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Referees’ chief asserts on how Liverpool deserved a penalty kick in clash against Arsenal

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By Aishwarya Kannan

Referees’ chief Howard Webb takes a stand in Premier League’s leading Liverpool situation amidst VAR controversy

The VAR was introduced in the Premier League to help referees produce accurate calls in the official fixtures. However, it is safe to say that humans can never negate errors of judgement despite the use of precise technology, which ironically is also invented by humans.

This season, Liverpool have been under the erred scrutiny of the VAR, with a notable incident occurring in November 2023. During their 3-2 defeat against Toulouse, Reds defender Jarell Quansah had a crucial equalizer disallowed. Despite the chance to hit back at the decision, Jurgen Klopp, the team’s manager, chose to accept the defeat. Klopp attributed the loss in France to his team’s shortcomings, opting not to contest the perceived misjudgment by the VAR.

Fast forward a month, the men at the Anfield side have been let down yet again despite the VAR’s precise lens according to referees’ chief Howard Webb. In the latest episode of Sky Sports’ Match Officials: Mic’d Up, the Englishman discusses how the Reds should have been awarded a penalty kick during their 1-1 draw against Arsenal in December, with former Liverpool and Man Utd forward Michael Owen.

PGMOL chief Howard Webb adds to Liverpool Tottenham VAR controversy with fresh statement.
PGMOL chief Howard Webb adds to Liverpool VAR controversy with fresh statement.

VAR robs Liverpool’s point yet again

“The VAR looked at that aspect. He thought it was a case of Odegaard trying to make himself smaller by bringing his arm back to his body. That is the element that’s important here. Whether it’s instinctive or deliberate, he gets a huge advantage by bringing the arm back towards the ball. The feedback we got back afterwards was very clear, the game expects a penalty in this situation and I would agree. As such, this one did not reach the right outcome on that basis,” said Webb in the episode.

Jurgen Klopp is rebuilding Liverpool.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp is rebuilding Liverpool. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Despite the multiple errors of judgement that the Anfield side has been subjected to this season, Liverpool have managed to rise above it all and dominate the league. Besides the partial judgements, Klopp’s side has also suffered the absences of his best defenders and forwards to either international duties or to injuries sustained on the field.

Key players like the team’s captain Andy Robertson, Thiago Alcantara, Joel Matip and Kostas Tsimikas found themselves sidelined from the official fixtures in order to rehabilitate from their injuries. This was followed by top-scorer Mo Salah leaving the Merseyside to captain the Egyptian national team in the race for the Africa Cup of Nations and defender Wataru Endo leaving to captain the Japanese national team in the Asia Cup. The Anfield side has been hit with setbacks one after the other, however, their post atop the Premier League rankings speaks of their resilience and determination.

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Having overcome the numerous hurdles thrown upon them, Liverpool has managed to carve out a potential path for the title claim.