Why not join Barry Glendenning for Norwich v Spurs!
Louise Taylor was at St James’ Park …
Here is the report from Vicarage Road.
Dean Smith: “I was angry at my my players. We didn’t play well enough in the first half and we lost it in the first half.”
On the penalty: “It’s shoulder to shoulder, Troy has gone down very easily. If that goes to VAR, it mistake. If the referee goes over to see a screen at the side of the pitch, he can go up and say ‘sorry, I did a boo boo’.
“They looked more committed. We allowed them to switch the ball too quickly and never dealt with the one-v-one situation.”
Nigel Pearson is a managerial genius. He has really got Watford looking like a competent unit in a short space of time. I am sure even if he keeps them up, the board will still sack him.
Ben Fisher was our man at St Mary’s …
And we had a long old chat about VAR, which was lovely. I think the best idea is to put a time limit on decisions – say 30 seconds – and if you can’t work it out, then it is not clear and obvious.
What did we learn from today? Mainly that Aston Villa are ruddy awful. They look set for relegation the way it is going unless they make huge changes.
Full-time: Watford 3-0 Aston Villa
Ten men are better than 11.
Full-time: Newcastle 1-2 Everton
Two wins in two for Carlo Ancelotti thanks to more Dominic Calvert-Lewin strikes.
Updated at 5.03pm GMT
Full-time: Southampton 1-1 Crystal Palace
All even at St Mary’s.
Stephen Bazen joins the debate: “I have not been following the whole debate, but on offsides VAR should function automatically in the same way as goal line judgements which are sent directly to the referee’s watch.
“This could be achieved by having a six-inch interval behind the last defender which would serve as reference. If the forward is beyond that point it is offside and it would be detected by machine not by a referee.
“The game need only stop for a period when VAR investigates penalty appeals.”
McCarthy saves a Tomkins effort for a corner to kill the pressure on Southampton. It would have be quite a robbery if Palace managed to win this.
VAR VAR VAR. How do you like it?
Updated at 4.46pm GMT
Ward-Prowse whips in a free-kick from the left. The set-piece specialist hits it superbly and it is heading for the back of the net until Guaita sticks out an arm to stop it. A cracking save from a man having a great game.
Aston Villa have been quite poor today. How will they change things in January? They need to spend, especially on a striker.
I think it is constantly under review:
Richard McGahey offers his solution: “Set a time limit for VAR review, something like 30 seconds, for offside. If skilled referees can’t spot it in that time it by definition is not clear and obvious. To make this work, have the AR flag when they think they see it. Refs used to be instructed that close calls on offside should be decided in favour of the attacker, and a 30 second rule would preserve that useful instruction. It won’t work to set some alternative measurement with fake precision, we’ll just end up arguing about that instead.”
Lovely stuff from James Boyle: “Maybe its been said before but just think where Liverpool would be if they had Danny Ings in their line up!”
Fabianski starts for West Ham! Lots of changes from Pellegrini.
Nine changes for Leicester!
Updated at 4.36pm GMT
Palace are looking tired at Southampton and have very little on the bench to bring on. Luckily, Guaita is still awake and he does superbly well to stop a fine shot from Djenepo.
GOAL! Southampton 1-1 Crystal Palace (Ings, 74)
Dreadful stuff from Palace defender Kelly who sends a woeful pass into the path of Ings, allowing the striker to run through on goal and slip the ball beyond Guaita.
Updated at 4.38pm GMT
GOAL! Watford 3-0 Aston Villa (Sarr, 71)
The Hornets break on Villa, Deeney slips it to Capoue whose cross finds Sarr to calmly convert. GAME OVER!
Updated at 4.48pm GMT
Sorloth completes the scoring. He and Sturridge both bagged two in a 6-2 win.
Good news for West Ham! Lukasz Fabianski has turned up for their game against Leicester. He could start.
Anders Stephanson on VAR: “The tennis model is not bad, though don’t forget that a valid claim in tennis (‘it was out’ and indeed it was out) counts as no challenge. Situations in football are also a lot more complex and difficult to decide; it’s not the clear binary in or out. That said, a limit of two challenges is a good idea. (US football has something like it.) VAR as it is now is any case preposterous.”
Tom Quick on VAR: “Salami-slicing the offside rule won’t do anything to increase trust. The only thing to do is to have live mic justification to the whole stadium (like in cricket and rugby league).”
