‘RIP football’: Fans fume at VAR as Liverpool beat Wolves to restore 13-point lead at top of Premier League
Liverpool restored their 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield but the game was overshadowed by yet more talk of VAR ruining football.
Sadio Mane gave Liverpool the lead on 42 minutes when he shot past Rui Patricio, with the strike initially being disallowed for handball by teammate Adam Lallana in the buildup.
However, a VAR check ruled it was a legitimate goal with the ball adjudged to have hit Lallana's shoulder.
2y 363d - Adam Lallana has assisted a Premier League goal for the first time since December 2016 against Manchester City, 2 years and 363 days ago. Shouldered. pic.twitter.com/zvbXDKcedX— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2019
That also came with defender Virgil van Dijk appearing to handle the ball before it was passed to Lallana. Referee Anthony Taylor is said to have told Wolves players that the incident was "too far back" in the move to affect the goal decision.
Incredible. Antony Taylor has told Wolves this was ‘too far back’ in the move that led to the goal. Van Dyke’s next move led to the goal. pic.twitter.com/CykLjVvqXq— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) December 29, 2019
Incredibly, Pedro Neto thought he had equalized for Wolves soon after, but his finish was ruled out by VAR after teammate Jonny's boot was deemed to have been offside by the thinnest of margins.
VAR strikes again in the Premier League. 🧐 pic.twitter.com/3ypVn3GOgQ— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 29, 2019
Liverpool saw out the second half as the game ended 1-0, continuing the Reds’ unbeaten start to the season and restoring their massive 13-point lead over Leicester at the top of the table, with a game in hand.
But victory for Jurgen Klopp's team was was marred by yet more anger from fans over the use of VAR, with many believing that the miniscule offside margins being called were ruining the game and disadvantaging attacking teams.
Gary Lineker – an increasingly vocal critic of VAR – mockingly offered his sympathies to football fans during this “difficult time.”
Thoughts are with football at this difficult time.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 29, 2019
In a rare display of agreement, arch rival Piers Morgan also Tweeted that VAR in its current form was killing the game.
RIP Football. Murdered by VAR.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 29, 2019
VAR was brought into the Premier League this season, with fans’ main gripes being over goals getting disallowed for wafer-thin offside margins such as a player’s armpit, and also an apparent lack of clarity or consistency with decisions.
I still believe in the use of technology. What angers me is the utter incompetence of the way it has been implemented, especially the absence of communication with the fans. Symptomatic of the disdain in which supporters are held by the game.— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) December 29, 2019
VARcical. The issue for me is not VAR itself but how it’s implemented in this country. Not once has the referee gone to the screen but they’re happy to delay the game for ages to disallow an offside goal by millimetres when it cannot be calibrated to 100% accuracy. #VARpic.twitter.com/uWkjK57GYm— Adam Smithy (@AdamJSmithy) December 29, 2019
Unlike elsewhere, Premier League referees have appeared reluctant to consult pitchside monitors to review decisions, leaving it to a special video team.
Fans have also been angered by the lack of communication and clarity in decisions.
VAR does have its defenders, however, with many pointing to inevitable teething problems with the system, and also claiming that, by the letter of the law, the offside decisions being made were correct.
Understandable that everyone is disgusted with VAR after that but I ask one question: without VAR we would have 2 wrong decisions today and everybody would be hammering the officials. Do people want to go back to accepting game deciding mistakes for a game that flows better?— michael owen (@themichaelowen) December 29, 2019
After the Liverpool versus Wolves drama, the debate is only going to intensify.