VAR stole the show.
Not that it was much of a show, anyway – Chelsea and Norwich offered their own nomination for one of the most tedious games of the season. That, was, up until it perversely, astonishingly and quite annoyingly – it made the perfect pre bed chill – the game exploded into life.
The Canaries stole a late goal and extra-time duly came. Now, the game has and will continue to be marred in the controversy of VAR; Willian, by public consensus, was adjudged to have been brought down in the box.
Graham Scott, the referee, did not consult VAR. The rules of this video assistance stipulate that the decision must be “clear and obvious” (paraphrasing).
That Scott then awarded William a yellow card, for perceived simulation, gave all those VAR-sceptics something even more to lament: Alan Shearer, the tribal leader of the anti-VAR brigade labelling it a “shambles”.
My view is that this whole event would not have happened were it not for the lamentable and sordid simulation previously displayed by Antonio Conte’s men.
Pedro had seen yellow, and then red. The first booking the product of a clear dive. Alvaro Morata then saw yellow – again an obvious dive – and received his marching orders for protesting.
These decisions were brave. Scott, undaunted by the baying Stamford Bridge crowd, refused to buckle. These decisions were also right, and it says much about the sterile nature of Chelsea that they had to resort to cheating to see off Championship opposition.
Without wanting to enter into conjecture, it is highly conceivable that the previous simulation from Pedro – the penalty decision came prior to Morata’s dismissal – played into Scott’s thinking.
Would he have so quickly dismissed William’s tumble to the ground as nothing more than simulation had Pedro not dived earlier? Inconclusive, clearly, but something to chew over.
Scott, though, was convincing in his confrontation of perceived simulation. The Premier League needs more referees like Scott, willing to hand out punishments for a disease that refuses to go away.
It is diving, not VAR, that ruined this spectacle. It is diving, not VAR, that continues to threaten the beauty of the Premier League.
Written by Michael Jones
Follow Michael on Twitter @jonesmichael_97
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