Liverpool were the beneficiary of two controversial VAR calls vs Crystal Palace - Dermot Gallagher has his say on the latest Ref Watch...
Monday 24 January 2022 17:28, UK
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher dissects the big flashpoints from the weekend's action.
INCIDENT: Andy Robertson's cross from the left pinged over the box to reach Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the far side of the area. He controlled well before firing into the bottom corner. However, there was a question of offside for Liverpool's second after a jump from Roberto Firmino in the middle as the cross came in. After a brief VAR check, they deemed neither the defender nor the goalkeeper were impacted by Firmino despite him jumping for the ball. The word from Stockley Park was that Firmino didn't affect the game with his jump.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: You are deemed active because you make a challenge for the ball, interfering with play or an opponent. VAR felt that Firmino didn't interfere with Tyrick Mitchell or the goalkeeper. So, some may argue he did impact Mitchell but the VAR didn't. That unfortunately is the subjective nature of such a decision.
STEPHEN WARNOCK'S VIEW: Firmino does impact the play. If I put myself in Mitchell's position, I know my job is to latch onto the centre forward if the ball goes over the centre back and make sure he doesn't get a free header. The ball behind me then is the second ball I need to worry about. Once that ball goes over my head I have to adjust my feet to get back in. If you take Firmino out of that attack, then Mitchell stays with Oxlade-Chamberlain. It's a very frustrating decision from the referee. Firmino is active at every single point.
INCIDENT: Controversy reigned late on with another refereeing decision going against Palace to put Liverpool 3-1 in front. Vicente Guaita and Diogo Jota collided inside the area, with Kevin Friend initially waving away the claims. But VAR intervened, with the referee consulting the pitchside monitor, and awarded Liverpool the spot-kick.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: It's not a penalty. Jota overruns the ball and steps into Guaita. The on-field referee Kevin Friend thought no penalty, but the VAR [Craig Pawson] felt he made an error and sent him to the screen and the referee changed his mind. I was surprised, I thought he would stick to his guns. In the eyes of the VAR, it was a clear and obvious error, so it's his prerogative to send him to the screen. The referee then goes to the screen with a blank canvas and he decided to go with the VAR.
STEPHEN WARNOCK'S VIEW: This isn't VAR's fault. You've got a referee in charge of VAR and a referee in charge on the pitch. That's the frustrating part of this. VAR hasn't failed, it's the on-field referee. He should be able to see on the replay that it's not a penalty. Why is the process so strong that every time a referee goes to a screen, the decision will change. It's set in stone now. It's like the referees don't want to contradict one another.
INCIDENT: Spurs were aggrieved not to head into the break in front after Harry Kane's opener was controversially ruled out for a foul on Thiago Silva in the build-up.
Sky Sports co-commentator Gary Neville disagreed with the decision, labelling Silva a "lucky boy", a view Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane rejected in the studio: "Believe it or not, Gary Neville is wrong! When you are running at that pace, Kane does just lean into Silva and I think the referee has made the right decision."
DERMOT'S VERDICT: I think it's a foul. And if it hadn't been given as a foul we'd be here arguing about why it wasn't. It's not the biggest shove in the world but he does push him.
INCIDENT: Kenny McLean gobbled up Christian Kabasele's poor clearance and while his pass seeking Teemu Pukki initially appeared over-hit, the striker was too strong for Samir, who went down, and the Finland international crossed for Josh Sargent to produce the most sensational of finishes with his heel. Watford claimed for a foul but Mike Dean played on.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: It's not a foul. This is how Mike Dean refereed the game - he allowed physical contact. Samir goes down very early and Pukki nicks the ball. The game was quite rightly allowed to play on.
INCIDENT: Arsenal were unhappy with referee Abigail Byrne after the ball hit her in the build-up to Khadija Shaw's goal.
KAREN CARNEY'S VIEW: There was some controversy surrounding Man City's goal and from my understanding the referee is obliged to stop the play if it changes possession and in this case the ball still went to a Man City player. So, they went on and I still felt there was time for Arsenal to defend. However, the deflection changed the pass and I felt it gave City an advantage, but by the rules the referee doesn't have to stop the play and it isn't a drop ball necessarily."
DERMOT'S VERDICT: I would side with the referee. If the ball changes possession, she would have to drop the ball. The next criteria is did the ball go in the net? It didn't. And the third criteria, which is a moot point, is did it go and lead to a promising attack? Well, you could argue it did and didn't as the player is deep in her own half and the play then goes to three other players. That's where the element of doubt is. The referee was quite right to play on.