VAR controversies in the Premier League this season


Tottenham feel aggrieved after Bramall Lane incident.

There was more VAR controversy in the Premier League on Thursday as Tottenham were denied a goal in a 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United.

Here, the PA news agency looks at that decision and four more of the most contentious verdicts this season.

Lucas Moura’s handball

Harry Kane's goal was ruled out at Sheffield United after Lucas Moura's apparent handball
Harry Kane’s goal was ruled out at Sheffield United after Lucas Moura’s apparent handball (Oli Scarff/NMC Pool/PA)

Spurs were denied what looked like a perfectly good equaliser against the Blades when Harry Kane rolled home a loose ball. However, VAR official Michael Oliver ruled that Lucas Moura had grazed the ball with his hand as he fell. Contact was minimal at best, not to mention that Moura had been clearly fouled. The goal was chalked off and Spurs were not even afforded a free-kick.

Liverpool get away with one

Such is the inconsistency in the handball rule, Liverpool got away with what looked a blatant one in their crunch clash with Manchester City. City burst into a dangerous position in the Reds’ box and the ball clearly hit Trent Alexander-Arnold’s outstretched arm. The referee waved play on and Liverpool went up the other end and scored in a game-changing moment. The video assistant referee did not overrule the decision and Liverpool were in front instead of conceding a penalty.

Jan Vertonghen’s trip

Watford's Gerard Deulofeu, right, was denied a clear penalty against Spurs
Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu, right, was denied a clear penalty against Spurs (PA)

Spurs were the beneficiaries of one of the most puzzling decisions in their match with Watford. Gerard Deulofeu broke into the box and looked to be tripped by defender Jan Vertonghen. No penalty was given at the time, with the Spaniard pleading with the referee Chris Kavanagh to check with VAR. He did, but somewhat amazingly Kavanagh’s decision stood after the VAR official chose not to see what appeared an obvious trip.

John Lundstram’s big toe

The multi-coloured perpendicular lines are going to be an enduring image of the season, having ruled out plenty of goals for the most marginal offside decisions. There was Roberto Firmino’s armpit at Aston Villa and Pedro Neto’s hand at Anfield, but perhaps none were more frustrating than John Lundstram’s big toe which saw Sheffield United robbed of a goal at Spurs. A few centimetres of Lundstram’s boot were ruled offside as he crossed, from which David McGoldrick scored from a second phase of play.

Technology fail

There was more misery for Sheffield United in the first game back after the coronavirus suspension as they were denied a goal by a technology breakdown, with VAR heavily criticised for not intervening. Oliver Norwood’s free-kick was carried over the line by Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland. The Hawk-Eye technology inexplicably did not work as all seven cameras were blocked, meaning referee Michael Oliver did not receive a notification. He allowed play to continue, which means that VAR could not intervene, despite replays showing the ball had clearly crossed the line.