It was just the first of what would be many aggravating moments on Monday night, as Manchester United beat Chelsea for the third time this season, and the second at Stamford Bridge.
While Chelsea could’ve of course played better, and there’s little use in moaning about things we ultimately can’t control — other than maybe a bit of therapy — it’s wholly unfair to put this loss squarely on the players’ of the manager’s shoulders. It’s tough enough to consistently win in a league that’s all about small margins (especially below the level of Liverpool), let alone when all the supposedly neutral arbiters conspire against you as well.
And we don’t mean just Anthony Taylor, whose incompetence is widely documented (and yet remains one of the top referees in the World’s Best League™). It’s one thing for the referee to miss things in “live time”, as Ray Hudson likes to call it. It’s something entirely different for VAR, aided by all this wonderful replay technology, to miss obvious things.
Lol— Michy Batshuayi (@mbatshuayi) February 17, 2020
Red— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) February 17, 2020
It’s hardly an isolated case of course. VAR’s foibles have been exposed repeatedly this season and at the very least, the Premier League needs to go back to the drawing board in its implementation.
If they do, perhaps Michy Batshuayi’s ... “boys” ... will not have suffered in vain.
About 20 minutes into Monday’s game, the Chelsea striker and Manchester United captain Harry Maguire tumbled to the ground right in front of the Chelsea bench. As they were falling, Maguire, appeared to clearly kick out at Batshuayi’s midriff — or as it turns out, his family jewels. It was quite a clean strike as well, and you could practically see Batshuayi’s hit points falling away, Mortal Kombat style.
It immediately reminded everyone of the Son vs. Rüdiger incident, for which the Spurs forward was eventually sent off. Not coincidentally, Anthony Taylor was also the referee that day. He also didn’t call anything on Son. But that day, VAR made the right call. Today, VAR didn’t. What was the difference, other than the VAR person himself? Absolutely nothing.
To make things even more farcical, Maguire, who would of course go on to score the goal that settled game, didn’t even deny afterwards that he kicked Batshuayi in the nuts. Instead, he tried to claim that he was protecting himself by keeping his leg straight.
Pro-tip, Harry: unless you want to break your bones, bend your appendages when bracing yourself, be that in a car crash or a sideline tumble.
Or, better yet, come up with better lies.