VAR has changed the Premier League for better or for worse.
While football fans are always in favour of the right refereeing decision being made, it would be fair to say that not everybody has been happy with the way VAR has been implemented this season.
It’s led to long waits for crucial decisions that are frankly boring to watch and the infamous ‘armpit’ offside decisions are making things a little more scientific than supporters would like.
That’s not to mention the fact the new handball rule seems completely harsh on both attackers and defenders who are starting to see half their body’s limbs as an employment inconvenience.
But then again, for all the fair criticism that’s been lodged at VAR, it has brought added drama in places and also correctly amended decisions that would have otherwise stood.
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VAR meddling in history
Besides, one of the best ways to truly understand VAR’s influence on England’s top flight is to reminisce on the time before its presence and how things were better or worse then.
Well, to demonstrate this point, Sky Sports have drawn up a fascinating video of iconic Premier League moments that would have been changed forever if VAR had been in use.
From great goals that never should have been to, well, great goals that should have been, it goes to show that VAR is never far from centre stage – check out the key moments down below:
1. Wayne Rooney’s halfway line goal vs West Ham
An incredible goal, no doubt about it, but VAR would have had something to say about that cheeky push on James Tomkins before taking a shot. At least Rooney has another halfway-line goal against the Hammers to his name…
2. Darren Bent’s beachball goal vs Liverpool
Mike Jones was temporarily demoted for allowing this moment of madness to stand and VAR would have saved the blushes of the Liverpool fan who punched the beachball on to the pitch in the first place.
3. Sergio Aguero’s ‘handball’ goal vs Arsenal
Look, we prefer the old handball rule to its replacement, but even we’ve got to admit that it seems strange this goal was ever allowed to stand.
4. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s scorpion kick vs Sunderland
This isn’t talked about as much as it should be because Olivier Giroud managed to outdo the Armenian just one week later, but the fact it was clearly offside might also have something to do with it.
5. Pedro Mendes’ ghost goal vs Manchester United
Forget VAR, Hawkeye would have been enough to give Tottenham a famous win at Old Trafford. Thankfully for Roy Carroll, though, goal-line technology wasn’t to arrive until over half a decade later.
6. Javier Hernandez’s later winner vs Chelsea
This was a massive goal in the 2012/13 title race and arguably the beginning of the end for Roberto Di Matteo… only, it never should have happened because ‘Chicharito’ was blatantly offside.
7. Didier Drogba’s title-clinching goal vs Manchester United
That being, United probably saw it as karma when you consider Drogba had elevated Chelsea into top spot during the 2009/10 by scoring an offside winner at Old Trafford.
Bearing in mind Chelsea went on to win the title by a single point, you could argue that Carlo Ancelotti would never have lifted the trophy if VAR had been in use.
8. Nani’s bizarre goal vs Tottenham Hotspur
For arguably the strangest goal in Premier League history, Nani ‘took’ what Heurelho Gomes thought was a Tottenham free-kick for handball by, well, tapping it into the open net.
The goal was allowed to stand, but Gomes was actually correct having seen Nani literally grab the ball with his hands. Bet he wished VAR was around in 2010.
To VAR or not to VAR?
So, there you have it, Rooney would have been robbed of a halfway line goal and Mendes would have been celebrating one. Talk about a role reversal.
And while some of these might seem trivial – we’re looking at you, beachball – others played a massive role in the title race itself, particularly as far as Drogba’s offside goal is concerned.
If nothing else, though, it goes to show that VAR is both giving us new iconic moments and taking them away at the same time. I guess it just depends on how much refereeing errors infuriate you.
Either way, the Premier League will be just as iconic with or without its meddling.