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Worst VAR calls in Premier League history

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Even describing VAR as marmite would be a flattering portrayal.

Since the Premier League followed the lead of the rest of Europe’s top five divisions in 2019 by introducing VAR, football supporters haven’t quite taken to the technology as quickly as those in charge would have hoped.

Here are the ten worst VAR decisions in England’s top flight since it was first rolled out.

10. Stuart Armstrong escapes red card on Aymeric Laporte

It was hoped that VAR would reverse ‘clear and obvious’ errors on behalf of the officials, but Stuart Armstrong’s nasty, studs-up challenge on Aymeric Laporte last season underlines its blindspot.

The game was petering out to a 1-1 draw when, ten minutes from time, the Man City central defender was caught high up on his thigh by a crunching challenge by Armstrong.

VAR failed to correct the referee’s error, with Laporte’s tweet from the dressing room post-match highlighting the severity of cut on his anatomy.

9. Mario Lemina’s ‘handball’ against Tottenham

VAR’s hazy rules over handball incidents was highlighted in March 2021 when Fulham were denied an equaliser against Tottenham in their 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage.

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Josh Maja appeared to score a legitimate goal, but the strike was ruled out when Mario Lemina was adjudged to have handled the ball previously in the move.

Although partly true, it was difficult to make the case that the Cottagers had gained an advantage considering the ball was blasted against the Frenchman, who had his arms by his side, from five yards away.

8. Diogo Jota buys a spot-kick

Another issue with VAR is that incidents that occur on the field are either black or white. There is very little room for context.

This particular problem was highlighted when Liverpool were awarded a penalty in their 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park last season after Diogo Jota went down in the penalty area under contact from Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

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After initially waving away appeals, the referee reversed his decision after a trip to the pitchside monitor despite replays visibly showing that the contact was initiated by the Portuguese forward.

7. Phil Foden punished for his honesty

City boss Pep Guardiola was left incensed when his side were denied a penalty against Southampton in the 2020/21 campaign after Phil Foden appeared to have been clattered by goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

However, instead of staying down after the contact, the England midfieler immediately rose to his feet with an opportunity to score. The move eventually ended in nothing, but there was a mutual understanding that a spot-kick would be awarded after the referee was informed by VAR.

Instead, the VAR concurred with referee Jon Moss’ call and, in the end, Foden was penalised for his integrity.

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6. Ben Godfrey escapes punishment for Takehiro Tomiyasu incident

Matches between Arsenal and Everton at Goodison Park are invariably spicey affairs, and last season’s clash between the two failed to disappoint.

However, the Gunners faithful were left aggrieved when Toffees defender Ben Godfrey appeared to land a boot on Takehiro Tomiyasu’s face with the Japanese player prone on the turf.

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Referee Mike Dean was ordered to pay a visit to the pitchside monitor, but no further action was taken on a night when Mikel Arteta’s side suffered a late defeat.

5. Ederson takes down Ryan Fraser

Newcastle were denied what appeared a clear-cut penalty decision when Ryan Fraser went down in the area against Man City last season.

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City’s blushes were spared given Fraser didn’t make any contact with the ball as Joao Cancelo mopped up the danger, but the Scotland international was wiped out by a sliding Ederson as the Brazilian rushed out of his goal.

The St. James’ Park faithful were up off their seats, while Cancelo appeared to stop in possession of the ball half-anticipating that a penalty would be given.

4. Joao Moutinho’s ArmpitGate

Wolves midfielder Joao Moutinho was left stunned when he was penalised for a handball in his side’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Man City at the Etihad Stadium last season.

With his arms raised, Bernardo Silva’s cross struck the Portuguese, although replays showed that the ball had hit the midfielder’s armpit area.

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Wolves boss Bruno Lage was less than impressed with the decision in his interview after the game.

3. Jordan Pickford ends Virgil van Dijk’s season

Liverpool’s title defence in 2020/21 was effectively ended when Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford collided with Virgil van Dijk at Goodison Park in a goalless Merseyside Derby draw.

It was a clear-cut red card offence given the height and angle in which the Toffees stopper caught Van Dijk, but he escaped punishment given the Dutchman was flagged offside.

The Liverpool defender never played again that season as a result of the challenge, while referee Michael Oliver later admitted that Pickford should have walked for the tackle.

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2. Harry Kane escapes red card for Andy Robertson lunge

In a game fraught with controversy from last season, Harry Kane was bizarrely spared a straight red card for a wild lunge on Andy Robertson.

