Arsenal won 4-0 against Newcastle United on Sunday, but that shouldn’t stop us drawing attention to a terrible offside decision against Mesut Özil in the second half.
With Arsenal 2-0 up and just over 20 minutes to play, Granit Xhaka played a first-time pass out to Mesut Özil on the left. The ball caught the Newcastle defenders by surprise, freeing up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make an unopposed run into the box.
Özil played a nice pass into the path of Arsenal’s top goalscorer, who looked certain to score. But the offside flag was up, and the referee blew his whistle.
The thing is, Özil wasn’t offside. We don’t even need the VAR lines to see that, as it’s clear from the freeze-frame.
Aubameyang was nowhere near offside when Özil played the pass to him either, as you can see below.
You can also note the assistant with his flag up and the referee blowing his whistle. Arsenal had no choice but to stop playing before the chance was over. Nobody wants a repeat of Robin van Persie vs Barcelona. If the whistle goes, you stop.
If the assistant keeps his flag down (as he should), or the referee holds back on whistling, Aubameyang can put the ball in the net and VAR can give the goal.
Instead, the official gets the decision wrong and then compounds his error by not even giving it a chance to play out.
In a way, it’s good this happened. It’s nice to have such a clear-cut example of incompetence when it comes to the use of VAR. This is the sort of thing giving the system a bad reputation when it’s really nothing to do with the technology, it’s just terrible officiating.