Ref Watch: VAR's 'amazing' Premier League debut

First-ever Premier League 'goal' disallowed by the VAR came at the London Stadium

Last Updated: 12/08/19 4:40pm

Bryan Swanson reviews VAR’s impact on the opening weekend of the Premier League season
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Bryan Swanson reviews VAR’s impact on the opening weekend of the Premier League season

Dermot Gallagher is back for the first Ref Watch of the new season and not surprisingly, it is one dominated by the much-talked-about Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which made its debut in the Premier League this weekend.

Well, if you thought the former top-flight official would have nothing to talk about in Ref Watch this season following the VAR's arrival, then you would be mistaken as these incidents show...

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher take a look at how VAR will be used in the Premier League for the first time this season
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Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher take a look at how VAR will be used in the Premier League for the first time this season

West Ham 0-5 Man City

VAR disallowed a goal for the first time in the Premier League in Manchester City's 5-0 win over West Ham. Raheem Sterling was adjudged to be offside in the build-up to a Gabriel Jesus goal
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VAR disallowed a goal for the first time in the Premier League in Manchester City's 5-0 win over West Ham. Raheem Sterling was adjudged to be offside in the build-up to a Gabriel Jesus goal

INCIDENT: Raheem Sterling is deemed offside in the buildup to Gabriel Jesus's 'goal' - the first-ever Premier League 'goal' disallowed by the VAR.

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Correct decision, offside.

Sterling is just offside in the lead-up to Jesus scoring for City at West Ham

DERMOT SAYS: It's just amazing, as I don't think that any Premier League assistant referee - however good they are - will have spotted that. When you see the graphic, it's just incredible how narrow the distance is and it also just shows how effective the VAR is, because that is what people ask for - factual evidence, and the factual evidence is there for everybody to see.

Highlights from Manchester City's 5-0 win at West Ham
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Highlights from Manchester City's 5-0 win at West Ham

INCIDENT: Issa Diop brings down Riyad Mahrez for a Man City penalty, which must be retaken after player encroachment.

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Both correct decisions.

DERMOT SAYS: It's a foul, there's no doubt about that. The referee has given a foul; the VAR checks it as a matter of course, but I don't think he has to. But that is the protocol, because Mike Dean is so positive and got it right.

What ensued afterwards is quite interesting, because we have a slightly different tolerance level on the goalkeeper moving off the line and it's up to the referee. I don't think there's any doubt the 'keeper [Lukasz Fabianski] is off his line, but that is left to the on-field referee.

What was interesting is - see Declan Rice has encroached? Well, it's not a problem at the moment, but if it runs on, Rice clears it and the law is, if he impacts on the outcome of the penalty - which he certainly does, as he clears the ball before anyone else can get to it. He has got to that ball first as he started off in the area.

The 'keeper can have his foot on the line, or above the line - now when that ball is hit, that is so close that you would not want to gamble where he is. And you have to be sure.

But the key decision in all of that was Rice's impact, and it is quite amazing that on the first day we have a goal so narrowly ruled out, then we have a law reinforced because of the VAR. It all came together.

Sky Sports News' chief reporter Bryan Swanson reflects on the impact of VAR's introduction in the first round of matches in the Premier League this season
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Sky Sports News' chief reporter Bryan Swanson reflects on the impact of VAR's introduction in the first round of matches in the Premier League this season

Leicester 0-0 Wolves

Wolves were denied a goal after the VAR implemented a new law - accidental handball that leads to a goal means the goal must be ruled out
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Wolves were denied a goal after the VAR implemented a new law - accidental handball that leads to a goal means the goal must be ruled out

INCIDENT: Wolves appeared to score a second-half goal through Leander Dendoncker, but VAR overturned it for handball against Willy Boly.

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Correct decision, handball.

DERMOT SAYS: It was decided that we cannot score with our hand, arm, or create a goal with it. And that was because of last season and, ironically, Boly (who scored a controversial goal with the aid of his arm against Man City). There's no way he meant to do this, but there is no doubt it has struck his arm and rebounded to Dendoncker, who has then scored because of that.

That may appear a little harsh, but that is a consequence of the law change in so much as they did not want goals scored with the arm. And no matter how accidental it was, it was scored because of that reason and therefore, no goal.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo insists he trusts VAR, but felt the decision to rule out Leander Dendoncker's goal took too long and affected the atmosphere in their 0-0 draw with Leicester
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Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo insists he trusts VAR, but felt the decision to rule out Leander Dendoncker's goal took too long and affected the atmosphere in their 0-0 draw with Leicester

Burnley 3-0 Southampton

Highlights from Burnley's 3-0 win over Southampton
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Highlights from Burnley's 3-0 win over Southampton

INCIDENT: Chris Wood had a goal disallowed for offside against Ashley Barnes.

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Correct decision, offside.

DERMOT SAYS: A very clever assistant referee, because Barnes starts in an offside position, and does not impact. And then suddenly when the player stops, he gets the ball because he started in an offside position. The cross is towards him and Andy Garratt quite rightly flags him offside.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton

Highlights from Crystal Palace's 0-0 draw with Everton
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Highlights from Crystal Palace's 0-0 draw with Everton

INCIDENT: There are no VARs for second yellow cards, but Jonathan Moss showed a second one to Morgan Schneiderlin.

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Correct decision, red card.

DERMOT SAYS: He paid massively for a show of dissent early on, which has got him the first yellow card. And then when you do that after already having a yellow card, that is all you can expect.

Watford 0-3 Brighton

Highlights from Brighton's 3-0 win over Watford
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Highlights from Brighton's 3-0 win over Watford

INCIDENT: Roberto Pereyra's free-kick strikes Glenn Murray's arm in the wall, but was it intentional?

DERMOT'S VERDICT: Correct decision, no penalty.

DERMOT SAYS: I don't think it's a penalty, but this is the one that everybody talked to me about over the weekend. Lots of people thought it was a penalty, I don't as I think his arms are low enough. The ball comes, he is jumping and jumping what I call 'naturally'. And it has hit him on the elbow, there is no doubt about it, but it is tucked in.

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