Uproar over VAR decision to rule out Ollie Watkins' equaliser against West Ham
The last minute goal was disallowed due to what looks like an armpit
VAR has once again caused controversy in the Premier League, after Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins was denied a legitimate-looking last minute equaliser against West Ham.
With the Hammers leading 2-1 going into injury time, up stepped summer signing Watkins in the 91st minute. Villa left-back Matt Targett floated an inviting ball into the box, which the former Brentford man side-footed past Lukasz Fabianski in the West Ham goal.
It looked for all the world like Dean Smith's side had snatched a late draw.
However, there was a twist in the tail. Watkins' late finish was not the end of the drama at the London Stadium.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) November 30, 2020
As Watkins was taking the ball back to the centre circle for the restart, the game was halted by VAR putting the goal under review.
Sky's co-commentator Alan Smith initially thought there was a chance of the goal being pulled back for offside. His mind was then changed when pictures appeared to show Watkins level with West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna.
The match officials saw things differently. Watkins' strike was ruled out for offside.
The handball law dictates that a goal cannot be scored by a player's lower arm, so that part of the body cannot be factored into an offside decision.
However, the law surrounding the upper arm is slightly murkier. Watkins' goal was ruled out due to his armpit - and that top portion of the arm - straying into an offside position.
The decision to disallow Watkins' strike is eerily similar to an incident in the recent Crystal Palace versus Leeds United game. Leeds striker Patrick Bamford was denied a goal after part of his arm was deemed to be in an offside position.
After the game, Sky pundit Jamie Carragher voiced his displeasure with the decision.
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 30, 2020
Carragher said: "If you actually look, it's off his shirt. You think how long these shirts are? Would that have made a difference? Will we have to make them shorter?"
The former Liverpool man also pointed out that Watkins' arm may have been in that position due to the fact he was wrestling with Ogbonna.
"He's actually getting grappled by the defender. He's trying to get off him, and the fact he's trying to get off him means he's offside".
The reaction among supporters on social media was hostile, to say the least.
Fans labelled the decision as an "absolute joke" and the "biggest injustice from VAR yet. Ollie Watkins pushed into 'offside' position. Disgrace."
Another fan asked why VAR wasn't investigating Ogbonna for a foul on Watkins.