Tottenham: VAR, Darlow take two points from Spurs against Newcastle

A ball headed into the back of Eric Dier’s arm, and the strong arms of Karl Darlow steal two points from Tottenham Hotspur as VAR continues to ruin football.

Tottenham Hotspur can really only blame themselves as the finishing was not good enough with 12 shots on target and only one goal.

But the reality is an apparent change in the rules of the game is really the reason Spurs did not leave with three points.

So not for the first time this season and clearly not the last – as this seems to be the theme of every game in the Premier League – VAR and a ridiculous handball rule are the storyline in the 1-1 Tottenham-Newcastle draw, not the game.

Tottenham and Darlow both did their jobs

It was not pretty, but Tottenham Hotspur did their job. They dominated possession for most of the game, kept Newcastle pinned deep and had the clean sheet going. The finishing was not great, but the attempts and shots were coming, and it seemed like only a matter of time before Spurs would finish the task, with the strong team Jose lined up.

Harry Kane had several awkward, but on-target efforts, Heung-min Son hit the post, Giovani Lo Celso was parried wide, and somehow Erik Lamela’s free-kick was pushed up and over the bar. Tottenham threw a lot at Karl Darlow and even before VAR, his performance was the story of the match.

Tottenham shot from inside the box and outside the box, from the right, from the left, it really did not matter on the day. The young surprise starter at keeper was just too naive to realize he was not supposed to save all these shots. Whether it was nobody getting on the end of a nice cross from Tanguy Ndombele or the combination play around the top of the box breaking down, Tottenham just did not have the luck to get more past Darlow and it ultimately cost Spurs two points.

Steve Bruce was a big part of the reason Darlow was so effective, employing a deep block the majority of the match, staying in a 5-4-1 formation until very late on when Andy Carroll was brought in as a target and the team switched to a 4-4-2 to try to get something out of the match. While Bruce’s change in formation did not have much of an impact, Carroll on the other hand did have the impact Bruce sought.

Moment of the match

Over the course of 94 minutes, Tottenham had dominated play, more than doubling the passes attempted by Newcastle. More importantly for Spurs, they had kept the Magpies out of the box and had limited them to only two shots and neither were on target.

If not for free-kicks and bad calls for corner-kicks, Newcastle would have not had any attack at all. As it were, bad calls and free kicks would ultimately decide the outcome.

The play started after Joelinton passed the ball and then plowed into Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Hojbjerg was standing his ground and took the spear from Joelinton to the chest as the ball bounced away. Apparently Hojbjerg was in an illegal position on the field as he was called for a foul. The Dane did not attempt a tackle, did not even move his feet, just stood there and was run into, but that is a foul when it is done by a Spur.

This led to a free-kick which was headed down by Andy Carroll into the back of Eric Dier’s arm which was flailing as he had just received a little nudge from the right arm of Jamaal Lascelles in the back. This was all it took; the ball had inadvertently hit the arm of a Tottenham defender and VAR was on the case.

As has been seen all season, if the decision ultimately helps Chelsea or Manchester United in the big picture, that is the decision that will be given. Yesterday, no penalty was given on an inadvertent handball by Chelsea in the box – he was only facing the ball and blocking the goal as opposed to Dier fighting for a header at the top of the box – allowing Chelsea to hang on to their 3-3 draw.

Alternatively, United was gifted a penalty AFTER the final whistle for a player being struck with the ball in the arm on a cross, but a similar situation for Spurs today was not even considered by VAR.

People can say they changed the rule – yeah after Lucas Moura was called for handling while on the ground face first after being pushed down – but it is still wrong. Unless it is right, and as long as it goes against Tottenham it seems right to the FA and the referees. In fact, it is perfectly clear that the rule is “subjective”; it even says so in the Premier League’s own explanation, therefore justifying ANY call they make.

I cannot wait for the next seven days because Tottenham play BOTH Chelsea and Manchester United, any guess on how many VAR controversies we see in those matches? My guess is just enough to tilt the games toward the sides the FA supports, but then again, some clinical finishing by a better team – which Spurs are – can put lesser opponents to bed and avoid all this VAR ridiculousness.

Ultimately, that is what Tottenham need to do, step on throats and finish lesser squads or else something ridiculous might happen.