Matt Dony on VAR: “The problem with Ian Croasedale’s idea (or any other alternative way of measuring), is there will still be a point where a player is ‘offside’ by a millimetre or so. All you’re doing is moving the point at which the pedantic controversy occurs. The law was written to prevent goal hanging, but it’s essentially written in terms of absolutes. If it can be measured with the kind of accuracy VAR can achieve, then I guess it should be measured. It might not be perfect, but it’s more consistent than leaving it up to a referee’s assistant trying to look 30 yards along the line (trying to adjust mentally for foreshortening and perspective), while also judging the exact point a pass is played, and dealing with elite athletes sprinting at full pace. If there’s a problem, then maybe law needs to be changed to better reflect the original spirit. Not the application of the law.”
GOAL! Watford 2-0 Aston Villa (Deeney, 67)
Lots of controversy at Vicarage Road as Deeney goes down in the box under pressure from Douglas Luiz, while Watford play on despite Villa’s Targett being down injured. Not that they needed to stop. The visitors are not happy but the decision is correct. Deeney smashes it down the middle.
David Bertram emailed this a few minutes ago: “Pile money on 2-0 Watford.”
GOAL! Newcastle 1-2 Everton (Calvert-Lewin, 64)
It’s that man again! Great work down the right by Keane ends with Calvert-Lewin getting on the end of a cross and diverts the ball into the back of the net.
Updated at 4.27pm GMT
Nigel Pearson has withdrawn sub Chalobah after just 15 minutes on the pitch as he needs to rejig following the sending off. Craig Dawson has come on and Pearson took the time to explain the decision to Chalobah.
Eamonn Harrigan’s VAR view: “I’m anti-VAR (as is) but not anti-tech. Goal-line technology is universally accepted. Other tech could also help, eg sensors in players boots to detect offside, goal-line-like tech to tell when the ball is out of play, stop-the-clock for subs. VAR may have a role in reviewing dangerous play but the current approach is soul-destroying in the grounds.”
And some more light-hearted VAR chat.
Carroll the assister.
RED CARD! Watford 1-0 Aston Villa (Mariappa, 57)
Despite already being on a booking, Mariappa commits a cynical foul on Lansbury and is shown a second yellow and is dismissed.
Updated at 4.22pm GMT
GOAL! Newcastle 1-1 Everton (Schar, 56)
We’re all level at St James’ Park! Carroll gets on the end of a Willems cross, heading it down to Schar, who forces it home.
Updated at 4.20pm GMT
Ricardo Quaresma has pulled one back for Kasimpasa at Istanbul Basaksehir to make the score 5-1 to the hosts. I didn’t even know he was still playing.
Crispin Leyser has a plan for less VAR: “It’s used way too often. The simple solution is to make it like tennis. Managers get one (maybe two) challenges a game. That’s it And video replays must be shown to crowd (also as in tennis).”
Carroll has been penalised for an outstretched arm. The defender did not suffer like Ben Mee but the striker really needs to be careful when challenging for the ball in the air.
GOAL! Southampton 0-1 Crystal Palace (Tomkins, 50)
Tomkins has been superb at the back today but has made a real difference at the other end now. A clever free-kick ends up with Tomkins who diverts it into the net.
Updated at 4.12pm GMT
Here we go again!
Ian Croasdale is another man with an idea: “Just make the lines drawn wider say 6 inches and if those lines overlap then the player is ‘level’ and onside.”
Simon Williams has acknowledged I have open the weekly can of worms: “I like the points made here back in September.
“VAR is being used to over-rule marginal decisions, when in theory it should only lead to a decision being changed if a clear and obvious error has occurred. There’s no margin in those freeze-frame offsides. In cricket, there’s the Umpire’s Call, when if it’s less than 50% of the ball, so about 10cm wiggle room, then you go with the original decision.
“At some point I guess that players & coaches will adapt and make more conservative runs. And that means fewer goals, I can’t see the EPL, Fifa etc being in favour of that in the long run.”
More VAR views:
A second goal for Sturridge!
David Bertram has accepted Villa’s fate: “I liked the Championship anyway…
“Any chance we can get Big Sam in as a defensive coordinator NFL style? And when the inevitable happens where does Grealish land?”
I feel he would go to Manchester United …
This is what happened in the early game …
It’s just, ultimately, quite annoying. It’s like an actor in a play stopping to make sure the stage direction was correct before delivering the crucial line.
