VAR in the spotlight again after awarding Sheffield United penalty without checking if foul actually took place

The Video Assistant Referee system has taken centre stage in English football once again on Saturday night, after awarding a penalty to Sheffield United versus Liverpool.

United in front

The Reds and Blades are currently locked in action at Anfield, in a Premier League clash.

Jurgen Klopp’s champions no doubt headed into proceedings with their sights firmly fixed on all 3 points, having failed to pick up a victory in either of the club’s last two league outings.

Sheffield United, though, had endured an altogether disappointing start to their own campaign. With 5 outings played prior to tonight, the surprise package of last season’s Premier League campaign had secured just a solitary point.

As such, it came as a surprise to the masses when it was the Blades who took the lead at Anfield.

The opener came with 13 minutes on the clock, from the penalty spot.

After Fabinho went to ground in an attempt to to dispossess Oli McBurnie on the edge of the box, referee Mike Dean quickly whistled for a free-kick.

A VAR check followed, though, upon which it was decided that the Brazilian’s challenge had in fact taken place inside the box.

As such, a penalty was forthcoming, with Sander Berge having stepped up to slot away the ensuing spot-kick with minimal fuss.

VAR controversy

Berge’s strike, however, was swiftly followed by a major outcry on the part of the Liverpool faithful.

Upon replays being broadcast, it did appear as though Oli McBurnie’s foot was on the line of the hosts’ area upon contact being made by Fabinho.

The issue, however, was not whether or not the incident took place inside or outside the box. Instead, it surrounded the fact that the Liverpool star, who was fielded in a centre-half role once again this evening, had in fact won the ball before connecting with McBurnie.

As such, the general assumption was that VAR had simply interpreted Fabinho’s challenge, incorrectly, as a foul.

This aspect of the incident, as has since been confirmed, however, was not even checked.

Bafflingly, the VAR team focused their attentions solely on whether contact between the two players in question had taken place inside or outside the Liverpool box.

In turn, the officials failed to ascertain whether or not Mike Dean’s initial interpretation of the challenge as a foul was correct or not.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Everton FC 5 7 13
2 Aston Villa FC 5 7 12
3 Leeds United 6 3 10
4 Liverpool FC 5 0 10
5 Crystal Palace FC 6 -1 10
6 Leicester City FC 5 4 9
7 Arsenal FC 5 2 9
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 5 -2 9
9 Tottenham Hotspur FC 5 7 8
10 Chelsea FC 5 4 8
11 West Ham United FC 6 4 8
12 Manchester City FC 5 0 8
13 Southampton FC 5 -1 7
14 Newcastle United FC 5 -2 7
15 Manchester United FC 4 -3 6
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 5 -2 4
17 West Bromwich Albion 5 -8 2
18 Burnley FC 4 -5 1
19 Sheffield United FC 5 -5 1
20 Fulham FC 6 -9 1
Player Team Goals
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 7
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 7
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 6
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 6
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 5
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 5
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 5
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 4
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 4
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 4
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 4
Rodriguez, James Everton FC 3
Grealish, Jack Aston Villa FC 3
Jorginho Chelsea FC 3
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 3
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 3
Antonio, Michail West Ham United FC 3
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 3
Jimenez, Raul Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 3
Bowen, Jarrod West Ham United FC 3

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