Wenger welcomes VAR despite penalty issue

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During Wednesday’s match, referee Martin Atkinson consulted with video ref Neil Swarbrick on two penalty appeals. AFP

LONDON (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the introduction of a Video Assistant Referee system in English football is a welcome move after the technology was used in his side’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Wenger’s side faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the second match in England to have access to the VAR technology.

It was in effect on Monday for the first time in an English club match, when Brighton beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup third round, but it wasn’t called on then.

On Wednesday, referee Martin Atkinson consulted with video ref Neil Swarbrick, who sat in the Premier League’s control room in west London, on two penalty appeals – one for each team – but no decisions were overturned.

“There was only two opportunities for them to intervene. The second was a bit strange, the ball went out for the corner and then they went back to the penalty,” Wenger said.

“If the referee is not sure we could stop the game straight away.”

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck was involved in the second incident when his second half challenge on Cesc Fabregas was ruled not a penalty after VAR consultation.

Welbeck said: “I didn’t know the VAR was actually looking at that incident. I knew I cleanly got the ball so I wasn’t worried at all.

“I could see him (Atkinson) talking to somebody in his ear but I got the ball clearly so I wasn’t worried.”

Arsenal teammate Calum Chambers added: “You’re aware. You can see them talking in their ear but it’s one of those things, we’ll get used to it.”

Blues boss Antonio Conte added: “I think it was a good solution, when there is a doubt during the game the referee can check and see the situation again and make the best decision.

“It is right, in this way for sure the mistakes are less.”

Oddly, the VAR was not used in Tuesday’s first semi-final between Manchester City and Bristol City.

Second-tier Bristol do not have the necessary set-up to install the VAR for the second leg of the tie in two weeks’ time.

As a consequence, it was not utilised in the first leg in Manchester which the Premier League team won 2-1.

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