Sunday, October 2, 2022

PSV game reportedly in doubt : VAR mayhem

Morning all. A few Monday bits.

It’s being reported that Thursday’s Europa League game with PSV is in doubt, due to availability of police who will be required for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth. I’ve seen one newspaper article say that up to 10,000 officers will be on duty in the days leading up to Monday, and that may impact Thursday as mourners will be permitted to pay their respects 24 hours a day as the Queen’s coffin lies in state.

It might also see next weekend’s Premier League games in doubt, The Times report: The football authorities plan for as many matches as possible to go ahead, but clubs’ safety advisory groups will make their decisions game by game, with the key issue being around police resources.

The postponement of the PSV game would be a huge problem, because it’s impossible to see where it might fit in the current schedule. As it stands, Arsenal have 15 games between September 15th (Thursday), and November 12th, when football stops before the winter World Cup. There are 9 games in October, with every midweek already full. In November, the 4 games have the weekend/midweek schedule full, one of which is a Europa League game, the other an EFL Cup game.

Then there’s the question of fairness/sporting integrity when it comes to the other teams in the group, so a postponement on Thursday would be really problematic. Elsewhere, Rangers have moved their game against Napoli from Tuesday to Wednesdays, and barred away fans, I assume to reduce the necessary police presence. There’s no suggestion yet that PSV fans won’t be allowed on Thursday if the game goes ahead, but I imagine every possible way of making it happen will have to be considered – even behind closed doors?

I doubt they would go that far, but it’s quite possible that an absence of away fans would make policing the game easier, so if I were a PSV fan today with tickets booked for London, I think I’d be feeling quite nervous. Hopefully the game can go ahead as normal, but it’s just difficult to know right now. Clarification, sooner rather than later, would be very welcome. As it stands, Mikel Arteta is due to meet the press on Wednesday ahead of this game, but fingers crossed we know more before then.

From an Arsenal perspective, there’s nothing else to report on, but let’s take a short hop to Italy, for some sensational Serie A VAR action.

Substitute Arkadiusz Milik thought he’d won the game for Juventus deep into injury time with a fantastic header. He ran to the crowd, and took his top off in celebration. However, having been booked in the 83rd minute, the referee produced a second yellow for taking his shirt off. It’s a booking by the letter of the law and all that, but you’d hope officials to take the context into consideration, and for him to have scored such a late winner and then get a red card seems a little harsh.

But wait, there’s more. VAR gets in the referee’s ear and tells him to go have a look. As Milik headed home, another Juventus player attempted to head the ball before it hit the back of the net. With players milling around and tempers getting frayed, the ref took a look, adjudged Leonardo Bonucci offside, and disallowed the goal.

Mayhem. More red cards, for Juan Cuadrado and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. And the replays seem to suggest Bonucci was just offside, and the attempt to play the ball meant he was active in the passage of play. Mental. Except it gets worse. The replays showed the penalty box action, and not the Salernitana player at the bottom of the screen who was playing everybody onside. Haha.

For us this morning, it’s wonderful entertainment, but while Juventus is a club that will get zero sympathy from me ever, to have a late winner ruled out incorrectly, and suffer three red cards because of it is absolutely nuts. Just when you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to VAR and the mess it can make of things, something new comes along. Then again, this is a technology which allows officials to see someone stand on the face of an opponent and not deem it a red card.

“It’s not the technology, it’s the people using it”, etc etc, but if they don’t have it they can’t use it! What about that?!

Right, that’s it for this morning. If there’s any news or info on Thursday, we’ll bring it to you over on Arseblog News. James and I will be recording the Arsecast Extra for you later this evening, so it’ll be a late one before it drops. We’ll send out the call for questions on Twitter a bit later on.

Bye for now.

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