May 28, 2024

Video assistant referee (VAR) causes controversy every week in the Premier League, but how are decisions made, and are they correct?

After each weekend, we take a look at the major incidents to examine and explain the process in terms of VAR protocol and the laws of the game.

How VAR decisions have affected every Prem club in 2023-24
VAR in the Premier League: Ultimate guide

Chelsea‘s 4-1 victory at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday was a relentless wave of drama, with red cards, disallowed goals, a penalty and endless VAR. Here’s how the drama played out.

14th minute: Son goal disallowed for offside

What happened: Tottenham were already 1-0 up and thought they had added to their lead when Son Heung-Min scored after latching on to a pass from Brennan Johnson, but the flag went up for offside.

VAR decision: No goal.

VAR review: A close call, but Son was marginally in front of the last defender.

18th minute: Possible red card for Udogie

What happened: Destiny Udogie jumped in with both feet and got the ball without catching Raheem Sterling. Referee Michael Oliver produced the yellow card.

VAR decision: No red card.

VAR review: Udogie is exceptionally lucky, because on another day this could have been a red. The Spurs defender leaves the ground then jumps into the challenge. Right at the very edge of a VAR intervention from John Brooks, who deemed it reckless with a yellow card just about acceptable.

21st minute: Possible handball by Sterling when scoring

What happened: Reece James played the ball to Sterling with the outside of his right boot, and the forward broke into the area and scored. But there was a check for handball.

VAR decision: Goal disallowed.

VAR review: As Sterling broke into the area the ball rebounded back onto his arm off Pedro Porro. As Sterling was the goal scorer, it had to be disallowed.

21st minute: Possible Romero red card

What happened: Cristian Romero appeared to kick out at Levi Colwill off the ball, and the VAR checked for a red card.

VAR decision: No red card.

VAR review: Romero didn’t kick out with any force, so this would be deemed petulant and not violent conduct.

28th minute: Caicedo goal ruled out for offside against Jackson

What happened: Moisés Caicedo thought he had scored, but after a brief chat between Oliver and his assistant they decided that Nicolas Jackson was offside as the shot went through to goal.

VAR decision: No goal.

VAR review: It was a marginal decision that Jackson was offside, but he was ahead of the last defender. As the ball went through Jackson’s legs, it’s the correct decision to rule it out.

Even though it’s a subjective offside, as the decision wasn’t changed the referee doesn’t need to go to the monitor.

28th minute: Possible red card and penalty, Romero foul on Fernández

What happened: After the offside was checked, the VAR then looked at a possible penalty moments before for Romero’s challenge on Enzo Fernández.

VAR decision: Red card and penalty, scored by Cole Palmer.

VAR review: A lengthy VAR check all in, but without doubt the correct call. That Romero got a touch on the ball is irrelevant due to the force and point of contact high on Fernández’s shin.

Even if the Caicedo goal had stood, the VAR would have gone back to look at the tackle for a red card.

37th minute: Jackson goal ruled out for offside

What happened: Fernández played in Sterling, who squared for Jackson to score — and the delayed flag went up for the offside.

VAR decision: No goal.

VAR review: A clear offside against Sterling at the start of the move and an easy check.

45+7 minutes: Possible penalty, Porro on Sterling

What happened: Sterling broke into the box and went down under a challenge from Porro.

VAR decision: No penalty.

VAR review: Oliver got this correct, with Sterling going down far too easily in a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge.

45+11 minutes: Possible red card for James

What happened: In the final moments of first-half injury time James challenged Udogie with a raised arm. Oliver took no action, but was there a case for a red card?

VAR decision: No red card.

VAR review: James is lucky because this too could very easily have been seen as violent conduct. The Chelsea captain appeared to lead with this arm but didn’t appear to throw it into his opponent in any way.

54th minute: Udogie red card

What happened: A second yellow card so not a decision for VAR as Udogie was late into a challenge on Sterling, having already received the caution in the first half.

75th minute: Possible offside against Sterling on Jackson goal

What happened: Chelsea went 2-1 up in the 75th minute when Sterling squared for Jackson to net. But it was a close call.

VAR decision: Goal stands.

VAR review: Sterling had just timed his run to stay onside.

78th minutes: Dier offside when scoring

What happened: Spurs thought they had produced a dramatic equaliser with nine men, but the assistant raised his flag against Dier.

VAR decision: No goal.

VAR review: Dier was onside from the initial ball towards the area, but when it was flicked on by Rodrigo Bentancur he was just in front of the last defender, who was Caicedo close to the penalty spot.

Some parts of this article include information provided by the Premier League and PGMOL.

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