Jurgen Klopp certainly took umbrage with the decision as he approached referee Paul Tierney at full-time after an entertaining 2-2 draw, with the German fuming that Robertson was later given his marching orders following a VAR review for a kick on Emerson Royal.

1. VAR rules no handball on Rodri at Goodison Park

“A three-year-old could tell you that is a penalty,” bemoaned Everton boss Frank Lampard after his side were denied a penalty in their 1-0 defeat to Man City last season.

Attempting to control a loose ball in the penalty area, Rodri appeared to strike the ball with his arm outside of his natural silhouette, although Everton appeals were waved away.

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The decision was magnified given Liverpool finished just a point behind City in the Premier League title race, with a potentially pivotal call going in the Cityzens direction at a crucial stage in the season.

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EPL

Armando Broja discusses his father’s training methods, inspirations & Albanian pride

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Armando Broja has spoken about the tireless hours his family would commit to ensuring he made it as a footballer in his youth, and what it means to be a young star representing Albania on the world stage.

Broja shot to prominence at Southampton last season, on loan from Chelsea. The forward impressed throughout the campaign and returned to west London having scored nine goals in all competitions and racking up 32 Premier League appearances.

Since returning to his parent club, the Albanian international has penned a new long-term contract with Chelsea and been integrated into the first-team, featuring for Thomas Tuchel before his dismissal as head coach.

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But the future remains bright for Broja, despite the managerial change, with Graham Potter now in the hot seat.

Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, Broja credited his mentality and ability to thrive under pressure to his family, namely his father, who pushed him throughout his childhood.

“He’s always been so desperate to succeed and for his kids to succeed. Growing up, there wasn’t a minute to waste. Time was the most precious thing to him,” the striker said.

“I remember when I was young and just starting off in football, he’d come home from work late and he’d be exhausted. It might be like 10 or 11 at night and he might’ve worked a 15-hour day, but he’d always ask, ‘Armando, have you done your training today?’”

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“Obviously lyin’, I’d be like, ‘Mmm, yes?’” he added: “He’d know the truth, though, and out we’d go to the park and he’d make me run laps. Twenty times around the pitch.”

Broja went further, explaining his father’s detailed eye for his traits and progression: “When I had a growth spurt around 16, he got worried I was gonna lose my speed. Pace had always been one of my biggest strengths. So he took me out to do hill sprints for like an hour at a time.

“I was basically falling down the hill by the end and he’s there standing over me like, ‘Nah, go again. Another one. Defenders gonna catch you.’

“We joke now that my success is 50-50. Half mine, half his and my mum’s. They put in the work you don’t see. In those early years, though, the balance was waaaay more on their side.”

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Broja also discussed his inspirations, explaining that his affinity for Brazilian legend Ronaldo came from his father, after he would show him clips on YouTube.

But alongside R9, Broja namedropped Lorik Cana – the first and only Albanian to play in the Premier League before him.

It was this that fuelled his discussion about flying the flag for his nation and what it meant to represent Albania, who he earned his first senior international cap for in 2020.

“There was a moment when the England under-21s wanted me and, yeah, I thought about it and what I wanted for my future, but honestly … I didn’t have to think too long,” he explained: “I grew up in England, but I’m proud to be Albanian.

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“Every time I travel for international duty and pull on the red and black I feel this incredible pride and excitement.”

The 21-year-old added, explaining how he relishes the opportunity of being able to shoulder responsibility and expectations at a young age for his country, while also expressing his desire to fire them to a World Cup.

“You can step up and be a star. And if you do well, you can become an icon for eternity. When my career is over, I want my name to live on. For Albania. For my dad.”

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Fixture congestion, Robertson injury, training absences

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Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are gearing up for their first Premier League outing in almost a month when they host Brighton on Saturday.

The Reds sit eighth in the Premier League table after picking up nine points from their opening six games, and a win would only pull them to within a point of the Seagulls who sit fourth heading into the weekend.

Klopp spoke about Trent Alexander-Arnold and his situation within the England squad at length in the presser, but also touched on plenty of other intriguing topics. Here’s what else he had to say.

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Which players are unavailable for the game against Brighton?

“Some are still out, that’s Andy Robertson, that’s Curtis Jones, that’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, that’s Naby Keita. Definitely these four [are out].

“Calvin [Ramsay] is training but not ready to play.”

What is the latest on Andy Robertson’s injury?

“Robertson is doing really good so he’s not out too long. He’s already been out too long if you want but now it was the international break, so that helped in his case a little bit.

