VAR is in a life-threatening condition due to yet another inconsistent decision at the Emirates when Arsenal played hosts to Liverpool in a stunning 2-1 win.
Having witnessed the Nketiah red card at Leicester in a challenge for a 50/50 ball in torrential rain, we got to see an identical incident in the Arsenal vs Liverpool game around the 48th-minute mark, when Bukayo Saka was clattered by the outstretched leg and studs of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s boot.
There was no VAR or referee intervention which incensed a great many fans, especially as the initial card given to Nketiah was yellow until the ref consulted his monitor on the instruction of VAR. Alexander-Arnold’s clumsy tackle on Saka was on a lovely, mild July evening, yet referee Paul Tierney decided not to pursue the matter.
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took to Twitter to make his feelings known:
“WTF didn’t even get the VAR on this one”
It appears that the technology has confused all of its human operators, counterparts, and even the authorities. When anything is left to a human and is subject to interpretation, it generally goes sour.
The Nketiah incident wasn’t the first, not even in the same game. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy was involved in an incident in the same match that could easily have resulted in a red card.
The trouble is that the referee is now subject to his own opinion and interpretation of the law and the opinion of someone judging matters from the misleading images of the pitch-side cameras. As I said in a previous article, the VAR needs consistency and someone who won’t argue with that sentiment is Mikel Arteta who has seen the same incident twice within a week but with vastly contrasting conclusions.
Social media lit up like a Christmas tree with people objecting to the inconsistencies. Fans on Facebook said:
“Ridiculous, there is no difference between Trent’s and Eddie’s challenge there, both should be reds, VAR has an agenda against Arsenal but an agenda for LiVARpool”
“Useless technology being run by inept & incompetent novices whose agenda against the Arsenal is well documented…hope FIFA checks on match-fixing for a start.”
It’s a subject that will rumble on into next season, where more mistakes can be expected but this time it’s not exclusively by a man clutching a whistle.