Romelu Lukaku faces crisis talks at Chelsea; there is no VAR conspiracy against your team – the warm-up

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THE BIG HEADLINES ON MONDAY

Big Rom’s big mistake

If you thought you were feeding a long New Years hangover after drinking a few too much Proseccos while trying to survive Ed Sheeran on the hootenanny, think of Romelu Lukaku ushering in 2022 by giving an interview performed so badly that he was dropped from the Chelsea squad for one of the best games of the season and faced the wrath of his club bosses at a meeting today.

Premier League

“There’s always a way back” – Tuchel says the Chelsea door is not closed for Lukaku

21 HOURS AGO

Sunday witnessed one of the really great Premier League games – or more precisely perhaps one of the really great first halves of the Premier League – when Liverpool and Chelsea put on some sort of show that highlighted their respective managers’ excruciating complaints about the Christmas schedule.

This was a frenzied, sensational 2-2 tie at Stamford Bridge, which resulted in Mohamed Salah’s smooth wiggle of hips and just off the post and Mateo Kovacic’s jog-while-casually-jogging-while-casually-a 20-yard volleyball in-off -the-post performance showed two pretty brilliant goals. Who needs a break when two of the country’s elite teams can put on a show like this?
The best game of the season so far took place in the middle of the most crowded time – with Covid influencing the lineups and even the sidelines as Jürgen Klopp sat in isolation at home and worked his way through his last remaining Quality Streets. And yet, even after that life-affirming portrayal of pure Barclays on the front page of the Guardian sports section, the game is reduced to a mere score graphic, with the main focus on the story that overshadows even this big occasion: Romelu Lukaku’s fair extraordinary decision, with his concerns about life at Chelsea and his desire to return to Inter at some point to go public.

According to Graeme Souness, it was “totally disrespectful. He’s 29, not 19, and he should know better. That hurts the football club enormously. It’s like going into a locker room and telling others, ‘I don’t want to. ‘ so as not to be with you anymore ‘. “

Lukaku’s meeting with Sky Italia could be the worst-rated interview since Prince Andrew faced Emily Maitlis. But in a strange way, it only reinforces Thomas Tuchel’s authority. Lukaku complained about his situation under the German. Tuchel had him almost universally agreed and praised by the media. Many Chelsea fans seem to have agreed with this approach. And Lukaku is ready to say goodbye to the club in yet another meeting today, which, again quite curiously, he apparently revealed in a series of messages with Tim Howard.

Modern football clubs are obsessed with controlling the message. Having your most expensive player appear on Italian television in an unauthorized interview and then firing WhatsApps to friends in the media with mini-updates is certainly not. And Chelsea have no choice but to be emphatic on such misguided behavior.

The bigger question is how far this has been calculated – and the timing that is so close to the start of the January transfer window is more likely to suggest that Lukaku was trying to get a specific message across. Anyway, The Warm-Up estimates Lukaku wants to start 2022 with a chaotic drama that we all get stuck in.

VAR under fire again

Arsenal’s Gabriel Magalhaes is shown a second yellow card resulting in a red card by referee Stuart Attwell for a foul on Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in January

Photo credit: Getty Images

Saturday’s headline game was also overshadowed by controversy as Manchester City scored a 2-1 win at Arsenal in added time, aided by some generous decisions from referee Stuart Attwell and his VAR staff. This of course led to some very level-headed responses from Arsenal fans who accepted the decisions as part of the normal course of the season. Or maybe not.

First, Martin Odegaard was denied a penalty when a replay showed that Ederson first hit his foot when he threw his own leg to push the ball away. The fact that two other angles suggested the opposite probably justified the decision to say that Attwell had not made a clear and obvious mistake. City was later awarded a penalty when the VAR revealed that Granit Xhaka had pulled Bernardo Silva’s jersey into the box, although Silva clearly exaggerated the contact.

Two important decisions, both of which went against Arsenal – who had a phenomenal performance against the best team in England and probably the world in the first half. Granted, frustrating for all Arsenal fans, but the reaction and coverage of the decisions was ridiculous as almost all of the game’s focus was on those two outcomes when Arsenal also managed to miss an open goal through Gabriel Martinelli and center-back to see Gabriel was sent off within a few minutes for two stupid yellow cards.

There really was talk of dark conspiracies among those in charge of the game to help City win the league. As conspiracy theories go, it’s hardly QAnon when umpires want City to get to the top of the table (because they … evaluate Guardiola’s style of play?). Let’s have at least some deep state agitators. MI5 infiltrates the PGMOL and Mike Riley is a GCHQ facility. What kind of weekend was he doing in Cheltenham in 2002? An FA Cup game as a referee? Wake up you sheep !!

However, all of the embarrassing turmoil has highlighted a problem as to why VAR as a concept in the Premier League is fundamentally beyond repair.

VAR was intended to make the referees’ lives easier, but unwittingly promised fans a level of accuracy and consistency in referee decisions that was never realistic. VAR sounds like a benevolent algorithm with the ability to make perfect decisions and clean up any controversy from a season of Premier League football when the truth is, it is a couple of guys in a room in a West London business district who are scared have to open twitter when they get home.

All VAR did was replace one level of human judgment with another. But humans are messy creatures. We are not consistent. We are not perfect. Because of this, VAR has always been as flawed as the previous system – and is now much worse, as people have a much higher expectation that the “right” decisions will be made, even when the perception of the “right” decision is made varies according to the bias of the person witnessing the incident. It is an impossible situation that keeps getting worse and there is no way out.

It is important, however, that there is no referee conspiracy against your club. Pretending to do so is not only stupid but also incredibly damaging to the culture that is being created around match officials.

Messi catches Covid

The Omicron wave doesn’t just seem to affect English football as Covid is ripping through La Liga and has severely impacted player availability at Real Madrid and Barcelona over the past week.
And yesterday came the news that Lionel Messi had also contracted the virus along with three of his teammates, which excluded him from the French Cup game on Monday evening. The striker is apparently in Argentina and will travel after his isolation period.

IN OTHER NEWS

Not a bad attempt.

PUBLIC SERVICE NOTICE

The transfer window is officially open and that means we’ll be running a daily live blog starting today covering all the comings and goings of January (hopefully there will be some).

Join us through the January window every morning from 8 a.m. as we watch Newcastle’s desperate attempts to sign five players and somehow stay in the Premier League.

RETRO CORNER

Now the Premier League title race is officially over on January 3rd – what will you do with your time? How about watching Sky One’s classic Dream Team series from start to finish?

Here’s episode one:

COME UP

Premier League football will move on when Manchester United face the Wolves tonight. Join us for a live commentary on this.

Premier League

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ONE DAY AGO

Premier League

Lukaku is eliminated from the Chelsea squad to face Liverpool after a controversial interview

YESTERDAY AT 3:30 PM


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