Answer me this – if you get done by a speed camera for speeding, do you blame the speed camera or yourself? Or if you get caught nicking something from the local corner shop and your face gets recognised on CCTV – do you blame the CCTV for the outcome?
I’m assuming not, so why are people blaming VAR for all the bad in football as if it is VAR itself breaking the laws of the game?
VAR, and this is an opportune moment to point out VAR is not a thing in itself but a human sitting in a room watching about ten TV screens and making decisions based off the clear evidence in front of him, does not make the rules. I repeat, VAR does not make the rules. it is there to see whether the laws of the game have been broken and when VAR spots one being broken (whether you agree with the laws of the game or not) it is supposed to say something.
You know, just like at the Etihad on Saturday night.
We can argue until we are blue in the face about whether the current law around handball by an attacking player deliberate or otherwise leading to a goal being chalked off is fair or not. That’s a completely different debate. What kind of needs to be kicked into touch like an Adrian clearance straight away is this whole “VAR is killing football” chat. It’s not, it’s really not.
‘But last season it would have counted’ cry some people. That was last season, mate. 20 odd years ago, your goalkeeper could have picked the ball up if it was passed back to him. Before that, your striker could get cleaned out when through on goal and the defender would only get a stern look from the referee. Things change, sometimes for the better. And, to be fair, it’s about time the defending team got a couple of things going in their favour, right? After all, they are not allowed to tackle, touch or even breath on their opponents anymore.
And with that rant slotted into the far corner as effectively as Gabriel Jesus’ late, late non-winner against Spurs we can head to the home of the champions.
Let’s be honest – Spurs were terrible and the Poch admitted enough after he’d stopped giggling at his good fortune as history repeated itself once again. Last season Sergio Aguero’s bootlace being offside was the reason Spurs and not City progressed in the Champions League. This time it was the ball brushing Americ Laporte’s arm on the way to Jesus who almost made his entrance look like another inspired change by Peppy G.
Pep called it one of City’s best performances in his time there which is curious, given the manner in which they conceded their goals. Sure, Raheem Sterling continues to look like the finest English player produced since Paul Gascoigne. Yes, Kevin de Bruyne whips in a deadly ball. But City stepped off the gas each time they led against Tottenham and paid the price when ‘magic moments only’ Lucas Moura equalised a mere 19 seconds after coming on the pitch.
It’s been an interesting week for the current Liverpool number one, Adrian. Called off the bench to concede Liverpool’s only goal against Norwich a week ago, he became the hero of the UEFA Super Cup Final victory by saving Tammy Abraham’s penalty in the shoot-out.
His reward was to get cleaned out two-footed by a ‘fan’ meaning he was an injury doubt for the trip to Southampton – so much of a doubt that 35-year-old Andy Lonergan was grabbed out of the pub on again to be told he might actually play.
Fortunately for the ex-Rochdale keeper, Adrian recovered just about enough to stand up between the sticks at St Mary’s – just don’t ask him to kick the ball, OK?
Even on one leg, Adrian looks like a significant upgrade on Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet and even Alisson conceded a goal of a similar ilk last season. A lot will be made of his blunder but the bigger point is that since Alisson went off injured at Anfield, Liverpool have not looked anywhere near as steady – even Virgil looks human. Liverpool took the three points home with them and no Southampton player really did enough to get themselves on Klopp’s wishlist.
Newcastle look utterly Pukked at Carrow Road as Teemu Pukki followed up his opening night goal with a hat-trick against Steve Bruce’s hapless charges. Bruce’s response? It could not have been any more Proper Football Man as he called the squad in for extra training on Sunday. I hope he made them run lots of laps as well, that’ll learn them.
Arsenal beat Burnley for about the 20th time in a row which is a surprising statistic given that Burnley are supposed to be exactly the type of team Arsenal struggle against. Yo-Pierre scored the winner after debutant Dani Ceballos ran the game from midfield. Sean Dyche was left thumbing through his ‘irrelevant things to say after the match guide’ and started moaning about players diving which was strange given that nobody dived at the Emirates – even Nick Pope.
It seemed fitting that the first Frank Lampard’s Chelsea goal scored at Stamford Bridge in the Frank Lampard era came from teacher’s pet and super swot Mason Mount.
Leicester will have been delighted to come away with a point and could have easily had all three had James Maddison not missed an absolute sitter – but Chelsea have now been OK-to-good in the first-half of each of their three games this season and fallen off a cliff in the second. Something going on at half-time?
Sheffield United and Crystal Palace somehow ended up on Sky on Sunday – the first of the “we’ve got to let them on TV at some point” matches of the season. Aaron Wan Bissaka must have been incredibly important to how Palace play because they were terrible at Bramall Lane and Chris Wilder can celebrate the first win of what will be a very long season in the Steel City.
Aston Villa have been what we can only describe as ‘active’ over the summer bringing in no less than 12 players. The one who was the least gambley-gamble type in that haul was keeper Tom Heaton, so gaffer Dean Smith will have been delighted to see him needlessly bring down Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson after 90 seconds into his Villa Park Premier League debut.
Douglas Luiz feels like more a dice-roll and he showed both sides of his coin – he gave away Bournemouth’s second and then scored a stunner late in the game to give the Cherries a few nervous moments towards the end.
Brighton coulda/shoulda won against West Ham at the Amex. VAR was involved again, but you might not have heard about this one because, you know, it wasn’t a big match. Brighton are yet to lose under Graham Potter whereas West Ham are yet to win this season – which is pretty standard for August.
The Marco Silva Derby was as dull as the irritating attempts to turn this into a rivalry suggests. Everton won, if you are interested enough to care.