Alternative Premier League table shows how Liverpool’s season could’ve been even worse

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Liverpool have endured a difficult Premier League season so far, finding themselves sixth in the division with a seven-point gap to Tottenham in fourth.

The Reds have minimal margin for error in their final 12 matches of the campaign as they try to salvage a Champions League finish for 2023/24, although one alternative top-flight table has shown how their situation could’ve been a whole lot worse.

ESPN reviewed every match in the league so far in 2022/23 to calculate how the standings would look if it weren’t for the intervention of VAR.

A number of criteria were factored into their analysis, such as only taking the first overturn in each game, the timing and impact of each incident, and a team’s xG at the time of the incident, among other considerations.

Their final calculations showed that, taking the Premier League table as of today (30 March), Liverpool would be ninth in the division with a mere 36 points had it not been for VAR, with a gap of 13 points to fourth-placed Manchester United.

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ESPN’s analysis showed that the Reds would be six points worse off without the technology, the joint-biggest disparity in the league along with Aston Villa.

They pinpointed four instances where VAR interventions ultimately worked to our advantage:

  • Conor Coady’s goal in the 0-0 draw at Everton being disallowed for offside (one point gained)
  • Mo Salah’s initially disallowed goal at home to Brighton being given in a 3-3 draw (one point gained)
  • Phil Foden’s goal at Anfield being struck off as Man City lost 1-0 (three points gained as the factors considered by ESPN deem that City would have won 1-0 had the goal stood)
  • Kai Havertz’s goal for Chelsea in the 0-0 draw at Anfield being ruled out for offside (one point gained)

Their analysis also stated that at no point this season has a VAR call ultimately cost us points, something which’ll no doubt be lapped up by opposition supporters with an agenda against Liverpool.

In response to that, let’s steer the naysayers towards previous travesties such as a potential winner for Jordan Henderson at Everton (BBC Sport) being inexplicably chalked off.

Or how about the crazy decision to penalise Andy Robertson for a phantom contact on Danny Welbeck, duly giving Brighton a stoppage time penalty from which to equalise (Sky Sports)?

Over time, the balance swings both ways.

ESPN didn’t make a verdict on whether any of the VAR decisions which impacted results were wrong or right, but when looking back on each of the four incidents in question, the officials ultimately arrived at the correct call, in our view.

It may seem strange to be grateful for a technology which has angered pundits and fans across the country (and beyond) over its implementation since being introduced to the Premier League in 2019/20.

However, if referees didn’t have the means to review and overturn decisions they initially got wrong, Liverpool’s season would seemingly have been even more difficult than it already has been.

Let’s just hope the Reds don’t end up bearing the brunt of contentious VAR decisions over the next two months as they try to secure Champions League football for next term.

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