Kenedy, Arter, Fred and Pickford - why the Premier League needs VAR more than ever

More of this sort of thing: A referee engrossed in VAR

Football fans are already reminiscing about VAR even before it’s started in the Premier League.

Having moaned the World Cup would be ruined by constantly ‘going upstairs’, in fact the complete opposite happened and it made for some great spectacles.

Those same spectacles would now be better used by Premier League officials.

While Leicester boss Claude Puel curiously raged about Jamie Vardy’s “unlucky” red card against Wolves – Mike Dean got that one right – the ones that got away left fans baffled on another opinion-dividing weekend.

READ MORE: Gossip: De Gea ‘to net new £200k-a-week Man Utd deal’

READ MORE: Real Madrid set lowest home attendance in nine years without Ronaldo

READ MORE: It is time for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to cut ties with Chelsea

Craig Pawson sent Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden off for an ankle-high scythe from behind on Josh Murphy. And he was correct to do so.

But for some reason Pawson opted NOT to red card Kenedy for a vicious off-the-ball kick on Victor Camarasa even though he was less than two yards from the incident. Not even a talking to.

Craig Pawson takes pity on Kenedy – again

And how Cardiff’s Harry Arter stayed on the pitch for a cynical kick from behind on Joselu on 80 minutes is a total mystery.

Now, nobody wants matches stopped every 15 seconds for petty things but challenges that would make even a grizzled SAS veteran wince merit at least a second glance from the “man upstairs.”

VAR did far more good than harm in the World Cup, adding a level of tension even after the ball had been cleared, spectators looking on in horror as the referee’s buzzer kicked in and a review became imminent.

Somebody “upstairs” should have told Pawson how to discipline those two players properly.

Isaac Hayden saw red for this foul on Josh Murphy
Harry Arter wonders what he did wrong

The same somebody “upstairs” could then have told him that Sean Morrison’s “handball” was actually outside the area.

As it was, a far mightier “man upstairs” decreed that Kenedy would deliver a penalty that even Loris Karius would have saved so justice of sorts was done.


Two others spring to mind that divided opinion: Jordan Pickford’s man-sized clearance that shredded Danny Ings’ shirt and left train tracks down the loanee’s back failed to tempt a card from Lee Mason.

VAR would have proved Mason right despite Southampton manager Mark Hughes’ complaints that the Everton keeper should definitely have been sent off.

Jordan Pickford’s foot might have been high but it was not dangerous
Danny Ings needed repairs to his shirt

And even though things look bleak for Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho at the moment, imagine how much worse they could have been.

One of Jose’s big summer signings – all £47m worth of Fred – played one of the minor roles in the 3-2 defeat at Brighton.

Jamie Vardy was rightly red-cared for this high and dangerous lunge on Matt Doherty

But in the closing stages, the Brazil midfielder launched a foot so high at home player Glenn Murray that it came down with ice on it.

Referee Kevin Friend chose to wave only a finger rather than a card despite Fred’s reckless lunge that almost decapitated team-mate Luke Shaw.

It’s the inconsistency that is hard to take – and only VAR can put that right, as Russia 2018 proved.