“He’s out on the pitch running, which is a good sign. I don’t know if it will be next week or the week after, I don’t know.”

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What is the latest on Calvin Ramsay?

“He had this issue with the back. We know much more about him as a boy now. Really good.

“He just needs to train, train, train and he will probably play for the Under-21s and he can get a game there because we play now all the time, that’s fine.”

Are Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez available for selection?

“Diaz and Jota? Yes, they came back from the international duty and it’s how it always is [after] a long flight, I didn’t see them yet, I have heard they are good.

“Darwin, [missing training] was a precaution after the games, same for Diogo, that’s it I think.”

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What impact will the World Cup have on club football?

“I don’t know how the World Cup will affect the Premier League.

“The boys come back and play a week later. Usually you relax 2-3 weeks then go again.
If you are in the final, you have two days. It’s a really long season.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, but that’s how it is.”

How will Liverpool deal with the upcoming break?

“For us the next six weeks are very important.

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“We didn’t have the start we wanted. For explainable and unexplainable reasons. That’s now gone. Here we go, collect points back.”

How has the gap between games affected the squad?

“To have games in hand is not cool but we can’t change it.

“The majority of my players played. We didn’t play but they did. They should be fine. We never look for excuses. This isn’t the moment to think about that.

“Thank god the last game we played against Ajax was a good game. If it had been Napoli, it wouldn’t be a good international break.”

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How will Brighton fare with Roberto De Zerbi?

“Brighton did extremely well before and now they have a really exciting new manager.
They have a really brave coach. He’s really influential, his football idea suits Brighton.”

“We don’t know what to expect other than really good team.”



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Everton takeover – who are KAM Sports?

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Everton are the latest Premier League club to be linked with a big-money takeover from foreign investors, with KAM Sports eyeing up a deal for the Merseyside institution.

Talks have begun over a potential sale by majority owner Farhad Moshiri, though whether he will end up cashing in remains to be seen.

Here’s the information and key figures behind the approach you need to know about.

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KAM Sports group describes itself as “a family-owned organisation that is set up to own and manage premier international sports assets.”

The Kaminski family first started a real estate and are based in Minneapolis. They were part of a consortium led by Peter Kenyon that tried to buy Everton earlier this year.

However, those talks ended and Toffees owner Farhad Moshiri then said the club was not for sale.

Is a deal close?

90min understands KAM Sports are back in talks with Everton, though the parties are still far away from reaching a final agreement.

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Talks have intensified in recent times following the British pound’s drop against the American dollar, though KAM did release a statement regretting their interest being leaked to the public.

It reads: “As a general principle, we prefer to conduct our business in private to create the fairest environment for those involved – and in this particular situation, to minimize uncertainty for fans of Everton. It is regrettable that this has not been possible.

“We respectfully remain interested in acquiring the club as we believe its fans deserve nothing less than the best, and our offer to achieve this stands. However, in consideration of all Everton fans, we will not be making further public comments at this time.”

Moshiri is not currently thought to be interested in selling Everton. He has pumped £600m into the club since joining in 2016 and his stake sat at 94.1% in January.

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However, last season’s awful campaign has damaged his reputation among Toffees supporters while in March the club announced losses of more than £110m for a third straight season.

Appointments like Rafa Benitez – famously a Liverpool legend – were received poorly and incoming signings in recent years have failed to produce.

Maciek Kaminski

Maciek Kaminski is an American businessman who is the founder and president of Kaminski Asset Management, Inc. They hold significant influence in the stock exchange, managing funds worth billions.

Born in Poland, Maciek graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Physics.

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The Times reported back in June that Kaminski set up a business in February, KAM Sports, to buy a series of sports outfits and media rights, with Everton at the pinnacle. It is claimed that Kaminski would be the majority shareholder and director, while his son, Mikhail, a registered officer of KAM Sports, which is the investment vehicle for the takeover, would also have a seat on the board.

He is said to have amassed an estimated personal wealth of around $1bn, though the family hold no experience of running sports teams.

Mikhail Kaminski

Mikhail Kaminski is the son of Maciek and a registered officer of KAM Sports. If the takeover is successfully completed, he would have a seat on the board.

Peter Kenyon

Peter Kenyon is a businessman who has previously served as the chief executive at Manchester United and Chelsea.

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Kenyon is a controversial figure, having been implicated alongside Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes in breaching FIFA regulations on third-party ownership and conflict of interest in player representation.

He led the consortium in a bid to buy Everton earlier this year.



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