Football has always been a case of what-ifs. What if Arsene Wenger had signed all those players he claimed he was really close to signing? What if Steven Gerrard didn't slip in that fateful game against Chelsea. What if Roman Abramovich had bought Tottenham Hotspur instead of Chelsea?
This Premier League season, however, there has been a new case of "what if?". No points for guessing the enigma at the core of this question. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was introduced this season as a means of assisting the main referee with decisions that he was just too ill-positioned to judge accurately. Marginal offside calls, spur of the moment handballs, diving incidents, what have you. Well, it's safe to say that VAR 's debut in the Premier League has been most controversial. There have been some big calls from VAR this season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal against Manchester United and Gabriel Jesus' goal against Tottenham Hotspur come to mind. Here's a look at how the Premier League table would look after the 10 games played so far, had VAR not been used in any of the fixtures.
Current league leaders Liverpool have been relatively unaffected by VAR so far this season. Mason Mount's goal for Chelsea had been ruled out for offside, as the youngster was clearly behind the line of defence. Liverpool also had a goal ruled out for handball, when the ball struck Sadio Mane's hand before the Senegalese beat David de Gea to score for Liverpool. The decision, however, was an obvious one, as the referee had no doubt that the ball had struck the Liverpool winger on the arm.
🗣 Sean Dyche on Callum Hudson-Odoi's dive:— Marathonbet (@marathonbet) October 28, 2019
"I keep hearing the word respect...but players should respect the game.
"They have got to do something more (than yellow cards). I feel worse it's a young player doing it."
Should divers now receive a red card? 🤔#CFC #PL #VAR pic.twitter.com/ZOe9YEGE5c
Manchester City's game against Tottenham ended in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium. With the game tied at 2-2, Gabriel Jesus appeared to have netted City's winner. However, after a review, VAR adjudged that the ball had made contact with Aymeric Laporte's arm in the buildup. The goal was ruled out for offside, and City and Spurs shared the spoils after a tough game. However, without VAR, the goal would have stood, and City would have three points in the bag, leaving them just four points behind league leaders Liverpool.
Manchester United will have felt hard done by when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted the equaliser for the Gunners. The goal was originally ruled out for offside, but a closer look by VAR showed that the striker was onside, and the goal stood to secure a draw for Arsenal. Perhaps without VAR, the Red Devils would have been closer to the top four spots after 10 games this season.
The game against Leicester City saw Serge Aurier's goal disallowed just after the hour mark. VAR ruled that Son Heung-Min was offside in the buildup to the goal. Leicester went on to win the game, but Tottenham could have emerged with a draw, had VAR not intervened.
Unai Emery's Arsenal have VAR to thank for so far this season. Had VAR not intervened, Aubameyang's goal would not have stood. The result? Manchester United emerging victorious, and Arsenal dropping further down the table.
Chelsea sit fourth in the Premier League table currently. Without VAR, the Blues would sit on third. Chelsea succumbed to a 2-1 defeat during Liverpool's visit to Stamford Bridge. Mason Mount had a goal ruled out for offside, which proved to be the right decision. However, without VAR, the goal would have stood and Frank Lampard's Chelsea would have another point in their kitty. No complaints from the manager though, as Chelsea sit fourth in the Premier League after an impressive run of victories.