Simon Tregidgo is on the other side of the VAR fence: “Want to even up the debate with a pro VAR voice. As a through and through pedant I love it, and especially on offsides it is absolutely brilliant. Yes, the process needs to be faster, but if you’re off, you’re off. The main problem is that footballers have learned offside in the context of human perception. We’re now in a position to say with 100% (or at least 99.9%) certainty if someone was off or not, and footballers – and I guess fans – will need to evolve to be mindful to truly be onside.
“Same for encroachment, although the rule itself needs to be changed to tackle situations like last night. It was not only wolves players encroaching and therefore I believe an attacking player who encroaches should supersede any encroachment of defenders and lead to an indirect free kick to the team defending the penalty.
It does need to be handled faster, but it’s going to be learning curve for many people – players and fans alike – and take a year or two for people to adjust. But to us pedants, VAR is great.”
Premier League scores
- Newcastle 0-1 Everton
- Southampton 0-0 Crystal Palace
- Watford 1-0 Aston Villa
Michael Borg joins in the VAR chat: “There is a very simple solution to the current VAR ridiculousness… the whole profile of the attacker’s body must be beyond the defender for offside to be given; not just a millimeter of a toe or shoulder. This would be consistent with giving the attacker the advantage but still retain the utility of the system.”
GOAL! Watford 1-0 Aston Villa (Deeney, 42)
Deeney makes up for missing an incredible chance moments before after he reacts first to a Heaton save from a Doucoure shot. The striker barely made contact with his effort but it still dribbles beyond the goalkeeper.
Updated at 4.01pm GMT
Sturridge scores for Trabzonspor to make it 3-1!
According to the stats, there has already been 15 attempts on goal. A pretty lively half. Newcastle just need someone to finish now.
Our voluntary Scottish correspondent, Simon McMahon has been in touch again: “Defenders still on holidays judging by the goals flying in around Scotland, Will. After half an hour it’s Dunfermline 1-2 Alloa, Ayr 0-1 Queen of the South, Morton 1-1 Partick, East Fife 1-2 Raith, Airdrie 0-1 Falkirk, Cove Rangers 1-0 Elgin, Arbroath 36-0 Aberdeen Bon Accord. Ok, the last one was from a while ago, but still.”
David Singerman sends in what sounds like a maddening distraction: “In 2008 two sociologists of technology wrote a very funny article on Hawk-Eye in tennis and the misbegotten quest for perfection and precision in sports.
“Their best example was a case at Wimbledon where Hawk Eye ruled a ball out by one millimeter. But the actual courts at actual Wimbledon are made of paint on blades of grass…so the lines themselves don’t have a resolution of one millimeter.
Anyway if anybody wants to look it up the article is (obviously) called “You cannot be serious!”
CHANCE! Bednarek is the man at the back post to gratefully receive a fine cross from Ward-Prowse but the centre-back gets a nose bleed and fluffs his lines with the goal gaping.
Milivojevic is booked by the referee for a foul on Boufal. The Palace midfielder then has a strong word with the referee and is quite lucky to not get a second yellow for his protestations. Calm down everyone.
I feel this blog could end up quite VARy. Justin Kavanagh emails in: “I was all in favour of its introduction to give refs the same views that tv audiences worldwide had, but I think it’s time to review the uses of VAR. The offside margins (and last night’s encroachment) are just getting silly now. What happened to giving the attacking team the benefit of the doubt? Refs have stopped using their common sense to keep the game flowing and VAR is beginning to mean Very Annoying Redundancies in the minds of most football fans.”
NO GOAL! Willems gets down the left, dribbling with skill before cutting it back for Almiron who smashes a shot against the post and then Carroll taps in the rebound but the big striker is a mile off and the flag goes up.
Wesley goes down in the box after a collision with Kabasele. The big striker goes down and VAR checks whether it is enough to give a penalty but there is a shake of the head from the video referee.
Norrie Herron on VAR: “I think the problem with VAR is that it was envisaged as helping with the more egregious stuff like diving and simulation, but has essentially become a technical measure for offside.
“Fine for Roundheads who like the reassuring comfort of binaries, but less so for us Cavaliers who see the game through an artistic rather than scientific lens.”
SAVE! Foster is the hero for Watford, not for the first time this season, as he reacts to Wesley who was left unmarked in the box but his header is not good enough to get beyond the dependable goalkeeper.
Updated at 3.31pm GMT
Sakho gets caught in his own penalty box while trying to do tricks but centre-back partner Tomkins gets him out of trouble.
Dunfermline open the scoring in the 20th minute but then Adam Brown equalises for Alloa 60 seconds later. One to keep an eye on.
