By Jake Clay – @JakeClay17
Name me a better pairing than Liverpool and VAR. Rival fans love using the new addition to the Premier League as an excuse for Liverpool impeachable start to the season. If you take the emotion and bias away from analysing VAR’s contribution in Liverpool games, it further highlights the continuation of Liverpool’s successful high line catching out opposition players.
It is easy to say that the presence of the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson etc. have been the reason for the transformation in Liverpool’s defensive record, yet what seems to be forgotten amongst this is their trusted defensive line. As the art of defending has evolved there has been more dependence on quicker defenders who are able keep in line with each other. The line Liverpool use helped them keep the best defensive record in the league last season when they only conceded 22 goals last season and has been ever present this campaign.
Now VAR has been introduced Liverpool’s defensive mechanism has been enhanced due to offside decisions not being in the hands of a lineman’s opinion. There is no in-between as it comes down to a line on the last defender and whether a player is ahead of the line or not. What Liverpool do very well is that no one switches off, if you see Liverpool clearing a corner everyone comes out, so the opposition are leaning on the one who has forgotten their role in defending set pieces.
What seems to have annoyed rival fans is the angles VAR disallowing goals against Liverpool which were correct decisions. The difference between a controversial coming together in the penalty area which may have gone against Liverpool and an offside is two different ends of the refereeing spectrum. Offside cannot be argued with, due to the implication of it being a fact and Liverpool exploiting sides attempting to test their line and failing to do so has enraged rival fans to the point enraged fans portray these situations as ‘Liverpool being lucky’.
The way other fans have gone on about it you would be forgiven for thinking that Kenny Dalglish is sat at Stockley Park drawing lines during Liverpool games. What fans outside of Liverpool FC can’t come to terms with is goals that have been cancelled out due to VAR in correlation with Liverpool’s results plays into the narrative that Liverpool are riding their luck with these decisions
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For instance, back in September Cesar Azpilicueta has a goal ruled out due to Mason Mount’s foot being an inch offside a few passes back in the move. The wider media touted it harsh on Frank Lampard side as Liverpool scored two minutes after the incident. What was ignored was Liverpool’s defending of Chelsea’s chalked off goal which caught Mount offside. Because of the way the game unveiled it is an easy way of diminishing Liverpool’s defence efforts by stating they relied on VAR when their high line proved effective.
The same happened with the Wolves goal on Sunday, when another marginal offside went Liverpool’s way but again it was the correct. In the aftermath of the Wolves backroom staff fuming, social media platforms were once again firing digs at Liverpool that VAR has benefitted them again.
These sceptics will have not seen Pep Lijnders quotes on the importance of second phrases and the detail the coaching staff puts on them. Therefore, when Liverpool clear Wolves corner their set up is correct even in the fine details when a player in yellow’s toe is offside. Of course, the media is going to focus on how unfortunate Wolves were in having an equaliser ruled out but, by the offside law Jonny had the same advantage as someone with one leg offside.
In one way it is understandable for fans to be irked by something they have not experienced in the game before in terms of VAR. Yet this cannot deceive people that a Liverpool side with an extensive lead at the top can be deemed lucky because of newly introduced technology. After all many were warning VAR would be a hinder in Liverpool’s pursuit the league title, not help them.
By Jake Clay [email protected]