Video Assistant Referees

France hosted Spain on Tuesday night and it was more than just a friendly. When I say more than just a friendly, nothing controversial happened. What did happen though was the first game to feature a video assistant referee making a decision a game. It was the second to feature the French national side in the FIFA trials.

The home side had a goal ruled out when the VAR based outside the stadium, had spotted that Kurzawa was slightly offside when he headed across for the Madrid striker. The Spanish had the reverse in fortunes when their second goal was awarded despite being ruled out by the linesman. Deulofeu’s goal from Jordi Alba’s cross was deemed offside by the pitchside official. Thirty seconds or so later the goal was allowed to stand.

There appeared to be no complaints from the players which bodes well for the future especially if the game time is minimal. The English FA hopes to use it in next seasons FA Cup from round three. It could certainly make a difference in the competition, especially when there have been games that could have done with them.

I personally think that technology in football is useful and helpful in the long run. That is though only if it is on certain game changing incidents like in this case goals standing or being chalked off. I think it should also be used for missed yellow and red card decisions. It maybe an end to the retrospective offences panel, but it would also help with players thinking they can get away with off the ball incidents that the referee or assistants may have missed.

Just imagine if Video Assistant Referees had been around for a few years. Just imagine if there had been VAR. Diego Maradona’s handball would have been scrubbed off, Frank Lampard would have netted against Germany in South Africa, Graham Poll wouldn’t have able to book Josep Simunic three times before sending him off. Thierry Henry would not have been able to get that infamous handball goal against France.

Of course if the system meddles too much, then it will end up ruining the game, I hope though that this doesn’t happen and that the VAR can be good.

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February -Premier League review

When I left for Australia, the Premier League looked quite reasonable, Chelsea were strolling, the chasing pack were still chasing and the teams at the bottom were still battling although some more than others. During the time away however, it seemed to all go a bit mad.

Chelsea’s charge to the title continued with seven from nine, only a draw at Burnley denied the league leaders a 100% February record, that also included a 3-1 home in against Arsenal. Come the end of the month they were able to maintain a lead at the top of 11 points. It was Burnley’s first dropped points in four games and first goal conceded at home in the same four games as they look to cement their Premier League status.

Manchester City, having put that wobble against Everton in January firmly behind them, were back on the chase in February with three wins from three. The blue half of Manchester will know having over come a similar points difference to steal the title in 2011-12 with six games to go, they can take some comfort that they have a few more to try and pull off another storming late run to victory. They will need a confident looking Chelsea to have a bit of a melt down, but as we all know watching football anything can happen.

Having dropped four points in January, February looked like being much kinder with their three games, although their title aspirations were dented a little further with a 2-0 defeat at Anfield, that said Stoke were made to pay as they were thrashed 4-0. The only thing that can derail their top four place are injuries and the FA Cup run albeit with two games that can affect them given that the FA Cup final is back in its right place as the end of season fixture. Given the FA Cup and international fixtures, the coming month will not make it easier for Tottenham.

Given the spending at Old Trafford, you would think they could be doing a tad better than what they are. This season, whilst on a long unbeaten run, they have failed to kill off games when needed or nabbed a draw to rescue a point. February looked to be a 3 from three, but Hull denied them at the start by holding them to a scoreless draw. They could though get back on the winning run with victories over Leicester and Watford. With games to rearrange and two cup runs, it will be interesting to see if this unbeaten run continues, or whether the wind in the sails changes direction as they chase a top four spot.

Liverpool, oh Liverpool. Having sped a long nicely, 2017 seems to have thrown a curveball. Out of both domestic cups, the league was the main focus although that seemed to be a mare for them. A home game against Spurs finally snapped the winless run. The joy was shortlived, managerless Leicester City seemingly annoyed some of their own fans as they scored a 3-1 win against Liverpool. Liverpool’s top four chase is going to be tricky especially if they drop points, even more with some of the clubs around with games in hand, but of course a game in hand is only worth the final result and if the club doesnt win, that all counts for nothing.

 For Arsenal, well I think they have had enough over the last few weeks but never rule anything out with the Gunners even if they have had a bit of a mare.

Of course it’s not all about the top, there is the crucial battle for survival and in February that realisation of relegation can become all too real.

Crystal Palace fans thought seeing the back of Pardew might bring a better future, then of course that future was with Sam Allardyce. February hasnt been kind to the Eagles. A 4-0 pasting at home to fellow strugglers Sunderland was followed up by a narrow defeat at Stoke. The final game of the month saw them net a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Middlesbrough. Things can only get better said a certain music group just over 20 years ago…

Sunderland’s hopes for the great escape seem all but dead, having take two points in January with draws against Liverpool and Spurs, February had promise. Well it did on February 4th but that’s where it ended. Having stuffed Crystal Palace 4-0 in London, Southampton did exactly to them as they had given out. A trip to Everton was never going to end well as the home side extended their winning run with a 2-0 victory. They have a testing March, which if they can get a run together they might just have a chance on the final game of the season to survive.