were seemingly minor, others game-changing, and one possibly job-altering.

  • A missed handball in the lead-up to Fabian Schar’s equalizer against Watford, which ended in a 1-1 draw and, ultimately, the firing of Javi Gracia
  • An unawarded penalty to Man City’s David Silva after Bournemouth’s Jefferson Lerma stepped on his foot in the box (City won 3-1)
  • An ungiven red card when Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans stomped on Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson (The Cherries lost 3-1)
  • No penalty awarded to West Ham’s Sebastian Haller after being dragged down in the box (The Irons still won 2-0)

Palace stuns wasteful Manchester United at the death

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Manchester United found a way to throw away a dominant performance through more penalty drama and a poor late concession from its well-paid goalkeeper.

Crystal Palace had not beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford since 1989, and never topped the Red Devils in the Premier League era, but now has a 2-1 Saturday win for its resume.

Daniel James‘ 89th minute goal seemed to have given United a result for its controlling effort, letting Marcus Rashford off the hook for a missed penalty, but De Gea allowed Patrick Van Aanholt to score a near post, stoppage time winner with poor goalkeeping after Paul Pogba was caught in possession and allowed Christian Benteke to spring a rush.

[ MORE: How did Pulisic perform v. Norwich? ] 

Marcus Rashford smashed an effort off the post less than a week after Paul Pogba saw his effort saved at Wolves.

VAR absolved Palace of a possible first half red card and seemingly clear second half penalty, and Jordan Ayew scored on the Eagles’ only true chance of the morning.

James set the game level with a gorgeous strike after quickfire, clinical passing in the 89th minute.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

United has now won just three of 15 matches in all competitions since defeating PSG in the UEFA Champions League.


Three things we learned

1. MORE PENALTY DRAMA: Yes, all caps. Should we bold, too? After Anthony Martial raced to make sure Marcus Rashford would take United’s 70th minute penalty, the English youngster did what Paul Pogba did and missed his chance. Rashford smashed off the post.

2. Everyone can finish a glorious chance (even Palace): Roy Hodgson‘s goal-starved Eagles needed a bit of help to get on the score board, and Ayew’s finish came on Palace’s first touch inside the Manchester United 18. Victor Lindelof underestimated Schlupp in the challenge, and Ghanaian won a Vicente Guaita goal kick onto the path of Ayew. 1v1 with De Gea, he didn’t miss.

3. The kid’s got flair: Daniel James’ second finish in three PL matches for United was a beauty, a quickly snapped side-of-the-foot offering that swam over the gloves of a flailing Vicente Guaita. The 21-year-old’s $20 million transfer tag looks pretty justified early.

Man of the match: Martial


United was far and away the better team in the match, aside from Marcus Rashford’s penalty miss.

The Red Devils had VAR work against them on three separate occasions, and only one really passed the smell test. While we’ll acknowledge that the VAR crew knows what it’s watching far more than us, Gary Cahill getting off the hook for a take down of clearly through Anthony Martial and the same Frenchman being denied a penalty shout after Martin Kelly put off his shot effort with some since groping will be watched again and again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Before all that, though, Ayew scored with Palace’s first touch in the United 18.