Could VAR Harm Arsenal’s EPL Campaign?




Arsenal fans are still scratching their heads after the recent clash against Chelsea. While we had a strong start defensively, Chelsea pushed into the box, and a controversial VAR decision led to a 2-2 draw at full time.

While, at first glance, the result seems rather incongruous – Arsenal have been playing with a new lease of life, while Chelsea are seeing poor results due to defensive frailties – it isn’t until you understand the details that you realise how damaging this result could really be for Arsenal.

It’s terrifying to think that VAR could decide a game, or perhaps even an entire season. But before we go into that, we should cater to the Arsenal fans who were living under a rock during that weekend. Here’s what happened.

What Happened Between Arsenal And Chelsea?

When people ask the question: who is the most successful player of all time in the EPL? we’re sure that William Saliba’s name is going to come up in the future. He is one of the top players in the league right now, and he has proved to be the star defender that Arsenal have been looking for. But there was one piece of defence that VAR disagreed with.

The controversy in the Arsenal vs Chelsea fixture happened early in the game, when a threatening cross hit the head of Mykhailo Mudrk and then came off the arm of Saliba. Nothing seemed untoward at the time.

But then VAR was brought into play, and things started to unravel. Despite the contact being minimal and the arm being used for leverage, it was ruled to be a penalty, and Chelsea banked it just minutes later. 

Football legend Gary Lineker and tennis star Andy Murray took to social media to say the handball call was wrong, and the debate about whether VAR was ruining the spectacle of football broke out once again. It appears that any piece of play, no matter how innocuous, will be examined in minute detail to punish defences.

Is There A Problem With VAR?

There has been a lot of talk about whether VAR is doing more damage than good. On the one hand, it breaks up the game and takes away a bit of the drama, on the other hand, it avoids catastrophes like the disallowed Lampard goal in the infamous Germany vs England World Cup fixture in 2010. Or, at least, it should avoid them.

The problem with VAR, and football technology in general, is that it is seemingly being used for everything. Not only this, but it’s still up to the human officials to determine the results. In a rushed, pressured environment, this can lead to mistakes such as the ones seen in this EPL fixture.

Could It Harm Arsenal’s Campaign?

This is worrying for Arsenal fans. You might be wondering: well, how important was this game really? And the answer is: very. Tottenham Hotspur are currently leading the table, and it could be yet another season where every result becomes crucial. If things carry on the way they are, Arsenal might find themselves pushing to claim that number one spot at the tail end of the season, and a win against Chelsea during this particular game could have helped.

Not only this, but who’s to say this won’t happen in another crucial Arsenal fixture? It would be a travesty if VAR – or a misreading of VAR – was responsible for Arsenal failing to lift the trophy, so the debate of VAR and how it is used needs to be had.

In our opinion, while VAR is a good thing for the game, more care needs to be given in how it is implemented, and power needs to be given to officials to make the call on whether it should be used in a particular instance, and how it is used. Only then can we avoid another incident such as this one.


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