David Bertram needs details: “How are villa looking? I’m stuck at the airport on my way home so anxiously refreshing. Have Watford sussed out the kick/mark grealish out the game tactic and wait for someone in the back for to implode yet?”
Watford are on top and Grealish is not having the required impact required for Villa to have a good game. Deulofeu looks lively, as usual.
VAR is just loads of fun!
Trabzonspor have a 2-1 lead at half-time.
I just own the mug to be honest. I do not support them.
Carroll flicks the ball onto Joelinton, the Brazilian hits a tame shot towards Pickford. A least it’s a sign of intent. Carroll is certainly looking dangerous in the air.
NO GOAL! Meyer receives the ball from a cracking Zaha cross after cracking work by the winger and dispatches the ball into the back of the net. The German runs off to the celebrate but VAR rules Zaha’s toe was offside.
Updated at 3.43pm GMT
GOAL! Newcastle 0-1 Everton (Calvert-Lewin, 13)
Sigurdsson hits a free-kick against the wall but ball eventually falls at the feet of Calvert-Lewin who is in the right place at the right time to calmly slot the ball beyond Dubravka.
Updated at 3.22pm GMT
WHAT A SAVE! Everton get their opening chance of the match as Richarlison lays the ball back to Holgate whose shot is saved by Dubravka, who has plenty to make up for after his poor performance at Old Trafford. Everton are very much on top.
Grealish is the key to Villa’s survival and he will need to make the difference today. Additionally, Wesley has another chance to prove he is the man to score the goals to ensure safety, otherwise Villa might need to dip into the market next month.
JJ has been in touch re 14:33 post: “Just wondering, as a City fan did you look forward to the second half of the ‘17/18 season when your plucky team pipped man united to the title by a sneaky 19 points?Would also like to point of the only first team squad member we added this year was a substitute GK.”
It was not a criticism of Liverpool in any way, shape or form. Rather from the view of a neutral. Winning the league by such a massive margin was utterly tedious, I can confirm.
Updated at 3.11pm GMT
Watford are also quick starters, as Deeney lays it back to Hughes whose strike is blocked. Deeney then heads a corner down to Kabasele but his effort is superbly saved by Heaton who sticks out a reactionary arm. Exciting starts for all.
A big early chance for Newcastle. Joelinton sends Almiron through but the Paraguayan falls over at the crucial moment and pokes his shot wide.
Istanbul Başakşehir are 4-0 up against Kasımpaşa after just 28 minutes. Demba Ba has two of them!
Simon McMahon rightly points out where the big football is today: “Afternoon Will. It’s all about the lower leagues in Scotland today, which is where, as we all know, the REAL football gets played. Runaway Scottish Championship leaders Dundee United played out a one all draw with struggling neighbours Dundee at Tannadice last night, which puts them fourteen points clear of second placed Inverness, who welcome Arbroath today. Todays other fixtures are Ayr v Queen of the South, Dunfermline v Alloa and Morton v Partick. In Scottish League One the top two meet as East Fife host Raith, and it’s also third v fourth as Airdrie play Falkirk, with just one point between the four teams. In Scottish League Two the games to watch are Cove Rangers v Elgin and Edinburgh City v Cowdenbeath.”
Plenty happening in Scotland!
Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!
The players are wandering out onto pitches across the country. Hopefully they and the fans are not suffering from fatigue.
Hence the hi-viz.
JR responds to me (14:27): “Hmmm, I am guessing you are sitting down then as you’ve made it pretty clear that you do not love the darts. You don’t know what you’re missing! Huybrechts just passed up a chance to try to close a leg with a bullseye and Humphries punished him by closing 146 with two 57s and a double 16. Wowsers.”
No beef with darts, just the idea of following two sports at once is too much for me.
Christian Schmidt emails to say: “Is this a wild attacking Everton line up or what? I don’t see Davies as a 6, and the rest of the midfield are a 19, a winger and a forward…”
Ancelotti is looking to rip Newcastle apart with that lineup, that’s for sure.
Alexander Sorloth has scored for Trabzonspor against Kayserispor to put them in charge and remind Crystal Palace they have a striker who can regularly find the back of the net.
Enzo Crivelli has made it 2-0 to Istanbul Başakşehir after six minutes, so that game is over. We will have to focus on Trabzonspor now.
Demba Ba has scored for Istanbul Başakşehir v Kasımpaşa. This afternoon is coming alive already.
With the title race being completely and utterly over, what do we have to look forward to in the Premier League? The relegation battle and the fight for fourth? What a cracking second half of the campaign it will be.
