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VAR in the spotlight again after Harry Kane's horror tackle on Andy Robertson

After a controversial couple of seasons in the Premier League, it seemed that the Video Assistant Referee(VAR) finally got it right this season. But it was once again mired in controversy after the handling of Liverpool's game against Tottenham which ended in a 2-2 draw.


There were three vital calls for VAR to make and all of them went against Liverpool who feel like they were hard done by. The first decision was probably the most controversial one. Harry Kane, who had a spring in his step after scoring his 1st home league goal of the season, got his studs out to tackle Andy Robertson.



It was a typical England-Scotland challenge between the English and Scottish captains. But Kane was just shown a yellow card by referee Paul Tierney. It was definitely a dangerous tackle and possibly a leg-breaker from the Tottenham captain. Robertson can be considered lucky as his leg was in the air during the contact which minimized the impact.


Perhaps the timing of the challenge saved Kane as it was just in the 20th minute of the game. Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg said that Robertson was lucky to be walking after the challenge.


"To hear that Robertson has to have his leg planted alarms me, because if he does that he's not walking this Christmas. If you don't believe this is a clear and obvious error about Kane, you're not doing your job correctly. I think we, as referees, are sometimes guilty of knowing the laws of the game but we don't understand the game. VAR cannot get this wrong. Referees can because they have a split second. VAR have all the angles, he's got all the slow-motion, he can see the point of contact" said the former referee speaking to BBC Radio 5 live.


Another incident occurred in the 37th minute when Diego Jota was knocked on the ground by Emerson Royale in the 18-yard box. But the referee did not point to the spot, angering Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool supporters.


The Spurs right-back didn't get any of the ball and knocked down Jota. Since the on-field decision wasn't a penalty, the VAR officials went with the on-field referee as they felt there wasn't any clear and obvious error.


Former Liverpool defender and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said that it was a lear penalty for Liverpool. “There were eight penalties last week, whether the referees have thought this week we’re not giving them, it’s got to be something really big,” Jamie Carragher said on Sky Sports. “Newcastle should have had one earlier this afternoon and it’s a blatant penalty.”


The explanation given by the VAR officials was that Jota was waiting for the contact to occur to go down and hence hasn't been given a penalty.




The third decision that went against Liverpool was perhaps the only right call made by VAR on the day. Andy Robertson, who scored to give Liverpool the lead, made a clumsy tackle on Emerson Royale and the referee initially issued a yellow card. But after instructions from the VAR, the referee went to the pitchside monitor and sent Robertson off.


After taking a u-turn from awarding soft penalties and silly handballs last season, VAR is giving penalties for clear and obvious errors only, this season. It has worked quite well as the number of penalties awarded has drastically reduced. But this game has shown that VAR and the referees controlling it has room for improvement.

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