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VAR coming to Champions League in February; Pep “delighted”

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Video Assistant Referee makes its UEFA Champions League debut in January, so supporters of Manchester United, Manchester City, and maybe Spurs and/or Liverpool can rest assured they have a lesser chance of seeing an unjust exit to the competition.

[ MORE: Pep explains Aguero absence ]

UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin said implementation is ready quicker than expected. From UEFA.com:

“We are ready to use VAR earlier than initially planned and we are convinced that it will be beneficial for our competitions as it will provide valuable help to match officials and will allow to reduce incorrect decisions.”

Pep Guardiola was asked about the development during his Monday briefing ahead of a Tuesday match at Watford:

“I am delighted with it. The Premier League is the last one and sooner or later it will happen. The second goal against Shakhtar was a ridiculous penalty. With VAR, we are looking to make better decisions most of the time. The referee won’t always do a good job. Everyone makes mistakes but with this we can correct them in three seconds.”

We imagine most of his 15 peers in the knockout rounds will agree with this assessment (at least until VAR overturns a referee mistake that hurts their clubs).

Premier League clubs vote VAR into use for 2019-20 season

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It’s been inevitable for quite some time, but now it’s official: video review will be used in the Premier League when the 2019-20 season kicks off next August.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

20 of 20 current PL clubs voted on Thursday to confirm the use of the modern technology beginning next season.

The Bundesliga and Serie A began using the video assistant referee (VAR) at the start of the 2017-18 season, and have continued (successful) operation of the system in 2018-19. Major League Soccer introduced the protocol two-thirds of the way through its 2017 season, to far greater degrees of varying success. La Liga is set to begin use of VAR next season as well.

[ MORE: England vs. USMNT preview ]

VAR was first used in the English game last season, when select FA Cup fixtures were used as test runs, while the same is being done in the EFL Cup this season.

Klopp unhappy with VAR decision in Liverpool loss

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp doesn’t believe VAR got it right on Chelsea’s first goal in a 2-1 defeat of the Reds at Anfield on Wednesday.

“I think the first goal is offside,” he said. “Three players are offside – two for sure. They watched it and didn’t think it was offside. We have to take it.”

[ MORE: League Cup wrap ]

Alvaro Morata was offside on the free kick but was not a part of the play. Ross Barkley, who helped produce the chance finished by Emerson Palmieri, may or may not have been offside. It was very difficult to tell, and the goal stood.

The Reds led 1-0 through ex-Chelsea man Daniel Sturridge, but Eden Hazard followed up Emerson’s goal with a wonderful winner.

Both teams made loads of changes, with Hazard, N'Golo Kante, and Mohamed Salah coming off the bench and Virgil Van Dijk rested along with Alisson Becker and Kepa Arrizabalaga.

That will be a bit different on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

“We could have played calmer football but it’s normal when you make changes. It was intense, a bit unlucky. Will I change anything for the weekend because of tonight? (long pause, before laughing). Yes.”

Report: Premier League ‘happy’ with Saturday VAR trials

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Video Assistant Referee was used behind the scenes in five Saturday kickoffs in the Premier League, with the BBC reporting that the results were positive.

[ MORE: What did we learn on Saturday? ]

Five decisions went under the proverbial microscope in the quintet of 10 a.m. ET matches, though only one would’ve been overturned had the VAR been in touch with the on-field officials.

That was a Leroy Sane goal ruled no good for offside, as the Man City man was reportedly deemed just onside in what could’ve been a four-goal win over Fulham. It went 3-0 to the champions.

Four other decisions, including an awarded penalty to Bournemouth, were correctly given and would not have been overturned by VAR.

VAR will be in play for the FA Cup and League Cup this seasons in all matches at Premier League stadia.

Premier League to test VAR with this weekend’s matches

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The Premier League took some flak when it announced this past summer the league would not implement Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) this coming season, instead deciding to “continue testing” the technology.

That testing will progress this coming weekend, with the league implementing VAR in a number of matches. This testing will not actually affect the play on the field, but VAR booths and referees will act as if they are part of the crew, making calls and using booth replay without any actual contact to the refereeing crew on the field.

The games to be used for testing are Cardiff City’s trip to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal’s visit to Newcastle United, Manchester City against Fulham at the Etihad, and Crystal Palace’s road test at Huddersfield Town.

The Telegraph was the first to report the new phase of testing, and their report states the main focus of the multi-match testing is to make sure the VAR hub – located at Stockley Park just north of Heathrow Airport – can handle a number of matches at the same time.

UEFA is also in the same boat, hoping to implement VAR in next year’s Champions League. “For me, VAR is not completely clear, but we also know that there’s no way back anymore,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin last week. “Technology will come sooner or later. The plan for now is to use it from the next season.”

It will always take some time for referees to gain experience using the technology and how best to make use of it during live matchday situations, that has been true for every sport that has implemented some form of replay in recent years. In addition, expecting it to completely eliminate controversy from the game is simply unrealistic. However, this testing will only lessen the learning curve necessary for officials to being use next season, and it’s a positive development to see it used in mock situations in preparation for the real thing.