Chelsea Fight Off VAR at Vicarage Road

I firmly maintained, after our exit from the cup on Wednesday night, I would’ve had no problems with the defeat provided we went ahead and beat Watford on Saturday night. It would’ve all been worth it and I’m delighted to say it was.

The Game

Going into this fixture having won six consecutive away games in a row, it really couldn’t have started much better for the Blues. From just inside his own half, Jorginho played a quite brilliant arching through ball to Tammy Abraham who only had to look up before lobbing Ben Foster. The latter was stranded and stood no chance of preventing the ball flying into the net.

The Watford ‘keeper had a brilliant game and was the only thing that prevented Chelsea scoring several more goals before the first half could even finish. He couldn’t save everything however. In the 55th minute, a low ball across the Watford box was smashed home low and hard by Christian Pulisic, who was keen to prove his heroics from the weekend before weren’t just a one-off.

Watford managed to get one goal back through a Gerard Deulofeu penalty in an incident I will be talking about in depth later in the article. Chelsea found themselves under immense pressure in the final moments of the game and a brilliant Kepa Arrizabalaga save stopped Ben Foster being an unlikely hero with the final touch of the game.

What exactly is the point of VAR?

Quite literally every weekend I find myself talking to fans of all clubs about VAR. Surprise surprise, this one was no different.

One of the main talking points immediately after this game was the Watford Penalty awarded in the 80th minute. Jorginho was certainly careless in his possession of the ball so close to the Chelsea goalmouth but the ensuing contact and refereeing decision was truly staggering. I’m not going to even try and deny that there was contact from Jorginho, anyone can see that if you watch the incident. However, Deulofeu seems unfazed by this initial contact and goes down later in what looks like a dive.

What’s most frustrating is it’s almost a carbon copy of the incident involving Callum Hudson-Odoi last weekend at Turf Moor. However, instead of being rewarded with a penalty, Hudson-Odoi was left with a yellow card for simulation. How can there be such a staggering lack of consistency from game to game?

Something that also continues to confuse me in why referees fail to use the monitors that have been put on the side of the pitch for them to consult. VAR has cost a huge amount to implement and part of it isn’t even being utilised. For what it’s worth, I think VAR is an excellent idea and we need referees to be further regulated to ensure decisions are as accurate as possible, but the way it has been used so far has done nothing but create further controversy.

VAR Decision? Get rid of it until it’s in a position to be implemented properly.

Mateo Kovacic:

Wow. What a performance this guy put in yesterday. In total he had 154 touches and completed a further 140 passes. Those numbers are insane and he quite literally broke the Squawka Heatmap. It’s no surprise he emerged as a comfortable Man of the Match.

I often did wonder if Mateo was misused last season. Being played furthest forward in a midfield three alongside N’Golo Kanté and Jorginho last season meant that he was exposed for his only real shortcoming in terms of scoring goals. Having Mason Mount ahead of him this year has removed any doubts surround him as a player and he looks to have been a bargain at just £40 million last summer.

Goalkeeper Code

It was heartwarming to see the warm embrace that Kepa Arrizabalaga and Ben Foster after the former’s match winning save in the 94th minute. Foster had a brilliant game and made some outstanding saves against both Mount and Pulisic in the first half. When a goalie makes a mistake, chances are it’s going to end in a goal, so they have to make sure they stick together. Hence why Ben Foster, despite being denied by him, was the first person to congratulate Kepa.

Final Verdict

Despite its best efforts, VAR could do little to dampen Chelsea spirits. This was the perfect way to bounce back from the midweek cup exit and its now seven wins in a row for Chelsea away from home. It’s also brilliant to see Tammy Abraham back on the scoresheet, he needed that goal and it will keep him ticking over, it’s now 10 goals overall this season from the Young Lion.

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