VAR is the future of the game despite hiccups, says Arsenal boss Wenger

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The refereeing body has admitted Willian should not have been booked for diving.

The Video Assistant Referee system may have some “hiccups” along the way, but it remains the future of the game, according to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

Former England captain Alan Shearer labelled VAR as a “shambles” in his role as pundit for the BBC after referee Graham Scott chose not to consult colleague Mike Jones over a penalty claim during extra-time of Chelsea‘s FA Cup third-round replay against Norwich.

Defender Timm Klose has since admitted he had fouled Willian as the Brazilian weaved into the box, before going over and then being cautioned for diving by Scott.

Chelsea eventually prevailed 5-3 on penalties to set up a fourth-round tie with Newcastle, after Jamal Lewis’ late header had cancelled out Michy Batshuayi’s opener in the 55th minute.

The home side finished with nine men following red cards for Pedro and Alvaro Morata, who was shown a second yellow by Scott for protesting at the referee’s decision not to award a penalty when he took a tumble under a challenge from Christoph Zimmermann.

The fall-out from the VAR controversy at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night followed on after the system had been used 24 hours earlier to award a goal for the first time in Leicester’s replay against Fleetwood.

Kelechi Iheanacho’s second effort on 77 minutes had initially been disallowed for offside, a decision which was overturned following review to the VAR by referee Jonathan Moss as the Foxes won 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Frenchman Wenger has long been an advocate of video technology, but accepts there is still work to be done on all sides as to just how it is implemented successfully.

“What you want is to improve the system that exists at the moment and we will contribute to improve it,” said Wenger, who is the longest serving manager in English football.

“There are some hiccups at the start of the functioning certainly and we need to clear up the way it works, yes I agree.

“Is that enough to renounce [the current system]? I would say no, I am still a fervent supporter of it and I believe we have to move forward with it and improve the system certainly, but we have to go with it.

“You cannot imagine that in the future it will not be used. We will have to find the proper way to do it, but it has to go that way.”

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Gerard Pique inks new Barcelona deal to keep him at club until 2022

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Gerard Pique has signed a new deal with Barcelona that will keep him at the club until 2022.

The 30-year-old defender joined the Catalan giants in 2008 after a short spell at Manchester United.

Barcelona said a buy-out clause was in the contract for 500 million.


Pique joined Barcelona when he was 10 years old in 1997. He moved to Manchester United in 2004 but rejoined the Blaugrana in the summer of 2008.

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Chelsea survive FA Cup scare on a night of VAR controversy

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Chelsea survived a scare to advance in the FA Cup at the expense of Norwich on a night which heaped scrutiny on the Video Assistant Referee system which was labelled a “shambles”.

Former England captain Alan Shearer, working as a pundit for the BBC, criticised the decision of match referee Graham Scott not to consult VAR Mike Jones over Timm Klose’s challenge on Willian early in the first period of extra time.

“It’s a shambles,” Shearer said on BBC One.

“We all think that’s an obvious penalty here, and he’s booked him for diving?

“Who on earth is looking at that screen at Stockley Park? What a shocking decision that is.”

Chelsea prevailed 5-3 on penalties to set up a fourth-round tie with Newcastle, but only after three players were booked for diving – with Pedro and Alvaro Morata subsequently sent off.

Blues head coach Antonio Conte was furious over the Willian decision on a night which at times bordered on farce and was full of chaos.

Conte felt Jones should have suggested Scott, who as on-field referee has the final say, review the incident on the pitchside monitor.

“The Willian penalty was a big, big mistake,” Conte said.

“I hope this wasn’t a referee (as VAR). If you don’t see this when you’re watching TV, maybe when you’re on the pitch it would be impossible to see this type of situation.

“I watched it in the changing room and I think it was very clear.

“It was a big mistake. To avoid a big mistake you have to call the referee and to say: ‘Oh look, maybe this situation this is a doubt. It’s better if you go to watch’.

“Otherwise we cut the power to the referee on the pitch, and that is not right.

“If we want to improve – it’s only to try and improve the system – we have to wait to check with the person who is watching the game and then, if this person is sure 100 per cent that it is simulation,
go and book Willian.”

The Premier League champions thought they had won for the first time in 2018 as Michy Batshuayi was on target in Wednesday night’s FA Cup third-round replay at Stamford Bridge.

But Jamal Lewis headed in Klose’s cross in the fourth minute of stoppage time for 1-1 and to force extra time.
And penalties followed, with Willy Caballero saving from Nelson Oliveira before Eden Hazard made sure of Chelsea’s triumph.

Norwich boss Daniel Farke was reluctant to comment on the controversies, as he had not watched the incidents again, but he is not a VAR fan.

“I didn’t watch the scenes back and I don’t want to judge it at all. There were some close decisions in both boxes,” he said.

“I’m a bit old fashioned. I like more the traditional game and when football is simple.

“It’s a good idea, but it’s a bit tricky to handle.”

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