Chelsea v Arsenal Carabao Cup Semi-Final 1st leg Wed 10 January – Dawn of a new PGMO era?

by Andrew Crawshaw

As you may have seen, our two matches against Chelsea have been chosen by the FA to trial their Video Assistant Referee system.

The first match of the trial was last night’s third round FA Cup Tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace, a game that usually can be trusted to be a high octane affair with both sets of players ‘up for it’.

I watched the last few minutes of the first half and the whole of the second half (so I missed the first Brighton Goal being shown ‘live’).  In my opinion the match was played in a good spirit with none of the excessive intensity that is sometimes the case with local derbies.  Now I know that the physical distance between the two clubs, Brighton being on the South Coast and Palace being in South London would normally preclude this pairing being described as a ‘Derby’, but that is how I am led to believe the two sets of supporters view this match.

Under the limited scope for video review, the Video review panel in the TV studio had little to report back to the Mr Marriner in the middle of the field.  There was no infringement in the lead up to Palace’s equalising goal, nothing even close to a red card challenge by either team and again nothing in the build up to Brighton’s second.  The TV commentators eyebrows were raised over the possibility of a handball but TV replay showed the ball to have been scored by the player’s knee.

Our Match on Wednesday is the second in the trial.  The officials who have been selected for the game are :-

  • Referee – Martin Atkinson Age 46 from West Yorkshire and FIFA accredited (although over-age)
  • Assistant Referee 1 – Stephen Child  From Kent and FIFA accredited
  • Assistant Referee 2 – Peter Kirkup  From Northamptonshire
  • Fourth Official – Jonathan Moss Age 47 from West Yorkshire
  • Video Assistant Referee – Neil Swarbrick  Age 52 from Lancashire
  • Assistant VAR – Mick McDonough From Tyne and Wear

How will the VAR system work?

According to the Evening Standard in their preview of the Brighton v Palace game (yes I know not the best of sources but I think they probably quoted the FA correctly on this one) it goes like this…

Video Officials will watch the game from the headquarters of Premier League Productions in West London whilst the on-field refereeing team will have a screen at the side of the pitch to review certain incidents.

VAR operates on a three step process of incident, review/advice and decision

It is applicable across the four jurisdictions of football deemed ‘game changing’ by FIFA

  1. Goals – VAR can be used to help the referee determine if an infringement was made that should result in the goal not being awarded
  2. Penalties – VAR can be used to ensure that the correct decision was made regarding the award or non-award of a penalty
  3. Red Cards – VAR can be used to ensure that the correct decision was made regarding the award or non-award of a red card – note this is a straight red card not a second yellow card
  4. Mistaken Identity – VAR can be used to ensure that the correct player was sent off following the award of a red card.

Only the referee can initiate a Video Review.  He can be recommended to do so by any of the other officials but the ultimate decision is solely that of the referee.  The key word here is CAN not SHALL.

Once the review is complete the referee will have the final say on whether the original decision should stand or be changed.

So against Chelsea we have been allocated a referee Martin Atkinson and fourth official Jonathan Moss who have both shown in the past little inclination to give Arsenal any benefit of doubt in their interpretation of possible infractions.  Both can normally be trusted to follow the lead seat by their PGMO masters.

In our last game Mr Moss couldn’t even put himself in the right position to see a double kick from a penalty so it is difficult to have any confidence if him to even know his arse from his elbow.

Neil Swarbrick, the designated Video Assistant Referee, was in charge when we lost 2 – 1 away at Watford in October.  He gave Watford a penalty which was completely unjustified and totally changed the course of the match which ended with Watford getting a scruffy injury time winner.

Last year we had him once when we beat West Ham away by 2 – 1 (80% overall score, bias against the two teams of 11/89, no wrong Important Decisions).  Until the Watford game I would have said that on the face of it he would seem to be a sensible appointment, too old to have any hope of further advancement within the world of refereeing and a good eye for incidents when on the pitch.  The Watford game indicates that like the rest of the PGMO he is more interested in following orders

Mick McDonough, the designated Assistant VAR had no ‘flags’ last season so seems competent.  Again on the face of things a decent enough appointment.

The key to it all of course is how it is going to work in practice.

