Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City

It might have been entirely overshadowed by the disallowed goal towards the end of the match, but the performance by Manchester City over Tottenham Hotspur was as comprehensive as one will get within the top six teams of the Premier League. Realistically, the fact that Manchester City is already on the same levels as last year, including Kevin De Bruyne who managed to place his injuries behind him, will matter a great deal more than the 2 points they dropped this weekend.

Tottenham’s Performance

As for Tottenham Hotspur, it’s nearly impossible to be disappointed with the overall performance that was displayed against Manchester City, especially when you consider that the match ended in a 2-2 draw. The midfield trio of Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Winks, and Moussa Sissoko was like a revolving door throughout the game. However, it had loads to do with the lack of assistance they received from the attacking midfielders and had to do plenty of fire-fighting on the flanks, where Kyle Walker-Peters and Danny Rose had difficult times. The absence of Jan Vertonghen, Son Heung-Min, and Dele Alli didn’t help the situation either which is very unlike the manager of Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino.

VAR Problems

The pull-down that Erik Lamela had on Rodri looked like a penalty from a fan’s perspective on television, and it seemed like something that Michael Oliver, as the referee of the match, needed to review. There are mainly 2 points to make here. Firstly, no one knows why an on-field review wasn’t requested during the incident. VAR might have alerted the referee, who informed them that he was satisfied with his evaluation as he witnessed it on the pitch, which is highly unlikely, or VAR decided not to notify the referee as it didn’t meet the high bar standards for a review.

There is an easy and quick fix for this, which is only better communication. This might have been mentioned before, but a brief description of why the decision was made to the media would have resolved a lot of tension and confusion among those who watched the game. Secondly, the explanation that the high bar standards for VAR weren’t met is quite problematic. Whether you thought that this was a penalty or not, it’s the referee’s call. If the bar needs to be set any higher, then there’s no need for on-filed reviews going forward.

As for the disallowed goal from Gabriel Jesus, it’s not a VAR issue. It’s basically regarding the changes to the game, in the same way that the goal was disallowed for Leander Dendoncker in the Wolves game last weekend. Since 1 June 2019, the laws surrounding a handball state that if it leads to a goal, even accidental, it invalidates that goal. This can be written much better, but it is what it is. Everyone needs to get used to it, unfortunately.