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Arsenal equaliser vs Manchester United was VAR 'at its best', says Jamie Carragher
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David de Gea, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have say on Gunners leveller
Last Updated: 01/10/19 6:15pm
VAR was 'at its best' to allow Arsenal's equaliser against Manchester United, according to Jamie Carragher - but did an offside flag 'distract' the home side?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ran through to bring Arsenal level at Old Trafford after a raised flag from the assistant referee was ignored by referee Kevin Friend, who waited for the goal to be scored before a VAR review ruled the striker had been onside in the build-up to his strike.
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Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports the decision had vindicated the use of VAR, which has come in for criticism this season for its reluctance to overturn a number of contentious decisions.
"You saw the whistle going towards his mouth, that's something Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] was complaining about at the side of the pitch," he said. "I'm not sure he's in a great position to see that on the half-way line. VAR has been a massive debate all season, but that was VAR at its best tonight - that's why it's been brought in."
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Manchester United’s haul of nine points after seven games this season is their worst tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1989-90 (7 points)
Ole: 'Blow the whistle if you're unsure'
The Manchester United boss had remonstrated with fourth official Chris Kavanagh after the goal, complaining that he had whistled before it had gone in - although the United boss admitted after the game he had been "trying his luck" to overturn the referee's decision.
He later told reporters: "Ashley (Young) certainly holds his hand up because he can look straight at the linesman. Maybe he hesitates a little bit. He could have probably got a block in and that probably would have helped David (De Gea) but that's no consolation for us now because it's a perfectly good goal for them.
"He probably should have kept the flag down. He made an impact on the situation by raising the flag."
Solskjaer was magnanimous in the end but less impressed with the video assistant's input when Sead Kolasinac appeared to handball Young's cross, but VAR official Mike Dean decided against overruling Friend's decision not to award a penalty.
"You'd rather blow the whistle and check it after if you are unsure," he said. "I was, and quite a few Manchester United fans were sure that it was a penalty.
"Then again, sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't. We've got more than our share against us so far so we'll get some at the end."
Aubameyang: VAR takes away from scoring
Aubameyang appeared to agree with what Solskjaer claimed he heard, saying: "I was sure I was onside - I was surprised the referee whistled but I finished as usual and always try to score even if I here the whistle. I heard the crowd saying it was offside but it was a goal so I was happy."
Although the striker's wait to see his goal awarded by VAR was only 28 seconds, it still left last season's Golden Boot winner in two minds as to how he should react when the ball first hit the back of the net. "Yeah, of course [it takes something away]," he said. "It's a strange feeling, you cannot celebrate 100 per cent. It's okay, I'm happy at the same time."
De Gea: Flag distracted us
His goalkeeper David de Gea, however, said the offside flag raised when Aubameyang was adjudged offside had affected some of the United defenders, who struggled to reorganise as the striker ran through.
When asked if any of the United players were distracted by the flag going up, he told Sky Sports: "Of course, it's easier if the linesman keeps the flag down but also, we know there's VAR behind so if it's offside, it's offside.
"We need to keep focused on the game. We gave away an easy goal. We had control of the game so we need to learn from that mistake."
Pundit Roy Keane was less sympathetic of De Gea and his defence though. When asked the same question, he told Monday Night Football: "I don't think it did tonight. There's always that worry, but you're told as a kid, play to the whistle. You'd be critical of the United back four.
"Every player's in the wrong position, okay there's a mistake but it's compounded and credit to Arsenal, a lovely touch and a lovely finish."