  1. How willing will Mr Atkinson be to listen to the other officials if he thinks he made the correct decision
  2. Martin Atkinson and Stephen Child clearly outrank Neil Swarbrick and Mick McDonough in the respective hierarchies of Referees and Assistant Referees – how willing will they be to suggest any questionable decisions be reviewed
  3. As the referee will have to go to the side of the pitch to view the replays for any reviews, what impact will that have on the ‘flow of the game’ so beloved by the PGMO.
  4. Arsène has said that he would rather not have VAR if it means that the referee has to go to the side of the pitch. due to the interruption to the game.
  5. As far as I am aware in other sports this is not the way VAR works.  The referee / umpire / player / captain calls for a review.  The reviews are made quickly usually shown on the stadium screens and a competent official decides if there is sufficient evidence to support or overturn the original decision.  This usually takes no more than a minute.  This is really an extension of the goal line technology where the goal/no goal decision is indicated on the referees watch, it would be a farce if the referee had to go to the side of the pitch to watch a video replay to determine if the ball had crossed the line, so why are they unwilling to trust an off field colleague over the other decisions?
  6. My feeling is that this trial is designed to prove that VAR will not work or be supported by both Referees and Managers and will quickly be dropped.


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22 Replies to “Chelsea v Arsenal Carabao Cup Semi-Final 1st leg Wed 10 January – Dawn of a new PGMO era?”

  1. VAR has growing pains. As it is completely new for football. And each change or rules leads to growing pains.
    They should have adapted the video review system from hockey. The off field ref decides if the decision of the ref on the field was correct or not.
    If the ego of the ref on the field is too big to admit his own error he will not be willing to admit his error. If an outside ref correct the decision he just has to bow his head and accept it.
    Main problem: the ego of the refs. And knowing some big egos….

  2. Mind you I have been a big supporter of this but I wonder how the PGMO will apply it….

  3. They will use it to prove their infallabity , There is little or no chance that the senior refs are going to admit publically their mistakes and furthermore I believe that Riley’s comments about Dean’s foul up was a carefully prepared pre cursar to the next Wenger hearing on the Chelsea remarks.

  4. This time around, with video assistant referee introduced into this match or without it, I am strongly inclined to the believes in some quarters that’s exclusive to me and some Gooners that tells us that Arsenal will unfailingly beat Chelsea at the Bridge tomorrow night in the Carabao Cup semifinal 1st leg match between the Blues and the Gunners. The Gunners who have only beaten the Blues only once in the Charity Cup match this season but drew 2 others in 3 official games so far between them will make it 2 wins and 2 draws in 4 outings before the 5th final match between the duo club sides this season at the Ems.

    Well, as it has been observed in item no. 6 of the clossing statament of this article posting, the whole idea behind to testrun the application of the VARs in some selected matches in the FA and the Carabao Cup by the PGMOL in conjunction with the FA to dertermine the suitability of the electronics referee device for full use in matches in all three major competitions in England and Wales next season may not be unconnected with the conspiracies attempt within the hierarchies at the top echelon of the football managementt to abort the use of the VARs in it’s embryo so as to prevent it from maturing for use in the PL and in 2 other competitions to enable the PGMOL to continue with perpetrating the atrocities they’ve been committing in match referring more especially in the PL against Arsenal to stop them from winning the PL Title for a decade and half years now.

    My Arsenal 3-4-3 starts and 7 on the bench Gunners against Chelsea tomorrow.

    Chambers…… .Koscielny……. ..Mustafi
    Bellerin….Wilshere… Xhaka….Maitland
    Ozil………. …Laczette……….. …Sanchez

    Ospina Mertesacker Holding ElNeny Welbeck Walcott Akpom.

    the likely to be fatigued Maitland is the only one who started the Notts For match that I’ve started in my starts. And that’s because Kolasinac who I would have started is injured. Maitland must be up to full match focus 90′ + in this match if Le Boss starts him and not concede any ground in his marking the Blues as he did at the Ems that led to Chelsea 2nd goal. And I hope too Koscielny, Mustafi and Xhaka will pass late fitness test to play and be at 100% inform as they start this match. When Le Boss hsppens to bring on any of Walcott or Welbeck, let them please eschew lacklusterness in the game for Arsenal but perform at top class to score for Arsenal or give assists to score. And I must say Mertesacker impressed me in his immaculate playing against Notts For. But for his not able to start in 2 successive games, I would have encouraged Le Boss to start him in this match for the leadership and defending quality he shown against Nottingham Forest

  5. Walter, like you and most rational referees and assistants we welcome VAR, regardless. Will the PIGMOB actually use VAR as it was intended, we will find our on Wednesday, but it is curious that the manager or other 3rd parties CANNOT watch the replay with the referees and that the event in question will NOT be publicly displayed to the supporters or TV crowd.
    In hockey, a neutral panel of NHL officials review the event and tell the referee what his decision must be, often overturning/allowing goals, etc. It is very transparent since the TV also shows the incident in real close up.

