PL x VAR

PL x VAR

The PL X series is back with the newest in football technology in the spotlight, stay with us as we look at the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Premier League this season.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the introduction of VAR would make the Premier League more entertaining and fair but it has not been received well at all… apart from by Spurs fans.

The latest team to really suffer at the hands of VAR was Aston Villa in their away game against Crystal Palace.

Being 1-0 down away from home is never an easy task to manoeuvre but in the very last minute of the game at Selhurst Park, Villa looked to have got a very important point before referee Kevin Friend consulted VAR and ruled out the strike by Henri Lansbury.

In a statement, the Premier League said: “The referee considered that Jack Grealish committed an act of simulation in the penalty area, and blew his whistle to stop the game before the ball went into goal.

“Under the IFAB protocol the video assistant referee system (VAR) is allowed to review the potential penalty situation. Having reviewed the incident the VAR judged that no ‘clear and obvious’ error had occurred and the on-field decision of simulation remained.”

In my personal opinion, VAR will eventually better the game. There are so many refinements and so much clarity that needs introducing to the process but ultimately once the powers that be have gone through it with a fine tooth comb it will mean a more consistent approach to the laws of the game being abided.

For now, fans in the stadiums will have to persevere with the constant waiting whilst referees consult with there counterparts in the office and teams will feel the nerves as they ponder any little aspects of goals or decisions made.

Whether you like it or not VAR is here to stay. It’s still the same game of football, just reimagined.

Jack Dawson.

DF x DW

A friend of the site talks about his own teams upturn in fortunes.

In another new feature for the upcoming season, guest writer Dan Wiseman has spoken about his teams return to the promised land that is the Premier League.

As an Aston Villa fan, I have learned to savour and appreciate every opportunity that I get to feel pride in my club. They have been few and far between of late, to say the least. The slow, gruelling demise that lead to an inevitable and humilianting relegation from the Premier League in 2015/16, left behind a lingering air of negativity that engulfed the whole club. 

The core of the squad that fell to that 17-point finish was rotten. Brad Guzan, Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards (who’s contract has only just expired) and the like, were a burden to the club, even after their respective departures. Their abhorrent attitudes meant that it took so much time, and so many different approaches, for Villa to finally eek such disruptive influences out of the dressing room.

The Championship was a particularly depressing period in the life of any Aston Villa fan. It took three different managers and their own respective squads, two new ownership groups and a rogue cabbage for Villa to finally find a formula that worked – but when they found it, boy, did it. 

With Dean Smith at the helm, and Jack Grealish as captain, the club found a combination of boyhood Villa supporters that the fans instantly fell in love with. But it was only three months after Smith’s initial appoiment, once Grealish had returned from a long injury lay-off, that the club enjoyed the incredible 10-match winning streak that resulted in the illusive promotion everyone at Villa Park had craved for three seasons.

So when Jack lead a new, improved and very expensive Villa side out into the magnificent Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, alongside Harry Kane and his band of Champions League finalists last Saturday, I couldn’t help but crack a sizeable smile. It felt right. But above all else, it felt like we deserved it. 

But what pleased me most, was the fact that every measurable drop of the pride and passion I felt for Villa in that moment, they repaid on the pitch. It was a superb performance. Dean Smith’s gameplan was executed to perfection – defend deep and in numbers, congest key areas of the pitch, and counter attack quickly and effectively. The defeat was unfortunate, but probably deserved in the end. We tired towards the end of the second half and were quick to squander possession – something you can’t do when playing a side of Spurs’ calibre. This league is a cruel mistress.

But I saw more enough in that match to tell me that Villa will be alright this season. And for a newly-promoted side, that’s all that matters, first and foremost. The performance then enabled me to relax, and enjoy all of the little things that make being in the Premier League the constantly thrilling experience that the fortunate ones amongst of us will know and love.

The simple matter of being on Match of the Day, for example, was something I dearly missed. Being in the Championship, you realise how the size and stature of the Premier League does mean that in the media, especially on television, it can be easily forgotten that there are 72 clubs that exist beneath our fabled first tier. To receive the media coverage and interest, especially when we’ve been spending so much money on transfers, made for a whirlwind transfer window. It seemed like every day there was a new £20M target we were linked with. And I loved every second of it.

Now however, matchday 1 of 38 is in the past. It’ll be a long season, full of ups and downs no doubt, but as a club, we’re more than used to that. We’ve endured the reign of Roberto Di Matteo, the Ross McCormack saga, Attacks from Birmingham fans and from cabbages, John Terry’s tears at Wembley to administration and the verge of financial collapse, amongst all else. We are a club with a storied history that gained one hell of a chapter whilst in the Championship. 

But with all of the new signings, changes to the stadium thanks to our new ownership and their relatively new manager, this era in our history doesn’t feel like just another page – this is a completely different book altogether. Aston Villa are back where they belong.

And it feels fantastic. 

DF Previews…

Dan previews his teams upcoming season.

Aston Villa

Manager: Dean Smith 

Last season: 5th (Promoted via Play-Offs

key player 

Jack Grealish – our captain, our best player and by far the most influential player on the pitch. He’s at the heart of everything that we do. 

Though you could argue it is now Wesley Moraes, because our new record signing looks to have become burdened with being our primary goal threat this season.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Wesley: £22m

Tyrone Mings: £20m

 Matt Targett: £17m

 Ezri Konsa: £12m

 Anwar El Ghazi: £8m

 Jota: £4m

 Kortney Hause: £3m

 Total: £86m 

Imminent: 

 Douglas Luiz: £15m

 Bjorn Engels: £7m

I, personally, would say that the best piece of business we’ve conducted is Man City’s Douglas Luiz. Though, at the time of writing, the transfer has not been finalised, to sign Brazil’s U-23 captain, the golden ball winner at the recent Toulon Tournament and a player Pep Guardiola wanted in his squad for last season (but for a failed work permit) is a huge coup for just £15M.

Who TO SIGN

We seem to be in the market for a new goalkeeper, but a new, yet proven and well-established right-winger is essential in my eyes. Though El Ghazi and Wesley are both very capable players, they are both very young and inexperienced at Premier League level. To have another player in that front three that we can rely on would be ideal.

We were linked with Pablo Fornals before West Ham signed him. Somebody of that stature is what I have in mind.

EXPECTED FINISH

For any newly-promoted side, survival is the obvious and immediate target. But I truly believe in this squad, the coaching staff and the board, which combined with the fact we look set to spend almost £125M this window, means I think we could place very respectably this year.

EXCITING GAME

We’re back in the big time, after a three-year absence, so I can’t wait to see us square up against the top six once again. Going away to Spurs on the opening weekend is a perfect way to kick-off our campaign.

TROPHY?

No, not just yet. Though if we can guarantee survival early on, a nice run in the FA Cup wouldn’t go amiss.

@_DJMW on Twitter.