ESPN’s Dale Johnson explains how despite criticism, VAR suffers most because so few understand what’s going on.

VAR this, VAR that, VAR, VAR, VAR. Yep, that’s all we talk about these days. And it’s all we’re likely to talk about for years to come. It’s the Brexit of Premier League football. 

So yes, this is another article on VAR — but with a difference! Just how much impact has VAR had on the table?  

ESPN and the team led by Dr. Thomas Curran at the London School of Economics have compiled the Anti-VAR Index, which shows how the league would look if VAR decisions were removed from games. 

But we’re not just removing goals here to get the amended results. That would be far too simple. We’ve developed an algorithm that takes into account many factors, such as form, performance and relative strength, then we’ve put that into the mix with the VAR decisions and got a whole new set of results. 

Man City shoot up to second, Sheffield United move closer to the top four, Wolves are into the European places and Southampton get cut adrift at the very bottom.

Sheffield United had a goal disallowed at Tottenham, one of two decisions that have gone against them.

Liverpool have surged clear at the top, and believe it or not VAR has not been working in Jurgen Klopp’s favour with overturns having no effect on their points tally. Liverpool are given a victory at Manchester United (drew 1-1) and a draw at Chelsea (won 2-1), which even themselves out. Maybe the title isn’t going to be won in the VAR room.  

Manchester City, however, climb into second and the gap is cut to seven points, with two extra points from their late winner against Tottenham that was ruled out by the VAR after the ball hit the arm of Aymeric Laporte

But the VAR cannot help Tottenham‘s poor league position, with a loss of the point at City dropping them into 15th. 

Leicester City have been one of the real winners with VAR, having four decisions go in their favour — more than any other club. Brendan Rodgers’ side lose three points in the Anti-VAR table, which sees them drop to fourth. And they also lose a total of eight goals, with the red card for Ryan Bertrand removed in the Foxes’ 9-0 win at Southampton to make that result a 3-0 win.

Speaking of Southampton, they might have that thrashing minimised but they still lose four points to drop to the foot of the table with an eight-point gap to safety. Their win at Sheffield United becomes a defeat, while they lose the point they gained at Wolves. Without VAR, Saints are in serious trouble.

The Anti-VAR table at the November international break.
The Anti-VAR table at the November international break.

However the Eagles are soaring with VAR, as Crystal Palace drop from 12th to 17th, into the midst of a relegated battle. Brighton also slide, down three places into 11th after their VAR-inspired penalty comeback against Everton.

If there’s one club that really should hate VAR it’s Wolves, who pick up four points — more than any team in the Anti-VAR table — to climb to sixth. While the VAR has only got involved in their matches twice, they have been key incidents against Leicester and Southampton in games that they drew. 

It will come as no surprise to Chelsea fans that they are the most hard done by, with all four VAR overturns going against them. However only one goal, when Mason Mount was flagged offside against Liverpool, made a material difference to their results. Arsenal and Manchester United both gain a point but lose a place due to Wolves’ ascent. 

It’s no wonder Marco Silva hates VAR so much and wants it scrapped altogether, because the biggest winners by league position are Everton, moving up six places from 15th and into the top half of the table after the loss at Brighton becomes a victory.

Sheffield United are three points better off, which moves them to within touching distance of the Champions League places. West Ham have three points added too, nudging them up two places to 14th. 

Latest VAR stats

Total overturns: 29
Leading to goals: 7
Disallowed goals: 18
Penalties awarded: 5 (2 missed)
Penalties overturned: 1
Red cards: 1
Most net decisions: Palace, Leicester 3
Most net against: Chelsea 4
Most involvement: West Ham 6
Most decisions for: Leicester 4
Against: Chelsea 4

Only club yet to experience overturn: Newcastle

Yet to get overturn in favour: Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Newcastle, Sheffield United, Wolves

Yet to get overturn against: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Watford