  6. The secret society of pigmol are already re-writing the VAR rules to suit themselves. Going to the side of the pitch?? In cricket and rugby the officials work as a team to come to the correct decision, and stay put, leaving the video refs to inform them. I doubt the ego maniacs will want the pitch-siders to change their clear errors.

  7. The clowns will be found out.

    They must think we’re bloody stupid. I’ve just been reading Ekstrabladet’s coverege of the double-taken Forest penalty. The view of the Danish tabloid is that it should have been an indirect free kick to Arsenal. The law is quoted. The video is played.

    You can bet online anywhere. Corrupt FIFA officials, vast blocks of money, bizarre refereeing, English journos who cannot spot a paedophile predator let alone ask questions about referees, not everyone on the planet is English.

  8. I wonder how VAR will be used to correct the fouls on Giroud especially during corners. Will be called as players coming together?


  9. I wonder if now after VAR has been consulted, will penalty and other controversial decisions, that obviously must me be correct will be shown in the half time & post match highlights.
    I remember at the Manure game, a chance not being replayed either at the time or at halftime, low and behold it was because Alexis was having his head ripped off as a ball came across, I wonder if anyone at Arsenal has had the gumption to ask if they can now show ‘everything’ ?

  10. ‘Only the referee can initiate a Video Review. He can be recommended to do so by any of the other officials but the ultimate decision is solely that of the referee. The key word here is CAN not SHALL.’

    Well no wonder Arsene Wenger said he would see how it would work.

    What a joke!

  11. This is exactly the system that has been used in the MLS for the past season. Te ref can indeed choose to ignore the call for VAR, and can choose to ignore the evidence provided by the VAR. The only difference to the EPL is that the big screens on the stadiums are allowed to show instant replays of the incidents. However, this has not been proven to affect the refs’ decisions. In a recent playoff matcnh between Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps, the ref refused to award Sounders a penalty even after using the VAR, although the TV replay clearly showed the Whitecaps defender having committed a handball. Their skin is too thick for them to react to this kind of nudges.

  12. I wonder how VAR will tell us that Manshittys players are offside or like yesterdays match,Bristols city allegdely offsides where not replayed and those of manshitty where all played. How is VAR really gona help?

  13. There are VAR in many leagues around the world already, some started last season, so I can’t see what’s all the drama. VAR won’t be 100% perfect but it will be much better then what’s on offer at the moment. If the PGMO keep making wrong decisions even with VAR then I believe more people will start to be suspicious about PGMO’s intent. Like with anything there will be hiccups at the start, and once they iron out the problems, I think it will be beneficial to football as a whole. I have faith in it, so bring it on.

  14. The system used in the sister sport of Field Hockey has been working fine this past decade. You all saw it at the London Olympics and VARs has been successfully rolled out to similar systems in other sports in field hockey on the national hockey league in the uk for several years now.

    Head down to East Grinstead FC and you’ll see a tried and tested and proven model in action.

    “5.As far as I am aware in other sports this is not the way VAR works.”

    Oops! Only in the Upside Down world of the pgMOB. 😉
    They really are taking the piss out of football fans.
    Carry On Riley.

  15. When I first saw the PGMOB’s entirely credible 98% gibberish I said to Tony that they must have used the metric of every touch by a player of the football being a “decision”.

    I was joking.

    These “Theatre” luvvies are taking the piss out of themselves as well as all the football fans out there.

  16. So Walter and his boys are already preparing the excuses even after VAR is being introduced.

  17. Arsenal 62, As long as they don’t do it in the open for all to see I will remain suspicious. Why the secrecy? I correct decision surely could not provoke crowd trouble?

  18. So, we get the same few ref’s about 8 times a season, and now we’ve got 3 of them in one match!

    They might as well buy a flat in Islington High Street.

  19. Nothing worse than technology hidden from public view with some cheating bastard making a decision for another cheating bastard.

    Why can’t these FA morons & their PGMOL dildos allow a bit of transparency in their ‘progress’ rather than include more secrecy. Cheating & corruption do not allow transparency.

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