Former Premier League referee Graham Poll believes Martin Atkinson overused the video assists referee in Chelsea’s 0-0 draw against Arsenal last night.
Atkinson consulted Neil Swarbrick on four occasions and, although the pair came to the correct decision on those occasions, Poll wasn’t happy with how eager the referee was to use his assistant.
“The officials were like kids at Christmas with a new toy - they just seemed to want to play with it,” Poll wrote for the Daily Mail.
“They should be officiating as if there’s no technology. On Wednesday night I would question whether they did that.”
Poll believes that Atkinson only should have consulted his VAR for Victor Moses’ challenge on Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside Chelsea’s penalty area and for Danny Welbeck’s late challenge on Cesc Fabregas inside Arsenal’s box.
Penalty appeals were rejected on both occasions.
It meant that Chelsea’s match with Arsenal finished 0-0, leaving the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg - held at the Emirates Stadium on January 24 - finely poised.
Arsenal fans would have been furious had Welbeck’s challenge on Fabregas resulted in a Chelsea penalty as replays showed he made contact with the ball.
It took Atkinson and his VAR nearly two minutes to decide on a Chelsea corner, which was the right call.
Yet the corner came to nothing and some football fans believe that the lengthy wait hurt the Blues as they were made to wait, rather than taking the corner instantly.
WHAT THIERRY HENRY SAID ABOUT VAR
Arsenal hero Thierry Henry raised the same point on Sky Sports.
“What you want is clarity and we had it,” Henry said.
“But Chelsea had a corner and Arsenal, I’m not saying they were struggling but you want to take that corner quicker rather than slower and they had to wait and so you get your position back and you wait and you know what’s happening.
“When you get a team in the last five minutes, and you take a corner quick and another one, and so I was like, ‘hmm’.
“That killed a bit of the momentum for Chelsea. But they got it right."
It’s clear, from Wednesday’s match, that has positives and negatives. It helped Atkinson to make the right decisions but with five minutes added on at the end of the match, it seems that time is going to be a big issue.