I am currently drinking coffee out of my Besiktas mug, you’ll be pleased to know.
JR offers some advice for me to ignore: “To pad out the blog what you should be doing is covering the darts as well. Absolute scenes at the Ally Pally where they’ve just had to change the board in the Huybrechts v Humphries match because some of the threads of sisal were coming out.”
Let’s not be silly, JR.
Brighton have completed their win over Bournemouth, which is pretty ruddy exciting. Mooy superb throughout and rightly confirmed the result.
Top, top footballers.
To pad out this blog, I will offer updates from Trabzonspor v Kayserispor. The home team have Daniel Sturridge starting up top.
Due to it being the Christmas period, I struggle to remember what day it is. It’s actually quite reassuring that these games are taking place at 3pm on a Saturday.
Southampton bring back Ings after resting him for the Chelsea match. Palace, on the other hand, are forced to start Riedewald again after his dreadful 45 minutes against Brighton. Palace also include Woods, Pierrick and Daly on the bench to make up numbers.
Updated at 2.29pm GMT
Mooy, supposedly, makes it 2-0 to Brighton with another fine finish. He chests the ball down, moves it to the side and slots it home.
The interesting team news from Newcastle is that both Longstaffs are dropped and Andy Carroll is starting up top. Ancelotti puts his faith in Moise Kean, too, which is an interesting one for all involved.
Teams: Watford v Aston Villa
Watford: Foster, Mariappa, Cathcart, Kabasele, Femenia, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes, Sarr, Deeney, Deulofeu.
Subs: Gomes, Dawson, Masina, Chalobah, Quina, Success, Gray.
Aston Villa: Heaton, Elmohamady, Hause, Konsa, Targett, Lansbury, Hourihane, Luiz, Jota, Wesley, Grealish.
Subs: Nyland, Chester, Guilbert, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Kodjia, Trezeguet.
Teams: Newcastle v Everton
Newcastle: Dubravka, Yedlin, Willems, Schar, Lejeune, Fernandez, Hayden, Shelvey, Almiron, Joelinton, Carroll.
Subs: Darlow, Gayle, Krafth, Manquillo, Atsu, S. Longstaff, M. Longstaff.
Everton: Pickford, Baines, Sidibe, Keane, Holgate, Davies, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Kean, Calvert-Lewin.
Subs: Stekelenburg, Delph, Digne, Mina, Tosun, Bernard, Coleman.
Teams: Southampton v Crystal Palace
Southampton: McCarthy, Soares, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Boufal, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Ings, Adams.
Subs: Gunn, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Djenepo, Romeu, Armstrong, Smallbone.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Kelly, Tomkins, Sakho, Riedewald, McCarthy, Milivojevic, McArthur, Meyer, Ayew, Zaha.
Subs: Hennessey, Kouyate, Wickham, Camarasa, Woods, Pierrick, Daly.
Mikel Arteta is trying to make Arsenal less bad.
Oh wait … VAR rules it out due to the most marginal of offsides. What a complete waste of space this is.
Dan Burn with a cracking finish to make it 2-0 to Brighton against Bournemouth, in case you were wondering. He controls it superbly after a touch of pinball in the box and then turned to whack it home.
Look away now, Chesterfield fans.
Playing every two days is really silly isn’t it? These games are relatively underwhelming each year due to fatigue. I understand it’s tradition and all that but surely there is a more logical way of doing it than having this hilariously short turnaround.
To get you in the mood, here is Jonathan Liew on some incredible football last night.
The football never ever stops! Last night had something for everyone seeking festive entertainment; there was comedy in abundance, mild farce, drama and a bit of a love story chucked in too. Today, however, we might get something less exciting as everyone will be exhausted. We can expect a lot of changes to the sides who played on Boxing Day.
There are only three matches at 3pm and the Football League have taken the frightfully logically decision to play their matches on Sunday. Newcastle will be looking to bounce back from a desperate day at Old Trafford when Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton come to town, with the Italian aiming to find out even more about his new charges.
Southampton host Crystal Palace who are both coming off very impressive results on Boxing Day. Saints downed Chelsea away and the Eagles came back to beat West Ham, including a fine goal from Jordan Ayew.
Watford and Aston Villa are also in more acceptable form. Nigel Pearson has made a massive difference at Vicarage Road, while Villa downed Norwich in another relegation six-pointer on Thursday.
It should be more relaxing than Boxing Day, at least!
Updated at 1.56pm GMT
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