Man Utd's 14 Premier League penalties settle the 'VARchester United' debate

  • Kobe Tong

Manchester United secured their Champions League place on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Leicester City.

A draw at the King Power Stadium would have been enough for the Red Devils to reach the top four, but a goal from Brendan Rodgers' men could have scuppered their hopes at any moment.

As a result, there was a real sense of relief for United when they won a penalty with 20 minutes to play and it came after Anthony Martial was brought down by Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans.

Man Utd's record-breaking penalties

Up stepped Bruno Fernandes with all the pressure on his shoulders, but he made no mistake from 12 yards by using his trademark jump technique to send Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way.

And although Jesse Lingard eventually added a second deep into stoppage time, United effectively winning the game via a penalty couldn't have fit the narrative of rival fans any better.

In their defence, however, the trends emerging around United aren't completely unfounded with their Leicester penalty seeing them surpass the Premier League record of 13 for the most in a season.


'VARchester United' claims

Their new precedent of 14 also lifts them to a total of 26 over the course of the last two campaigns, which is over 10 more than the next most fortunate Premier League side have received.

So, football being football, it should come as no surprise that rival fans are rolling their eyes whenever United earn a penalty and the moniker 'VARchester United is growing in popularity.

But have United actually been lucky or is the situation pure coincidence? It's impossible to know for sure, but we have the next best thing after a summary video of United's penalties emerged.


All 14 of Man Utd's penalties

YouTuber 'United Views' has sewn together a fantastic video of the incidents leading to all 14 of the club's penalties this season, making it easier than ever for fans to assess the trend in detail.

Hold your horses for just one second, though, because we're going to try and answer that question by breaking down each of the decisions - and then check out the full video after our conclusion.

1. Vs Chelsea

Verdict: Correct decision

Yup, there's no doubt about this one in my eyes. Kurt Zouma gave a world-class example of how not to defend against Marcus Rashford at full speed by kicking his shin and pulling his torso.


2. Vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Verdict: Incorrect decision

How on earth is this one a penalty? Frankly, Conor Coady looks as though he's trying to get out of Paul Pogba's way as the United man leaps over the dangling leg with minimal, if any, contact.


3. Vs Crystal Palace

Verdict: Correct decision

Scott McTominay might look as though he's gone down like a grenade went off behind him, but that's down to the momentum he was carrying into the box and there's no doubt it's a lazy tackle.


4. Vs Leicester City

Verdict: Correct decision

Rashford doesn't help himself with the barrel rolls, granted, but it's still a penalty in my eyes with Caglar Soyuncu getting nowhere near the ball. 


5. Vs Norwich City

Verdict: Correct decision

I don't find this one as clearcut as some people and maybe it wouldn't be a penalty in an ideal world, but you just can't go sliding in like that at full speed and not expect to give away a foul.


6. Vs Norwich City

Verdict: Correct decision

Even as someone who hates the new handball rule with a furious passion, I can't deny that Todd Cantwell deserved to be punished for bottling this and dangling his arms in the air.


7. Vs Tottenham Hotspur

Verdict: Incorrect decision

Ooooooo ahhhhhh. What that translates to is me being really torn on whether this is a penalty or not.

But regardless of the letter of the law, I'll rule that this shouldn't be awarded in that aforementioned 'ideal world' because the contact from Serge Aurier is minimal and Rashford goes down in stages.


8. Vs Manchester City

Verdict: Correct decision

This is an absolute, stonewall, closed-case, no-debate, no-brainer, unquestionable, undoubted, clearcut, flaming obvious penalty. Bernardo Silva came in like a wrecking ball.


9. Vs Norwich City

Verdict: Incorrect decision

Seriously, what more could Tim Krul have done? Maybe it is a penalty, maybe I'm some sort of footballing dinosaur who just wants to see Brandon Williams suffer, but this one isn't for me.

Goalkeepers coming out and tackling is an automatic spot kick, apparently, because Krul gets punished for essentially pulling out of what would indeed be a penalty-worthy challenge.


10. Vs Watford 

Verdict: Correct decision

This. This is what a goalkeeper coming out and tackling looks like when it's actually a penalty. Be more Krul and less Ben Foster.


11. Vs Tottenham Hotspur

Verdict: Correct decision

This is cut from the same cloth as the City one because nobody in their right mind is even debating it. I mean, what was going through Eric Dier's head when he casually decided to push Pogba?


12. Vs Bournemouth

Verdict: Correct decision

Again, footballers having arms seems to be a criminal offence at the moment, but even I've got to admit that Adam Smith could have done a lot, lot more to get his hand out of the way.


13. Vs Aston Villa

Verdict: Incorrect decision

I think everybody is in agreement that this should never have been a penalty and I'm pretty sure that includes the Premier League themselves.

Fernandes essentially performs a piece of skill on the legs of poor Ezri Konsa and somehow wins a penalty for it. 


14. Vs Leicester City

Verdict: Correct decision

Like, duh. As much as it might pain rival fans to see United qualifying for the Champions League with a penalty, Martial literally gets rashly slide-tackled from two players simultaneously.


Full video

GIVEMESPORTS's Kobe Tong says

So, by my estimations, United should have been awarded 10 Premier League penalties as opposed to their record-breaking 14 this season.

I feel deadly certain that the Wolves, Norwich and Aston Villa penalties should never have been given, but I'm admittedly less certain about the Tottenham one, so I'll reluctantly let it side.

But what I hope this breakdown serves to show is that claiming United have received preferential treatment this season is, well, a pretty hard argument to push. 


Even though the statistics seem to support some kind of United agenda, everything falls apart when you start looking at the incidents and see how many penalties they were rightly awarded.

And is it weird that a new Premier League penalty record would be set in the first season with VAR? Of course not, it makes complete sense.

So, sure, the Red Devils have been lucky here and there, but you make your own luck and imaginary VAR cronies in United jerseys certainly don't. 

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