VAR shambles! Arsenal were robbed and it's an embarrassment to the Premier League
So, it has now emerged that Lee Mason, the VAR for Arsenal’s game against Brentford on Saturday, forgot to draw the lines to check if Christian Norgaard was offside when setting up Ivan Toney’s controversial late equaliser.
What an absolute shambles. How can that happen at this level? At any level?
You can accept human error when it happens on the pitch given the speed of Premier League football, but Mason was sat at Stockley Park in front of countless monitors with the technology right there in his hands. He had one job to do and he forgot. That is completely unacceptable.
The fact that there were actually two offsides leading up to the goal makes it even worse. No wonder Mikel Arteta was furious after the game.
And that was before he even knew that Mason had forgotten to draw the lines to check if Norgaard was offside. Can you imagine how Arteta is feeling this morning?
“It was a horrendous decision,” Danny Murphy said while analysing the game for Match of the Day on Saturday night.
“Awful error,” Alan Shearer agreed.
Mason’s error was revealed in the Daily Mail by PGMOL representative Chris Foy, who was actually in the match centre at Stockley Park on Saturday.
Foy explained that Mason took so long checking to see if Ethan Pinnock was offside when the free-kick initially came in that he simply forgot to draw the lines to check the second incident, when Pinnock flicked the ball down for Norgaard to cross for Toney.
Had he done so, the offside would have been given and the goal - which saw Arsenal drop two crucial points in the title race - would have been ruled out.
“I’m still amazed that has happened,” Murphy continued.
“I’m also amazed because that should have been the first thing they checked because that was the last thing that happened before the goal.”
Obviously we don’t know yet how costly Mason’s mistake is going to be Arsenal’s title hopes this season.
But when you are competing with Manchester City you can barely afford to slip up, such has been the level of their performance over recent seasons.
Arteta knows that and that’s why he was so angry after the full-time whistle.
Arsenal weren’t great against Brentford, in fact they were second best for most of the afternoon. The visitors were excellent and fully deserved to get something from the game.
But the fact is Arsenal, despite being under par, found a way to get themselves in front and were heading for a vital victory thanks to Leandro Trossard’s strike.
And then the totally inept Mason failed to do his job properly and turned the game on its head.
There are millions of pounds at stake here. There is a Premier League title on the line. There is simply no excuse for what happened on Saturday.
Let’s not forget that it was Mason who was on VAR duty when Arsenal lost at Manchester United earlier in the season. He was the man who ruled out Gabriel Martinelli’s goal which would have seen Arsenal take the lead.
PGMOL later admitted that was a mistake and the goal should have been allowed to stand.
Mason also somehow ruled out a goal for Newcastle in September when he deemed Joe Willock had fouled Crystal Palace keeper Vicente Guiata, even though replays clearly showed he had been pushed into Guiata by Tyrick Mitchell.
That decision saw Mason axed from the referee’s list for the following weekend’s round of fixtures.
So this isn’t a one-off incident. He is clearly not fit for purpose, so why is he being allowed to continue overseeing these games on a weekly basis?
This isn’t a VAR thing. VAR is not to blame. It’s the incompetent people sat using it in the studio at Stockley Park who must take responsibility.
Saturday was a total embarrassment all round. It wasn’t just at Arsenal.
Brighton saw a perfectly good goal chalked off at Palace because VAR John Brooks drew the offside lines on the wrong defender. The incompetence would be hilarious if it wasn’t so costly.
And how on earth were Chelsea not awarded a late penalty when Tomas Soucek clearly blocked Conor Gallagher's low shot with his hand?
On that incident you could at least argue that the decision was subjective, but you can’t do that at the incidents at Arsenal and Palace.
The technology was right there to be used and it wasn’t used correctly, or even used at all. There is no excuse for that and there must be consequences.
The Premier League prides itself on being the ‘the best league in the world’. Yet every week it is being tarnished by utter ineptitude at the highest level.
Never has that been more evident than what happened at Arsenal on Saturday.
Mikel Arteta’s side were let down by all involved. It remains to be seen just how costly that mistake proves to be.