Sunday 11 August 2019 6:29 pm

VAR could avoid £100m errors or ensure the right team wins the Premier League, its flaws are a small price to pay

Death, taxes and Manchester City racking up a cricket score at the London Stadium; whatever life throws at us it is reassuring to know that some things remain unavoidable.

Also in that category: people moaning about the video assistant referee (VAR), which had a major bearing on whether West Ham shipped three, four or five against the Premier League champions on Saturday.

Central to the complaints were the delays caused when checking if Raheem Sterling was offside for Gabriel Jesus’s disallowed effort and his own second goal, and whether Declan Rice had encroached before clearing the loose ball from Sergio Aguero’s saved penalty.

Read more: A bluffer’s guide to how VAR works


Seemingly lost on the VAR truthers is the fact that – as a direct result of the reviews – all of the above decisions were ultimately called correctly.

Perhaps it is because these short delays seem an unnecessary convenience when the only issue in question is the severity of the thrashing City dish out on the opening weekend of a new season.

But what about in a relegation decider on the final day of the campaign, when making the wrong call would unjustly cost a club another season in the top flight and upwards of £100m?

And if the title race proves as close as last year, the exact number of goals that City or Liverpool score could even decide the destination of the trophy. The season already has that whiff about it.

Referee Mike Dean communicates with the VAR (video assistant referee) as a Manchester City penalty, which was saved, is being checked and ruled that it must be retaken during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester City at The London Stadium, in east London on August 10, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
VAR has been introduced to the Premier League for the first time this season. Credit: Getty

Let us follow, for a moment, VAR critics’ line of reasoning to its logical conclusion: that it is worth getting things wrong if it means fewer stoppages to play. Speed is better than justice.

That is cutting the nose off to spite the face. Pauses in the game while reviews are carried out will continue to upset some, but VAR’s drawbacks really are a small price to pay for making the game fairer.

Early leavers pay price at Spurs

On the topic of constants, Tottenham continue to leave it late at their new home, Harry Kane’s double in the last five minutes finally seeing off a leggy Aston Villa on Saturday evening.

Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane celebrates  scoring the team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on August 10, 2019. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Kane scored twice in the last five minutes as Tottenham beat Villa 3-1. Credit: Getty

Spurs have scored 13 times in their eight games at the state-of-the-art stadium, but 10 of those have come in the second half and the majority in the final quarter of an hour.

Food for thought for any Tottenham supporters thinking of leaving early to beat the rush.

On the other hand, less incentive to desert the on-site microbrewery and be in position before kick-off.

Arsenal’s case for the defence

The season may be but one weekend in but one of the most eye-catching records of last season has already been equalled.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal FC at St. James Park on August 11, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Aubameyang scored the only goal in Arsenal’s win at Newcastle on Sunday. Credit: Getty

Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Newcastle on Sunday, earned by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cool second-half finish, means they have matched last season’s tally of clean sheets in league games away from home.

Rather than defensive brilliance, on this occasion it owed more to the toothlessness of the Magpies’ attack at a subdued St James’ Park some 4,000 spectators short of its average attendance amid a protest at owner Mike Ashley.

Main image credit: Getty

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