After an ultimately frustrating afternoon on Saturday, where either team could have scored in what purists might describe as an ‘end to end’ game, both Albion’s head to the Hawthorns for a televised FA Cup replay.
At time of going to press it hasn’t been announced if the game will have the added VAR facility - although it was confirmed that it would only be used at Premier League grounds before the competition started. But events in London over the weekend proved beyond doubt that if the football authorities are going to use this technology, it has to be in every match in the relevant competition rather than chosen ones.
On Saturday evening at The Den, Millwall knocked out Everton with a 3-2 win in a classic cup tie. Despite live coverage on the BBC, it wasn’t a game which had VAR.
Millwall came from behind twice to snatch an injury-time winner, but Jake Cooper’s equaliser at 2-2 was clearly shown to have involved a handball. But no VAR and no reprieve for the Toffees.
A day later at Stamford Bridge, visitors Sheffield Wednesday were initially awarded a first half penalty which if successfully converted would have given them the lead before VAR reversed the decision.
As it turned out, a minute or so later Chelsea went up the other end and were promptly awarded a penalty, scored it and went on to a comfortable 3-0 win.
So these two incidents throw up an argument that ultimately Chelsea and Wednesday were playing in a different competition to Millwall and Everton - or at the very least by a different set of rules?
So pardon the pun, but we need to have a level playing field.
Can we really have, 24 hours apart in the same city, two incidents - one with VAR one without - that basically turn the whole 90 minutes? I think VAR has a future within the game, the cynic in me does thinks it’s as much about exciting TV as ‘fair play’ but with it being used right across the Premier League, but the FA have to make a decision in time for the next round. Either they use in all eight fifth round games or not at all.
As the events of the weekend prove that whilst its use promotes ‘fair play’, its ‘non-use’ in other games creates an unfair advantage.
Ultimately its not in the spirit of the game and that’s the crux of the argument, so before it happens again in the next round - and it almost certainly will - the FA need to decide on an ‘all or nothing’ policy.
n Albion returned to Premier League action in a classic game of two halves’ against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
A 2-0 half-time lead, courtesy of a brace from Glenn Murray, before a second half capitulation which saw the hosts score four times to record a resounding 4-2 victory.
An icy blast from Chris Hughton to his players at the end - this is another one of those moments that we see the real character of this Albion squad.
Lauded by many - including myself - as the most talented group of players in the club’s history, the 90 minutes at the Amex against Watford this Saturday could tell us all we need to know. I think this is a wake-up call which despite the nature of the defeat on Tuesday, is at the right time.
I’m backing the Seagulls to bounce back to sting the Hornets (sorry, couldn’t resist it).
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