Why was Bruno Fernandes' hat-trick goal allowed to stand? Should Mohamed Salah have been awarded a penalty? Did the new implementations of VAR work? Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher runs the rule over the big incidents of the opening weekend of the new season
Monday 16 August 2021 21:06, UK
In the first Ref Watch of the new Premier League season, former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher runs the rule over the big incidents of the weekend.
INCIDENT: Todd Cantwell tangled with Mohamed Salah inside the Norwich penalty area but was it the correct call not to award the spot-kick? Under the new instruction to allow games to flow more, would it have been awarded last season?
VERDICT: Correct decision, no penalty.
DERMOT SAYS: "There were a couple of borderline decisions like this over the weekend. Cantwell goes in and there's minimal contact. What I find really interesting is that the players have embraced it. If you look at Mo Salah, he just gets straight up.
"Whereas if you look at last season when there were no crowds, the players would lie down longer and perhaps the referees would've heard more from them. Here, Andre Marriner was looking straight at it and waved it away."
INCIDENT: Bruno Fernandes completed his hat-trick for Manchester United in their 5-1 win over Leeds after collecting Victor Lindelof's pass, but there was a marginal offside call. Would the goal have stood last season under the old VAR implementations?
VERDICT: The goal would not have stood last season - thicker lines means without a gap between lines, original decision stands.
DERMOT SAYS: "This is a prime example of what we wanted to change. We want to see football played in the right way. We've brought in the thicker lines and it was a really good goal. It was his hat-trick goal... do you want to disallow it for something so tight?
"Everyone except Leeds fans would say no. It was the right thing to do, it's worked on the opening day and it's a great way to move forward."
Premier League VARs are using 'thicker lines' in games this season to determine marginal decisions.
The PGMOL hopes the change will give the benefit back to the attacking team after Premier League clubs gave feedback in a VAR survey last season.
This should rule out instances where a player's toe has led to a goal being ruled out, cases which many fans, players and pundits felt were ruining the game.
INCIDENT: Jacob Murphy is adjudged to have fouled Pablo Fornals inside the box and West Ham are awarded a penalty. The incident is looked at by VAR before the on-field decision over awarding the spot-kick is not overturned.
Referee Martin Atkinson did not use the pitchside monitor to back up his decision, much to Newcastle manager Steve Bruce's frustration.
VERDICT: Incorrect decision, no penalty.
DERMOT SAYS: "My gut reaction when I saw it was that he'd got the ball. When I saw the replay, I could see that he'd got the ball. When you look at an incident over and over again, there's an element of doubt. If you can make your mind up quickly with one replay, that to me then is an error.
"If VAR had sent him over to the screen, I do believe Martin Atkinson would've changed his mind."
INCIDENT: Sergi Canos' opening goal for Brentford is allowed to stand but did the ball go out of play in the build-up before Calum Chambers' clearance on the byline?
VERDICT: Correct decision, goal.
DERMOT SAYS: "There's nothing to convince me the ball went out of play. That's a certainty. The Goal Decision System (GDS) lines only go across inside the goal so they don't cover whether the ball goes out of play.
"It comes down to the assistant, and when you see his angle, his viewpoint he is partially obscured by the post so that would suggest the ball is still in play. The VAR can check every goal so it can look to see if it's gone out of play, but in this instance there's no evidence that it has."
INCIDENT: James Tarkowski's opening goal is allowed to stand despite the Burnley defender appearing to foul Brighton forward Neal Maupay in the build-up.
VERDICT: Incorrect decision, no goal.
DERMOT SAYS: "I thought it was a foul. I think if you put both hands on a player and push him, I'd expect a foul to be given. What you would say in the referee's defence, Maupay never looks once at the ball. He's there solely as a blocker so there is a mitigating circumstance. Tarkowski thinks, 'if you're not going to go for the ball, then I am'.
"He runs the risk of giving a foul away by putting his arms out and if a foul was given I don't think he would've had too many complaints."
Sky Sports' Gary Neville on the Gary Neville Podcast:
"Two things. Not just the adaptation of VAR, which needed to happen and I thought the PGMOL got it wrong two years ago when they felt they could do it differently than all the experience built in Europe. They thought they would look at it differently, not go to the monitors and apply different things - but they've gone back to a sensible application of VAR.
'Lighter touch' was the description Michael Oliver used in his interview with Jamie Carragher and that's the right approach because it was starting to turn everyone off, the fans in particular. Even though I was persistent that we should stick with VAR last season, I'm glad we have because it's not interfered with this game one bit today, or any other game I've seen this weekend.
"It looks like the refs aren't just going to have a lighter touch on VAR, they're going to let things go, they're going to allow physicality. We've always said English refereeing is the best, it has the highest standards, but I think that maybe looking at the refereeing at the Euros in the summer- there was a really high standard of officiating, a really well managed VAR.
"It's only the first weekend and we should be careful because we're only one bad decision away from claiming the refereeing isn't very good again, but that's not always necessarily the case - they're very good. But this was a brilliant weekend for referees. It was a brilliant weekend for football with the fans returning. It feels like we've got fans back and it feels like we've got the game back."